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Daft City poster incites United paint job

Jonathan Schofield on ‘small-minded’ clubs and childish football fans

Written by . Published on July 27th 2009.

Daft City poster incites United paint job

So Manchester City – the club itself, not the fans – puts up a big poster taking a swipe at Manchester United. This is in the form of a giant image of Carlos Tevez prominently positioned just off Deansgate with the strapline, ‘Welcome to Manchester’.

Then, in the dead of night, United fans make an ineffective commando raid in the form of red paint bombs. Apparently they use their socks as ammo holders - see pictures below.

Of course the humour of most football fans is playground: grown-ups pulling tongues at each other with extra obscenities and the threat of violence thrown in. The clubs themselves should stand apart from that. They should concern themselves with being dignified.

Honestly football.

Is there anything more petty and childish?

Sometimes the whole sport needs a clip round the back of the head accompanied by the words, “silly boy”.

Yet despite the whole tiresome stupidity of it all, it's hard not to be stirred by the effect this daft poster has had on the lunatic fringe of fandom. The rant boards in web-land have gone mad, dripping bile and venom.

Manchester City are completely at fault for this - for stoking the embers of hatred that the more stupid fans keep permanently ignited in their guts. City are behaving like newly rich upstarts who buy gold taps for the bathroom yet know deep down this lacks ‘class’.

Or even worse, the club is behaving like those professional Mancs who go on about us being better than London, trying to compare us with a capital city that's a world economic and tourist powerhouse with at least five times the population of Greater Manchester. The truth is we should never compare ourselves with London, full stop. London remains a benchmark for the country in most of what it does. That’s why Manchester International Festival was such a success: it had capital city standards.

In the same way Manchester City shouldn’t try to go head to head with United – not yet. Ironically, given the paragraph above, one of the few areas the North West has outdone the capital is with football: with Manchester United and Liverpool. And of these two, in terms of turnover, prestige, fanbase and recent achievement, United has easily outshone Liverpool.

In this context Sir Alex Ferguson is probably right to call the Skyblues a "small club with a small mentality" as he did on Saturday during the pre-season tour of the Far East. And he was right to add, “All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can't get away from it. They think taking Carlos Tevez away from Manchester United is a triumph. It is poor stuff.”

What City should do is get on with winning something. Money, in and of itself, is nothing. In football terms, trophies are the only achievement. When the club gets its hands on silverware and regularly fills Eastlands with fans, it can start to crow.

There’s another issue that the poster of Tevez underlines. The Club needs to get over its monotonous fixation with the city’s formal boundaries. Manchester City might well lie within the City of Manchester’s boundaries. United might well sit about 1250 metres to the west of the dotted line on a map that separates Trafford and Manchester. But it doesn’t matter, United are Manchester through and through, the clue is in the name. Ferguson even wears a blazer in European games with the City coat of arms not Trafford’s.

Let’s apply the flying foreigner test.

A Chinese tourist, for example, circles the city prior to landing at Manchester Airport. He looks out of the window. Would he think that Old Trafford lay outside Manchester? The answer is clearly not - given its proximity to the centre. Would he recognise a minor metropolitan administrative boundary? Nope.

The Tevez poster was ill-judged.

Even when City have started winning competitions, this sort of poster campaign will be childish.

Of course the humour of most football fans is playground: grown-ups pulling tongues at each other with extra obscenities and the threat of violence thrown in - hence the red paint attack on the Tevez poster.

The clubs themselves should stand apart from that.

They should concern themselves with being dignified, with pursuing excellence on the field.

The Carlos Tevez poster, especially as it’s official, betrays Manchester City’s noble past. Its 'bit of fun' masks a deeper resentment. It’s the sort of idea you think up in the pub and then think better of in the morning.

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62 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

CasJuly 27th 2009.

The difference being United don't love United first, hate City second. It's more love United, hate Liverpool. City are not as big rivals and that isn't just down to their lack of success. Liverpool will always be our fiercest game and United will always be City's biggest game.

