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Manchester City's pitch revamp takes with it Liverpool legacy

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Destroyed. Gone. Buried to the confines of history by the very process of being dug up.

The evidence of Manchester City's greatest crime is now forever lost in piles of sand and, don't say it, grass. Forget FFP violations and being tarnished with alleged sports-washing, this was the club's most heinous crime.



The allegations spread like wildfire, City and Pep Guardiola in deadpan denial and one eternal question: Did they alter the playing surface to suit before their league win over Liverpool on 3 January 2019?



"I’m not the greenkeeper!" Guardiola said in response.



"We didn’t manipulate the pitch. Liverpool want to play quick and we want to play quicker.

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We have to respect the game and the rules, with the rules for everybody. I never speak with the groundsman. I did at the beginning in the summer time for many reasons.

But I have too many issues in my head to worry about the grass. I never make a phonecall to request certain pitch types. We always want to win in the best way."

News that City are in the midst of excavating their pitch to install a brand new, state of the art and technologically advanced surface at The Etihad Stadium doesn't necessitate any Liverpool input, really. But then again it's closed season and The Euros still hasn't started. And still, it's a harmless topic to recall, right?

The night Guardiola’s team landed a telling jab in a blow-for-blow title race, something felt off. The pitch looked slower and not as slick as it should be on a rainy winter evening. In fairness, it probably explains Vincent Kompany's horrendously overlooked and under-punished tackle on Mohamed Salah in the first-half.

Some days later, the pitch became topical and out of nowhere it had reached Guardiola in a press conference. City fans were revelling, with social media posts of "BuTthEyGrEwtHEGrAsS" and such like.

In truth, it shouldn't have been such a big issue. In the footballing stakes at elite level — especially that season — the most marginal gain could and did turn out to be the difference.

When Liverpool played Tottenham at Wembley the previous September, the ground staff spent the interval only watering the half of pitch where the home side would be attacking. I noted it in the stadium and thought nothing other than "fair game". When it happened here, it became an outlandish accusation, steeped in paranoia and without any foundation.

And now it's gone forever, and with it our ability to prove right a crime that never was. And therein such satire lies the entire point, that nobody was trying to accuse City of anything, not this time. It was merely an observation, dare I say there was even a touch of kudos attached.

As ever, don't take this too seriously. The grass isn't always greener, but whether on that fateful evening it was longer will be something which will forever be pondered.

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