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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A flash back to this date in 1998 and the debut of an influential figure in MCFC history…
Manchester City’s first ever third tier season had been one of struggle so far prompting manager Joe Royle to search for changes. He brought in loan signings Michael Branch and Andy Morrison and they made impressive debuts at home to Colchester. The game had been goalless at half time – and City had been booed off! – but substitute Ian Bishop brought some drive to the team in the second half. In the 49th minute Horlock netted a penalty and four minutes later his corner was headed home by Morrison for a debut day goal. Colchester scored a consolation via Jason Dozzell but it was Morrison who ended the day the happiest. Royle: “Morrison was strong-willed and proved a good passer. And at least we have someone who talks at the back!” A week later the Blues made Morrison’s move a permanent one, signing him for £80,000.
Morrison continued to impress in the next game, a 3-0 victory over near neighbours Oldham. Kevin Horlock was actually the star man, scoring twice in the first half, with Morrison netting a volley for the third. Royle was happy with the win but not the specifics of the match: “We were nowhere near our best but we scored three terrific goals, had one disallowed, hit the bar and didn’t get a blatant penalty so I can’t be disappointed.”
The Blues were now up to fifth and there was a feeling that a corner had been turned – but the season had many twists to come yet!
Match stats: 31 Oct 1998 Colchester United (H) W 2-1 Horlock (pen), Morrison Attendance 24,820
On this day (25th March) in 1998 Manchester City cult hero Ian Bishop returned to the club. Here subscribers can read an interview I did with the former Bournemouth, West Ham and City player in 2015.
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