Ali McGowanJuly 27th 2009.

Errrm, I am neither red nor blue but am not arsed about this poster... it's just a laugh and I don't think there's any need to give City such a slagging off for having a joke. I may be wrong but it's tongue in cheek and hardly meant to offend. Or maybe I am just too nice.

CasJuly 27th 2009.

Easily the best article I've seen on this - be prepared for the abuse from City supporters for daring to tell it how it is though!

PaulJuly 27th 2009.

cheerful red: agreed. I was on a beach on the costa del sol earlier in the year and a gentleman with a smart array of watches and handbags asked if I would like to purchase one of his genuine quality offerings. On hearing my accent the gentleman asked where I was from, "Manchester" said I. He replied "Manchester City no?". I almost dropped my ice cream...

CasJuly 27th 2009.

Paul, it is 100% true. City are just irritating but we HATE Liverpool. I would rather City won the league than Liverpool. However you don't get a parade for winning the league mate. Of course we celebrated scoring against you, what do you expect?! Every United supporter you've ever met says that? What so every time you meet a United supporter you ask them whether they hate you guys or Liverpool more - really? Come on Paul, that's not true.

FrustratedJuly 27th 2009.

Steve, let me make this simple for you. The article is an opinion piece, you may not agree with the points but that's the thing about opinions isnt it!The article also calls United fans childish and petty but you'll have overlooked that, it also criticises football supporters as a whole - but why let that get in the way of your toys hurtling from the pram?Just because it criticises City for actual points, doesn't mean it was conceived by a United supporter.Have you seen the articles they did regarding the Champions League final, the piss takes?Grow up Ste.For future ref? What's that, so you and all your blue cronies can put ManCon on the list of those you deem to be governed by Reds because they don't kiss your arse at any given opportunity?If you've got something constructive to say go for it, if the best you can do is play the 'they hate us, they're all red, it's not fair' card then play it quietly.

PedroJuly 27th 2009.

Firstly, I cannot believe how hyper-sensitive Mr Schofield and some of his fellow reds are. I say "some of" because most United fans that I have spoken to find it mildly amusing and welcome the banter.Secondly, the hypocrisy is unbelievable. As stated previously posted above, United have a club-endorsed permanent banner at Old Trafford, which states the number of years since City won a trophy. This hasn't even got anything to do with United - at least the Tevez poster is about City's new signing. United have also covered numerous billboards around Greater Manchester with adverts for last season's commemorative DVD, which state "18 times and that's a fact" in massive letters - a clear dig at Liverpool FC.Thirdly, I hope that the irony was not lost on Ferguson when he commented that all City can talk about is United, as he spent his 4th consecutive press conference talking more about City than United, following separate derogatory comments about City from David Gill, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand. Ferguson further contradicted himself by calling City a small club after last season branding Rafael Benitez as "disrespectful" for making similar comments about Everton.Finally, whilst the Tevez poster started as a mildly amusing joke, it is becoming funnier every day with each one of Alex "Master of the Mind Games" Ferguson's mad rantings. I think it is now clear that he knows that his time is up and he is starting to lose the plot.

Nick TJuly 27th 2009.

www.guardian.co.uk/…/premier-league-preview-manchester-citySee… this link for a balanced review of 'that billboard' and indeed recognition of the many positive aspects of the club.

east lancsJuly 27th 2009.

Cas's underling hits the nail on the head; you can brag once you've something to brag about. With regards Nick's take on the "34" at OT, the banner is inside OT, not in the city centre. I'm not annoyed by Citeh's antics, more embarassed.

joelJuly 27th 2009.

united, as we are all vehemently aware, would never come up with anything as cool as that.very very clever my mcfc.it has nothing to do with united. united just think it does because of their deluded arrogance. football is the only form of unconditional love there is. allegiance doesn't waver because another club wins everything. how could it..?harmless fun. everyone needs to laugh at themselves a little. it's where pride and lack of pride collide. humour.

RobJuly 27th 2009.

Is this a reference to the America vs United Arab Emirates derby that is held in the city each year?

