City have spent the last 15 years ripping through the traditional elite like a tornado and, once they reached the Treble summit, a different sort of storm threatened to blow them over while surveying the path trodden. Thankfully, it didn’t.
But first, the tram. A metro from Velopark across to Deansgate is not exactly a glamorous route – especially after a few beers and an Ibiza hangover. It passed through New Islington, Piccadilly and around the back of the main eventual stage at St Peter’s Square. A parade before the parade.
Here were a group of young lads dancing and banging on the windows going to an event and, in this part of the world, that is nothing new. Any given Saturday. Ruben Dias, the father of the group, had to direct one straggler onto the correct coach. No prizes for guessing who that might have been. Again, any given Saturday.
Pep Guardiola and his squad, backroom staff and executives had held their civic reception with the deputy leader of the council at the City Football Academy because, helpful, Manchester has no functioning town hall at the moment. Chief executive Ferran Soriano said a few words.
And to the weather. Only here, miserable for two-thirds of the year, could it somehow then become too hot for a parade, a scorcher morphing into treacherous storms that looked very out of place in the North West.
The tram system was a state all day, the soaring temperatures causing havoc with cabling and grinding the area to a halt for a while. And still the thousands came, the start delayed by half-an-hour after City held talks with the local authorities and the Met office. A fair guess would be that 100,000 lined these streets.
Wet – very wet – and delirious. Jack Grealish turned to Erling Haaland: ‘How are we having it?’ Presumably he expected ‘large’ to arrive as an answer. Haaland dumped a bottle of champagne over his head instead.
The hair had long been spoiled anyway. The tops soon came off. Drenched supporters were doused with booze. Guardiola puffed on a cigar. We’ve seen this film before, but never while enjoying something on this scale.
Down Oxford Street, where fans crammed in, it resembled carnage as lightning bolted and thunder rumbled. Weather does weird things to people and some were breaching barriers and causing chaos on a day City had handed over security measures to an independent firm.
The whole thing was just about kept under control. ‘For the last 24 hours I’ve had the best day and night,’ Grealish said. ‘To be fair I don’t think I’ve slept. I’m a turkey and the turkey needs feeding!’
And so Kalvin Phillips fed him so vodka. Everybody cheered.
Even without Saturday in Istanbul, even without beating their rivals at Wembley and even without menacingly clawing back Arsenal, this would have been a day to remember in this special city. Hanging off lampposts, almost bringing bus stops to their knees, leaning out of windows, a pocket of Manchester felt alive.