Friday, 28 October 2011


An exchange with a friend, X, a Manchester City supporter. The meat of it is here. It can serve as a kind of literary model:

X: can I mention the derby yet, George? I was very happy to be in Manchester that day.

me: I had already covered it in the blog, X. But congratulations.

X: Nice blog, George. though you clearly didn't watch the game. Second half, we destroyed you, and Dzeko also missed 3 sitters. It could easily have been double figures. Anyway, as you know, I'm not one to gloat. I'm just happy I was in Manchester for that.

me: And you had a man advantage, I believe. So that's two halves, one of which you dominated, the other that you didn't. And once you start counting missed chances you never stop. And three goals after the 90th minute when United were attacking with a man down... I'd never put you down for a gloater. But do send another email to tell me you're not and to regale me with a few more statistics, just to assure me. I am quite happy to be a gloatee.

X: well, i have to answer your points, George! So here are the points, stats in a none-gloaty way.

We had a man advantage, fairly, because of a woeful professional foul on Balotelli when he was clean through. You can't claim that as being hard done by!

Talking of goals after the 90th minute - I thought that's how champions assert their authority. You should know George that your team has scored more goals after the 90th minute than any other in the Premier league!

We destroyed you second half. And were already 1-0 up at half-time. when it was 11 v 11.

(Another short one about the Poznan from X just to keep up the pressure.)

me: Blimey, you wouldn't think you were a literary chap, X. I did not claim we were 'hard done by'. That is a classic straw man argument. Accuse a writer of saying something he did not say then tell him he was wrong to say it. Nor did I say a single word about 'fairness'. Try looking for the word in my email. 'And we were already 1-0 up at half time': I do not call that a very big deal, X. 1-0 down is not a big score. United have often been 1-0 down at half time. Soon after half-time we were a man down too. Perfectly fairly (as if I said anything to the contrary!), but it does make a difference.

As to scoring after 90 minutes, quite right. But I have never claimed that United scoring 2 or 3 goals after 90 minutes were up was a sign of anything. Another straw man. When United beat Bayern in that 1999 final with two goals in added time, I never claimed that made United the better team. I thought Bayern played better through most of the match and they did in fact hit the woodwork twice in the minutes preceding United's goals. I simply rejoiced, as you may rejoice, in winning.I didn't claim United 'destroyed' Arsenal in that 8-2 win earlier this season, nor when they beat Roma 7-0. I said it was remarkable. And so was this. This was a remarkable result. You go with your destruction metaphor, I'll stay with the ones I am comfortable with even when winning. I wish City good luck in winning. It may or may not make City champions. (I should add that I did not write to any Bayern Munich fans in either a gloaty or non-gloaty way. Mind you, that may be because I didn't know any.)

It strikes me you are making up possible objections to the win and attributing them to me, just in case I should dare even think it was unfair. It's a well worn strategy. Try quoting from what I said to see if that attribution - any attribution - stands up. Good luck with that as well.

City won fair and square. Will that do? Such things happen.

With comradely best wishes,

x: 'destroyed' was ferguson's word. nor have i ever heard him before saying they should have defended for damage limitation after 3-1! humiliated is another good word. record breaking on 11 counts.

me: X, my felicitations. You were talking about my email, not about Ferguson's words. Now I am working, and that is enough gloating for one day. There must be other straw men out there.

X: no, George, i was talking about what city did to united. despite your claims of mitigating circumstances: 11 men, ten men, kids.

balotelli has just turned 20.

At this point I turned off the tap. X is of course utterly non-gloaty. He just wants a little more blood through that tap. Comradely greetings every time. It's what friends are for, isn't it?

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