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When I were just a lad I started watching brief highlights of English First Division games on Sportscene after the local tribal warfare had been aired. A classmate of Mancunian origin waxed lyrical about Citeh, Second Division Champions in 1966, as an extremely talented team to watch. And, so it proved. There was then a relatively level playing field in the English top tier (unlike Scotland and most other European leagues) and almost any club with a good coach and talented players could mount a challenge for the title. Even the little club up the road won it in 1961! 

With a forward line of Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Young and Coleman, Citeh rampaged through season 1967-68 and won the First Division title and many admirers, particularly for the silky play of Colin Bell and Neil Young though alienating many others with the bullish approach of Francis Lee, not to mention his propensity to hit the deck whenever he got in the box. Citeh’s triumph, beating the previous season’s champions into second place by two points was eclipsed for the English press and public when their neighbours won that season’s European Cup at Wembley by beating Benfica in extra time. The book “Manchester United Ruined My Life” by Colin Shindler outlines the long-term scarring effect on a young Citeh fan. That season, the Arsenal, who were in an ultimately successful rebuilding period under Bertie Mee, finished in ninth place, 14 points and 39 goals behind the champions. 

For those who weren’t around at the time or those whose interest in football had not yet developed due to local obsessions with cricket, gridirons, barbecues, rounders, netball or synchronised swimming, the European Cup was precursor to the inappropriately named ‘Champions League’ but differed, ironically, by being exclusively contested by the actual Champions of European leagues. It would be remiss of me not to observe that Glasgow Celtic were the first British club to win the European Cup a year before the above events, in Lisbon against an obdurate Inter Milan with an exciting team entirely composed of players born within 30 miles of Glasgow.

1967-8 was only Citeh’s second league title. They had won their first in 1936-37, only to be relegated the very next season despite scoring more goals than any other team in the division. A comical pattern characteristic of that club. Incidentally, in comparison, the Arsenal won the league five times in an eight-year period during the 1930’s. 

Citeh weren’t to win another top tier title until 2011-12 after the subtle injection of petrodollars had turned a widely-regarded ‘joke club’ into a cash-rich monster. (Oh, I hear you say… but, but, they’ve invested in east Manchester’s infrastructure which shows how benevolent the owners really are! There are two ‘L’s’ in bollocks!) An interesting historical footnote on their record is that for several seasons after Citeh won their first FA Cup in 1904, “the club was dogged by allegations of financial irregularities, culminating in the suspension of 17 players in 1906”. A case of what goes around comes around?

After their 1968 league title, Citeh won their fourth FA Cup in 1969 and the League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970 – then, the most successful period in the club’s history which culminated in a League Cup victory in 1976. There followed a long period of decline and multiple relegations, including a season in the third tier in 1998. After Citeh regained Premier League status under Kevin Keegan someone had such pity for this hapless, second-rate club that in 2003 they were given – GIVEN (!) – the recently built Commonwealth Stadium to replace the crumbling slum that Maine Road had become. Despite this unprecedented gift which, of course, they could not fill, by 2008 Citeh were again in a precarious financial position, in part a result of the shenanigans of an allegedly dodgy Thai owner. 

At this point the Abu Dhabi United Group rode over the horizon like a knight in tarnished armour and transformed their fortunes. According to Transfermarkt.com, a German website specializing in football transfers, Manchester City’s net transfer spending (transfer spending minus transfer proceeds) since 2008 amounts to €1.44 billion ($1.53 billion), outstripping their financially incontinent, local rival Manchester United by €400 million and Qatari-owned, financially-doped Paris Saint-Germain of the now meaningless Ligue Un by even more. According to Statista, Citeh’s largest revenue stream in 2021/22 was commercial income at €373m – an extraordinary sum for a club with as many global fans as the likes of Aston Villa or Leicester City – and their total revenue of €731m, an increase of 13% on the previous year, was more than any other football club worldwide eclipsing the traditional behemoths! Would you believe it?

At this point, my first draft contained several paragraphs on the alleged transgressions with which Citeh have been charged but a subsequently published piece on swissramble’s substack provides a far more detailed and authoritative analysis which I commend to those interested in the details. 

