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“Shearer did my nut in”: City Watch meets 6Music’s Marc Riley

Marc Riley has been an ever-present on our national airwaves since 1990, his affable demeanour and stellar playlists making him a big hit with listeners of Radio 5’s Hit The North before moving across to Radio 1. There, as one half of the beloved Mark and Lard duo with fellow DJ Mark Radcliffe, he brought Mancunian drollery and fun to the biggest station in the UK before the bigwigs decided to prioritise tweens with Justin Bieber posters on their bedroom wall. Their loss.

Now happily ensconced at 6Music Marc continues to showcase ace music with substance and though he would be far too modest to countenance such a thought has become something of a broadcasting institution.

Alongside music the born-and-bred Manc’s other lifelong passion has been City and as the season enters its nail-biting finale Stephen Tudor caught up with the Shirehorses ledge to discuss Pellers, Pep, and Navas’ Nissan Micra.

CW: First City game

MR: It’s not a great answer because all I can honestly remember is that it was in 1974. My dad worked Saturdays and couldn’t take me to the match and it wasn’t until I started at St Gregs in Ardwick that I found someone to go with. I got my first season ticket in ’87.

CW: Most cherished City moment

MR: I would have to say winning the title against QPR but right up there with it is the Gillingham match. It was (long story) my wife’s first match. She wasn’t into football but came along when my dad had to drop out. It was obviously an amazing game which was so thrilling my missus has been a season ticket holder ever since. Add to that the even more crucial fact that had we lost that match the whole Etihad/Sheikh Mansour ‘NEW DAWN’ would probably never have happened. So yeah, pivotal is a good word to describe it.

CW: Favourite ever City player

MR: So difficult. At their best David Silva and Serge are probably the greatest players we’ve ever had on our books. World beaters. I have soft spots too for The Goat, Colin Bell, Kinky, Paul Lake… all the usual suspects.

CW: Where do you stand on Pellegrini?

MR: I think he was brought in to steady a very rocky ship and obviously win trophies so mission accomplished! As far as I can gather half the team were going to leave the club that summer under Mancini so something had to give.

Bobby Manc was a very clever manager but it doesn’t matter how clever you are if you have a revolt going on and the way he handled the Balotelli years wasn’t great for team spirit. So I reckon Pellegrini has done a great job for us. I’d like to see a bit more fire in his belly but it’s just not the way he is. I thought his sticking with Willy C for the Capital One final was amazing – with the benefit of hindsight of course – but what I loved was when he said he’d rather lose the final than his word. Again compare his decision-making ethos to that of the Pantilimon/Hart FA Cup scenario. That is the sign of a good man.

He is not going out of the door trophyless either and I think that is so important (one of his favourite words) for his legacy at the club.

CW: Excited about Pep’s arrival?

MR: Excited doesn’t cover it. I never actually thought it would happen. When it seemed possible a few years back and then went away I thought we’d lost our opportunity. Again you have to look at his reputation as both a player and particularly as a manager. One of the greats and seemingly a man who gets huge respect from those playing under him. Crucial.

There’s a lot of speculation about who he might or might not bring in but for the time being I’m just pinching myself over the fact that he’s on his way.

CW: Who has been your player of 2015/16 and who has disappointed the most?

MR: Fernandinho has been brilliant. I reckon Navas has been under-appreciated too. I think he changes games for us. He’s not been great in front of goal but everything else about him is brilliant even the fact that he reputedly drives a Nissan Micra!

It’s fair to say Sterling has yet to live up to his price-tag but there’s obviously a great player waiting to fully show his hand. I think the treatment he gets from opposing fans is pathetic frankly.

CW: If you were installed as City boss who would you target this summer?

MR: Would it be crass to say Messi? Him and Serge in the same team… I’m laughing out loud just thinking about it. Probably won’t happen but in Serge we have one of the greats already so we shouldn’t be too greedy eh.

CW: You’ve been a rare voice of positivity for City in the media. Do you think generally the club gets a bad press?

MR: I said recently that ‘opinions on MCFC are like arseholes… everyone’s got one’. It’s not very poetic but that’s the way it seems. It really did my nut in when Shearer and Le Saux started banging on about us ‘disrespecting the FA Cup’ and not understanding the logic behind playing the kids against Chelsea. Thankfully it was proved to be the right decision because the hacks would have had a field day with us.

I’m not completely blinkered. I know when we’ve under-achieved or when certain players are out of form but give us a break. The fact that we’ve completely regenerated a whole area of Manchester has seemingly been forgotten about too.

I had a large smile on my face when one thorn in our side got his comeuppance. Namely Platini. After the risible ‘Fair Play’ affair wasn’t it ironic to find that his ‘finances’ were suspect. You couldn’t make it up. The arrogance.

CW: It’s been a strange season for all concerned. What would represent a successful 2015/16 for City?

MR: I think the one gong we have is good enough. Don’t get me wrong I would like some more but I hope we don’t end up like certain supporters of certain clubs who seem(ed) to think they had a god-given right to win everything in sight… with ease. There’s lots of great teams and players out there at the moment and if we get beaten to the title by Leicester then the football fan in me will smile – just a little – inside.

CW: If City were a band who would they be?

MR: I was in The Fall. They’re a Manchester band and there’s been several Blues in its ranks over its 39 year history. Over those years they’ve been great… then rubbish… then great again… then not bad… then rubbish… then not bad… then great again. I think the word used most often is ‘mercurial’. So they seem a fitting choice.

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