Terry is the England Captain. He is, when playing at his best, probably the best English defender in the Premier League and it shows that players whom are considered "world class" will come to Eastlands. John Terry would be a fundamental building block in getting from where the club is now to where it wants to be over the next four years.
And I still don't like it.
The guy strikes me as a punk. Always has. From his antics after the 9/11 attacks to the nightclub incident I've found the Chelsea captain to be boorish in the extreme. I have a good Chelsea supporting acquaintance who is thoroughly embarrassed that Terry is captain of both Chelsea and his country.
Again I understand the logic. Mark Hughes has set out with a specific agenda and the need, in his mind, to change the culture at the club. Let's not be in any doubt, if the club doesn't finish in the top six in the upcoming season then Hughes is gone as the manager. Certainly I want City to win, to make the Champions League and finally give United a run for their money. While the new found financial strength allows the club to buy the players that it identifies, this is still Manchester City.
Chief Executive Garry Cook gave an interesting interview the other day where he talked about trying to get rid of two phrases. Those are "Typical City" and "City Till I Die."
Now I like Cook, a lot. Football is a big business and his vision for City as a brand worldwide is the kind of forward thinking that is rarely seen at most clubs. There are tremendous opportunities to expand City's appeal and Cook is the man to accomplish this. In particular the new City website is said to offer free radio broadcasts of the games when the season starts which is a fabulous way to start such outreach.
However I also think Cook got it spectacularly wrong when it comes to those two phases. Here's what Cook said in the Manchester Evening News
"`Typical City' says to me `We're not very good, but it's OK.' It means you are embarrassed by mistakes - you shouldn't be, because we all make mistakes.
"It's also an excuse for when you do make a mistake - you can just say `Well, that's us.'
"And 'City `til I die' seems to mean the fans have been through the pain and the agony and were all getting on a bit.
"To build for the future you want eight-year-old kids saying 'I want to play for City' because that helps everything. He doesn't want to think about dying, because he's just got here!"
Wrong on both accounts. Typical City is an expression that conveys that things are always strange around City. This is true both positively and negatively. Typical City is City going 2-0 down to Gillingham before storming back in the last 5 minutes in one of the most amazing roller coaster moments of all time. Typical City is also going 3-0 down to Spurs in the Cup, having Joey Barton sent off and losing Nicolas Anelka to injury before storming back for a 4-3 victory in quite possibly the greatest cup reversal in history. Neither was a "mistake" nor an "excuse." Good or bad, City will find the least traveled way to get there. That's what Typical City means.
City 'til i die doesn't mean that the fans are getting on a bit. This is about passion, about history. About being proud that you have picked the club for the proper reasons not jumped on the bandwagon of popularity ala United, Chelsea and their ilk. You have 14 year olds saying CTID. Because it means a commitment to the club. There's a tendency in the UK press to be knee jerk anti American, you see this often with the Liverpool owners for example. But here is one case where coming from the US has blinded Cook to the realities of how support of a club works in England.
Go to a sporting event in the US, anything from the NFL, to Major League Baseball, NHL and even college basketball and what is missing is the intense passion that Football generates. Yes fans are into their teams, just not as deeply as English football fans. Run the tape of the Gillingham game when Dickov scored and see the reaction of fans. I defy anyone to find a tape of any fans in the US, even the Cameron Crazies at Duke University, that matches that intensity of delirium.
Many years ago my Grandfather gave me a book. It was Eric Thornton's Meredith to Mercer that charted the storied history of City and was one of the primary reasons that I became a City fan. If he hasn't already I'd suggest Garry Cook read it.
Football clubs have souls. Yes that's a quaint notion, especially in today's world of big business. I'm not naive; nor however am I so practical that I am blind to the heart of the club. Typical City and CTID are about our past, our present and our future. It is about the magic of the club, that indefinable something that binds the supporters together. It's about character, of style, of doing things the right way... the City way. We'll have ups and downs, because that is indeed Typical City, but for most of us we wouldn't want it any other way. And we'll embrace players from the newest academy arrival to the biggest superstar if they embody that spirit.
Does John Terry? I rather doubt it.