August 13th 2016 – Manchester City vs Sunderland
The week leading up to Bill Cosby’s managerial debut is quiet on transfer incomings front. Not so much on the outgoings, as Yaya Touré is sold to Bayern Munich for £13m whilst Fernando, Jesus Navas and Bacary Sagna are sold for a combined £20m.
The odds on Manchester City winning the title are slashed, with them now being sixth favourites with the bookies at odds of 19/1. Manchester City fans are under the impression that the bookies have actually been quite generous, although the saving grace is that Vincent Kompany and David Silva appear to have garnered little interest from other clubs and, if they were to remain past the deadline day, the club would have a substantially improved chance at the title.
Fans are on hand to boo him as he leaves the coach, with banners demanding his sacking lining the gates to the stadium entrance. Cosby goes viral before the teamsheet is even announced as he is filmed falling off the team coach after tripping down the steps. Within the hour, somebody has made a video of him rolling after landing on the ground, poorly edited to be flying through the air and tripping over various celebrities whilst rolling to the soundtrack of ‘Shooting Stars’ by Bag Raiders.
The teamsheet is announced and it looks strong, though very inexperienced and fans are worried by the absence of Vincent Kompany and David Silva. Thankfully the first game of the season is against Sunderland, a team that pundits and bookies alike have tipped for relegation.
The teams come out to a strangely quiet stadium, as the attendance is only around the 9,000 mark. A large portion of the fan base have decided to stay outside the ground in protest of the new management. The faint chanting of “We want Cosby out, we want Cosby out” can be heard from outside the stadium, though Cosby looks defiant on the touchline.
The game gets off to a great start as Manchester City find themselves 5-0 up in the first half an hour. Sunderland have capitulated at the back and the players are starting to take the piss, with Ruben Neves opting to attempt a rabona when he finds himself in a one-on-one with Sunderland’s keeper.
The score remains 5-0 at half time and Bill Cosby walks down the tunnel with a smile on his face. John Stones will tell the media after the game that he gave no team talk at half time and that he simply walked into the room, shook the hands of every player in the squad and left.
Whatever he does at half time, it seems to do the trick as Manchester City come out and score another five goals, with the pick of the goals coming from substitute Kevin De Bruyne, as Gabriel Jesus chips it over the head of Lamine Koné at the edge of the penalty area, allowing De Bruyne to run onto the ball and volley it into the bottom corner.
The victory is tainted slightly as Jermaine Defoe finds far too much space in the middle of the penalty area, allowing him to slot the ball past Donnarumma and get a consolation goal for Sunderland, wiping out the clean sheet in the process. Cosby is livid on the sidelines and he is clearly seem to be mouthing the words, “for fuck’s sake Stones” in the immediate aftermath.
The game ends 10-1 to Manchester City, with debut goals from Sané, Jesus, Kimmich, Bakayoko and Neves. An emphatic answer from Cosby to his many pre-season critics. Manchester City fans, even those who boycotted the game, celebrate temporarily. Despite the difference in opinion regarding the transfer window, could this be the start of something special at the club?
Within minutes of the game ending, however, it becomes abundantly clear that this is not going to be something quite as special as they might have thought, as Bill Cosby refuses to shake the hand of the Sunderland manager, David Moyes, on the final whistle, opting instead to run out into the centre of the pitch and dab repeatedly, giving the middle finger to the television cameras.
He attends the post-match press conference, however, instead of the typical club attire or suit a manger would normally be seen in, he wears a KONY 2012 t-shirt along with Hawaiian print shorts and flip flops. He spends the entire conference holding the microphone to his mouth like a rapper with his feet resting on the table as he leans back in his chair.
During the conference he calls David Moyes a fraud who got lucky by managing ‘a team of scouse shit-houses who were grateful to just be in the league at all’ and claims he has never amounted to anything since. He also brushes off any criticism from the fans, saying the following:
When you win your first game in charge scoring double-digit goals, you can do whatever the fuck you want. This is my club now. These are my players. I will be here until the day I die.
That evening, Cosby tweets out his post-match thoughts.
The fans are torn between the scintillating football which was on display and the laughing stock of a manager they’ve found themselves lumbered with. An interesting season lies ahead for the blues.
August 20th 2016 – Stoke City vs Manchester City
Manchester City take to the field again, this time against Stoke City. In the last week, Cosby has managed to get away with only a warning after his post-match conduct against Sunderland, with the FA citing inexperience and a willingness to give the benefit of the doubt as reasoning for not taking further action against him. It is clear, however, that this is a last warning before more severe punishment should something similar happen again.
The line-up for the game at the bet365 Stadium sees a little bit of rotation with Kimpembe coming in for Elvedi and Zabaleta being forced out of the side with a hamstring injury that will keep him out for the next few weeks. Sterling comes into the squad in place of Mbappé and De Bruyne swaps in for Bakayoko.
The line-up looks more experienced than the one seen in the first game of the season and fans are hopeful of another high-scoring game.
The game doesn’t disappoint as Sané opens the scoring within the first ten minutes, bursting into the box from the right before cutting in on his preferred left foot and curling the ball around Jack Butland into the far post. Just before the half-time whistle, Raheem Sterling latches onto the ball amidst a scramble in the box, poking home to double the blues’ lead.
In the second half the game really opens up as Mark Hughes encourages his team to try and salvage something from the game. This plays right into the hands of Cosby’s boys, who annihilate Stoke on the counter. Gabriel Jesus bags his second brace of the season and makes the score 4-0 before Mbappé is brought on. In the 92nd minute he breaks away from the Stoke defence, calmly rounding Jack Butland and tapping the ball into an empty net for his first Manchester City goal.
The game ends 5-0 but this time there is no wild celebration from Cosby this time. He refuses to shake the hand of Mark Hughes (he would later go on to describe Hughes as ‘bitter’ because he couldn’t handle the pressure of the job Cosby is finding so easy) before applauding the away fans who have arrived to this game at maximum capacity, filling the away allocation.
There is a sense that, even this early on in the season, Cosby is starting to learn what it means to be a football manager and the decorum that is required to succeed. If Cosby can keep the flowing football ticking over while keeping his disciplinary record clean and fan aggravation to a minimum, this could actually be the start of something special.