CasJuly 27th 2009.

Hang on Nick, just because Jonathan sees it differently to you does not make him biased or unbalanced. It is the beauty of Mancon that they can have opinions, an employee of mine who supports City (we try not to take too many on! ;) says he's embarassed by the whole thing and wishes they'd just shut up at his club until they have stuff to shout about. He's worried that City are setting themselves up for the biggest of falls - but again that is his opinion, doesn't make him unbalanced or biased. Or is it only City supporters allowed not to agree with the poster?

lucky chrisJuly 27th 2009.

I can't say I attended the related press conference, but I gather Fergie's comments were in answer to a question put to him about the poster. Kinda dilutes some of the "irony" that Pedro mentions, and adds a little perspective when people refer to him as "worried". As a United fan, the poster doesn't bother me a little bit, but a massive picture of Carlos Tevez can't be good for tourism. I'm quite happy with City being competitive - I'm mancunian before anything else - but I doubt many City fans would reciprocate that sentiment.

AnonymousJuly 27th 2009.

'But Ste' - nail hit on head there.

SteJuly 27th 2009.

Agree with Nick's comments. I generally hold Confidential in very high regard which only added to the surprise at the apparent laziness in the content of the article and venom directed towards another Manchester institution. Here's to greater competition on the pitch in the coming years hopefully - which will benefit all of Manchester, and everyone getting their sense of humour back.

johnpJuly 27th 2009.

Well , you've nailed your colours up there, I'm waiting for an equally balanced view on Uniteds "34 years"banner in OT

Nick TJuly 27th 2009.

This is a very disappointing and unbalanced stance for ManCon to take. I was waiting for the response from Fergie but thought ManCon, with its 'light hearted take on our city' would see things in a different light. Perhaps footballing bias has got in the way? Shame.Manchester City are a big club in their own right and well within their rights to poke some lighthearted banter at our neighbours. What relationship this has with our capital city, attendences or indeed football hooliganism I do not know. Utd allow the '34 years banner' to be held within Old Trafford and in my opinion they are well within their rights to. It is these sorts of things which gives English football its character and charm that other sports such as rugby or tennis do not seem to have. Manchester City have done a lot of good things for our city. The clubs efforts and behaviour of the fans during the Munich commerorations last year being one example. Lets celebrate the fact that Manchester may soon have two succesful football clubs and the benefits this would bring to the city as a whole. In the meantime Mr Schofield and ManCon you have seriously gone down in my estimation. Manchester is a true footballing city but perhaps you should save your comments to golf, swimming or other such sports which do not endorse such 'childish behaviour'.

AnonymousJuly 27th 2009.

What huge banner outside old trafford?

baggioJuly 27th 2009.

my guess is that cas is female and less than thirty years of age. otherwise, she'd know full well that city is her biggest enemy. just like scotland will always be england's, no matter how crap they are. as for city being obsessed with un!ted! don't make me laugh! half of the fans' songs are about l'il ole ciddy. plus the 34 years clock. honestly! next you'll have sir alex calling city arrogant.

west of east lancsJuly 27th 2009.

So in summary everybody agrees with this piece apart from City fans?

James CollinsonJuly 27th 2009.

Let's have capital letters now and proper spellings. I don't know why you ever mention football Mancon, all you get are people who weren't listening in English when they were nine.

ChickJuly 27th 2009.

The first post by Cas was spot on - on both counts. Bitter Citeh? Never

CasJuly 27th 2009.

To be honest most United supporters don't see City as the main 'derby' but Liverpool. As a season ticket holder I know which game I look forward to most and it's the same for all the reds I know. City are just like an irritating little cousin, we don't hate them.

cheerful redJuly 27th 2009.

