For many British fans, the idea of fans from overseas following their team can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's often a sign of a club on the up, a team that has caught the eye of neutral fans around the world and convinced them to throw their support behind your club and their success. On the other, it can be seen as a move away from the local community towards a global brand and that entails. But what do those overseas think? What is is about the teams that caught their eye? During Manchester City's pre-season trip to China, Umbro's Ricky Xu spoke to three of the supporters who were cheering on the team and asked them why they chose to follow City. Wang Zhe (President of Manchester City's Bejing Fans Association), 'Golden Shooter' (a City fan for 10 years) and Molin (a Chinese City fan living in Manchester) all gave their side of the argument for why City are the club for them...
When did you
start watching football and when did you start watching the Premier League?
Wang: 'When the Chinese national team played in the World Cup qualification in 2001, and I started watching the Premier League after the 2002 World Cup.'
Golden Shooter: 'I started watching football in 1996. After 2002, I watched the Premier League.'
Molin: 'For me football comes into my life in 1995 and the Premier League was around 1997.'What was it that attracted you to Manchester City?
Wang: 'First of
all when I was a kid, I started paying attention to City because of the Chinese
player Sun. I was not a City fan at that time but that’s a wonderful childhood
memory. Later I chose City as my 'first team' and I think it continues that
bond. Secondly, I hope I support a team that I can accompany from a weak team growing
into a strong one and I can see the potential for that in City. For me, I don’t
like 'giant' clubs and on the contrary, I like small clubs who can defeat those giant
clubs. Besides, City’s culture, atmosphere, the colour of the shirt, songs of the team and
other factors all make me feel connected to them.'
Golden Shooter: 'I started loving City when Sun moved there. I do love its never-wanna-lose-and-fight-forever spirit and the sky blue standing for freedom and peace!'
Molin: 'I began
to support City because of Sun. The most attractive thing is the blue colour of
shirt which is very comfortable when you look at it.'
What was your favourite match last season?
Wang: 'It has to be 23th October, the victory against Manchester United, that was the greatest victory in City’s history. And the last game of the season, the heartwrenching last 5 minutes, when we won the Premier League after 44 years!'
Golden Shooter: 'The last three minutes of the last match, when we reversed the
game and won the championship.'
Molin: 'When Kun scored the clinching goal and City won the championship after 44 years!'
What do you think is the most recognisable feature of City fans in China?
Wang: 'A qualified fan is one that knows the history and culture of the club. In this regard, City’s fans still need to improve compared with other giant clubs. Also, City struggled not so long ago, so older fans are very modest, sensible and low key, unlike other giant clubs who like insulting each other. And I hope we can stick with these virtues.'
Golden Shooter: 'I think the most valuable thing is that they are low key, modest and loyal.'
Molin: 'A great many of City fans started to support the club in the past few years. Most of them are because of the stars instead of the team and there are not many fans really supporting the team. This is a small pity!'
Do you like playing football?
Wang: 'When I was a kid, I liked playing it, but I sucked and I was afraid of injury, so I quit.'
Golden Shooter: 'I played since I was a kid and I am still doing it.'
Molin: 'I love it'
What do you say to fans who argue you with you for supporting City?
Wang: 'If they come to City fan’s territory, they deserve the cursing. I will retort without any question, but I will still try my best to keep my grace and manner and show them how civilized I am. In my opinion, fans also represent the club. If you do love a club, you should honour it rather than discredit it. If you do love a club, you will care how other club’s fans see you.'
Golden Shooter: 'According to my personality, I will ignore it.'
Molin: 'At the very beginning, I would argue with them. But when
I found it was useless, I stopped wasting my time. I just want to support the
team I love. That’s enough.'
What do you think is City’s biggest challenge for the coming season, and what's your wish for the season?
Wang: 'Chelsea and United getting better; UEFA’s 'financial fair play' policy. My hope is to win the Champions League as soon as possible.'
Golden Shooter: 'It’s the Champions League, I hope we can go farther.'
Molin: 'The Premier League will be fiercer this season. Chelsea, United and Arsenal have all bought some good players. City will face a big challenge defending the Premier League. I hope City will keep the stable developing, have no injuries, defend the Premier League and get into the quarter-final of Champions League.'
Finally, what did you do when Aguero scored that goal in the last game of previous season?
Wang: 'It’s blank in my head. The only thing I do remember is crazy jumping, crazy screaming and crazy hugging with other City fans in the bar.'
Golden Shooter: 'Cheering. Crazy cheering! Honestly speaking, my memory is a bit hazy!'
Molin: 'We threw our beer into the air and hugged other fans nearby, jumping and screaming crazily.'
Thanks to all three fans for telling us about their love for City, and shining a light on why they've chosen to follow an English team. Whilst they can never claim the connections with the club that some fans have, it's clear that they're a passionate part of City's future, and will be an important part of the club as they continue to move forward.