Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho were set to have their first, big showdown at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing on 25th July. A friendly match for one of the biggest rivalries in world football. A friendly.
However, it wasn’t to be as fate quickly swooped in and torrential downpour resulted in the match being called off early on in the day – the fake Manchester derby was to be no more.
My first issue is – how can you play a “derby” 5,063 miles away from where the rivalry actually occurs? But that’s a whole different matter.
City now face the new season with just a measly 270 minutes under their belts and even that’s reliant on the remainder of games going ahead. That’s not even taking into account the fact that first teamers wouldn’t have played 90 minutes in each of those games.
For me, it just goes to show the cracks in modern football. City didn’t need to go over to China, nor did United. They didn’t go over to let the Chinese fans experience the Manchester derby. They went over with pound signs beaming from their eyes ready to exploit the flocking match-goers and charge £86 a ticket.
It’s backfired. The game is off. The £86 will have to be refunded (you’d expect) and both Manchester teams have been left a friendly down before an intense season ahead. All this begs the question – why not stay closer to home where tropical storms don’t occur? Alright, our weather isn’t brilliant but at least it’s playable. Why not utilise the phenomenal training facilities that we brag so much about? Pep’s has barely been able to make us of them in preseason with most of his squad missing. Corporate greed and the ‘growing of a brand’ has left the team under prepared and facing a lack of match fitness ahead of our Champions League play-offs in a few weeks.
The whole tour goes to show what is wrong with modern football. It is a business dealing with the implications of FFP and a business that strives to make profit and exploits fans as customers. City have to be credited in certain aspects, the Pep unveiling and the freezing of season ticket prices, but the corporate aspect is what we’ve grown to expect and what we should sadly expect more of in the future.