David Adamson gives a rundown of a rapturous, rain-soaked night in the city centre
When Friedrich Nietzsche said that “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”, he obviously hadn’t witnessed Raheem Sterling spoon a shot over an open goal from five yards.
It seemed sometimes - in fact, most times - there was no clear rationale for how City managed to so catastrophically bollocks up their chances of progressing in the Champions League. The sky is blue, water is wet, and Man City will contrive to lose a crucial European tie.
Cityitis prevailed, still clinging to the double helix of the club’s DNA, ensuring that no matter their domestic dominance, the Champions League trophy would remain cosmically, comically out of reach.
All of which made Monday’s treble-winning trophy parade a thoroughly surreal experience - seeing the players carrying the European Cup in all its curvaceous, gleaming glory and not quite knowing where to put all those bloody feelings that football clubs inspire in you.
We knew it’d happen this season, we had faith. It’s been a long time coming.
The driving rain certainly lent the evening a sense of an ending, a bit of dramatic dressing, as the clouds finally relented after two weeks of oppressive summer heat to unleash a truly Mancunian downpour - like Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption only with twice the distance of shit to crawl through.
I spoke with fans out in the deluge of rain, and the generational gap was startling, a sign of the confidence the club has imbued in itself over the last 15 years.
Janet and Geoff said: “We never thought we’d see this happen. We were at the Gillingham game and to think where we are now compared to then…”
Geoff then shook his head, lost for words, because City fans have never needed the words to express this feeling until now.
Meanwhile Iqra and Sandha, surely no older than 25, were cocksure.
“We knew it’d happen this season,” they said. “We had faith. And to win a European final you’ve got to lose one first. We’d lost one against Chelsea in 2021, so we knew.
“We were confident, but we didn’t want to get humbled, so it was just the right amount. It’s been a long time coming.”
Meanwhile on Deansgate, Manchester Confidential social media manager and Man Utd fan Hayden Naughton was photographing the parade, and no doubt hoping a streak of lightning would put him out of his misery.
Here’s a selection of Hayden’s magnificent photos of the team as they cavorted down Deansgate as returning heroes, pissed up on champagne and drunk on glory.
As the players neared Oxford Road and their stage awaited, I made my way to the rarefied air of the raised press platform along with my brother Will, on hand to help capture the presentation.
A quick aside - my brother and I have cheered every pint prior to every game, big or small, with the words ‘City Win’. Even when watching it separately, we’ll still send a picture of our pint and the telly in the background - ‘City Win’. It obviously worked, eventually.
Oxford Road was rocking. Blue flares plumed into the humid air, bus shelters creaked and crumpled under the weight of ten young men and their body weight in beer, and mischievous teenagers dipped, ducked and jibbed their way into restricted zones to get the best view.
Then the players arrived, and what began as a party became something else entirely, a mass release of emotion, a shared bloodletting of all the missed chances and the agonising and enigmatic disasters.
In the end, all that suffering did mean something - Monaco, Madrid, Lyon, Liverpool and Llorente now a footnote in how City came to finally conquer Europe. Cityitis may well rear its head again, but for now it’s in remission.
Header image credit: Hayden Naughton
Get the latest news to your inbox
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email by signing up to our mailing list. This is one of the ways that Confidentials remains free to our readers and by signing up you help support our high quality, impartial and knowledgable writers. Thank you!