MANCHESTER, October 1-Former Manchester United star Paul Scholes slammed Manchester City’s fans for failing to create a “special” European atmosphere during Tuesday’s Champions League tie at home to Roma.
Fewer than 38,000 fans turned up at the Etihad Stadium — a ground with a capacity of 60,000 — for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with the Italian giants in this Group E clash.
It was City’s lowest home attendance since they first entered the competition in 2011.
Scholes, working as a pundit for broadcaster ITV, said City’s Champions League ties did not create the same excitement as those at United and other English clubs.
“I was lucky enough to play at Old Trafford and we always talked about the atmosphere on a Tuesday night, the special atmosphere you create, and the crowd is rocking when you go out for a warm-up,” Scholes said.
“At quarter-past seven (1815GMT), there’s empty seats everywhere. When you come here it just doesn’t have a European night feel to it.
“You go to Liverpool, you go to Old Trafford, you go to Chelsea, they have a special feeling for it.
“I don’t think they realise what a big game this is. They’ve got the team, they’ve definitely got the players, the quality is definitely there, but do the crowd realise how lucky they are to be in this competition? I don’t think they do.”
City are currently in the midst of increasing the Etihad’s capacity to 62,000, which will increase the number of seats to almost 54,000.
City’s average attendance this season has been 45,612.
Another former United player, Rio Ferdinand, questioned the need for increased capacity given City’s latest crowd figures.
“How many empty seats are there at the city vs Roma game by the way….big CL game & fans would rather Ramsays Kitchen or something at home,” Ferdinand wrote on Twitter.
“Expanding the stadium for what though?? For who though???”
The draw left City once again struggling to qualify for the knockout stages.
However, City manager Manuel Pellegrini said he had no complaints about the crowd.
“Of course if you have a great atmosphere it is always better for the team but we cannot be concerned about the atmosphere the fans give because they always give very good atmosphere,” Pellegrini said.
“I don’t think that was an important thing why we didn’t win the game,” the Chilean added.