With more than half of the PFL season in the books, one thing has remained consistent, Meralco Manila has held its position on top of the table. But the Capital Club is a curious one. In a month that has seen the faces of the franchise, the Younghusbands, leave for (supposedly) greener pastures, the players left behind have been playing with a chip on their collective shoulders resulting to a better more attractive brand of football.
In the 5 games after the Younghusband brothers left, the Sparks as they are called, have won 4 and lost just once, only their 2nd of the season, even beating title favorites Ceres Negros at Panaad Stadium snapping the Busmen’s unbeaten streak in Negros, an incredible feat in itself considering they are playing with no Big name players so to speak. The scoring burden has been carried by former Olyroos Tahj Minniecon and Ex San Beda Star Fil-Brit Connor Tacagni stepping up with the Duo scoring 4 of the teams last 9 goals. Homegrown Manila born and Dapitan’s own Daniel Bernan Gadia has been playing the form of his life since stepping in for departed captain James Younghusband in the middle of Meralco’s engine room. Azkals Winger Curt Dizon has been able to showcase more of his offensive skills now that the focus of attack is open and not limited to Phil Younghusband anymore. And the ever reliable Winger/Wingback Tyler Matas has continued his excellent play even earning a call up to the National Team this coming September 5. Life is good in Sparklandia.
But not all is well in good in the Capital. The club continues to draw (or fail to draw?) a measly crowd every home game, usually less than 500 with the Younghusbands still in town and now even less without them. A shame considering the good results coming into the club’s way. It is this writer’s opinion that the club’s management hasn’t really embraced the city of Manila wholeheartedly. Considering that if it weren’t for the fact that Mckinley Football Stadium failed to pass PFL regulations for pitch size, the Sparks would be calling Taguig home instead of the Capital City. As a resident of the City, I ignored this fact and gave the club representing my City my wholehearted support, even if we were plan B.
The Sparks has played 18 games, half of which has been played at the Historic Rizal Memorial Stadium. I tend to question what their long term plans are seeing the small crowd every home game. Does the club really want to play in Manila? The Marketing has been non-existent. Most of Manila has no idea that a Football Team representing their City is topping the PFL table with a real shot of winning the whole thing with only 10 games left to play and with a commanding 11 point lead over the next closest team. I feel sorry for the hard working players and the coaching staff who are doing such a great job when there is nobody there to see their accomplishments on the field.
All I’m saying to Meralco Manila management is embrace the City and its people. Show some Ambition. Show a little more effort in promoting the games and trying to sell your product. In return the City will soon be proud to call you their own.