LOL. When are City, this time the club officials, going to get over their obsession with the Reds? "Closet supporters". I wouldn't mind betting that none of them ever deny the Industrial Revolution, of which a great part was played out in Old Trafford Park, I think the fact that its postcode is M16 0RA gives the game away. Get your brains in gear City fans and stop worrying about boundaries put in place so Maggie Thatcher could win elections and concentrate on your own team. Tevez loved being at Old Trafford and obviously loves Manchester so much he wants to stay - as Mancs we should be happy about that. City need to concentrate on winning silver and maybe when they do they can all lose that chip off their shoulders which, unfortunately, would no longer give Reds the opportunity to take the mickey. Talking about foreigners flying in - when you say you're from Manchester people always say "Manchester United" never the blue team - I wonder why?

elshortinoJuly 27th 2009.

Or at least wait until they have something to shout about!34 years!

east lancsJuly 27th 2009.

Erm, City have done this kind of thing before. It's a little tiresome actually. I don't get it. "This is our city" didn't make me think, "oh, for a geographical technicality I should change my allegiance to Citeh". No, it just reminded me of how bitter the blues are.

ADJuly 27th 2009.

Now Breath!

PaulJuly 27th 2009.

perhaps because he's never bothered taunting us before? We've been beneath him for a long time and now it seems we're not so beneath him that he can't slag everything off to do with the club. Like I said, a very worried man

LJuly 27th 2009.

Editorhas this piece had the desired effect ? !!

DescartesJuly 27th 2009.

Not taking football a bit seriously there are you Ste?

simple simonJuly 27th 2009.

Childish maybe. But at least quite funnyNobody mentions the huge banner outside OT that mocks cities lack of trophiesSurely this is as bad.Goose and Gander springs to mindChill out its only football

IheartMUFCJuly 27th 2009.

Great article,I think the valid point is that the banter should be left to the fans and the club should remain dignified!34 years!!

CasJuly 27th 2009.

Last word on this as it's getting boring for everyone! However what is so VENOMOUS about calling City a small, small minded club? Saying you're obsessed with United. What is really so god damn awful about that? It's ok telling Fergie and United supporters to not react and have a sense of humour but you lot are acting like he called for the first born child of every blue to be culled! It's not as if he called your owners a bunch of medievil, racist, terrorist sympathising, homophobic autocracts making money from the modern slave trade! But at least they're not yanks with a perfectly sustainable business plan eh?

ADJuly 27th 2009.

You couldnt be more wrong, the idiots with the paint should be arrested for criminal damage - they are the problem. The poster is good natured tounge in cheek banter between two great sporting rivals. and it shoudnt be blamed for individuals behaviour. Its a joke and should be seen as such. Over in liverpool Everton have just opened a new store at the liverpool one shopping centre they called it Everton 2, which makes the address Everton 2 a liverpool 1... its a similar joke thing is the people of liverpool have taken it as a joke. the problem is the individuals and it always will be... you cant stop people from making jokes or banter of this type because of some idiots to do that is to give in to them. I guess 30-40 years ago you would have stoped Mohammed Ali from giving his float like a butterfly sting like a bee press confernece... to insightful, or stoped shankley from comming out with a whole host of clasic one liners for the same reason. Banter is part of sport and should be left alone.

SteJuly 27th 2009.

Be interested in any comments from Editorial justifying the tone of this article, or is Confidential unashamedly more pro Red than Blue? Just so I know for future ref.

OKnowsBestJuly 27th 2009.

notice they used socks to throw the paint in... at least they didn't piss in their socks like Kopites do.

AnonymousJuly 27th 2009.

Jonathan, not sure why we should never compare ourselves to London, full stop? Particularly when you attempt to make the point by suggesting London is a benchmark. Which, by definition, is something to be compared to.

PaulJuly 27th 2009.

rufus: "Most hate MU more than they love City which is a bit sad. Almost as sad as sky blue ketchup."What complete and utter tosh. We love City first and hate United second. Always have, always will do. United are every bit as obsessed with City as City are with United. It's called football rivalry and despite what Untied fan's say about City being insignificant, they contradict themselves time and time again. 33 years anyone? or every other song they sing being about little citeh? or Corrie cast being photographed with 30 years banners way back when?This was a bit of fun and also eloquently contrived to get up fergie's nose and it worked. If it didn't then he wouldn't have whinged like a little girl about it.Get over yourselves. United fans think they're some kind of superior race who either don't get involved with such petulance or are simply allowed to be smug and arrogant because of the club they glorify in, but they're just as tedious and banal as the rest of us (football fans).

hancockJuly 27th 2009.

