???️ I went to a Champions League night at the Etihad…

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On a night where Liverpool fans suffered another frustrating performance from their team in the Champions League, I had to keep up with the match sat inside the Etihad Stadium, watching Manchester City vs Shakhtar Donetsk. I came out of the ground significantly more deflated as other City fans, who obviously won 2-0. I knew I’d be doing an article today about something, and I thought, ???how can I get a good angle on the events on this evening?’ and low and behold, I saw it as a good opportunity to compare how a European evening goes down at both the Etihad and Anfield. Now before everyone rages at me missing the Liverpool game, I was at the City game with a good friend who, now I’ve moved to Liverpool for university, I very rarely get to see. Since Liverpool were away in Russia (there was no way I’d skip a home European game) and there was no way I was risking my life to travel there, I decided to see it as an opportunity to experience that world-famous, electric Etihad Stadium European night atmosphere. I kid, of course. I was curious to know if the Etihad was going to live up its reputation of being ???empty’ constantly, or if that was just the image of it portrayed by social media and shithouse websites like LadBible and Unilad. The ticket was just £25, which is a steal compared to Liverpool Champions League ticket prices (up to £59) and the average Manchester City Premier League ticket price, which can go up to £58 for an adult. It’s clear that the club have recognised that it’s going to be difficult for them to get people through the door for a midweek game vs the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, so to be honest, it was probably a good thing they lowered the ticket prices. Over the years, Liverpool Football Club and us as Liverpool fans have prided ourselves on the tremendous atmospheres we can generate at Anfield, particularly on European nights. However, there has been some complaining of late that it’s not what it used to be. It’s hard to generate an inspiring atmosphere in every game, but we are there for the big games and we make ourselves heard when the team needs us. The point I am trying to make is that, even though we are complaining slightly about the atmosphere at Anfield not being quite the same over the last couple of seasons, trust me, be thankful we are not Manchester City. We arrived about 25 minutes before the game and went straight into the ground, the players were still completing their warm-up and I joked about how the attendance was poor on Facebook, as seen below (my friend didn’t pick up on the sarcasm, which was rather amusing). What’s more amusing is that, despite their cheap ticket prices, it didn’t get much better than that. It amazes me how Anfield can sell out with the prices we are charging for tickets (which, by the way, I think is a joke now I’ve seen City’s prices, but that’s a discussion for another day). But even by kick-off at the Etihad, the upper tier of the Colin Bell stand opposite us looked like this. The red circle is because I sent the picture to my Dad, who laughed just as much as I was. This is the best they can do? They are one of the biggest clubs in England, playing in the biggest competition in the world, and this is the state of the crowd? How can this be? How can the fans of one club take this competition so seriously, selling out every match no matter what the cost, while another set of fans seem to be incapable of being arsed about turning up? City have had this money for almost 10 years. They have had consistent Champions League football since 2012, and the best they have done is a semi final in 2016. How can the interest in this competition have faded so fast? Are City fans already taking this competition for granted or is it literally because they keep doing so shit every season? Either way it was sad to see, because I know how much the Champions League means to Liverpool and its fans. I know how much it hurts when we’re not in the competition, and I know how many fans would kill for tickets when it comes to Champions League nights at Anfield. The total lack of hype surrounding the entire event even filtered through to the fans coming from Ukraine. This was the away end moments before kickoff, and this is how it stayed for the entirety of the match. I like to think that the only reason they were there is because they thought their team were playing Man United. To be fair to Manchester City as a club, I’m not sure what else they can do. The access to the ground was ridiculously simple on the tram, the ticket prices were very reasonable, the match-day service and support around the ground was excellent. They simply don’t have the dedicated core fan-base to sell out those types of games at the moment, even with the efforts they’re making. That’ll come as they become more successful and more generations of City fans start to follow the club, but right now, someone at the club somewhere must die a little inside when City don’t draw a Barcelona/Real Madrid standard of team in the group stages like this season, because they know they simply won’t sell out the match. The point I’m trying to make is an optimistic one. On the pitch at the moment, we aren’t the best. We aren’t smashing teams off the park like we were this time last year, it’s coming, but we’re not there yet. One week all of our chances are going to fly in and we’ll batter someone by 5 or 6. But what we can remember is that off the pitch, we are still possibly the biggest club in England, with the most amazing set of fans. Fans that will truly give their heart and soul for their team no matter what the cost, weather or day of the week, and that is a testament to the nobility of our football club. We can be proud of the support we show as fans week in, week out, because we truly are boss and cheering on our football team.   By Ben Kelly
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