Citeh deny any impropriety (check Christine Keeler’s quote) and protest that they look forward to exoneration once and for all. They have hired the celebrated lawyer, Lord Pannick to fight their case at a reported £5-10k per hour but there are rumours that they have been advised to negotiate a settlement with the Commission in order to avoid relegation.

Since the injection of unprecedented funds, Citeh have accumulated a few trophies but it appears that the words of the inimitable Brian Clough (to the Leeds first team) may be apt, “You can put your medals in the bin, because you won them by cheating.” Moreover, as a certain Arsene Wenger said, “If there is no respect for the rules then it’s not real sport, so that’s what I think is the most important. The rules exist and you have to respect them. Once you go into a competition, it means […] you will adhere to the competition by respecting the rules.”

If Citeh are ‘guilty as charged’ then for the integrity of the Premier League and competitive football in England, justice should be served swiftly with a heavy sanction that puts them back in their box. Otherwise, all PL clubs might as well be sold as play-things to middle eastern potentates and autocrats. Sadly, in the 21st century, football has become the focus of middle eastern princelings who need to boost their egos and their nation’s tarnished image through ownership of a successful club and who have no doubt been raised to believe that rules and laws that apply to hoi polloi do not apply to them. That portends a sad end for a no longer beautiful ‘people’s game’ if the Independent Commission do not get this right.

The UK sports media also bear considerable responsibility for studiously ignoring the prolonged financial distortion of the English game and the tawdry source of funds while fawning over coaches and players hired to serve the objectives of shady paymasters. Nor have we forgotten Chelsea’s part in this! Be sure that the hand of Nemesis will touch their shoulder in due course.

So, we return to football. 

Citeh, once, an object of pity / ridicule and unprecedented charity will turn up to the Emirates with a team and bench resplendent with some of the most talented players on the planet, coached by one of the best coaches on the planet, not one of whom would be plying his trade in east Manchester but for alleged financial machinations behind the scenes. Yet, so far this season their team has been slightly more erratic than usual. After a sub-par performance against their local rivals, another lacklustre performance against the Marshdwellers saw them beaten when we expected them to close the gap after our defeat at Goodison. However, Citeh did look back to their imperious best in the first half against a hapless Villa though they were somewhat less assured after half time substitutions and Villa could easily have clawed back more than a single consolation goal. Some might have hoped that the uncertain future suggested by possible punishments would provoke a further wobble but I suspect these charges have had the opposite effect. Guardiola has already recanted his self-righteous 2022 statement, “I said to them, if you lie to me, the day after, I am not here”. He will certainly have used ‘everyone is against us’ to motivate his players.

I don’t care which team Citeh puts out. We know that they have enough good players to put out a good team every week. We also know that they will be fired up by the charges as well as by their desire to hunt us down. After the weekend they are only three points behind us and would go top on goal difference with a win – quite an incentive! We know too that all our players will have to be at the top of their game to beat them.

This match was rescheduled due to the sudden death of HM Queen Elizabeth II (RIP) and presents an opportunity to reinforce our status as the new stag on the hill just as it offers Citeh an opportunity to rein us in. Despite our recent reverse against a Dyche-inspired Everton and a frustrating Mason-engineered draw against Brentford, our performance in the 0-1 FA Cup defeat leaves me optimistic that we can win this game if we play to our full potential.

Much as I feel that we could spring a few surprises by starting Trossard on the left for Martinelli, Tomiyasu at right back for White and Tierney at left back with Zinchenko moved to left midfield in place of Xhaka, I expect Mikel Arteta to keep faith with his usual starting eleven, providing there are no issues from the Brentford game nor miraculous recoveries by Jesús or ESR:


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko

Ødegaard, Partey, Xhaka

Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

Our forwards have had a frustrating spell recently against deep 10-man defensive blocks but this opposition’s more expansive game should give our players more space to strut their stuff as long as we can take the ball off Citeh and keep it. Our forwards simply must bury the chances that come their way if we are to win this game.

“The ‘Holic pound?” I hear you ask. Well, I must confess that it’s still going to Ukraine and now also to Turkey and Syria. Moreover, I can’t remotely make a guess at the final score of this game. Any kind of win would do wonders for our morale and our title hopes. A draw would preserve the status quo with all to play for. A defeat doesn’t bear thinking about.

