Due to the general downward trajectory of Manchester City during the late 1990s the 1996-97 season often gets overlooked but it is important to remember that, even in the darkest of seasons, there can be positive moments, experiences and wonderful performances by talented players. Even at the bleakest of times a young fan may be experiencing their club for the first time and, no doubt, in 1996-97 the magic of watching Manchester City for the first time was experienced by Blues who, as adults today have enjoyed some of the greatest football ever seen. Today (25 January) is the anniversary of one positive moment in the dreadful 1996-97 season: City’s FA Cup victory over Brentford. You can read about that game and the season’s FA Cup run below.
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On this day (23 December) in 1995 there was a great deal of speculation that Manchester City would be the first team to field four ‘foreign players’ which wound PFA chief Gordon Taylor up considerably. There had been a rule in place limiting the number of foreign players to three but this had been challenged by English clubs, following the historic Bosman judgement in the European Court of Justice.
Basically, before Bosman challenged the restrictive trade practices UEFA insisted that a maximum of three foreign players could appear for clubs. The Bosman judgement was immediately considered by Premier League clubs who felt it meant they could play as many players from the European Union as they wanted (though the maximum of 3 from outside the EU was still a limit).
The Premier League, supported by the FA, said the ruling meant that City and other clubs could play as many EU players as they wanted. At Maine Road Alan Ball had brought Danish under-21 international Ronnie Ekelund on loan and together with Eike Immel, Uwe Rosler and Georgi Kinkladze it was suggested he would play against Chelsea on 23 December 1995.
In the end Ekelund came on as substitute for Rosler, so 4 ‘foreign players’ had appeared that day but only 3 at any one time (though there’s a whole other discussion to be had about players from other United Kingdom countries and Ireland and whether they should count as that day the Republic of Ireland’s Niall Quinn played, as did Gerry Creaney from Scotland and Welsh international Kit Symons!).
As for the game… City lost 1-0 to Chelsea!
Ekelund had a brief up and down career at City, making only 6 (plus 3 as sub) appearances and he was soon off to Barcelona, while the change to the ‘foreign player’ rule was to have a massive impact on the development of football in England, paving the way for the multitude of talented players at City today.
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On this day (27 November) in 1996 two penalties from Gio Kinkladze helped Manchester City defeat West Bromwich Albion 3-2. Use Rosler netted the other City goal. This was the first victory of caretaker manager Phil Neal’s reign at City and you can read more on that season here:
One of the best goals of Maine Road’s final couple of decades saw the brilliant Georgiou Kinkladze at his best. Kinkladze was a major star – some would say Manchester City’s biggest during the mid 1990s – and livened up many dull days for City fans. This goal was obviously popular with Maine Road regulars but, thanks to television and the game’s appearance on Match of the Day, many neutrals recognised the quality of this Golden Goal.
The idea of this ‘GOLDEN GOALS’ feature is to remember a significant or spectacular Manchester City goal from yesteryear. My hope is that supporters who were not around back then will learn more about these goals while those who were here will hopefully be reminded of them. If you would like to nominate a goal for possible use in a future feature then please comment at the end of this piece or email me with details of game, goal scorer and date.
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