Ahead of Manchester City’s FA Cup final clash with Wigan the Cutter selects the greatest eleven who has ever graced the shirt. But no Yaya or Young? Are we mad?
GK – Bert Trautmann
My granddad, who survived the war, always had a strong aversion to former Manchester United stopper Gary Bailey, claiming that he looked like an SS officer.
A strange prejudice to hold against a South African but there you go. His hero however was another keeper, a German paratrooper in possession of an Iron Cross.
This startling contradiction illustrates just what a profound impact Bert had in post-war Britain, his popularity and brave, majestic talent transcending football.
RB – Tony Book
After nearly a decade playing at non-league level Malcolm Allison brought Book to City where the 32-year old flourished through an incredible Indian summer captaining the side through our most successful period to date and receiving the Footballer of the Year award in 1969. 242 appearances and forever Mr Man City he was as reliable as he is decent.
LB – Paul Power
Came to my school making precisely two kids out of two hundred very excited (me and my brother) Paul was Manchester born-and-bred and led his side out at Wembley on three occasions. His cultured left foot struck several long-range beauties not least the winner against Ipswich in the 1981 FA Cup semi-final. His name also lends itself to a nice bit of rhyming slang for an alternative to a bath.
CB – Mike Doyle
The granite heart and soul of City Doyle was an uncompromising tough-as-nails stopper who wore his heart on his sleeve. And his heart was blue. His renowned loathing of all things United would have made him bang up for the modern-day Manchester title battles.
CB – Vincent Kompany
The temptation to include Dave Watson was superceded by the idea of the classy colossus Vinnie pairing up with Doyle. A dream partnership of silk and steel that would take some beating. Signing this sublime defender is the reason I will never hate Mark Hughes.
CM – Paul Lake
Both club and country were building their teams around this extraordinary talent – a lad barely out of his teens –until injury cruelly deprived him, and us, of an extraordinary talent. Paul could play anywhere due to his innate reading of the game. To a very select few it just comes easy – top flight football equated to a casual kickabout in the park. The sight of his galloping elegance remains a highlight of my youth.
CM – Colin Bell
The King. Suitably nicknamed Nijinsky for having the stamina of the racehorse and stylish elan of the ballet dancer, Colin was the complete footballer and one of the top ten greatest players this country has ever produced. So good that City wouldn’t be able to afford him today.
AM – Georgi Kinkladze
A head-down weaver of the highest quality, Kinky lit up the dark times with his mazy individual genius. Was so far advanced of his team-mates it was akin to Pele in his pomp playing five-a-side down my local leisure centre. His winner against Southampton where he took half their side apart before dinking it over the despairing keeper with impish ease is sufficient to get him into this side alone. The best goal I’ve ever seen by some considerable distance.
AM – David Silva
Though only 5ft 7 ‘Dreamy’ David appears to follow the ebb and flow of a game from an elevated position. Is allergic to losing possession, has a finely-tuned football intelligence and magical feet. I always said it would take a very special player to supplant Paul Lake as my favourite City player of all time. After hearing what Lakey had to say about the Spanish maestro last year I think he’ll understand. We are all under Merlin’s spell.
AM – Peter Doherty
One for the old guard. I’ve not seen a single snippet of action from the Northern Irish inside-left but all the old boys insist he was the greatest City ever had. Their opinion is worth far more than my own so it’s a reluctant demotion of Young, Summerbee and, my own personal favourite, Bernarbia, to the bench.
CF – Francis Lee
Lee Won Pen, in fact he won countless of them, our barrel-chested future chairman regularly threw his burly frame to the floor like a dying albatross in an era before diving became fashionable. He was a visionary. Joking aside he was also an extraordinary centre-forward who grafted his backside off to create opportunities before finishing them off with a deceptively silken touch. Great player. Bad chairman.