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Lee: City can start trophy hunt

06 Sep 2010 12:08:07

| Submit Comments| Comments (42)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapFrancis LeeMuch has changed at Manchester City since Francis Lee was both player and chairman at the club. Not least the address ? but even more significantly, the Abu Dhabi investment that has made them the richest club on the planet. ?A big problem when I was chairman was the £16m we needed to build a new stand,? says Lee, who this month will be inducted into the Football League Hall of Fame. ?It doesn?t sound like a lot of money now, but back then it was enormous. It was four times our turnover. ?The better players were on about £10,000 a week contracts then ? nowadays I hear they get that if they?ve got a pair of boots.? A sum of £16m is often not enough to buy the average City player these days as Sheikh Mansour attempts to create a global force at Eastlands. James Milner, Mario Balotelli, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov have all been added to Roberto Mancini?s squad, taking the Italian?s spending to over £100m this summer and Mansour?s to more than £300m since his sensational takeover in 2008. And rather than nostalgically looking back to a time when the game wasn?t entirely dictated by money, Lee is as excited by the revolution taking place at his old club as every other City fan. ?I think it?s great,? said the 66-year-old. ?Everybody seems to be knocking them, saying they?re spending too much money ? but they are only doing what Chelsea and United have done for years. ?Those two clubs have dominated the transfer market since the start of the Premier League. They?ve been the most successful because they?ve been able to get the best players. If you?ve got the best players then you will win things.  I never thought I?d see the day when City could out-muscle United and Chelsea in the transfer market, but when you?ve got owners with bottomless resources, you?ve got a chance. ?When you look at the quality of the squad now, it is very  strong. They will take a hell of a lot of stopping to get into the top four this season. Confident ?It?s been a long time since they won anything, but I?m very confident that run will end this season. ?I don?t know how many of this team would have got into our title-winning side, but I know I would have loved to have played in this team as well.? Lee?s legendary status among City was secured over a seven-year period at the club between 1967-74, when a club record £60,000 signing by manager Joe Mercer. He scored 112 goals in 248 appearances and was their leading scorer for five successive seasons. He was a pivotal part of the side that wrested the title away from United in ?68, won the FA Cup a year later and the League Cup and European Cup Winners? Cup in 1970. How many of Sheikh Mansour?s millions would it take to sign a modern-day Franny Lee? As much as the £32m British record fee lavished on Robinho, who ended a sorry two-year spell at the club with an £18m move to AC Milan last week? Given both players? respective contributions to City, surely significantly more. And while Lee has welcomed the sudden influx of money at his beloved club, he considers the signing of the Brazilian international as a definite low point. ?I was delighted to see him come, but even more so to see him go,? he said. ?He?s supposed to be one of the best players in the world, but unless he sorts himself out, he never will be. ?He?s definitely got a flaw. All the supporters wanted him to be a big star, but he let them down, he let the club down and he let himself down. ?Considering the money he was bought for ? the pounds that have been spent on him ? and how quickly he went from hero to nothing, it was totally unacceptable. But the best thing has happened with him leaving.? Lee will be inducted to the Hall of Fame on September 23 at the Hilton Hotel, Manchester in recognition of his contribution to City, Derby, Bolton and England. He joins other legends like Sir Bobby Charlton on the National Football Museum's celebration of the greatest players to grace the English game. Fellow City stars Colin Bell, Frank Swift, Bert Trautmann and Denis Law have already been inducted. But it is the future that excites him and his interest in the Abu Dhabi regime goes beyond that of merely a fan. He had a crack at trying to take on the established elite himself when becoming major shareholder and chairman in 1994. But his time at the helm proved to be a disastrous one as they were relegated from the Premier League in ?96 ? the same year as United won the double ? and dropped down to the third tier of English football after he stepped down in ?98 with City still waiting to win their first major silverware since ?76. That wait still goes on, but with superstar signings like Carlos Tevez and Balotelli there is more optimism than ever that City can become the major force in England, if not Europe. ?The reason City haven?t won anything since 1970 is because the club has been mismanaged,? he said. ?That?s why there?s been no more trophies, but I think those days are over. The title is the hardest thing to win, but because of the way finances are in football nowadays, the wealthiest teams will win the title.? :: Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner, which is also held in association with the Professional Footballers Association and North West Development Agency are available from £130 for a single ticket with tables of 10 from  £1,100 to £1,800. To book tickets or for further information visit www.mbnpromotions.co.uk or telephone 0161 870 1600. What do you think? Have your say.


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