sport news IAN LADYMAN: Guardiola is wrong about FA Cup attendances... and Rose must park ...

Three of the most memorable football matches of my youth were all very different.

Liverpool's European Cup semi-final first leg win against Panathinaikos at Anfield in 1985, Luton Town's relegation of Manchester City at Maine Road two years earlier and a Division One play-off game between Newcastle and during time spent there as a student in 1990.

All are linked by one thing. On each occasion, a ticket was purchased very simply on the day of the game.

It is no wonder Man City fans decided to stay on the sofa for the FA Cup clash against Fulham

It is no wonder Man City fans decided to stay on the sofa for the FA Cup clash against Fulham

I mention this because of the debate triggered by Pep Guardiola last week about attendances at the Etihad Stadium. The City manager believes the ground should always be full to its 55,000 capacity and he is not alone.

Others — particularly fans of rivals — often use City's attendances as a stick to beat them. The inference is that City can't really be a big club if they don't have people hammering at the gates to get in.

History tells us this is a flawed argument. We may wish to believe football was so much better back in the day that our creaking, wooden old stadia were crammed full every weekend but this is just not true.

It is understandable that Pep Guardiola would not see why City fans would skip the clash

It is understandable that Pep Guardiola would not see why City fans would skip the clash 

City's history tells its own story. Season 1992-93 was the first of the Premier League. City's Maine Road stadium had a capacity of 35,000 and the team finished ninth, just ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal. But the average attendance that season was just 24,698 and occasionally threatened to drop beneath the 20,000 mark.

City have a much better team these days. More people want to watch, naturally. But set against that are such things as spiralling ticket costs and the fact that just about every game Guardiola's team play is available to watch on television somewhere.

January is always a challenging month for the paying football customer. There are lots of games, some more appetising than others, to attend at a time when nobody has any money.

That Guardiola doesn't see this is not surprising. His previous two postings were Bayern Munich and Barcelona, two super clubs whose games are attended weekly by a mixture of bona fide supporters and what you may call 'tourist fans'. The same can be said of United and Liverpool.

Visit these clubs on matchdays and the number of American, Scandinavian and Asian fans is immediately obvious. They are there on packages — some are on long-planned holidays — and are indicative of the enormous reach of the modern game.

As City set the bar higher for success, fans will become less enthused for certain games

As City set the bar higher for success, fans will become less enthused for certain games 

They swell the numbers in a way that does not happen at City. Not yet. No, the vast majority of people at the Etihad are

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