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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Anger at Royle departure
Joe Royle
Royle: Led City to successive promotions
Several former Manchester City players have attacked the sacking of Joe Royle.

Royle was dismissed as City's manager on Monday because of "fundamental differences" about the club's future direction.

The Blues were relegated to the First Division this season after finishing 18th in the Premiership.

But former City great Rodney Marsh described Royle's sacking as "hypocrisy at its highest level".

When you think of where City were when Joe and his assistant took over, he has turned the club around
  Rodney Marsh
Former City forward
He was upset that chairman David Bernstein had assured Royle his job was safe after the defeat by Ipswich on 7 May.

"Only a few weeks ago I read a statement from Bernstein saying what a fantastic job Joe had done and that he would be sticking with him for the future," Marsh said.

"Now here we are one day after the end of the season and Joe Royle has been sacked. I find it absolutely staggering."

Marsh argued that Royle had done an excellent job since his appointment as City boss in 1998.

"When you think of where City were when Joe and his assistant took over, he has turned the club around.

"He has got them from the Second Division to the First Division and into the Premiership.

"All the top teams have continuity and consistency. George Burley at Ipswich couldn't get promotion for four or five years in a row, but they stuck with him and look what they have done.

"Now at Maine Road they have to start all over again bringing in a new manager and new staff, bringing in new players. They have got to start the whole process all over again."

Former City and England winger Peter Barnes said: "I thought Joe would have been safe for another year at least after what he had achieved.

"Nobody is quite sure what has happened at the club, but Joe is his own man.

"City have a history of replacing managers and lacking stability. My understanding was that this was to be a period of stability for the club which makes today's news puzzling.

"The trouble is most clubs want instant success these days."

John Barnwell, chairman of the League Managers' Association, also criticised Royle's sacking.

You just got the feeling that towards the end of the season it was not a happy camp
  Paul Walsh
Former City striker
"People have short memories," he said. "He has done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances. Look at what Joe actually achieved.

"It's a very sad day once again. The expectations in football clubs have always been great but never greater than they are now.

"In many ways it is unrealistic. What are people at football clubs expecting? Time and patience seem to be running out.

"More and more managers are being dismissed and the figures are climbing."

Ex-City striker Paul Walsh felt that unrest in the dressing room could have led to Royle's departure.

"I was surprised, but you just got the feeling that towards the end of the season, it was not a happy camp," he said.

"There has been internal wrangling with one or two players and maybe people in the boardroom have spotted things in the dressing room that they are unhappy with.

"Maybe they have asked the players, 'Have you had enough? Do you want a new person in?'"

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