In 1992, Manchester City were actually one of the league’s better sides. After spending the 80’s bouncing between divisions, the club had managed to stabilise their place in the top flight. Howard Kendall had steadied the City ship, saving the club from relegation before taking them up the league, and Peter Reid continued the good work when Kendall left to re-join Everton.
And the 1991/92 season, which would be the last Football League season before the Premier League began was one of City’s finest since the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s. We were holding our own against the top teams in the division and were challenging for a place in Europe. The title was being contested by two teams – Manchester United and Leeds United, and the first two matches in April 1992 saw the blues face both in succession.
First up were Leeds United at Maine Road and the common feeling amongst football fans were that City would be quite happy to lose the match in order to see Leeds take control of the title race (in fact, I remember a lot of pre-match chatter amongst fans on the Kippax was that Leeds had to win the match to stop the unthinkable – United winning the league). Leeds were second, a point behind United and the Reds had a game in hand. It was a match that the Yorkshire side couldn’t afford to lose.
Leeds boasted a formidable line-up, with Eric Cantona leading the line, the two Gary’s, Speed and McAllister in midfield and ex Arsenal keeper John Lukic in goal. Leeds had beaten City 3-0 earlier in the season and took three points from the blues at Maine Road the season previous, winning 3-2, so for the blues, it was a chance for revenge.
And for all the talk of lying down and letting Leeds win, blues fans were in great voice as City won a corner in the 11th minute. Mark Brennan delivered the ball into the penalty area and right back Andy Hill rise highest to thump the ball home to give City the lead.
Cantona was denied an equaliser for Leeds by the hands of Tony Coton after good work by Gordon Strachan on the Leeds left, but just past the half hour mark, City made it 2-0. Keeping possession in midfield, the ball eventually found the feet of Steve McMahon. The ex-Liverpool midfielder played a superb ball forward which Mike Sheron ran onto and the City man clipped the ball over Lukic to make it 2-0.
Leeds rallied in the second half but couldn’t find a way past City’s defence or Coton, who was in inspired form all day. But Leeds weren’t giving up, but Niall Quinn’s goal made sure there was no way back for the White Rose club. McMahon, who had been excellent all afternoon, dispossessed Speed and charged forward before passing to Mike Sheron. With little options, the striker played in Quinn on the right. The Irishman looked up and spotted Lukic off his line and, after showing Chris Whyte some neat footwork, chipped the keeper from a difficult angle and the ball bounced in off the underside of the bar.
But Leeds misery was not yet over and the City fans were in great voice, taunting the visitors by singing ‘you’re gonna n **** all’ amongst other things. The blues continued to look for more goals and with the clock ticking down, City got their fourth and it was the excellent McMahon that provided it.
City played it neatly out of defence and McMahon hit Sheron’s pass, first time beyond the Leeds defence to Brennan, who raced forward and fired home goal number four for City and Leeds title hopes lay in tatters on the Maine Road pitch, and their supporters were hoping for a similar result when the blues went to Old Trafford three days later.
Final Score: Manchester City 4-0 Leeds United
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