“Manchester – the City Years” — Book Review
“Manchester – the City Years” is simply the most comprehensive history ever written about the reigning champions of England. Gary James, a renowned football historian and City supporter whose previous works about City have been impressive, has written a masterpiece that football fans of any English club would appreciate. James’s previous comprehensive history, “Manchester, the Greatest City,” was an impressive work, but this new book has raised the bar with extensively enhanced research from James’ earlier works. Over 600 pages in length, this book is a must-have for any City supporter like myself and a good read for anybody interested in the game.
I’ve read almost everything Gary James has written about the club over the years and have always learned from his writing. But this book is far more exhaustive and enjoyable a read than his previous books about City. The book also serves to dispel several misconceptions about the club, its supporters and its history that have been filtering through football fandom the past few years.
Having previous written a biography of Joe Mercer and extensively written about Malcolm Allison, the sections from 1965 through the 1972 takeover are perhaps the most gratifying portion of the book for City supporters as it’s the period where the club captured every major domestic trophy as well as European glory, which is captured vividly.
The post 1972 coverage is complete with new research and interviews including discussions with every club Chairman including Peter Swales, Franny Lee, David Bernstein and Garry Cook. James also critically analyzes the impact of financial mismanagement and clumsy leadership on the club’s worst period in history in the 1990s. The details of these transgressions are woven together intricately with the on-the-pitch failures to pain a clear picture of a club that was struggling to regain its historical legacy and fulfill its massive potential.
The club’s rebound under David Bernstein and Kevin Keegan are page turners and allow City supporters to relive the most critical years in stabilizing the club again in the top flight and making the move to Eastlands after nearly a century at Maine Road.
The period from 2007, when Thaskin Shinawatra bought the club, through the decisive title deciding tilt with QPR last season is brought to life with vivid new details. I bought my copy from the City Shop online, but the book is also available on Amazon and is a must-read for any City supporter on the planet.