If at first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh you don’t succeed, try and try again.
This seems to be Manchester City’s mantra ahead of next month’s UEFA Cup quarterfinal tie with Hamburg, made apparent by the fact that the club has slashed ticket prices through this Sunday for Apr. 16’s home leg to just £5 for adults and £1 for kids.
The temporary markdown makes for a 75% cheaper adult ticket than City’s season ticket holders purchased for the Blues’ home round-of-16 encounter with Danish side Aalborg this month. On a personal level, as a City fan living overseas, I’m wishing right about now that transatlantic flights were that cheap, but never mind.
With the cheaper ticket prices – Which, as we’ve all discovered, you can do when you’re also able to bid £100 million for one player; Hi, Garry! – the Eastlands outfit are banking on getting a much-improved atmosphere for Hamburg than there was for the Danes’ visit, when only 24,596 bothered to turn up at a stadium that seats almost twice that.
Up to now, City have yet to even reach the 30,000 plateau in this season’s UEFA Cup, but it would appear that they won’t have much trouble there this time around, with the Manchester Evening News reporting massive queues both at the City of Manchester Stadium box office as well as City’s shop in the Arndale Centre, combining with online customers for 15,000 tickets sold before the club had to temporarily suspend sales.
It’s certainly a good sign that that so many tickets have already gone with another four days and change left before the ‘sale’ expires, but getting tickets in supporters’ hands is at best only half the battle. The club is (so far) holding up its end of the bargain – The rest is going to be up to the fans, and they will need to make their voices well and truly heard.
Though I find it a bit disgraceful in a way – Of course there’s a hierarchy there, but a major trophy is a major trophy is a major trophy – the UEFA Cup is commonly seen as a sort of ‘best of the rest’ competition, as indicated a lot of the time by attendance figures, and City fans have been just as guilty as anyone this season in that regard, but City’s win over Aalborg on penalties has given Blues supporters a golden opportunity to redeem themselves.
While City are sure to pass the attendance numbers of their first seven UEFA Cup home matches this season with ease for the Hamburg game, the fans know that it will be up to them to create the kind of atmosphere that the circumstances demand. As Manchester United supporters enjoy reminding their City counterparts, the Blues have not won a major trophy since around the time that John Simm experienced Life on Mars, and rarely has the first team been this close to grabbing any silverware worth grabbing.
City have a tough road to hoe if they’re going to make it to the final in Istanbul, with Hamburg standing in their way and then presumably Werder Bremen after that should their compatriots go down, but if the fans finally prove themselves able to answer the call for the first time in this competition, what sometimes seems like the impossible dream might become that little bit less thus.