Manchester: The City Years

Phil Neal (Caretaker Manager)

Phil Neal (Caretaker Manager)

Born: Irchester, 29th February 1951

8th November - 29th December 1996

The former Liverpool player had arrived at Maine Road as Steve Coppell’s assistant and many neutrals felt Neal had been placed in a difficult position with Coppell’s resignation. The former Bolton player-manager quickly made it clear that he wanted to stay and there was even a suggestion that he should have been given the job on a full time basis, however it was obvious the Club were still searching for a permanent replacement.

Neal managed City through ten League games, but only two (West Bromwich Albion & Bradford City, both 3-2) ended in victory. At one point, with supporters showing dissatisfaction at performances on the pitch Neal admitted: “They say Steve Coppell showed courage to leave. It takes more courage to stay!”

Had results gone Neal’s way then it’s possible he may have been given the job full time. His last game in charge was a 2-0 defeat at Barnsley when over 6,000 fans travelled across the Pennines and, with Francis Lee in Barbados, chanted: “I’d rather be in Barnsley than Barbados.”

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.