Anarchy at the Etihad by Will Buckley

Anarchy at the Etihad by Will Buckley

By Will Buckley


Our Chairman Will Buckley has taken to blogging and Tweeting this week. With articles like this tale of “Anarchy at the Etihad” it will not be long before his online reputation matches that of his BBC and ESPN broadcasting.

It was the greatest ever moment in the greatest ever league and, astonishingly, it was followed two minutes late by an even greater greatest moment in the even greater greatest ever league. For once the event lived up to the hyperbole as Manchester City ended the topsiest of turvy seasons by entering injury time in the final game as 33-1 outsiders and ending it as Premiership champions for the first time in 44 years.

Enthralling as it was, we will all pay the price for those most dramatic of moments. For the last thirteen years, commentators, and in particular Clive Tyldesley, have persistently referred to ‘that night in Barcelona’ in order to drum up excitement where there is none. For the next few decades every time a game looks done and dusted the commentators will speak in hushed reverential tones of ‘that afternoon at the Etihad’and warn us to switch off if we dare. When the hype is matched by reality that reality is used to justify yet further hype in the future.


This ‘greatest of games’ also featured a gambit by Joey Barton that may lead to the rules having to be changed. Joey’s ploy was, having been sent off, to try to taking as many of the opposition with him as he could. Like many of his ploys, and indeed texts, it has a crazy logic about it. It may even have had its genesis in those World War II movies where such behaviour is commonplace and routinely rewarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross. That said, Joey’s attempt to take one for the team is likely to end in banishment from said team and a 12 match ban. Yet if Aguerro or Kompany or Balotelli had reacted to his kicks and headbutts then the referee would almost certainly have sent them off and the result may very well have been different. This would have been wrong. The rules need to be changed to state that once a player has received a red card he is no longer part of the game and can have no effect upon it. If you retaliate against someone who has already been sent off there will be no punishment.


All in all, a text I received during the game ‘ANARCHY AT THE ETIHAD’ summed things up, and would also make a great film title. Have there ever been more anarchic title winners than City? And is Carlos Tevez the most anarchic player to earn a winners medal? After his work to rule protest in Munich all the football journalists said he should, at the very least, be hung, drawn and quartered and obviously would never play for City again. Play he did. And without him (think of the pass to Nasri to clinch the win against Chelsea) City would not have won the title. Lucky, for all concerned, that Mancini didn’t get the carving knife out.

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About Will
Host of ESPN's Off the Ball, BBC Fighting talk panellist, practising sports law barrister, Chairman of Full Contact Law, author of “The Man Who Hated Football.

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