Football: Royle appointment could be right one this time

Swindon Town 1 Manchester City 3
JOE ROYLE and assorted scribes crowd into a small room just off the players' tunnel at Swindon's County Ground. There is no champagne to celebrate his first win as Manchester City's new manager so he makes do with a plastic cup of cold tea. He isn't getting carried away, he says. Just as well.

There is one question you are dying to ask. Why? Why would he possibly want to take a job which every recent precedent says will inevitably end in disaster? Did he lose touch with his sanity during those 11 months out of work? Of course, no one does. Instead, we ask if he thinks City will avoid the drop. The response is predictable.

There is, however, something about the way Royle answers that makes you think that this time, perhaps, City might just have chosen the right man.

Goodness knows, they have had enough tries. To rub in the statistic City fans least like to hear, in the 12 years since Manchester United appointed Alex Ferguson, the Maine Road manager's office has had no fewer than 11 occupants, caretakers included. Seven of those, moreover, have been during Francis Lee's tenure as chairman, a period that was meant to bring stability.

But while Lee's previous appointments never quite seemed sure they could deliver what they promised, Royle exudes unqualified self-belief.

"I was confident when I took charge and this performance swells that confidence," he said. "There was not a weakness in the team. Peter Beardsley brought some touches of class and Kit Symons and Uwe Rosler were excellent. There is a good balance in the side and I've no doubt we will be all right.

"It all depends on confidence and concentration but Willie [Donachie] and I have a method. We know what we want to do and the players know what we expect."

Which may be bad news for some, the enigmatic Georgi Kinkladze prominent among them, but rather better for others, not least Rosler, who seemed never to be quite Frank Clark's frothing pot of Lowenbrau but now has a manager who is fully behind him.

Rosler repaid the faith with two goals, boosting his total for the season by 50 per cent. Lee Bradbury, with only his third goal since Clark paid Portsmouth pounds 3m for him last summer, made the result safe after Steve Cowe had pulled one back for the home side.

Steve McMahon, the former City player who is Swindon's manager, saw his rookie goalkeeper, Steve Mildenhall, suffer a nightmare afternoon, dampening his own hopes of a play-off spot, but graciously wished his old club well.

Goals: Rosler (22) 0-1; Cowe (71) 1-1; Rosler (77) 1-2; Bradbury (83) 1-3.

Swindon Town (3-5-2): Mildenhall; Bullock, Borrows, Taylor; Robinson, Howe, Collins, Elliott (Walters, 50), Leitch; Finney (Cowe, 50), Hay (McDonald, 85).

Manchester City (3-4-1-2): Wright; Symons, Tskhadadze, Shelia (Wiekens, 44); Jeff Whitley, Brown, Jim Whitley, Briscoe; Kinkladze (Beardsley, 45); Russell (Bradbury, 62), Rosler.

Referee: B Coddington (Sheffield).

Booking: Swindon: Bullock.

Man of the match: Symons.

Attendance: 12,280.