Brave to attack City like this Confidential. Though to be fair you have given United a good kicking on a number of occasions as well. I just see this as a bit of fun. True there are nutters about but I think this sort of joshing is fine on the whole.

SteJuly 27th 2009.

V. disappointing article Mr Schofield. In the interests of full disclosure, I consider myself to be a fairly balanced City fan so will try and avoid dishing out the 'abuse' another poster eludes to above. You may be right that the poster was misjudged, and as with many things in football, a little childish. But your article turns into a rant against City itself, way beyond the Tevez poster and your comments are similar in tone to those made by Ferguson - which many intelligent, non-aligned observers consider to be no more than childish rantings themselves. Good piece in the Independent to this effect over the weekend - Ferguson saves his wrath for those he sees as potential threats so possibly a back handed compliment? The poster is a bit of harmless fun so please try and give us a break. We don't complain about their club sponsored 30-odd years flag that adorns the so called theatre.

Craig CarsingtonJuly 27th 2009.

Football fans they are very very stupid....the real screaming ones at matches that is. The ones with their kids next to them shouting, "break his ****ing legs." I'm told they do this because they have nothing else in their lives. This poster just brings the lunatics out of the woodwork.

SeanJuly 27th 2009.

I'd like to disagree with the 'football fans are stupid' cliche if I may. Some of the funniest, most intelligent things I've ever heard were said inside football grounds.There are idiots too, but you get idiots at the theatre as well, they just don't have bits of pie crust on their jacket.

Nick TJuly 27th 2009.

Cas, my suggestion of bias and lack of balance is due to the content of the article. I do not know what a tongue in cheek billboard ad has to do with football hooliganism or our capital city. Comments like City should fill their ground are also irrelevant and seem to suggest that the article becomes a wider attack on City in general. Ever since the take over we have had to put up with negative news articles from the national press on a weekly basis. I was suprised and dissapointed to find we now have our local press doing the same thing. Nice one for your employee being embarassed, he's welcome to have his opinion but I have different ideas.

SteJuly 27th 2009.

Hmmm . . . think you need to calm down a bit there Frustrated! Agree with Lucky Chris (and as a blue too) to being Mancunian first so do indeed reciprocate.

AndrewJuly 27th 2009.

If they wanted a pretty picture to mask an ugly building, why did they put Tevez up there?

But Ste...July 27th 2009.

It's you who appear to have lost yours :o)

Fed up of M1July 27th 2009.

That 34 years banner iks in the ground, if United were crass enough to put one up on Deansgate maybe you'd have a point. Just like we wouldn't expect you lot to sing songs about Munich in the city centre on your way to work and we wouldn't sing songs about bonfires getting a sandwich from Pret, it's expected in the ground.

PaulJuly 27th 2009.

Cas: It wasn't so much the fact that united fans celebrated scoring against us, it was the manner that they celebrated, as if it was the most important thing to them in the whole world...Either way, I hope (and in some small way, expect) you grow to "hate" us again, because it'll mean we've been a success, which is what fergie seems to be afraid of more than anything! he had a bit of a ding dong with benitez when liverpool were romping away last season, but nothing as venomous as what he's been saying about city for the last couple of weeks. A worried man

Fernando PartridgeJuly 27th 2009.

Agreed this is a poor and unusually dour/uptight article for ManCon. For an amusing 5 minutes go to youtune and look up Hypocrites United - shows the hypocrisy and obsessive nature of utd, the New Bitters. Also, why do residents of Manchester type Citeh, as some kind of insult? A lot of people from Manchester would pronounce it this way, so the only way it works as an insult is if the person doing the insulting is not from Manchester?

