Manchester City are set to play Europa League champions Sevilla in tomorrow’s crunch match at the Etihad. Despite the absence of Agüero and Silva, one would expect City to have enough quality to turn over Sevilla though as we see year after year this frequently is not the case.
There is no doubt that I will be stood in the Etihad on Wednesday evening hearing a chorus of boos ringing out around the ground as the UEFA Champions League anthem echoes from the speakers. A World Class City XI hearing obnoxious boos and jeers from their own fans towards a competition each player relishes and is prestiged to be involved with must be disheartening at the very least. It is simple to observe from the majority of City fans, the absolute rejection and disassociation with the competition but why is this the case? A few coincidental tough group drawings in previous campaigns? A few poor refereeing decisions, which granted, did affect the outcome of the match but it would be moronic to roar about a conspiracy. Are these the reasons why we are unlikely to achieve a sell-out crowd versus a team of Sevilla’s calibre yet sell out versus Norwich with absolute ease?
People will conflict this and argue the fans cannot be blamed for the lack of concentration that costs us games such as the manic 10 minutes versus Juventus where Ottamendi and Mangala looked like they had been plucked from the crowd to play centre-half. These are schoolboy errors that need to be rectified in training and I’m sure they will; it was a new partnership where a lack of communication became the downfall. As I am always told this speculation about the crowd’s effect is ridiculous though isn’t it? I beg to differ; consider teams such as Liverpool, Porto, Celtic amongst others whom boast terrific almost surreal European nights when playing at home. Porto’s home record is exceptionally good whereas their away is less-than-stellar, a consecutive factor shared amongst the aforementioned teams is the phenomenal atmosphere created by the home fans which seems to spur on the players to perform almost beyond their mundane capabilities. Porto’s recent dismantling of Chelsea in a previous week and Celtic’s monumental, famous 2-1 victory against Barcelona a few years ago spring to mind.
Creating these incredible atmospheres during European nights consequently leads to memorable European nights that will forever remain the memory of football fans alike. If the Etihad faithful can dismiss this stubborn hatred towards UEFA and concentrate on supporting the players on their quest for victory by scrapping the subdued atmosphere, then maybe the players will respond to the fans’ renewed passion.