Simon Jordan has criticised Manchester City’s attendance rates, pointing to the club’s failings in attracting a sell-out crowd in comparison to the likes of league rivals Liverpool.
The Citizens only filled just over 76% of the Etihad in their Champions League group stage opener against RB Leipzig, whilst the Reds secured a 3-2 victory over AC Milan at a fully packed Anfield.
“I thought big clubs filled stadiums?” the former Crystal Palace owner spoke on talkSPORT.
“It might be that there’s a general feeling of discontent against UEFA, we’ve seen the City fans turn their backs during the Champions League theme.
“Whether they think they can’t win it or they’ve been unfairly treated by UEFA, maybe it’s a combination of the two.”
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Jordan went on to point out that the lack of a longstanding global fanbase behind Guardiola’s City outfit could suggest that the side has a long way to go before reaching the heights of historic rivals like Liverpool.
“Pep is used to playing football inside big stadiums at Bayern Munich and Barcelona – bonafide big clubs that haven’t been manufactured,” the 53-year-old added.
“I don’t know if this is a Champions League phenomenon and the fans have no investment in watching group stage games, because they are considered foregone conclusions.
“Or it’s telling of the fact that Man City aren’t the club people would have you believe they are.
“On achievement terms, they are, except in the Champions League. But as far as filling stadiums – I don’t think you have to hear Liverpool calling out to fill stadiums.”
City’s difficulty filling the Eithad was duly noted by Pep Guardiola, with the 50-year-old issuing a plea to the Cityzens’ fanbase following their 6-3 win yesterday over Jesse Marsch’s Bundesliga outfit.
“We scored 16 goals in the last three games here,” the Spaniard said (via BBC Sport).
“I’d like more people to come on Saturday.
“We will be tired. Southampton are so dangerous.
“I invite all our people to come 3pm to watch our game.”
The former Barcelona coach’s comments were not taken well by the Manchester-based outfit’s official supporters’ club, with the poor attendance rates contested.
However, when it comes to comparisons with the side’s rivals, Jordan raises an interesting point with regard to the extent to which Manchester City should be considered an objectively ‘big’ club.
Even when Liverpool were toiling in midtable prior to FSG’s takeover – even during the darkest days of the Roy Hodgson era (despite his ill-advised ‘relegation’ comments) – there was no questioning our status as a ‘big’ club.
Back then, of course, ‘sleeping giant’ would have been a more appropriate term to use, but even in the height of Manchester City’s success under Guardiola, with a world-class squad to call upon, it’s difficult to designate the side as a ‘big’ club with a straight face.
If we were to look from a purely success-based lens, the Cityzens have been the most successful (domestically speaking) English top-flight outfit over the course of the last decade.
Yet, despite that, Liverpool and Manchester United remain the sides with the most global clout in the Premier League.