This weekend’s game against Manchester City is as big an example of the contrasts between the have’s and the have not’s as there is in the Premier League.
I don’t know about you but it’s been a long two weeks. Feeding off the scraps of international football for my footy fix has been tough. The resumption of Premier League hostilities though, pits Norwich City against the reigning Champions and without doubt, one of the best teams in current world football.
The reasoning behind that though isn’t just that they have slightly better players because this isn’t the 1970’s anymore. Manchester City don’t just have better players, it’s the way that they have obtained them that is the story here.
Manchester City are effectively owned by a country.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Man City are owned by Sheikh Mansour vin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He is, if you didn’t know, an Emirati royal who is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, minister of presidential affairs and member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi. He is the half brother of the current President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa is named after the President.
Sheikh Mansour has signed and then given the best manager in the world, Pep Guardiola, the funds to assemble this amazing team. They are the first team that has cost more than one billion euros to put together, with the Canaries’ rather more modest €32m cost making this look like something of a mismatch on paper.
The UAE are not the only country to own a football club either, in France, Paris St Germain are owned by Qatar – literally.
That’s why a fee of €192m for Neymar was possible. It is frankly staggering.
It would appear, on paper at least, that Norwich have little or no chance of beating their wealthy opponents this weekend but obviously, shocks do happen and it is always eleven men versus eleven men.
Having said that, despite my eternal optimism as far as Norwich are concerned, I am fearing the worst for this one.
A few weeks ago, newly football-playing Brighton tried to take Man City on and it didn’t end well, 4-0 actually, with Guardiola praising them for their approach to the game, trying to win it.
I have little doubt that Daniel Farke will be trying to do the same as Graham Potter did, I don’t think he knows how to do anything else.
This is, of course, a free hit.
Nobody in football outside the Canary nation is expecting the Canaries to get anything out of this game and it’s easy to see why if you watched the England v Kosovo game on Tuesday night.
Raheem Sterling was almost unplayable against the Kosovans and the sight of Max Aarons limping off for the U21s on Monday evening and subsequently wearing the dreaded protective boot afterwards, suggests that he is unlikely to be fit to face arguably the leagues’ most in-form player.
He will be gutted about that, if it is the case, and we’ll find out later today for sure when Farke speaks to the media.
If the Star Man doesn’t make it then it will open a door for another player and that seems likely to be summer signing, Sam Byram. We haven’t seen much of Sam, other than in pre-season really and there’s nothing like a trial by fire to endear, or otherwise, you to the Canary faithful, eh?!
I am a football fan.
I will watch any football, whether I happen to be walking past a park or if the Champions League is on. My two favourite teams to watch as a neutral are Manchester City and Barcelona, although I will admit to Barca being a second-team of mine. I’ve been to the Nou Camp to watch them play six teams, which is, I suspect, more than a Liverpool supporting work colleague (more on that below) has seen the Reds play in his entire lifetime.
The reason I like watching them is the style of football that they play and the players that they have to carry it out. Money is, naturally, the driver here though, with both teams being pretty much able to buy whoever they want. Is it that hard to effectively play Football Manager when you have those sorts of funds available?
When watching neutrally, these teams provide wonderful entertainment. It’s not so great when one of them plays your own team though, eh? The gulf is almost too big to bridge.
I have mixed feelings about going to this game. I must make it clear that there will be no other outcome. I will be there watching and biting my nails as usual but it does worry me.
A Liverpool fan at work, who never goes to see them and watches from his armchair, laughed and asked me what the odds of it being double figures were?
This, I think, is probably what the rest of the football world is wondering and that’s what worries me. They can’t all be wrong and I watch enough football myself to know the reality of this situation.
I expect us to have a go and, being honest, I expect that we’ll lose. The odds are too heavily stacked against us for anything else to happen, aren’t they?
We struggle to defend at the best of times and this is not the best of times, with Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose both injured for a period of months.
Grant Hanley will hopefully be fit enough to play alongside Ben Godfrey in the centre, allowing, I’m guessing, Ibrahim Amadou to play in his preferred position of central midfield.
Will that be enough? Probably not but as ever, I will go and I will sing my heart out because in this sort of game, constant, unwavering support from the Canary nation is going to be crucial to keeping the spirits up when the inevitable beatings are handed out.