Manchester City

What Have Benjani, Robinho, Petrov, Elano and Ireland All Got In Common?

This week on George Caveney Investigates….

The Bridge Burning Brigade ….Or… When Learning To Speak Indian, Sari Seems The Hardest Word

Blimey. If Craig Bellamy can manage some good wishes and thanks, and some kind of perspective on his role in taking the club forward – if the supposed problem-child can see that his massive contribution doesn’t automatically grant him a starting spot, then what the heck is wrong with Benjani, Robinho, Petrov, Elano and Ireland? Dunne had fair reason, maybe – but that was more about the manner in which it played out for an outstanding, long-standing workhorse. Who knows, maybe they all have genuine gripes to get off their chests. Is there a valid reason for all this grizzliness? Or are they just a group of petulant shits?

You can put money on City being a very different experience to just about any other club in Europe, especially when its financial clout and resources completely blow its success to date (or lack of it) out of the water. It doesn’t yet add up in the way Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man United or Bayern Munich might. We’re still pretending, perhaps. So you can even understand the club being a bit mercenary in its fast-track pursuit of accolades and silverware. But surely players know this when they arrive? Or, if they’ve been here since before the money came flooding in – and see the calibre of squad players waltzing in through the revolving doors – they can at least see it coming and do something about it.

Benjani speaks of a ‘lack of trust’. Petrov and others have suggested poor communication between staff and players. Robinho, the juvenile little arse-brain, moans about not being understood, and that he’s special. That you are, Robbie. No denying it. We haven’t a clue what goes on in the recesses of your mind not occupied by loud, crap music, looking surprised, and… sand. Elano overrated himself and accused Hughes of being a poor manager. Ireland, a clearly happy footballer and crowd favourite integral to City’s 07-08 and 08-09 campaigns, now has pooh-tinted spectacles and warns Milner how awful it could all turn out for him under that rotten bugger Mancini.

Sure, no-one wants to fall out of favour. No-one wants to sit on the bench at – or leave – a club that’s probably going to be very successful quite soon. As an aside, that was the one thing that Hughes’ had written all over his face when it dawned on him his time was up – ‘I won’t be here when it clicks. I’ve been chucked and I feel sick. This is it for me.’ It was poignant; you could see it upsetting the dour Welsh git quite profoundly. But at least he accepted that football can be that way and kept his gob shut about it. Point is, no-one wants to hear about how terrible life was in retrospect – not from a professional footballer, anyway. And if footballers are having such a hard time today, how on earth was there time for any football when the likes of Clough, Charlton, Revie et al were around? All the players would be too busy crying to the press and making rude hand gestures from a safe distance.

So post-City, some players might have to re-think their finances and ease off on the private islands and fleets of ‘supercars’ that proper drivers point and laugh at. Instead of idly funding a skanky WAG’s handbag, shoe and Chablis problems, some might have to actually play for the first team elsewhere and earn less. Hopefully this will see some shelve plans to build their own cock-shaped recording studio to make a desperately heartfelt but crushingly awful R&B album with some yes-men z-listers on the payroll. There are better ways to dress up your disappointment than make petty jibes. It’s tiresome, so stop it.

I digress. Maybe I’m just getting all bent out of shape on their lack of perspective. Not that anyone really soaks up what fresh signings say when there are cameras in front of them and crocodile clips on their scrotums – but is there an underlying reason trend, or a theme, running through the comments this lot made? Are there shared bad experiences we should know about? Were they so poorly treated it’s the first thing that popped out of their mouths when the gag came off and the puppeteers found some other ‘thicko in the public-eye’ PR challenges to tackle?

Many seem to think so. I don’t.

I just think the characters that don’t fit the Mancini masterplan have quite rightly had their lollipops and teddy bears abruptly taken from them. They don’t like it, and they don’t know how else to react. They’re surplus to requirements, and sadly some might think it’s an insult to their individual talent, when it isn’t. Characters, maybe. Playing style, perhaps. Anyway, while I don’t want to generalise that they’re all spoilt, mardy-pants cowardy-custard characters, I do think it’s a more likely explanation than Eastlands being a hideous silent dungeon of mistreatment and psychological torture. And if it is, you’d think they’d be glad to be shot of it.

Fellas, you’re at the top of the game. You’re living a dream, regardless of whether you’ve hit it off with the club’s infrastructure. You’re paid to be professional – tactful and respectful, even. Belt up, for christ’s sake. It benefits no-one, so why bother? Some of you will prove us wrong with your feet. Some of you will end up bouncing from club to club in search of the understanding, trust, special treatment, bonding conversations and playing minutes you seem to think you deserve for coming to City in the first place. Grow up.

A great way to burn your bridges. We burnt ours first. Clear off.

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