What do I hope for? I hope it’s 4-0 to the club with the more honourable record (they are playing in red and white). And I hope that Lee Mason is nowhere near the VAR monitor.

Enjoy the game, ‘Holics.

38 Drinks to “What Do You Think of Shitteh?”

  1. 1
    scruzgooner says:

    excellent preview, baff. fingers crossed for all arsenal-best outcomes. i’ll be watching febrile from on, not behind, the couch.

    bt8, thanks for the brentford review. a tough game to sum up any other way.

  2. 2
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Bath, trenchant stuff and I share your view that the punishment for Shitteh should be severe if found guilty though I don’t favour relegation as it is simply a one season penalty. Boot them out of Europe for as many seasons as they have qualified while cheating. I also think they will buy their way out of it.

    Just a feeling but i expect MA will make at least one change, not sure what it will be but I think he will want something to surprise Pep. Any win will do for me too. Been looking forward to this game for weeks, COYGs!

  3. 3
    BtM says:

    Excellent! The Neil Young reference brought ‘After The Goldrush’ immediately to mind but ‘Before The Goldrush’ would be more appropriate in the context of your background piece. My tickets acquired for the game on October 19 are in the hands of my son and grandson who will, no doubt, make even more noise than I might have done myself.

    I think, and rather hope, that Trossard, Tomiyasu and Tierney will all start on Wednesday night.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    Top, top preview, bath, entertaining and informative in equal measure and appropriately cutting.

    It goes without saying that this is a must-win game. Making our chances count will be key.

    I hope it is not a bad omen that we lost to City home and away in 1936-37, the difference between them and not us winning the league.

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    It will probably surprise no one to learn that John Brooks, who was stood down for two games as a VAR this week after his mistake cost Brighton a goal against Palace last weekend, will be back in action for our game at Villa on Saturday as the fourth official. Mason has been stood down from VARing this coming weekend, but no doubt he’ll be back after a punitive week of gardening leave.

    OM@4: that report on UEFA is damning; Conn makes the right point, nothing much will happen as a result to those that run it.

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    Quaffing my protein shake at the gym today one of the instructors sidled up to me and said ‘ I hope your lads win tomorrow, so should all football fans . Arsenal have been a breath of fresh air this season…and everyone knows Citeh are cheats ‘. Nice to see us being able to garner popular opinion which we used to at the height of the best Wenger years .
    This is a fine preview Bath. I remember the City side in the late 60s , managed by Joe Mercer and coached by Malcolm Allison. If you like seeing the Totts humiliated look for the MOTD tape where Citeh crushed them at Maine Road on a snow-covered pitch in about December 1968 .
    As for tomorrow I don’t share the optimism many Gooners do. I think something has disappeared from the side since we beat United . I’d love a draw tomorrow but don’t think we will get it . I still think we can win the title but it may be courtesy of an assist in the High Court

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Bath for an excellent preview covering all the angles, as you inevitably do. 👌

  9. 9
    Bathgooner says:

    This criiminally negligent whistler has merely been given a weekend off:

  10. 10
    ClockEndRider says:

    No doubt on full pay despite the obvious negligence.
    I suppose we can be thankful he’s only a referee and not a bus driver.

  11. 11
    ecg says:

    Whenever I see “PGMOL” in an article, my mind reads it as “Smeagol”.

  12. 12
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hahaha ecg, he certainly stole our precious points.
    MA wasn’t in particularly forgiving form at the presser,
    and no reason he should be, but he does seem to be
    his usual positive self about the atmosphere and team
    – we’re not mount doomed yet!

  13. 13
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Terrific preview Bath! All I want to add to your incisive critique of the prevailing sordidness in certain areas of English football is that the PL shouldn’t take its unprecedented popularity and success for granted.

    One of Mikel’s many impressive qualities have been the subtlety and nuances in his interviews, and his steadfast commitment to articulate his viewpoints exactly in his own terms in such a manner that no one can put words in his mouth. In his last interview the incandescent anger comes through very clearly.

    I am optimistic that the team is also fuelled by that rightful sense of injustice, and with a vociferous home crowd inspiring them would channel that anger in their constructive commitment to play the very best football they are capable of, individually and collectively.

