I’ve been feeling a bit guilty this week, but that’s nothing new. I’m probably being too honest here and committing some kind of cardinal sin, but sometimes you can’t help what you feel.
The source of this particular guilt trip came about 20 minutes in to Manchester City’s first home game of the season against Everton on Monday night.
I’d been looking forward to going to the game and getting a first look at Pep’s new City signings and particularly their new keeper, Ederson Moraes.
After last year’s well-publicised difficulties suffered by Claudio Bravo, there’s a certain amount of pressure on the young Brazilian to be the hybrid footballer-keeper that Pep’s play requires.
City simply cannot afford another season of their scintillating attacking play being hamstrung by an inability to stop the ball going in their net with an alarming ease.
It wasn’t just Ederson that I was keen to see play for City though.
Bernardo Silva is one of those players who just oozes class and I was disappointed I didn’t get too see more than 20 minutes he played from the bench.
He still made an impression though. A simple 10-yard pass from him a thing of beauty and when he extends his range beyond that he stops being a footballer and becomes an artist.
One pass in particular was astounding.
There will be those who will simplify this by saying “A footballer costing tens of millions of pounds should be able to kick football and that’s all he’s doing. So what?”, but you have to appreciate the craft.
If you don’t do that then you are just going to a football match just for the result alone. If that’s the case, then you’re missing out.
The pass I was referring to was a 30-yard ball he sprayed out to the flank, and he wrapped his foot around the ball with so much finesse it was felt more like someone looking at a loved one and realising how much they loved them and putting their arm around their girlfriend or boyfriend to give them a cuddle than just one footballer kicking a football to another.
Even more than watching the way City caressed the ball around the pitch, I was looking forward to see how Everton keeper Jordan Pickford was adapting to his new club and team-mates.
To be honest, I don’t even know why I even had to bother asking the question.
Whenever I see he play, it reminds me of a line by Snoop Doggy Dogg in Dr Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” that goes ‘Unfadable, but so please don’t try and fade this.”
Replace “unfadable” with “unfazable” and that just about sums up JP. There’ll be bigger tests along the way, but he’s been born with in-built shock absorbers and handles every bump in the road without much disruption.
I looked at him playing with the same enthusiasm as always, with the same confidence, with the same authority as if he was still playing in the Sunderland academy side amongst the mates he’d come through the ranks with, the same unerring accuracy of his sidewinder volley distribution to start counter-attacks.
In short, nothing had changed.
It’s early days, but it looks the £30million price tag has already been shrugged off and shed, which makes me with happy for him and sad at the same time.
To build great sides, it’s important to hold on to the players you already have to form that greatness around and I admire the likes of Liverpool for taking the stand with Philippe Coutinho.
Whether the money is too good to turn down or the player isn’t irreplaceable, there has to be a certain amount of stability in key positions to attain success.
This is where the guilt began to kick in.
Now, I know City haven’t always been the club they are now, but I began to feel pangs of jealousy as soon as I parked my car in one of the many vast car parks.
You look around the place at the various stadiums and facilities they have there and you could easily get a sense that it’s too big – that the familiarity and soul of City’s past could easily get lost among all that infrastructure.
Making my way through doors and past each steward and attendant, it felt less like a football match and more of an event.
And, of course, that’s exactly what football is now.
That’s not a complaint. That’s just the way it is.
The only complaint was the attendees of the inaugural Tunnel Club taking their seats in front of me five minutes after kick-off and taking another five minutes to be settled in them.
The jealousy really kicked in when the football began.
Everton looked good. Wayne Rooney looked as sharp as I’ve seen him for a long time in the first 45 minutes – a sign that his international retirement might be the right move. But City, man . . . City are something else.
I think it was around that 20-minute mark that played a through ball along the floor inside Everton’s right full-back, Mason Holgate, that I thought to myself, “Why can’t I watch this every week?” and that I could really get used to it.
And that’s where the guilt came from.
The right way to support a football team is to support the team from the place your were born or the team your family supported.
That’s how I saw it when I was younger. That’s how it was and supposed to be.
You don’t choose your team, it’s chosen for you by birthplace or bloodline. That’s it. No arguments.
But, with every slide-rule pass, every flick, every deft touch, it made me question everything I’d been brought up on.
I love where I come from and love the upbringing I have had, but everyone has had that thought where they think they wish they had come from money, haven’t they?
That they wish they had won the lottery of life and everything wasn’t so hard.
Well, Manchester City did win the lottery and I’m seething with envy right now.
Jealousy is a terrible thing and to think what Manchester City used to be makes it harder to take, but I’m tired of moaning and complaining.
Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of jumping ship, but excuse me if I go to see Pep now and again for a little pick-me-up. He’s cheered me up this week.