Monday, September 17, 2007

History of Manchester City F.C.

Formation and history to 1930
Anna Connell, daughter of the rector of St. Mark's church in Gorton, south-east Manchester, sought to provide activities for local men in an effort to curb alcoholism and violence in the area. A church cricket club had formed in 1879, but no equivalent for the winter months existed. In an effort to rectify this Connell, with the help of church wardens William Beastow and Thomas Goodbehere, started a church football team, St Mark's (West Gorton) (sometimes written as West Gorton (St Mark's)). The team's first recorded match occurred on 13 November 1880, against a church team from Macclesfield. In 1884, the club merged with another, Gorton Athletic, but the merger lasted only a few months before the clubs split again, the West Gorton representatives naming themselves Gorton A.F.C. and Gorton Athletic reforming as West Gorton Athletic. In 1887, Gorton A.F.C. turned professional and moved to a new ground at Hyde Road, renaming to Ardwick A.F.C. to reflect the new location in the east of the city.

Ardwick gained wider fame in 1891 by winning the Manchester Cup for the first time, defeating Newton Heath 1–0 in the final. This success proved influential to the decision by the Football Alliance to accept Ardwick as a member for the 1891-92 season. The Alliance merged with the Football League in 1892, and Ardwick became founder members of Division Two. Financial troubles in the 1893-94 season led to a reorganisation within the club, and Ardwick turned into Manchester City, with Manchester City Football Club Limited formally becoming a registered company on April 16, 1894.

Winning the Second Division in 1899 gave the club its first honours and promotion to highest level in English football, the First Division. The club went on to claim its first major honour on April 23, 1904, beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Crystal Palace to win the most prestigious knockout tournament in English football, the FA Cup, and narrowly missing out on a League and Cup double by finishing runners-up in the League. In the seasons following the FA Cup triumph, the club was dogged by allegations of financial irregularities, culminating in the suspension of seventeen players in 1906, including captain Billy Meredith. To the chagrin of City fans, most of the players who were suspended went to local rivals Manchester United, forming the basis of United's first successful side. A fire at Hyde Road destroyed the Main stand in 1920, and in 1923 the club moved to Maine Road in Moss Side, Manchester.

Consecutive cup finals (1930s-1950s)

In the 1930s Manchester City reached consecutive FA Cup finals, losing to Everton in 1933 before winning the Cup by beating Portsmouth in 1934. The club first claimed the First Division title in 1937, but were relegated the following season, despite scoring more goals than any other team in the division. After a season in the Second Division, play was suspended due to the onset of World War II.

When play resumed for the 1946/47 season, City regained top-flight status with its fifth Second Division championship title. In the 1950s, a City team inspired by a tactical system known as the Revie Plan reached consecutive FA Cup finals for the second time in its history, and just as in the 1930s, lost the first one and won the second, in 1955 and 1956 respectively. The 1956 final, in which Manchester City beat Birmingham City 3-1, is one of the most famous finals of all-time, and is remembered for City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann continuing to play after breaking his neck.

The Glory era

In 1965 the management team of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison was appointed. In the first season under Mercer, City won the Division Two championship, and made important signings in Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell. The following season was fairly unremarkable for City, with a 15th place finish, though the team ended the season on a run of just four losses in seventeen games. The 1967/68 season saw Manchester City claim the League Championship for the second time, clinching the title on the final day of the season with a 4-3 win at Newcastle United. Other highlights of the season included a televised 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, which became known as The Ballet on Ice due to the snow covered pitch on which the match was played, and a 3-1 Manchester derby win at Old Trafford. Further trophies followed; City won the FA Cup in 1969, before achieving European success by winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970, beating Górnik Zabrze 2-1 in Vienna. In doing so, City became the first English team to win a European trophy and a domestic trophy (the League Cup) in the same season.

1971 brought a change in the nature of the management partnership, with Mercer taking the title of General Manager, and media-friendly Allison being promoted to Team Manager. The 1971/72 season saw City challenge for the championship, and in mid-March it was were four points clear at the top of the table. However, City's season petered out with a poor run of results at the end of the season and a fourth place finish, which many blamed on the signing of crowd-pleaser Rodney Marsh, who, despite his talent, was regarded as disrupting the balance of the team. Marsh himself later agreed, writing "I have to hold my hands up - I cost Manchester City the 1972 league championship." The close season saw the break-up of the Mercer-Allison management team, with Mercer leaving for Coventry City as his relationship with Allison soured. Allison left the club less than a season later, with the team in mid-table.

From 1972-1974 Manchester City underwent several changes both on and off the field. Businessman Peter Swales gained control of the club, and two managers, Johnny Hart and Ron Saunders came and went in quick succession, the latter sacked just one month after City's losing appearance in the 1974 League Cup final. Former club captain Tony Book took charge of first team affairs, restoring some stability. City's final match of the 1973/74 season was against arch-rivals Manchester United, who needed to win to stand a chance of avoiding relegation. Former United player Denis Law scored with a backheel to give City a 1-0 win and confirm the relegation of their rivals. City was moderately successful during Tony Book's five year tenure, winning the League Cup in 1976 by beating Newcastle United 2-1 in the final, and finishing runners-up in the League in 1977.

