FANS EYE VIEW: No 211 Manchester City

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The Independent Online
It's about time the Manchester City board realised one fact: success at the club will never be brought about by a change of manager. What is needed is a change of government.

Labour's record, as far as Manchester City is concerned, speaks for itself. For true blues, the irony is that life really is better under Labour. Just take a look at our list of post-war trophies and which party was in power at the time. Second Division champions in 1946/47 (Labour); again in 1965/66 (Labour); League champions in 1967/68 (Labour); FA Cup winners in 1969 (Labour); League Cup winners in 1970 and in 1976 (both Labour) and European Cup-Winners' Cup winners in 1970 (Labour).

True, City won promotion in 1951 when the Tories were in charge but a quick trawl through City's relegation records shows the other true blues in a bad light. Relegation years since the war include 1950 (Labour), 1963 (Tory), 1983 (Tory), 1987 (Tory) and 1996 (Tory).

Look also at the years when we've come close. May 1955 saw the Tories re-elected. It also saw Manchester City beaten in the FA Cup final by Newcastle.

Only Ted Heath's obduracy stood between City and more League Cup glory in 1974. In the General Election held on 28 February, Heath's Conservatives won 297 seats. Labour, with 301, was the biggest single party, but had no overall majority. Two days later, City lost the League Cup final to Wolves.

In 1981 we lost the FA Cup final to Spurs after a thrilling replay - the Tories, needless to say, were in power.

As soon as Maggie Thatcher came to power in 1979 City fell into the bottom half of the First Division for the first time since 1974 - when Labour won two elections.

Since then City have been relegated three times - in 1983, 1987 and 1996. The shrewd political analysts among you will recall that 1983 and 1987 were election years. And under the Tories we haven't won a trophy. Admittedly we won promotion twice.

We had a good season in 1990/91 - anticipating, perhaps, the prospect of a Kinnock victory. 1991/92 was a promising season as well - until April. That's when Labour's hopes started to go down the pan. The Saturday after the election City's hopes of a place in Europe vanished, beaten 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday.

There are, apparently, those at Maine Road who have no sympathy for Manchester's other team. I am not one of those who take delight in United's downfall, or recall with glee that Manchester United were last relegated in 1974, just weeks after Harold Wilson had returned to 10 Downing Street. I prefer to remember that United's finest hour - their European Cup triumph - was under a Labour Government.

Maybe City fans should have more sympathy for the Conservative Party: after all the two organisations have more in common than a colour. Like a history of broken promises and letting people down, not to mention a penchant for leaders with funny hair-dos.

True City fans might have expected more from Labour in the run-up to the election. Some might have wondered why there were no specific promises on Manchester City's future in Tony Blair's five early pledges. Something short and simple would have sufficed. Like: "I vow that Manchester City will return to the Premiership under my Premiership."

We could have done with a Blunkett-esque: "Read my lips. No relegation for Manchester City under a Labour Government."

And it would be true. City have not gone down under Labour rule since 1950. It's all very well saying we will only promise what we can deliver but the records cannot lie.

I've been a Labour supporter for as long as I can remember. And I've been a Manchester City fan for longer. I know that the only hope for Britain lies in the election of a Labour government. Manchester City regaining their place in the Premiership, possibly a League title, an FA Cup win, a European trophy - that would be the jam and the marzipan, as well as the icing, on the Labour cake.

Paul Goggins is a Maine Road season ticket holder and Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Wythenshawe and Sale East.

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