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Manchester City: The Mercer-Allison Years Hardcover – 1 Sep 2001
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The end of the 1964-65 season saw Manchester City 11th in Division Two. Then they appointed Joe Mercer, former England, Everton and Arsenal wing-half. Mercer needed a younger man on the training pitch and he chose Malcolm Allison, the former West Ham defender whose own playing career ended when he lost a lung to TB. No-one in their wildest dreams could imagine the success the pair would bring to Maine Road. Within 12 months City had won the Second Division title. Two years later they were League Champions and by 1971 had added the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup-winners' Cup. And for good measure they had at last overcome the always looming shadow of Manchester United.
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Chronologically sound and near match-perfect in detail, Ian Penney takes you back to just before the Mercer-Allison Years, when second division football looked like being a luxury, and the support was so sparse that those who came would have had to run round to make it look like a crowd. He then details how the brilliant partnership came to be hired, how they built up their formidable team, and how they confounded football with the truth that there was indeed another football team in Manchester.
All the fabulous goals that helped win five trophies in seven years are brought to life: the build-ups, the scorers, and even the times.
And all the failures are there, too. From being turfed out of European football at the first hurdle for the want of checking out the opposition, through being pipped by Derby for the 1972 League title by committing the cardinal sin of changing a winning formula, to the protracted disintegration of the brilliant partnership itself.
But you don't have to take Ian Penney's word for it! Throughout the book there are telling comments and astute observations by surviving partner Allison, plus comments from two of their most trusty players: Tony Book and Neil Young. You can see the rollercoaster ride through their eyes, and find out what really went on behind the scenes.
It is these inclusions that make this book unique.
Possibly a gruelling read for the non-City fan, Ian Penney has defined what may turn out to be an unrepeatable era with facts, figures - and feelings.