Football: Royle ready for Maine Road challenge

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The Independent Online
JOE ROYLE took on one of football's most thankless jobs yesterday, as Manchester City's fifth manager in two years following the sacking of Frank Clark.

"The place is awesome, and people keep telling me that one day someone will get it right," Royle said. "I want that to be me. Everyone says the potential is fantastic - if you do get it right here, you have lift-off. You get 28,000 plus at every game. People turning up to see a team that has been struggling for four or five years."

Royle, a stalwart centre-forward for City in the 1970s, said he is looking forward to helping the club avoid relegation to the Second Division.

Royle said: "I am used to this. When I went to Everton they had just eight points and they ended up with 50. I am used to coming in as a firefighter to put things right. Let's face it, City now have a 15-game season to save themselves from the drop and I intend to make sure that is achieved. Everything else can wait until that has been achieved."

Royle, who turned the job down when he was at Oldham in 1990, played in the same City side as the current reserve team coach, Asa Hartford, while another former team-mate, the new City director, Dennis Tueart, was instrumental in his appointment. Royle, who will sign a three-year contract, will work closely with Tueart.

It was to the Seventies side that Royle looked for inspiration yesterday, saying: "It mustn't be forgotten that when myself, Asa and Dennis played in this team it was the top club in the city."

"Now, the place is full of internationals but we find ourselves looking up the table at supposedly smaller teams like Crewe and Bury. I haven't asked the chairman about money yet, or whether there are millions to spend. I doubt there is any money.

"That is not the issue at the moment. This is a massive club and it should not be where it is.

"I will know more in seven days when we have played three hard games. I will assess the situation, look at the players, and then go to the chairman with my ideas." Royle will also try to bring in his former No 2 at Everton and Oldham, Willie Donachie, as coach, bringing back to City another member of the 70s City side. "My first job is to get the chairman to get in touch with Mike McDonald at Sheffield United to try to get Willie Donachie released to join me," Royle said.

Royle described the players who have let City down this season as underachievers. "I have seen City two or three times this season," he said. "My feelings are mixed - I saw them win at Forest when they were excellent. But I have seen them on days when they have not been so good. That sums them up: they are underachievers, they have been inconsistent. More consistently bad than consistently good.

"That's not having a go at anyone who has been here. I have got a lot of admiration and affection for Frank Clark. It's unfortunate. I am not having a go at anyone, I just have to cope with these next 15 games."

Royle has been out of work for 11 months, and said: "I've had a rest following what happened at Everton, and initially I have enjoyed the rest. It was my first break from football for 30 years, I've been away on holiday, got to know the wife again, but I have started wanting to be back in the game."

Clark was upset by the method of his departure. "I feel disappointed for myself, my staff and the supporters for the way it has happened," he said. His back-room team of Alan Hill, Richard Money and Peter Edwards have also been sacked. "But the club has done what it sees fit. I don't want to make any excuses. It has been a very difficult season, no two ways about it. It's a massive job for someone but it will take a long, long time to get it right."