City fans, like myself, are really getting excited for the start of the new season. With Pep now having put his stamp on the squad, and the reduction in overall age of the squad, it is the start of a new and exciting time for the Blues.
Fifty years ago, another Manager had been charged with getting the citizens back to success. Joe Mercer was hired to take over, then second tier side, Manchester City. The last success City fans had felt was the FA Cup win in 1956 and before that City had won the title and two FA Cups, but that was before the Second World War had began.
The first year Mercer managed to get City back to the top flight while his next season saw City consolidate their position in the English top flight. Success then came thick and fast under the management know how of Mercer and the innovative sports science knowledge from his assistant, Malcolm Allison.
It would be in their second year with City in the top flight that his first success would come, and there are some similarities between that side and the current one today.
The goalkeeper, Ken Mulhearn was brought in that season. At age 22 it was young shoulders on which this responsibility was placed. Our current number one, Ederson is only a year older than Ken was when he came to us.
The key for the management team back then was to buy quality and buy young. From their arrival in 1965 until the start of that winning season six players were brought in who would play a significant part in the title. Five of which were aged 25 or younger. Only Tony Book was 32 when he arrived the season before and would be made captain at the start of the title winning season.
Tony Book had actually been at his previous club, Plymouth, with Malcolm Allison who had to persuade Mercer he was a good buy despite his age. Book would go on to become City’s most decorated Captain, lifting four trophies, and also named winner of the clubs inaugural Player of the year award.
Our current Captain, Vincent Kompany, has been Captain during our two League titles and two League Cup wins and so is currently tied with Book in that regard. Technically Vinny did win the FA Cup in 2011 but Carlos Tevez was the Captain on that occasion so I am reluctant to include that. Missing from the current Captains haul though, won as Captain or not, is a European trophy.
During the season, there was no transfer window as we recognize it today, we added two more players. The 22 year old goalkeeper I mentioned earlier and a young 23 year old attacking player by the name of Francis Lee.
The key to our success that season, and the following seasons, were that goals flowed. Four of our attacking players would get into double figures in the title winning season, contributing to our eventual 86 goals for tally.
Bell, Lee, Summerbee and Young scored for fun in all competitions. In the following season, only one round of the FA Cup victory did one of those four not get on the score sheet. The same can be said of the League Cup victory and the European cup the season after that as the team grew together.
A few players would leave but essentially the core of the players stayed. The flow started to break apart when manager Joe Mercer stepped aside to allow Allison full control, followed by a slump despite the side still having the talent and age on their side.
Who knows what could have happened had the management team had managed to stay intact for a few more seasons. Could we have kicked on and been successful into the 1970’s? No one really knows but I do know, like then, we have a good, young, talented squad with an innovative voice on the sidelines. I expect soon Vincent Kompany will eclipse Book as City’s most decorated Captain and maybe also lift that elusive European trophy.