Decline (1977-1998)

A long period of decline followed the success of the 1960s and 1970s. Malcolm Allison rejoined the club to become manager for the second time in 1979, but squandered large sums of money on unsuccessful signings whilst selling stars such as Asa Hartford, Gary Owen and Peter Barnes. One was the signing of Steve Daley, which broke the British transfer record. A succession of managers then followed - seven in the 1980s alone. Under John Bond, the club reached the 1981 FA Cup final but lost in a replay to Tottenham Hotspur. Two years later, with City in mid-table and seemingly going nowhere (though at the same time not seeming in danger of relegation), Bond was sacked after a dispute with the board and replaced by coach John Benson. Unfortunately, a catastrophic loss of form under Benson (11 points from 19 games) saw City crash out of the First Division after losing to Luton Town on the last day of the season, when a draw would have prevented relegation. Billy McNeill took over as manager during the summer, and after a near-miss the following season, achieved promotion in 1985. This renaissance proved short-lived however, as City barely survived in 1986, and McNeill left the club to become manager of Aston Villa a few weeks into the next season. Jimmy Frizzell became manager for the rest of the season, but failed to prevent relegation with City finishing the season in second-bottom place - above Aston Villa.

City won promotion back to the First Division in 1989 after finishing runners-up in the Second Division under the management of Mel Machin. 1989-90 was a difficult season and Machin was sacked in November with relegation looking a real possibility. He was replaced by former Everton manager Howard Kendall, who achieved survival and built the foundations for a good start to the 1990-91 season. But he returned to Everton in November 1990 and was replaced by 34-year-old midfielder Peter Reid. Reid's first two seasons at the helm brought fifth-place finishes, but City did not qualify for the UEFA Cup because only the second and third teams qualified for the competition in these years. City finished a respectable ninth in the inaugural Premiership but Reid lost his job after only two games of the 1993-94 season.

1993-94 saw City's problems return as itsleague form slumped and they club finished 16th under new manager Brian Horton. Chairman Peter Swailes buckled under pressure from fans and handed control of the club over to legendary former player Francis Lee. 1994-95 was hardly any better as City battled relegation and finished 17th - two places above the drop zone. Horton was sacked just before the end of the season and replaced by Southampton manager Alan Ball. Ball set about trying to rebuild City and disposed of several older players who were no longer proving effective. He drafted in several promising young players, most notably the 22-year-old Georgian midfielder Georgiou Kinkladze. But a terrible start to the season condemned City to a relegation battle which was lost on the final day.

Ball was sacked just as City's 1996-97 Division One campaign got underway, and his successor Steve Coppell resigned within weeks after deciding that the job created too much pressure for him. By Christmas, City was in the bottom half of Division One and had turned to former Nottingham Forest manager Frank Clark to arrest the decline. City finished 14th in the final table but Clark was sacked the following February with City hovering in the bottom five of Division One. Former Oldham and Everton manager Joe Royle was drafted in to replace Clark, but a 5-2 away win over also-doomed Stoke on the final day of the season was not enough to save them from relegation because the three other threatened teams - Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers and Port Vale - all won their games. City was a Division Two side and had slipped into the third tier of the English league for the first time in their history - the first former winners of a European trophy to suffer this indignity.

Recovery (1998-)

After relegation, the club underwent some off-the-field upheaval, with new chairman David Bernstein taking over. City were promoted at the first attempt, achieved in dramatic fashion in a playoff against Gillingham featuring a late equalising goal by Paul Dickov to take the game to a penalty shootout which City won.

Royle's men were not expected to battle relegation in the 1999-2000 Division One campaign, but were still surprisingly good as they spent all season challenging for automatic promotion. They achieved it on the final day of the season by finishing runners-up in the Division.

City's return to the Premiership saw them struggle and they were relegated after losing their penultimate game of the 2000-01 season - the only time that all of the Premiership's relegation places had been decided before the final game. Royle was sacked after the end of the season and replaced by the former England manager Kevin Keegan. Keegan brought in several influential players such as Eyal Berkovic, Ali Benarbia and Stuart Pearce. The club won the 2001-02 Division One championship, breaking club records for the number of points gained.

City had a very good first season back in the Premiership as they finished ninth and qualified for the UEFA Cup after winning the Fair Play Award. 2002-03 was also City's last season at Maine Road, which the Club left after 80 years to relocate to the 48,000-seat City of Manchester Stadium - originally built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games. But 2003-04 was a difficult season for City as they were in with a slight chance of relegation up to the penultimate game of the season, and finished 16th in the final table - although they did manage a positive goal difference of +1.

Keegan quit in March 2005 and was replaced by coach Stuart Pearce, who guided City to an eighth place finish in the Premiership - narrowly missing out on a UEFA Cup place. City made a strong start in the 2005-06 season, but endured a terrible end of season run of form - 9 losses out of 10 last games which meant that City finished 15th in the 2005-06 Premiership.

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