Having just won their second consecutive Premier League title, there’s a video floating around the internet today of Manchester City players and staff on a bus singing not about that victory but about Liverpool. About Liverpool’s defeat in the Champions League last season and about Vincent Kompany injuring Mohamed Salah and about a Liverpool fan who was beaten unconscious.
To say it’s not a great look—their players singing a mocking knock-off of the Allez, Allez, Allez chant Liverpool fans have become known for—for a club already under multiple investigations by football’s governing bodies, a club that exists in its modern form almost wholly as the public relations wing for a human rights abusing petrostate, would be an understatement.
We’re not going to link to the video. If you want to find it, you’re a savvy enough internet user to seek it out. And while this is football and nothing is original such that City having themselves a knock-off chant isn’t surprising or even wrong, what is surprising and wrong about this particular chant are the lyrics and what they represent.
In amongst plenty of objectionable lyrical content, we want to highlight two especially objectionable parts of the City chant.
‘Battered in the Streets’
If you’re a Liverpool fan, or even if you’re just a football fan, we’ll assume you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year. But in case you have been, last season, before the home leg against Roma in the semi-final of the Champions League, Liverpool fan Sean Cox was beaten to within an inch of his life outside of Anfield by travelling Roma ultras. Sean is still in recovery and has a long way to go.
Put another way, the only widely reported incident of fan violence involving Liverpool last year was someone almost dying. To claim otherwise, to try to instead say that it’s a line about some minor, barely-reported moment in Kiev or elsewhere, is not only disingenuous, it’s vile. And even if one accepted that argument, it would still be a song celebrating fans being, well, battered in the streets.
‘Victims of it All’
If you’ve been a Liverpool for any amount of time, you’ve probably been pelted with some version of this one. Scousers are always the victims, offended by everything, and on and on. It’s a not-so-veiled reference to Hillsborough and Heysel in particular. More broadly it has its roots in southern Tory banter, regularly rolled out alongside calls to Feed the Scousers that mock the Liverpool that was ravaged by austerity of the 1980s and whose fans were painted as hooligans and criminals unwilling to accept responsibility for their own lot in life.
As with those cries to feed the Scousers, that it now gets sung by fans—and even players—of other another northern team is strikingly odd. And while that club’s fans can dress it up however they want, the origins of chants such as this can never be wholly painted over.
The temptation, then, will be to say that City club should now apologize, and they almost certainly will at some point. Though it isn’t likely that whatever they eventually put out will be especially sincere or meaningful—it will be a press release crafted in an office by someone who wasn’t there in the first place saying they regret if anyone took offense.
You would perhaps expect, if not excuse, such behaviour from fans. After all, fans behaving badly—including sometimes Liverpool fans—is hardly new or shocking. Coming from players, though, to be recorded singing a mocking song about another team following your own league victory and having not played said other team in months, seems distinctly small time, and it’s genuinely difficult to imagine Liverpool’s players—or even their fans, for that matter—singing about City had results gone the other way.
It’s a recording that captures a vile pettiness, as well as a small time mentality, one City and their players should be ashamed of. It’s also a reminder for Liverpool and the club’s fans that we still do matter more. Because even after another title when City recorded the second highest points total in Premier League history a year after setting that record, their fans and even their players are thinking about us as much as they are celebrating.
An apology will probably come. It will fall somewhere between insincere and meaningless. And we’ll keep our focus on getting ready for a Champions League final and singing songs about Liverpool’s triumph if we win it.