Week 5 has hit leading lights of the Premier League Manchester City particularly hard.
UEFA has announced that the club will be banned from the Champions League for two seasons, owing to various infringements of Financial Fair Play regulations.
UEFA alleged in its investigation that City had unjustly inflated the value of a sponsorship deal in an attempt to circumvent rules preventing clubs from running up excessive losses, although City’s embattled Emirati owners have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Many others have leapt to their defence.
“It’s all balderdash,” says Cambridge-based City supporter Marcus Atherton. “As the old saying goes, there’s no-one more trustworthy than a Middle Eastern oil baron. Whether you’re a gay man on holiday, a journalist visiting the Saudi embassy in Turkey, or even the CEO of Amazon, you just know that you’re safe in their hands.”
City’s rise to dominance has been one of the major success stories over the last ten years, with the appointment of Spanish tactical genius Pep Guardiola seen as a masterstroke. In a recent interview, he revealed that his vision for the club had been modelled on Cambridge’s very own Trinity College. “They’ve got it all sussed out,” he said. “Work players to the bone, deprive them of any semblance of personality, and, if that doesn’t get results, just throw cash at the problem until it goes away.”
Guardiola isn’t the first to seek inspiration among Cambridge’s venerable institutions, either. It is reported that Jurgen Klopp was entranced by Christ’s ‘plucky outsider’ vibe, while Sean Dyche was so impressed with Churchill’s ugly, robust exterior that he modelled Burnley’s own ‘park the bus’ strategy accordingly.
There is widespread fear that City’s European exile will affect its reputation as an all-conquering force of nature, especially after it was revealed that one college’s second team captain has challenged Guardiola’s world-beaters to a winner-takes-all contest at their college grounds, weather permitting. It would have to take place on a Sunday afternoon, however, as Saturday is a write-off following Friday evening’s Boat Club Dinner and Sunday morning is a ‘college-wide event’ that conveniently seems to involve all the team’s players.