A Royle Appointment:
JB) Then, a few games later, Frank Clark was replaced with Joe Royle as City were sliding down there. Although he couldn’t stop the relegation but was there at least the sense that the club would be back the next season, or there was something of a bounce back going to happen?
JW) Well there was massive talk that Manchester City would never go down. That’s what everyone used to say. Of course we went down, but there’s no guarantee we’re coming straight back up. We had so many pro’s at the club that Joe Royle had to come in and halve the wage bill. Get rid of players that weren’t pulling their weight, just some causing rifts amongst the dressing room, you have to get rid. Released one of our best players, Georgi Kinkladze, at the time just to get us back playing as a team.
He was massive. Joe Royle was a big influence at Manchester City.
JB) Of course, City did manage to return, but it took that nervy play-off final. You had started most of the games that season, but you sat out the play-off games. What were your emotions on that day at Wembley?
JW) Gutted I wasn’t playing for one. I’d had an injury and as it happens with bug clubs, unless you are one of the big, big players and you’re always guaranteed a spot every time you’re fit. There is always the case, when you’re injured, someone else will take your place, do a better job and then hold it down. It was such a case, my injuries were a bot of a pain at Manchester City. I was gutted on one hand, but my brother ended up coming on and playing and he was brilliant in that game.
And just to be part of that emotion to get back up, when we were almost down and out and thinking we’ve got another season here down in Division Two. The elation we had with all the boys after, man that was just an incredible feeling. You look at where we are today, and we’ve just come a long way.
JB) Yeah, I was actually on vacation in Tenerife at the time and we weren’t sure that City were even going to make the play-offs, because the first part of the season was not going too well. But, we actually found a bar in Tenerife and went in there and when we went in there was nothing but Blues fans everywhere. It was a quiet bar a few minutes from the end, but got loud at the end.
JW) There were a lot of people who left the ground, you know. There were a lot of people who left and thought ‘That’s it’ and the ones that stayed witnessed a ridiculous ending, so you just never know until the whistle goes. What a way to get promoted.
JB) Absolutely. It still brings chills to my spine now. Even with the Aguero I still think that’s up there aswell.
JW) Yeah, that is amazing. That still gives me chills.