Born: Hednesford, 4th February 1949
28th August 1993 - 16th May 1995
Brian Horton’s arrival came at a difficult time with fans demonstrating and a takeover battle was about to rage between Peter Swales and Francis Lee. Nevertheles, Horton tried to focus on his role: “I wanted to manage at City, and couldn’t wait to get started. It was a perfect time in many ways because the team had only two points from five games and were sat at the bottom of the league – I had to turn things around. That focuses your mind on the players, games, training, and results. The situation could only improve on the pitch, and whatever was happening off the pitch couldn’t get in the way. The take-over hadn’t started when I was given the job, so that wasn’t a worry either.”
“We won the first couple of games, and then we were off. I knew I had a job to do and didn’t worry. Because I’d watched games here, and knew about the Club’s history, I wanted to make sure we played attacking football. City has a great reputation for playing stylish and attractive football, so I wanted to encourage that. We also tried to make sure we had exciting players – Beagrie, Walshy, Uwe Rosler. I remember leaving the ground once after a game and hearing them sing ‘Uwe, Uwe Rosler’ down the streets ages after it finished. That was a great feeling. We also had Quinny – a great player – and then I believe my backroom staff was particularly strong.”
“We had Tony Book – I’m sure he could be still coaching somewhere today if he wanted to – David Moss, Les Chapman, Neil McNab, and Colin Bell. I played with McNab at Brighton and knew his strengths and knew he was well liked here. I tried to get a good mix and because of the strong City names in there I think it was ideal.”
Horton’s enthusiasm lifted some of the depression and by the end of 1993-4 he managed to preserve City's position in the Premier League. As Francis Lee was now Chairman rumours constantly circulated suggesting Lee would eventually bring in his own manager, but Lee had told Horton to carry on and let the team's performances determine the future. Sadly, the following season saw the Blues struggle and the campaign ended with a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to QPR. Horton was dismissed after seeing his side finish 17th. A victory on that final day would have lifted City to twelth place.
With hindsight, knowing the struggles that beset the Club during the following seasons, it seems that Horton should have been given at least another season.
After City, Horton moved to Huddersfield Town, Port Vale and Macclesfield Town, and today he remains positive about his time at Maine Road: “I loved the twenty months I was here. I loved the supporters, the players, the staff… I still live in Manchester, and I really do love this club. I’m just sorry that during my time as manager we couldn’t win a trophy. We had a lot of excitement, but it would have been great to win something. Having said that we did play good, exciting football in two Premiership seasons.”
“I still get out and meet the fans. It’s not always possible of course, but I always enjoy meeting them, and I’m always pleased with their reaction. I think they knew what we were trying to achieve and I think they loved the excitement of those days. I know I did.”
All history and statistical material has been produced based on the research and writing of Manchester football historian Gary James (www.facebook.com/GaryJames4). It is maintained by Ric Turner & Gary James. All text remains the copyright of the original contributors.
Gary's book, Manchester - the City Years: Tracing the Story of Manchester City from the 1860s to the Modern Day, is available to order on Amazon.