PaulJuly 27th 2009.

Cas: now come on, you know that's not true. What would irk you more, if City won the league/chumps league, or Liverpool? Can you imagine thousands of City fans lording it through Salford (well, you're allowed to parade through our city, so why can't we parade through yours??). That is a line that's been played out by every united fan I've ever met and it's very simple hyperbole on the most basic level. Judging by the reaction of your fans when you scored at Eastlands last season, I would suggest that City is a very important game indeed and you can deny it as much as you want, all other football fans can see it, it's only united's deluded hordes that refuse to accept it.

AnonymousJuly 27th 2009.

Guardian? Says it all really.

Yaanited!July 27th 2009.

As a big united fan i see both sides of the fence but on this occasion i think fair play to City. If United sign Robinho in a season or two then i would have expected them to taunt city in equal stature. All i hope is that Carlos actually makes it onto the pitch for Derby day and doesnt end up sitting in the stands with the other 18 blue forwards.

daveJuly 27th 2009.

funny how you point out how united have outshone liverpool recently…• turnover - money money money• prestige - ? bizzare• fanbase - glory hunting cockneys and thais!!!• achievement - last on the list is the thing that the club strives for! and demento calling city a small club, reminds me of when the forgetful fool gave his two penneth a few years ago when everton were described a small club...he is cracking up18 - 5 forever in the shadow

JJuly 27th 2009.

They could of at least hung it in the 'heart' of the city...it is bordering Salford....

Tevez TevezJuly 27th 2009.

The reality of this is that although loathe to admit it, United fans now realise that city will be a threat. This poster is designed by MCFC to stoke the passions of supporters of both camps and it has achieved that. I don't think that's a bad thing and it helps ot warm everyone up for the coming season. Take a chill pill and stop taking everything so seriously!

boo hoo redsJuly 27th 2009.

pathetic article - City fans have had to put up gloating Utd fans for years. It is obvious they can give out but, like the trophy-hunting mard-arses they are, would appear not to be able to take it.

Nick TJuly 27th 2009.

I think the serious debate is not about Fergie having a rant which we could all have predicted and indeed the variety of opinions whether the billboard is humourous or offensive, but rather the fact that ManCon have taken this stance. City fans regularly label the M.E.N. the MUEN due to alleged bias but now we have ManCon quite clearly setting out their position. Shame as I thought that they had a little more charm and wit. I really do think the article is the most misguided peice I have read on here.

MikeJuly 27th 2009.

ManCon has got this very wrong. The poster was clearly put there to rile Sir Alex Ferguson, and that's what it's done. He was also disingenuous when he said that Tevez wasn't worth £25m - in that case, why did United agree to buy him for that amount and then pull out? Answer - their bankers wouldn't let them as their debt spirals ever bigger, but that is another issue. The permanent banner at Old Trafford listing how long it is since City won something suggests it is United who are obsessed with their neighbours, not City.

Nick StephensonJuly 27th 2009.

Still it's a nice picture and masks that really ugly building

G SEYMOURJuly 27th 2009.

Would this be the same United who placed a cartoon on their official website a few years ago proclaiming "City are crap" a few days before the Manchester derby? So it's OK for them to insult City when they please then? Actually I'm quite flattered by Fergie's rant, he only normally has a go at theams he considers to be a threat - ask any Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool fan.

fernando partridgeJuly 27th 2009.

Just seen a quote from Jonathan Schofield in The Observer, saying that ‘Manchester has always been a brash, edgy, radical, multi-ethnic, competitive and humorous city.' Surely the poster ticks most of those boxes? So what is the problem??

rufus t. fireflyJuly 27th 2009.

G Seymour, No it isn't alright for MU to call City crap (although you must admit there not very good) on their website?? City are obsessed with UTD always have been. My brother in law season ticket holder along with five or six of his mates home and away Blue, when asked if he would rather City won a trophy or UTD got relegated he went for the latter as did his mates. Most hate MU more than they love City which is a bit sad. Almost as sad as sky blue ketchup.

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