    As Bath and others mentioned, Mikel is likely to play the same starting eleven. I would though like to see Tomiyasu start for White and Trossard getting his first start (either for Gaby or for Eddie). Both ESR and Reiss may potentially be on the bench. A fully fit ESR would have been particularly useful in a match like this even if coming off the bench.

    As long as the team plays courageous, uninhibited but yet tactically disciplined football I think they would get something out of this match. A 2-0 home win will be fantastic.

    Come on Arsenal!

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    Quite simply superb, bath !

    Full of elegantly expressed contempt. Mikel Arteta is clearly a very bright and honest man.
    He is also, despite a geographically varied playing career, an Arsenal man. He must also be so pleased to be out of the rotten environs of the Middle Eastlands.

    Everything crossed for tonight 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

  15. 15
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks for the kind words, fellas.

    Only another 5 hours and 35 minutes to kick off.

    Tension beginning to rise.

  16. 16
    Esso says:

    Cheers Baff!

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@13: I would take a 2-0 win in a heartbeat.

  18. 18
    ClockEndRider says:

    At the risk of being a tad negative, I’d take draw.

  19. 19
    Sancho Panza says:

    I would also take a draw pre match.

    We are probably more suited to playing a team like City than Newcastle. I don’t know why I think that because there are loads of reasons why it won’t be easier.

    I just hope we start the game in a flourish with quick and accurate passing and good chances. I really hope it doesn’t end up like last season where we deserved more than we ended up getting. Maybe the ref will give us a dodgy pen and a sending off! But then again.

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    Realising that Partey is out I’d be delighted with a draw. Good luck Jorginho

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTB@20: I hope it is not a bad omen that there is no team against which Jorginho has more often been on the losing side than Man City, with seven losses in 11 games.

    Not losing is our baseline acceptable result.

  22. 22
    Sancho Panza says:

    Just checked on Twitter and it seems our season is over because of this news. Some people hey?

  23. 23
    Esso says:

  24. 24
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Jorginho, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah

    Subs: Turner, White, Tierney, Holding, Kiwior, Vieira, Trossard, Nelson, Cozier-Duberry

    Man City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, Grealish, Haaland 

    Subs: Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Laporte, Alvarez, Gomez, Akanji, Foden, Palmer, Lewis

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    Tomi for Benny tactical? No doubt Arteta has got some idea up his sleeve. Pep is starting what looks like his strongest available team, although that still leaves a frightening amount of quality to come in off the bench.

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    COYG come out strong and help me calm these nerves

  27. 27
    Sancho Panza says:

    Why no 2nd yellow for Ederson?

  28. 28
    Esso says:

    Grim result.

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, a real bastard

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Architects of our own downfall. Champions don’t make mistakes; contenders do. Forty-eight points still to play for, so it isn’t over and done. The half-glass full view is that we are getting the inevitable wobble of form out of the way early.

  31. 31
    Esso says:

    Hard to take. But suppose just have to right now.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    Fair comment Esso,Ned.
    At least we are contenders again.

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    Esso@31: Indeed. Not the time to rush to judgement. Wise to let the dust settle, though I am sure there will be plenty of pouring on of doom and gloom in the media.

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@32: 🙂

  35. 35
    Bathgooner says:

    Back home. Disappointing result but the better team won. We have come a long way and should congratulate Mikel and the team for that achievement but we have a way to go to beat this lot in a game where the chips are down.

    We dominated possession and didn’t deserve a 1-3 defeat but we gifted them three goals and failed to take our chances so didn’t deserve to win. We just didn’t show the killer instinct when it was needed. At the end of the day, they were better than us in both boxes: better and faster movement of the ball, incisive passing (not that WE didn’t try) and an assassin’s ability to finish while at the other end, determined defending and no suicidal turnovers. I guess that’s what you get with a net expenditure of €1.44b over 14 years buys you.

    Onward. Still all to play for.

  36. 36
    Bathgooner says:

    And I don’t think Partey would necessarily have made a difference to the outcome. I thought Jorghino had a good game and was quietly effective. Thank Dennis we didn’t have to rely on Mudryk there! 🙃

  37. 37
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Excellent preview, Baff and composed words in the aftermath. Joint-top with a game in hand…I would have called you Shirley if you offered that back in August.

    Just win the next match.


  38. 38
    Bathgooner says: