After achieving promotion the previous season City embarked on the 1989-90 First Division campaign with a view to consolidate rather than set the world alight. The relatively low-key City manager, Mel Machin, seemed determined to play down expectations, especially as other clubs – in particular Manchester United – were spending millions on strengthening their squad. City could not afford to spend wildly, although they did increase their overdraft by signing Clive Allen and Ian Bishop during the close season for a combined fee of around £1.75m.
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