Saturday, 16 October 2010


I'm concious that I haven't written anything about Malcolm Allison. This isn't because I don't think it's an important topic, but rather because I don't have too much to add. If you're looking for a narrative of his time at Manchester City, or an assessment of what he was good at and what he was not; well, you'll have to look elsewhere.

(What I will say is that his maverick ringmaster shtick, and the style of football that is its by-product, has become the paradigm, or at the very least the measuring stick, for City fans. This is why Kevin Keegan felt so right, why Stuart Pearce did not, and why people are more sympathetic to Roberto Mancini the man rather than the tactician just yet.)

So here are some extracts from accounts of Allison that are more useful.

James Lawton in The Independent:
The rise of City is one of the landmarks of England football history. It was brief but stunning: promotion to the First Division, the title two years later, then the FA Cup, and, at the end of a three-year cycle, the League Cup and the Cup-Winners' Cup.

He returned to Vienna for that triumph, a superb performance against the then formidable Polish team Gornik Zabrze. Rain streamed down his face as he sat beside Mercer in the Prater Stadium but he was the picture of exhilaration and on the balcony of his hotel room he greeted the dawn with a glass of champagne, a fine Havana cigar and the declaration, "This morning I feel like Napoleon."

This was two years after his personal Waterloo – ejection from the first round of the European Cup in Istanbul. After winning the First Division in a brilliant finish, Allison, always a newspaperman's delight, announced, "Next stop Mars."
Brian Glanville in The Guardian:

The worst thing that ever happened to him was what, at the time, appeared the best – when, in 1971, he was made manager of Manchester City, after he had been there for six years. With Allison as assistant manager and coach, under the benign aegis of Joe Mercer as manager, City had flourished, winning the Second Division Championship in 1966, the League title in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969, and in 1970 both the European Cup-Winners Cup and the League Cup. Once a star at Everton and Arsenal, and an England wing-half, Mercer was never a great coach – Allison's speciality – nor a major tactician, but he did keep the rain off Allison.

David Lacey in The Guardian:

When Manchester City blew the chance of another title in 1972, after Allison had signed Rodney Marsh, critics blamed him for upsetting the balance of the team in order to accommodate Marsh's eccentric skills. But Allison remained unapologetic. "I believed in Rodney's touch of theatre," he said later. "If you asked Manchester City fans today whether I did the right thing in signing Marsh they would answer a firm 'yes'. They have learned to live with his extravagances, his inconsistencies. It is, after all, the price you pay for the promise of magic."

1 comment:

Brando said...

As my dad said in response to my 'Big Mal RIP' text message:

'100% record against United'

When he got the heave-ho for John Bond, and told the players, several of them cried.

Plus, where would Billy the Fish be without Big Mal?