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Mercer story full of useful hints

18 May 2010 09:11:30

| Submit Comments| Comments (20)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapMercer's new biographyManchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has his summertime reading sorted out... he has a copy of a new Joe Mercer biography. That should come as good news to City fans concerned that the club do not lose their identity, and that they learn from the mistakes which left them in the wilderness for two decades. Author Gary James believes that the new owners are picking up the reins which were dropped when Joe was forced out of the club in 1972. And he revamped the biography of City's greatest manager - which quickly sold out when it was first released in 1993 - partly out of indignation at the way some world football figures disregarded the Blues' rich history. Kaka snubbed City's advances last year, implying that they had no past, and Uefa president Michel Platini made an ill-informed attack on the club's lack of traditions. With City poised to resume the glories of the late 60s, James felt now would be an opportune moment to remind the world of City's past success and of Mercer's legacy. "A lot of City fans were annoyed by some of the things said about the club over the last two years," said James, whose book is a meticulous and affectionate telling of Mercer's life story. "People seem to think we have come from nowhere, but we actually won a European trophy before Liverpool, and before Platini's beloved Juventus." Ironically, Mercer's reign at City was ended by a club takeover, when Oldham double-glazing tycoon Joe Smith took charge and put Allison in the hot seat. The difference between Smith's coup, and the 2008 Abu Dhabi buy-out which stunned the football world, could not have been greater, according to James. "Joe's time at City ended with a takeover, but then it was a case of people coming into the club, trying to take advantage of the success," he said."That is a big difference to Sheikh Mansour's takeover, which is all about transforming the club. "The lesson to be learned from our history is that where we are now is where we should have been in 1972. Awful "We had a good few years under Tony Book, but the club still under-achieved in the 70s - and then in the 80s and 90s it was awful. "If you look at City's history in its entirety, it is the last 20 years which are out of context, and are the reason why people seem to think we have no history. "Unfortunately for City, we never built on what Joe achieved - in fact we blew it away in the years that followed." Mercer, along with sidekick Malcolm Allison, ushered in the most successful era in City's history, winning promotion in 1966, the league title in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970. But when he took over, in 1965, the parallels with City's recent history were glaring. United were cock-a-hoop, having won the league, while City were down in the second division, their attendances plummeting to less than 15,000. The Reds ridiculed City's misfortunes, and Mercer and Allison were determined to give Blues fans their pride back. Within three years, the dynamic management team had done just that, pipping United to the championship, and establishing an `Indian sign' over the Reds which lasted well into the 1970s. "The parallels are obvious," added James. "In 1965 City were the poor relations. United had success under Matt Busby and we were desperate for a saviour. "The general view was that City could never turn things around, and were destined to be always No 2 in Manchester. The way Joe and Malcolm set about it was different - only Francis Lee had a biggish name, while Colin Bell and one or two other signings were unknowns. "But in three years we went from mid-table obscurity in Division Two to be champions." The current owners of the club have tried to be sensitive and respectful of City's history and traditions - and Khaldoon already has a copy of James's book. "It's great that they are reading about our history," said James. "Joe's widow Norah is more welcome at City now than she was in the 70s and 80s. The current owners understand Joe's legacy and what he achieved." Joe Mercer OBE: Football with a Smile? by Gary James (James Ward, £19.95) is on sale now Do you think City are on the verge of success once again? Have your say. | Submit Comments| Comments (20)| Printable VersionAdd A CommentEnter your comments:Type your comment here...


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