Why supporters disapproval in 1965 resulted in success and is it much different to the City of today?
Statistically Manuel Pellegrini is the second most successful manager in Manchester City’s history, yet the majority of the club’s supporters have fallen out of favour with the Chilean. Indeed, you would be mistaken to think that three major trophies in three seasons and significant success in European competitions would undoubtedly increase his popularity within the loyal fan base, but that has proven not to be the case. Not for the first time the supporters’ lack of enthusiasm for the manager has preceded a change in the hot-seat at the club.
Rewind to 1965: George Poyser was the man in charge at Maine Road and ultimately it was the supporters’ disapproval that resulted in his position becoming untenable and the board was forced to make changes. It was during Poyser’s managerial reign at Maine Road that the lowest attendance for a first team match was recorded when just 8,015 supporters showed up for a league match against Swindon Town. The attendance was only 615 more than Stockport County – who were languishing in the Fourth Division.
Supporters discontent had been brewing since prior to the beginning of the season when some board members announced their wish for both Manchester clubs to merge with the idea being presented to the United board. Both sets of supporters were quick to reject the possible scenario and their anger would be vented further during the season at the first-team and the man in charge, George Poyser.
Finally the supporters took action against the regime by launching bricks, stones and protesting outside of the main stand at Maine Road as they felt performances from players and management were not justified. Then-chairman, Albert Victor Alexander, felt there was no choice but to terminate the contract of Poyser during Easter 1965. Alexander’s father, Albert Snr., was the man who founded the Manchester City academy in 1920. Whilst Albert Jnr. was the man in control of internal situations at City, he was the final member of the Alexander family to sit on the club’s board with a member of the family present at every board-meeting since 1904.
Like today the club’s supporters wanted the best and felt they deserved the best. However, unlike today with few games remaining in the season a committee was appointed to take charge of first-team matters until the end of the season. There were rumours of Bill Shankly being approached and also Peter Doherty but it was former Aston Villa manager, Joe Mercer, who was appointed the new first-team manager with the task of gaining promotion back to the First Division.
The large discontent amongst the fan base during this present moment has not hit the severe heights as previously experienced in 1965 but the resulting action may well produce similar results with Mercer’s appointment. Pep Guardiola has been confirmed as the club’s new head coach commencing July 1st, and his reign in charge of City is expected to be a successful one similar to that of former manager Joe Mercer, who held his position for eight years between 1965 and 1973.
Mercer would become the club’s greatest ever manager with four major trophies coming City’s way during his eight years in charge. Those included a European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. League success soon followed FA Cup success in 1969 before the Mercer led City to a double in 1970 with victories in Europe as well as a League Cup triumph. The former England captain to this day has remained an iconic figure in the history of the club and many are hoping Guardiola will follow suit with a successful tenure like Mercer.