Back in my school days, I had a girlfriend called Anna.
I went to a large school (albeit not as often as I should have done) with over a thousand pupils and yet it would be fair to say that most of them knew of Anna. She was strikingly attractive and in the year above me; a combination which made her the epitome of my adolescent fantasies.
(Bear with me, there is a point to this).
My friends and I would see her walking from one lesson to another, surrounded by her entourage and stare gormlessly as they passed us by. So all the more implausible that on a cold Tuesday morning during a break-time, a girl who I didn’t know came over and said “You’re Steve right? Anna wants to meet you at lunchtime. She likes you.”
Lost for words and bearing an expression of stunned disbelief (much like when one of our strikers misses a sitter), I was told where and when I was to meet and a couple of hours later, I found myself on the way to see my ‘Holy Grail’.
No interview I’ve had in the subsequent years has come close to causing the same gut-wrenching nervousness I felt and yet somehow, by the end of the day I was officially Anna’s boyfriend.
Overnight I became a hero to my friends and in the weeks that followed, I enjoyed a new level of kudos amongst my peers. I was invited to parties by people who hadn’t previously spoken to me and was asked to play football with the lads in the year above me, even though they didn’t actually know my name.
“Anna’s boyfriend; you can go in net”
Everything was great except for one minor detail: it turned out that Anna wasn’t actually very nice. In fact being in her company was really quite unpleasant.
Nevertheless, I reasoned that it was a small price to pay for my elevated status in the school and had no intention of letting that go.
As such, I was genuinely devastated when after a couple of months, the same messenger who had approached me before, delivered the news.
“Anna’s got a new boyfriend. You’re dumped”.
From hero to zero in an instant, albeit with one saving grace; I didn’t have to spend time with her any more.
City’s last two seasons in the Premier League have ended with us being similarly and unceremoniously dumped. But the parallels don’t end there; for whilst the top flight is the place to be and carries all sorts of perceived benefits, it’s not actually been that nice has it?
Earlier this season, I wrote about the things that I’ve grown to dislike about the Premier League. Number seven in the list is statistics and but in the final reckoning, the ‘stats’ reveal just how arduous this season has been.
22 mornings waking up with the despondency that’s brought about by a defeat.
67 occasions watching Messrs Ruddy and Rudd pick the ball out of the net.
10 senses of injustice as the referee points to our spot (without being awarded a single penalty in return).
Sure there’s been the odd moment to savour; the win at Old Trafford; Olsson’s strike against Newcastle but they have been few and far between. In the main, we’ve had to watch our team concede possession and plenty of goals.
And it all gets a bit tiresome.
This ran through my mind during the recent home match against Manchester United. It was a game which epitomised our Premier League experience.
Miss a good chance; make a mistake; concede a goal; and watch the opponents play keep ball until you ultimately go home feeling deflated. No Leicester fairy tale for us; just week after week of hard grind and ultimate disappointment.
After the Watford match, Russell Martin talked of the Premier League being the pinnacle. He’s right of course and it should be the place that the club and its fans aspire to be.
Just over a year ago, we all walked along Wembley Way, triumphantly singing “we are Premier League”. We had a shared sense of satisfaction of having claimed the bragging rights over our ‘friends’ across the border.
The anticipation of exciting times ahead; prospects of a new kit emblazoned with the Premier League badge being worn on ‘Super Sunday’ by expensive new signings. We had reached the Holy Grail and had all of that to look forward to.
Except, just like my experience with Anna, sometimes the things that you aspire to don’t turn out as you’d like and aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
I was gutted at losing our top flight status, but just like losing Anna, I’m sure I’ll make my peace with it pretty damn quickly.
Steve posts on Twitter @stevocook