In this regular feature I will be reflecting on four seasons stretching back to the inception of the Premier League - 2007/08, 2002/03, 1997/98 and 1992/93 - focusing on key matches, players and incidents that have all become part of the fabric of City's recent history.
ii) New Signings
After all the hype and hysteria of ‘Transfer Deadline Day' last week, it seems an opportune moment to reflect on the new arrivals that ‘decorated' the City squads of those seasons past.
Until the deadline itself, this summer had been by and large a frustrating one, with major targets Hazard, Van Persie, De Rossi and Martinez all rejecting the opportunity to move to the Etihad for one reason or another. The signings that have been confirmed are intriguing and will certainly bolster the squad, rather than being the mouthwatering marquee signings of the last few summers. But as the below will outline with crystal clear clarity, summer arrivals and season saving signings have never previously been of the quality we now expect. Of course the transfer window in its current guise (summer and winter period) was only brought into play in the 2002-03 season, before then deals could be struck up until the closing weeks of the season (exceptions to that rule being emergency signings, such as GK Martin Fulop a couple of seasons back). For those seasons where there is a window (2007/08, 2002/03) only summer signings have been listed...
5 years ago - 2007/08
Rolando Bianchi- Reggina; Martin Petrov - Atletico Madrid; Elano - Shakhtar Donetsk; Vedran Corluka - Dinamo Zagreb; Gelson Fernandez - Sion; Geovanni - Free; Javier Garrido - Real Sociedad; Valeri Bojinov - Fiorentina
Sven's summer splurge saw 8 new arrivals come through the doors in an attempt to inject some much needed quality into the squad and boost the depleted ranks inherited from the fag end of the Stuart Pearce years. After utilising his extensive European contacts and (allegedly) viewing many agent promo videos and YouTube compilations Eriksson's influx of players produced mixed results. Petrov and Elano were the notable hits, whilst Geovanni is still considered a cult hero for some on the back of a winning goal in the Manchester derby. The overpriced Bianchi at £8.8million and perhaps harshly, Garrido could be considered the flops, whilst for the unfortunate Bojinov, serious injury blighted any hope of making an impact in the EPL. It is telling that only two of the above players still ply their trade in English football (Petrov and Garrido) with the majority returning to a style of football arguably better suited to their skill and ability.
10 years ago - 2002/03
The headline-grabbing signing of Anelka for a club record £13million truly whetted the appetite of Blues fans following a storming Championship campaign. Anelka would go on to lead the line with distinction throughout the season scoring 14 goals, whilst simultaneously giving off the impression of never being truly content. Sylvain Distin stirred the rage of the
15 years ago - 1997/98 (from Summer 1997 to March 31st 1998 as there was no Summer/Winter transfer window until 2002/03 season)
Jason Van Blerk - Millwall; Craig Russell - (exchange deal with Nick Summerbee) - Sunderland; Lee Bradbury - Portsmouth; Gerard Wiekens - Veendam; Tony Vaughan - Ipswich; Kakhaber Tskhadadze, Murtaz Shelia - Alania Vladikavkaz; Jamie Pollock - Bolton; Shaun Goater - Bristol City; Peter Beardsley (loan) - Bolton; Ian Bishop - West Ham; Richard Jobson - Leeds; Tommy Wright - Nottingham Forest; Nicky Weaver - Mansfield
It's hard to know where to start with the collection of names listed above but there is a clear distinction between those Frank Clark signings over the first disastrous six months of the campaign and the ‘firefighting' signings of Joe Royle in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation. The biggest Clark indulgence was the club record breaking £3million spent on Lee Bradbury - whose moniker Lee ‘Badbuy' tells you all you need to know about his performances at the club. Craig Russell sank without a trace once Royle took over, as did the all-Georgian central pairing of Shelia and Tskhadadze who joined on the recommendation of star player (and seemingly chief-scout) Georgi Kinkladze, along with fellow international Kavelashvili who had left the club earlier that summer. Tony Vaughan didn't come cheap either, costing a relatively pricey £1.35million from Ipswich Town. Of the names above only Gerard Wiekens, Shaun Goater and Nicky Weaver went on to forge successful careers with City and will be viewed with genuine affection, although Weaver's league debut didn't come until the following season and the jury was very much out on Goater until demotion to the 3rd tier of English football. Some of the above were respected players who served a purpose for a time (Bishop, Jobson, Wright, Beardsley) and others were outright rank failures, patently never good enough to represent the club - Van Blerk and Pollock (scorer of the finest own goal of all time) - amongst those already mentioned. The only full Internationals in the squad at the time represented Georgia, Northern Ireland and Bermuda and this demonstrates like nothing else the huge gulf in quality between those players at the club 15 years ago and the internationally renowned stars in the lineup now.
20 years ago - 1992/93 (Summer 1992 to March 1993)
Terry Phelan - Wimbledon; Kåre Ingebrigtsen - Rosenborg; Fitzroy Simpson - Swindon; Ricky Holden - Oldham; Ray Ranson - Newcastle;
In signing Terry Phelan for £2.5million, City equalled their club record and the British record for a defender which they had set themselves by signing Keith Curle the previous summer. Phelan would go on to have a decent career with the Blues making over 100 appearances before signing for Ruud Gullit's Chelsea. The most memorable highlight of Phelan's time at the club was his exquisite solo goal during an otherwise miserable FA Cup Quarter Final defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, running the length of the pitch before finishing coolly. The match would go down in infamy after a pitch invasion by the City fans in an attempt to get the game abandoned. Norwegian International Ingebrigtsen would have to wait a season until he made his debut whilst young midfielder Simpson was very much bought with an eye on the future. Rick Holden would only play a season at the club before returning to Oldham and Ray Ranson signed for a short period towards the close of the campaign, a player very much in the twilight of his career after starting out at the club 15 years previous.
Feel free to comment, question and reminisce below....
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