Thursday, March 22, 2012

Manchester City A Club In Crisis 1980 1981

  If the 1979-80 season had ended on a comparative high - three wins and a draw in the last four games - the start of the 1980-81 season was in stark contrast. The Blues did not win a game until 22 October when Tottenham were beaten at Maine Road. It was a run of 12 games and it finally saw the end of both Tony Book and Malcolm Allison. Book left for a short spell with Cardiff City and Allison returned to former hunting ground Crystal Palace. The new man in charge was John Bond, a former playing colleague of Allison's at West Ham in the 1950s. Bond quickly made three signings: Bobby McDonald and Tommy Hutchison from Coventry and Gerry Gow from Bristol City. All were experienced campaigners and City lost just four more league games before the end of February. In the League Cup, City had beaten Stoke  City  and  Luton  Town  before destroying Notts County 5-1, thanks to four goals from Dennis Tueart. West Bromwich Albion were then beaten 2-1 to set up a two-legged semi-final against Liverpool, and City were unlucky to lose the tie 2-1 on aggregate. In the first leg at Maine Road Kevin Reeves had a perfectly good goal ruled out for a foul on  Clemence  and  the  Merseysiders went on to win 1-0. In the second leg Dave Bennett hit the bar and the game finished 1-1.

The irony of football brought Malcolm Allison back to Maine Road with his Crystal Palace side for the third round of the FA Cup in January. Bond's revitalised City easily won 4-0  and a  further irony brought Bond's former side Norwich in the fourth round. City won even more convincingly this time, scoring six without reply from the visitors. A   potential   banana   skin   at   Fourth Division  Peterborough  was  successfully negotiated thanks to a solitary goal from Tommy Booth and it then took a replay to eventually beat Everton. Paul Power was the hero of this tie, scoring in both games. He would prove to be so in the semi-final as well. It was still goalless in extra-time when he curled a beautiful free-kick around the Ipswich wall to send City to Wembley. City's opponents for the 100th FA Cup Final were Tottenham, a team including two of Argentina's 1978 World Cup-winning side - Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa. When Tommy Hutchison gave City the lead with a flying header it looked as though it would be City's day and the events of recent years would soon be forgotten. However, with just 10 minutes left the hero turned villain he deflected a Glenn Hoddle free-kick past Corrigan who was diving in the opposite direction. 

 The following Thursday the two teams met again for the replay at Wembley. Villa gave Spurs the lead early on in the game only for his effort to be surpassed just moments later by a superb volley from City's Steve MacKenzie. Five minutes into the second half Bennett was fouled in the Spurs penalty area and Kevin Reeves scored from the spot.For the second time the Blues had one hand on the cup. Regrettably though, again it wasn't enough. Garth Crookes brought the scores level before Villa scored perhaps the most replayed goal ever at Wembley. Joe Corrigan was spot on with his assessment: 'We should never have let him get that far.' For the second time in four days, Lady Luck had deserted Manchester City. The final position of 12th showed a marked improvement on the past couple of seasons - City even managed to take three points off neighbours United who finished eighth.

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