Manchester: The City Years

Howard Kendall

Howard Kendall

Born: Ryton-on-Tyne, 22nd May 1946

6th December 1989 - 5th November 1990

City fans were stunned when Mel Machin was dismissed and replaced by Howard Kendall as rumours had circulated that Alex Ferguson was to be dismissed by United and replaced by Kendall. Some journalists suggested Swales had acted quickly to prevent the Reds from appointing a manager already known as one of Europe’s most successful managers. Clearly, this rumour looks ridiculous today, however in 1989 it did seem perfectly plausible.

Whatever the truth, it is clear that the appointment of the highly successful former Blackburn, Everton and Athletico Bilbao manager eased the pressure on chairman Peter Swales after supporters discontent at the dismissal of Machin and the totally miss-timed approach for Joe Royle that had immediately followed.

Kendall was the big name, successful manager everyone needed to raise morale and, hopefully, he would create a side capable of challenging for the first time in a decade. Despite the excitement supporters became frustrated with his transfer activity, especially when four extremely popular players - Ian Bishop, Trevor Morley, Neil McNab, and Andy Hinchcliffe – were sold and replaced by a series of former Evertonians - Alan Harper, Mark Ward, Peter Reid, Wayne Clarke, and Adrian Heath. Of those recruits only Peter Reid, and to a much lesser extent Mark Ward, proved popular.

The best signing of the period came in March 1990 when Kendall bought Niall Quinn from Arsenal. Quinn’s goals and all-round influence helped the Blues avoid relegation. Then in the summer of 1990 He purchased goalkeeper Tony Coton and another ex-Evertonian Neil Pointon, and the 1990-1 campaign started with only one defeat in the opening eleven games. By this time he was a popular City manager, especially as he had turned down the chance to manager England that summer.

Sadly, just as City's future seemed bright, Kendall walked out on the club to return to his first love Everton. Hate mail and cruel chants headed Kendall's way as supporters felt betrayed. Peter Swales was shocked and the atmosphere around Maine Road was particularly depressing. The new Everton manger even contemplated taking Peter Reid with him to Goodison but, wisely, decided against that move.

At Everton, Kendall struggled and was replaced by Mike Walker. He later managed Notts County, Sheffield United and even had a third spell at Goodison. Kendall should always be remembered as a great football manager, and a positive influence on City during 1989-90. As with McNeill in 1986, he was perhaps foolish to leave the Blues when he did as his City side probably would have evolved into a trophy winning team.

All history and statistical material has been produced based on the research and writing of Manchester football historian Gary James ( 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.