Manchester City’s dominance is warping football fans


And just like that, on May 14, 2024, the modern Premier League has taken its logical next step: Tottenham Hotspur fans support their team when facing Manchester City as they would rather lose than concede to rivals Assen Nana wins the championship.

First of all, this is in no way a criticism of fans who choose to do this. It was entirely their choice to do so, and to anyone who thinks their behavior is unreasonable: well, have you ever seen a football fan? Given the schadenfreude within fans, this could happen in any era.

But while much of the pregame discussion on the topic has focused on the right and wrong of hoping your team loses, perhaps that misses the point a bit.

Rather than telling fans how to feel, maybe we should consider how we ended up in a situation where celebrating an opponent’s misfortune is about as much as most fans of a team can desire each season. Yes, laughing at your opponents has always been a big part of being a football supporter, but it becomes a problem when that’s almost the only part of being a football supporter.

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deeper

When fans want to lose: ‘Every time we go on offense, we boo our players’

Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Tuesday, cheered on by their own fans and many Tottenham fans. They are likely to win their fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday. No team in the history of English football has won four consecutive titles.

This is a period of unprecedented dominance and against this backdrop it’s no surprise that supporters of other clubs have to look for fun in any way they can.

It’s not just the Premier League – City are also leaning towards domestic cup contention. Over the past decade, only seven English clubs have won a major trophy (the Premier League, a domestic cup or one of the three European Cups). In the past ten years (2005 to 2014), the number was 10.

Essentially, it is becoming increasingly difficult for non-elite clubs to win anything, let alone the Premier League. An honorable mention goes to Watford, though, who almost increased that number to seven points in 2019 when they reached the FA Cup final… where they lost 6-0 to Manchester City.

Ruben Dias, Stefan Ortega, Manchester City


Manchester City’s Ruben Dias celebrates with teammate Stefan Ortega at the end of Tuesday’s game (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Tottenham are a much bigger club than Watford and part of the Premier League’s “Big Six” but have not won a trophy for 16 years. That can’t be blamed on City – they didn’t become a regular until a few years later – but that was the backdrop to the bizarre situation that arose before Tuesday’s game and then worsened during the game.

Spurs coach Anj Postkoglu was angry about comments made before the game, saying he could never understand not wanting your team to win, and he was angry about it after the game.

Asked if the strange, oppressive atmosphere affected his players against Manchester City, Postkoglu said: “Of course it did.” “That’s it. I can’t decide what people do. They are allowed to do whatever they want.” The way you want to express yourself, but yes, when we get the win at the end, it’s because the crowd helps us.

Tottenham fans were not hostile to their team and many cheered as usual, but this was very different from a standard big game, with Manchester City’s goal followed by a chant against Arsenal.

After City took the lead, a handful of supporters held a “Poznań” celebration, some wearing Tottenham Hotspur’s old light blue away jersey to show their loyalty. Footage emerged on Tuesday night of an altercation between Postkoglu and a supporter who was said to be celebrating a Manchester City goal. Some Spurs fans sang the Manchester City anthem “Blue Moon” on the way back from their 2-1 win over Burnley on Saturday.

The strangest thing about all this isn’t how much Tottenham fans want to revel in Arsenal’s misfortune – that’s entirely to be expected – but how little City have generated any feeling among rival fans. As the dominant team in English football, one would expect them to inspire both hatred and grudging admiration. Just like Manchester United and Liverpool once did. Instead, there is a general feeling of indifference to City, or indeed often an appreciation for the useful role they play in denying a team that fans of rival clubs actually care about.


It’s weird when you take a step back. A league that prides itself on competitiveness is almost certain to go into Sunday with the same team that has won the last four years and six of the last seven. Oh, and the same team are facing 115 charges (which they deny) for allegedly breaching Premier League rules.

But is this team hated, or even disliked? No, not really. No one really has the energy or can think of an alternative.Manchester City wins the league just what happens. Being bothered by it is like being annoyed by the color of the sky, or complaining that there are only seven days in the week.

James Mader


Tottenham Hotspur players looked frustrated during the 2-0 loss to Manchester City (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

It’s a weird situation, and for those new to it, it’s inevitable that there will be collateral damage from time to time. Like Postkoglu on Tuesday, he was furious at the narrow-minded, petty mentality of those inside and outside the club who preferred self-sabotage to progress against Manchester City. “I think what the last 48 hours have shown me is that the foundation is pretty fragile, man,” he said, before adding poignantly: “What other people feel, how they want to feel, and their priorities have zero interest in them. of.

Postkoglu is desperate to compete with City, but how realistic is that with Guardiola’s coaching and current ownership in place? As Arsenal and Liverpool have discovered, you can do all the right things, but you’ll almost always fail. So the general feeling is to go for it no matter what, but at the same time, fans of most clubs will take action when they can get it.

Amid the local rivalry psychodrama, it’s almost forgotten that Spurs will have a strong chance of qualifying for the Champions League if they beat Manchester City on Tuesday night. But even that prospect has left many fans cold over the past few months, with many seeing little point in playing a game with no real chance of winning.


Come the final day of the Premier League season, there’s naturally going to be hype, even though everyone knows the chances of much drama happening are slim to none.

There was genuine laughter in the press room on Tuesday night as Sky Sports tried to exaggerate the potential of the final round and a thrilling finale. Manchester City’s last defeat was in December, and in addition to games against title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, Manchester City has dropped two points in the 2024 Premier League. was treated with indifference by the rest of the country. As well as being relieved for Tottenham fans, they also felt that Arsenal had not won the title; just as Everton and other fans felt two years ago when Manchester City spurned Liverpool on the final day.

For most 2024 supporters, these emotions are about as strong as they come, and while, to some degree, there have been times like this, it’s never been like this.

(Top photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)



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