The 1990’s were a dark time for Manchester City. Those of you who have read some of my previous ‘On This Day’ articles will know that it was in and amongst this turmoil when I first totally embraced Manchester City.
It certainly was no ‘glory hunt’ I was on with the Blues free-falling in the league, removing a Chairman with a hostile take over, and going through a ridiculous amount of Managers. Pre season expectations were simply to not get beaten by United, and avoid relegation. Probably, for the majority of us those desires came in that order!
Our best season in that regard, was the 1991/92 season. Drawing both League derbies and finishing fifth meant we were undefeated against United, something we wouldn’t repeat until Sven-Goran Eriksson.
That’s not to say we didn’t have our reasons to cheer. Uwe Rosler and Georgi Kinkladze were just two of those, both becoming legends for the club at a time when the club were fighting against relegation rather than pushing for titles.
Then, in 1996, and after the removal of Peter Swales, City finally were relegated into Division One (Championship as it is now). A rotating door of Managers saw Alan Ball leave, with two caretaker managers in between a visiting Steve Coppell. EVentually Frank Clark came in, and left a little over a year later.
In the season of our new club badge (the eagle one we just got rid of) we suffered yet another relegation. Installing Joe Royle on this day in 1998 was what we would ultimately need, but there was nothing he could do in the short-term to stop the rot.
Five wins in fifteen and three draws saw City miss out on safety by the single point. Had we won the penultimate game against QPR, then it would be them going down and not us. As it was, Manchester City were relegated, and players exited. Kinkladze and Rosler both playing their last games away from Maine Road.
Joe Royle, along with a smart chairman in David Bernstein, City were pulled back from the edge. Promoted, at the first time of asking, albeit via a play-off. Interestingly enough, the play-off semi final was against tomorrows FA Cup opponents Wigan.
After Alan Ball, Frank Clark and Steve Coppell, Manchester City needed a guy who knew City and the Mancunian life. In Joe Royle, they got that. Another promotion followed instantly as City found their way back in the Premiership.
A poor showing there, saw us back down and Joe Royle fired. It was an end maybe not to the most glorious era for the club. And, after the Premier League win with the final kick, the play-off maybe isn’t now the most exciting in the clubs history. It was however one of the most important in the continuation of the existence of the club, and for that we should always remember Joe.