How Man City’s Benjamin Mendy turned a horror debut season into a great one

Manchester City should seriously consider doubling Benjamin Mendy’s wage: not just because he’s a fabulous player when he’s fit, but so that they can also employ him in the social media team, too.

On an evening when the club celebrated its third Premier League title this century, it was Mendy who stole the show – as he often does when it comes to Twitter. Mendy’s account has become the first one you search for if Manchester City are in the news.

Like every other player, the Frenchman was active on Twitter to celebrate winning the title. The club had gone to great lengths to ensure that each player had his own bespoke highlights video to tweet out when the time came to actually celebrate victory. For players like Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, who have had lots of great moments this season, that makes sense. For Mendy, who played just a handful of games before suffering an unfortunate and long-term injury, it still seemed appropriate to compile his best moments – even if it seemed a little strange.

Throughout the season, the injured left-back has been entertaining us on Twitter and Instagram. Many have seen him as a breath of fresh air at a time when many footballers are known for their safe and aloof social media statuses. But the fact he’s so prolific is only part of the story. For Mendy, it has been a necessary tool.

When a player joins a new club, the last thing he wants is an injury. They are part and parcel of being a professional athlete of course, but when you’ve just joined a new team you need time to settle in, get to know your new teammates and become part of the group. A long-term absence is a huge barrier to that straight away, but Mendy has used social media to essentially include himself.

He has used his debut season to become a fan-favourite and part of the fabric of the club without even having played a game since September.

He also appears to have a great relationship with his teammates. They have taken on Mendy’s own phrase, Shark Team, as a team nickname and a badge of honour. That identity is perhaps one small reason City have been able to sustain their success this season – in that period before Christmas when absolutely everything was going right, that phrase just seemed to encapsulate what they were all about. It’s a subtle reason, not a major one, of course. It’s easy to overstate, but he’s made a contribution to his side’s title triumph; Mendy being Mendy, he’s used social media to do it.

Me & my girlfriend ????✌???? good night #sharkteam ????

A post shared by Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) on

Throughout the season, he’s been present for all the big moments that the team have had. After his injury, the City squad warmed up in Shark Team t-shirts as an hommage to their missing mate. That game was against Stoke City, when the new champions proved their good early season form was no flash in the pan, producing a 7-2 victory and some stunning football. Right on cue, there was Mendy, taking over the City Instagram Stories feed and joining in with the celebrations from an unspecified location.

A 2-1 win at home to Southampton was another defining moment in the champions’ season, when a late Raheem Sterling strike kept City on a run of wins which would eventually break the league record. It stated once again that this was a special team with the hearts of sharks. They weren’t going to stop. And once again, there was the injured Mendy, running down the touchline with his teammates, sporting an unmistakable limp and causing his manager to shake his head in disbelief that a £52m left-back with a ruptured knee ligament would ignore the advice of every doctor in the world and break into a sprint.

When the Carabao Cup was won at Wembley, when Pep Guardiola won his first trophy in English football and Manchester City proved that they were not going to wilt under pressure, it was a huge moment for the club. And although he was again ruled out, Mendy was the star of the celebrations. Armed with a selfie-stick and bags of enthusiasm, the French international was the glue between the jubilant fans and the triumphant players. Just as he has been all season.

That doesn’t change the fact that Mendy still needs to play a few more minutes this season to assure himself of a Premier League winner’s medal. But if he does get back in time to achieve it, expect even greater celebrations from @benmendy23.

As City celebrated the title with a host of great social media content. Mendy’s own personal account was the cherry on top – as it so often has been this year.

Fans will find him engaging, authentic and funny: in a reality TV sort of way, he’s ‘brilliant on social’. But there’s even more to it than that. Mendy has suffered the worst possible injury for a footballer at the worst possible time, just weeks after joining a new club. Thanks to his own social media sense, he’s managed to endear himself to his new fans and find a place in the squad hierarchy much more effectively than any solid debut season at left-back ever could have achieved.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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