Nev's Knockdowns

How often does Fabian Delph star in the biggest documentary of the year? Twice, three times at a push?

Such rare occasions call for severe analysis. With that in mind, we really need to discuss All or Nothing: Manchester City.

The eight-part Amazon Prime series has caused such heated debate, even José Mourinho has an opinion!? The show documents City’s record-breaking 2017/18 season, exhibiting Pep Guardiola’s pre-match tactical briefings, half-time team talks and post-match reflections. Media access on this level has never been granted by a Premier League club before, and the decision of the current champions to invite the cameras into the dressing room has caused quite the stir. And yet the biggest criticism of the show seems to be its lack of transparency.

Amazon’s claim that City had no influence whatsoever on the editorial approach of the show is about as convincing as Victor Lindelöf as a first choice centre back. The docu-series is essentially sky blue propaganda. Every win is airbrushed to depict a perfect performance, whilst the rare defeats are misconstrued as a perverted injustice. The Champions League defeat to Liverpool is portrayed as a crime against football, caused entirely by the attack on City’s bus prior to the first leg at Anfield and poor refereeing decisions in the reverse fixture. What’s that? Liverpool were the better team and completely deserved to go through? DON’T BE SILLY…HERE, LOOK AT JOHN STONES WALKING ROUND A GOLF COURSE IN A RABBIT COSTUME!

There’s no mention of Raheem Sterling’s troubled relationship with the tabloid press, Yaya Touré’s messy exit from the club or the human rights violations that plague cities in the UAE like Abu Dhabi. And we haven’t even got started on Ben Kingsley’s voice-over. The Oscar-winner sure doesn’t allow the truth to get in the way of a good narration – imagine Donald Trump if he was from North Yorkshire and really liked İlkay Gündoğan.

The distorted, fantasy approach that All or Nothing takes is made even more bizarre when you consider the documentary’s focus. Surely one of the richest, most revered and well-run clubs in world football doesn’t need to have its integrity reinforced by a TV show? It makes you wonder what stunts Amazon would’ve pulled had they decided to follow the fortunes of a less successful team. Perhaps they would’ve put West Brom’s relegation down to witchcraft or explained Shrewsbury Town’s play-off final defeat as a government-funded cover-up.

The documentary’s blatant bias is a crying shame as it taints what is otherwise excellent viewing for any football nerd. The scenes within the dressing room are ridiculously fascinating, particularly the debate between Guardiola and Delph following City’s 3-2 defeat in the Manchester derby. Virtually the entire squad come across as likeable, with Vincent Kompany all but securing the title of nicest footballer ever.

In truth, this documentary is not the ‘All’ it proudly advertised itself as, nor the ‘Nothing’ its critics brand it, but somewhere in between.