Unless you have been sleeping under a bush for the past 24 hours, you are well aware that Manchester City have expanded their activities into the U.S. by acquiring a majority stake in New York City FC, the newest franchise in MLS. The team with the iconic name will become active in the 2015 season. With $100 million set aside for the project, it is a serious step into an American market hitherto dominated by the Premier League's traditional big hitters, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
The rich tradition of slapstick last-day-of-the-season performances that the supporters of Manchester City have been brought up on over the years was held in high respect again on Sunday as Norwich City, a side that has won at City only twice in its league history and never at the Etihad, waltzed to an eye-watering 3-2 win over a City side that seemed already to be on its summer holidays. If Aleksander Kolarov had appeared on the turf wearing Bermuda shorts and holding a pina colada, it would not have looked out of place.
As the rains came tumbling down Tuesday on this neat little patch of green in Berkshire, it was difficult not to think the Football Gods had sent at least some of the downpour to wash away the grief of another Manchester City managerial tragi-theatre piece. Others might have seen it as a chance to swill away any signs of the Roberto Mancini regime, already disintegrating at pace, as David Platt declined an offer to come to the show and instead headed for the dry hills to find his friend. Yet others might have linked the gushing water everywhere to metaphorical tears for yet another self-made implosion in the grand old custard-pie littered history of Manchester City football club.
It is not exactly anything new for football clubs -- any football club, and especially our own spotlessly shiny Manchester City -- to be accused of shabby manoeuvring and low-hand skullduggery with its managers, so FA Cup final weekend's inglorious tribute to Roberto Mancini and the many thousands of hours he has put in toward the Good Cause should not really have come as much of a shock. Exactly a year on -- to the very day, let it be said -- from the greatest moment in any City supporter's lifetime, the air is full of the sound of tutting and expletives being offloaded into the night sky left, right and centre.
The near horizontal wind-driven rain stinging the faces of the faithful as we escaped as swiftly as was humanly possible from Wembley's suffocating embrace, acted as the final indignity to those who had arrived in good voice and light heart in this desolate part of north London, presuming that City's sixth FA Cup triumph would shortly be with us. Simply by turning up, the glistening booty would be ours. We had of course committed one deathly sin: that of forgetting our heritage as the Kings of the Cock Up.
It gives me some pleasure to announce that my 100th article of the season should be a preparation piece for the grand old Football Association Cup Final featuring Manchester City, and that it should refer us back to the 100th FA Cup Final, which Manchester City also took part in back in 1981. This is the kind of symmetry, the kind of tidy coincidence that can only lead to one conclusion surely? And, no, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Old Father Time, who decided Wednesday abruptly to clock off after 26 years and, in so doing, attempted one last time to steal City's thunder.
Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder, and there was something for every artistic bent during the 1-0 win at the Etihad on Tuesday. Like a ripe apple, this was a match that could be divided into three distinct parts: 20 minutes of slumber, followed by 25 of electric attacking, followed by 45 of stumbling around. Much has been said of City's advantage over United in terms of squad depth and Tuesday that was at least half proved by the sight of a practically all-new 11 out on the pristine Etihad turf, compared to the Sleepwalk in the Valleys last weekend.
Roberto Mancini rides uncomfortably on the horns of a dilemma that may well prick a decent-sized hole in his Giorgio Armani suit if he doesn't get his decisions just right for the suddenly vital match with West Brom on Tuesday. Without warning, from a position of deflated resignation that the league title had gone, City must prepare for an FA Cup final knowing that they have to press the accelerator in a bread-and-butter game once more before they can concentrate on the caviar and champagne at the weekend.
With one side basking in that Wembley afterglow of success that sometimes strikes League Cup winners down with a rare sort of paralysis more often accredited to striped Australian bugs, and the other in a typically pre-Wembley Cup final tip-toe of self-preservation, Swansea and Manchester City served up a game that seemed to last even longer than the 102 minute marathon in October between the two sides. That was one of the Premier League's longest ever games. This one seemed to be trying to drag itself grimly on well beyond that remarkable barrier, despite referee Mike Jones's mercy killing occurring as early as the 93rd minute.
Those happy folk busy eulogising about the Neue Welle of German power football flattening all before it this spring, have helped put another power surge firmly in the dark; that of South Wales. With the arrival of Cardiff City in the top flight next season, there will be two Welsh representatives in the Premier League for the first time ever and, in some small way, this resurgence mirrors the return to good health of modern football since the bleak grime and decadence of the 80s. This dramatic Welsh achievement can be put down to a variety of factors, included amongst them good financial husbandry and impressive spending, depending which of the two clubs you start your analysis with.
It wasn't clear whether it was the bright spring sunshine or the discomfort at watching his midfield constantly give the ball away, but Sam Allardyce spent much of Saturday's game slumped in his expensively molded touchline seat, grimacing and wincing for all he was worth. Maybe the seat was too tight a fit for his burgeoning girth. Big Sam has never been the prettiest man in England, it has to be said, with a face that, over time, has grown to look like something constructed from the old wooden beams salvaged from the roof of Burnden Park before they turned it into a supermarket car park.
When the ball hit the back of the net after 80 minutes of the Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at Maine Road April 21, 2003, few of us applauding the piece of skill that delivered it there could have imagined that it would be the very last time we saw City score at the famous old stadium. There were still three games to play until the end of the season that would see City move from their ancestral pile in Moss Side across the city to Eastlands and the newly vacated Commonwealth Games Stadium.