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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
City will be back
Stuart Hall (r) laments City's relegation
Stuart Hall (r) laments City's relegation
Lifelong Manchester City supporter Stuart Hall takes a personal look at the sorry situation at Maine Road.

As a Manchester City fan our predicament pains me - but it doesn't surprise me.

It was obvious Joe Royle was going to be sacked.

I saw him with a face like thunder after the Chelsea game at the weekend.

But to be honest it's been on the cards since last season when City were beaten by Leeds in the FA Cup.

Their midfield simply overwhelmed us. You knew that our engine-room was faulty and in dire need of an overhaul.

Nicky Weaver
Nicky Weaver: One quality player at least
I had a chat with Joe and chairman David Bernstein and said to them that we needed to do something.

Haaland and Wiekens are holding-players, Jeff Whitley's learning the trade, Ian Bishop's 95-years-old, and Kevin Horlock's a nice lad but he's got flat feet.

Joe just didn't sign the midfielder we required.

We were playing defensive football at home - we'd go a goal down and then have to try and chase it with the wrong team.

Twelve defeats at Maine Road tells you the team is not good enough to be in the Premier League.

I've always thought that the true acid test of a club's quality is how many of their players are wanted by other Premiership clubs.

At Manchester United you'd say maybe 15. At City you've got Nicky Weaver, and that's about it.

Paulo Wanchope? Nationwide. Laurent Charvet? Who wants Charvet?

Richard Dunn was on sale at Everton for 1m, but City ended up paying 3m for him.

George Burley at Ipswich realised the weaknesses he had, went out and bought some bargains and mixed in some youngsters.

They blended as a team beautifully; City looked like they'd just been introduced to each other.

Caged tiger

A man to replace Joe? I'll be bold. Up the road, Sir Alex is dissatisfied.

He's angry with the Old Trafford plc. He's snarling like a caged tiger.

I'd say to him - Alex, here's 2m for you over three years - come and manage City.

Can you imagine what a coup that would be?

The other option is to go to Gary McAllister, my player of the year, and say - come in and be player-manager, give us some style and get us back in the Premiership.

Whoever comes in has got a huge clearance sale to make. There's 20m-worth of players that Joe bought that City are unlikely to get their money back on.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Could Sir Alex be the man to save City?
City don't have a core. If they had two players who make things happen, one to take the game by the scruff of the neck and one to get stuck in, they'd be okay.

Look at United. If you took their five midfield players and put them in any Premiership team, they'd win the title.

If you want a silver lining in this big grey cloud, it's the City fan-base.

You won't keep City fans down. They are glorious. They've cheered non-stop all season.

That's why I call Maine Road the Theatre of Base Comedy. A sense of humour is essential. It's a roller-coaster ride.

It's the aspirations that keeps the fans alive - the feeling that they can't go down forever, that there'll be an upturn at some stage.

Sign the right players, get a good man in charge, and they'll be back.

I hope.

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See also:

21 May 01 |  Man City
Royle: I'll be back
21 May 01 |  Man City
Maine Road runners and riders
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