Manchester City Win the League: Time to Start Acting Like Champions
At the time, even the most passive football viewer was undoubtedly exhilarated, and, even as an ardent Arsenal fan, I must admit that my team has never produced a moment like that in the Premier League era. We should all applaud Manchester City's colossal effort over the past three years, which culminated in five unforgettable stoppage-time minutes.
What has followed since then, however, has been rather more forgettable, and the events following Sunday afternoons' games suggest to me that not all of Manchester City's players can truly call themselves champions.
If a league winner's medal was a true measure of a champion, John O'Shea would be more of a champion than Thierry Henry, Paulo Ferreira more a champion than David Villa and Wes Brown...you see where I'm going with this.
The point I am trying to make is that to be admired and remembered as a real champion, an aura of dignity, class and respect for others involved in the game is almost as much of a requisite as the winner's medal itself.
Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United, for example, exemplify this impeccably. Say what you will about their antics during the season, but once the trophy is in the cabinet and the medals are on the fireplace, they are immediately focused on the next trophy.
No time is spent taking cheap shots at other clubs or having excessive, cringe-worthy celebrations. Nor do these clubs habitually measure every achievement against those of their rivals.
Can Manchester City ever overtake United as England's biggest club?
Many of Manchester City's players follow this unwritten rule of winners—Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko, to name a few. However, creating an overall perception of real champions is very much a conjunctive task. Put simply: A few bad eggs ruin the omelette.
Let us start with the most notorious offense so far: Carlos Tevez holding up a crude cardboard tombstone which read "RIP Fergie." Not only is this flagrantly offensive to a man who invested two years into developing Tevez as a player, whilst also delivering him two league titles and a Champions League, it also undermines Manchester City's achievement.
By using a club's first title celebration in almost half a century to make a pathetic gesture towards your rivals merely suggests that Manchester City's sole purpose is to provide the mighty United with a rival, rather than to actually run a genuinely autonomous club.
This kind of behaviour is excusable when committed by a drunk fan, who actually has to deal with rival supporters on a daily basis, but not by a star player.
Manchester City deserve some credit for diffusing this situation quickly, but the mere fact that it occurred at all suggests that they still have the small-club mentality not prevalent in real champions.
After all, could you really imagine Lionel Messi displaying an "RIP Mourinho" sign? How about Ronaldo with an "RIP Barcelona" sign? The answer is no, purely because these players view their achievements as their achievements, rather than their rivals' failure.
Around the same time as Tevez's blunder, Samir Nasri committed an offense more mean-spirited, more contrived, more abhorrent and more of an indication of what kind of a "man" he really is. He told a French TV channel (via The Telegraph):
Nasri is so accustomed to being substituted he comes off on behalf of other players
People at Arsenal tried to make out that I came here for the money. I believe they have not won a trophy for many years now.
If all that I was interested in was money, the easiest decision would have been to stay at Arsenal, picking up my money every week and walking into the team...I made the hard choice to come and fight for my place at a big club, where they never settle for second best, and I have proved it correct.
I now hope the Arsenal fans can get on with their lives and forget me, they should celebrate their third-place achievement and I will focus on winning titles.
This is a direct quote from Nasri, the gist of which is that he left Arsenal for trophies, not money, and that now that City have won the title, Arsenal as a club are pathetic in comparison.
Just to get things straight, was Nasri not courted by Manchester United that same transfer window? A club bigger, better, more popular and more prestigious than Arsenal or Manchester City. A club that has won more than Arsenal and City combined. A club which had just come off winning its 19th title. A club with, in my opinion, the best manager professional sport has ever seen.
If Nasri was more concerned with titles than money, why did he not join United?
And as for Arsenal being the overall losers of the three parties (City, Arsenal and Nari himself), let us consider that Samir Nasri was once deemed the next Zidane. Last season he was voted into the team of the season, and many considered him the best player in England.
A year later he is a utility player at Manchester City, whose contribution to the team was bettered by many of his teammates, and he will likely be remembered as just another good footballer, rather than a potential legend.
Moreover, the massive pay package he cherishes so much now nullifies any chance of joining a team like Madrid or Barcelona, where he could have left Arsenal still being revered at the Emirates and also won several trophies. So who's the real loser, Samir?
The idiocy of his comments aside, they are also a sad indictment of the general culture Manchester City must fight. I cannot imagine Dani Alves saying this to Sevilla fans, or Wayne Rooney orally attacking Everton fans in such a way. Even Ashley Cole has won things at Chelsea with more class, seldom even mentioning Arsenal after winning something.
Just to reiterate, congratulations to Manchester City; they provided us with more entertainment than any other Premier League winner, and ultimately, for us fans, entertainment is what it's all about.
Having said that, now that they have matched their bitter rivals for points this season, they must match them for behaviour.
Until Tevez burries the hatchet with Manchester United, until Nasri starts behaving like a grown man, until Mario Balotelli limits his gaffes to just once a month, and until the club stop using Manchester United as some kind of benchmark against which they are constantly compared, they will never be remembered as real champions.
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