Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Pep Must Learn His City History Lesson

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Pep Must Learn His City History Lesson

Article excerpt

CITY had won the league, supporters were buzzing about being top dogs in Manchester once again, and their coach was promising they would "terrify Europe".

The ghostly echoes of 1968 still bounce around the corridors at City, and now it falls to Pep Guardiola to exorcise the spectres.

As a philosopher once said: "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."

Guardiola, as a student of the game, should be aware of the gaffes and calamities which have always followed City's triumphs, and ensure to avoid them this time.

City have won the league five times in their history, the latest being Guardiola's record-smashing heroes.

But the other four times, in true Blue style, they have gone from walking on sunshine to finding it was a summer illusion, with a huge stride forward being followed by a backwards step or two.

Joe Mercer's 1968 winners did not exactly flop the following season - they won the FA Cup and followed that with the club's only European success in the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup.

But with rivals United in disarray after their 1968 European Cup triumph, the Blues never truly drove home their advantage.

Blues assistant Malcolm Allison said his team would "terrify Europe to death" as they entered the European Cup for the first time in 1968, but they crashed out in the first round to Turkish underdogs Fenerbahce.

They redeemed themselves by winning the FA Cup - still a huge deal in 1969 - but could only finish 13th in the league.

Guardiola need not worry about such a crash in the league, but he needs to keep his foot on United's throat, having got them where he wants them.

He can also be sure that the Blues won't repeat the bizarre aftermath of their first league title triumph, in 1936, which was truly a turning point in the history of Manchester football … but, in favour of the Reds.

City won the league that year and United were relegated, but what would now be seen as a double delight by Blues, only served to galvanise the Reds while City floundered.

The following season, they were relegated, in spectacularly typical fashion. …

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