The death knoll of the Football League had been sounded and City entered the final season before the Premier League began. The previous season, City had finished fifth but the season wasn’t without its ups and downs.
Howard Kendall had started the season in charge but, because of an escape claus in his contract, left to return to Everton after less than a year as City manager. Peter Reid had been installed, guided the blues to fifth and was looking forward to his first full season on charge.
His first test would be at Coventry City. City had only won five games away the previous season, during which they lost 3-1 at Highfield Road and they were eager to avenge that defeat and get off to a good start. Keith Curle made his City debut and Niall Quinn scored the only goal of the game in the first half as City won 1-0.
Next up was Liverpool at Maine Road, where a brace by David White, one on each half, gave City a two goal lead. White’s second was controversially given by the linesman who appeared to claim the ball hadn’t crossed the line but then consulted with the referee and the goal was given. Future blue Steve McManaman gave Liverpool a lifeline and Dean Saunders had a chance to equalise form the penalty spot but hit the bar instead to give City a 2-1 win.
The blues hit the top of the league with a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Maine Road. Mark Brennan scored two penalties and David White the other. Four days later, City travelled to Norwich and earned a 0-0 draw before Arsenal brought them down to earth with a 2-1 win at Highbury. But even after that defeat, the blues were still third in the league as August came to a close.
Quinn and defender Andy Hill got September off to a good start as City beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 at Maine Road but a second defeat was waiting in the next game. City travelled to Elland Road and were beaten 3-0. Player Manager Reid missed a penalty but scored from the rebound, only to have it disallowed as no-one else touched the ball. Another two defeats followed, both at home and both 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday and Everton. Michael Hughes missed a penalty in the last minute against Everton, while future blue Peter Beardsley scored the only goal.
A 2-1 away win at West Ham stopped the rot. Steve Redmond slipping as he took a penalty which somehow trickled over the line and Colin Hendry scored the winner in the last minute and the blues also overcame Chester City in the First Leg of the League Cup, but September’s last game saw a 2-1 home defeat to Oldham Athletic.
City found themselves in twelve place in the league by the time their first game in October came. Notts County was the venue and a Clive Allen double secured a 3-1 win for the blues and City secured their passage to the League Cup third round with a 3-0 second leg win at Chester. That was followed by a 1-0 win at Spurs, a 3-2 home win over Sheffield United sent the blues into third, four points behind leaders Leeds but in the League Cup, the blues could only draw 0-0 at home to QPR, meaning a replay at Loftus Road.
November started with another win, this time 3-0 at Southampton. The first division leadership had changed and United were the new leaders by the time they arrived at Maine Road. Adrian Heath missed a sitter near the end as the derby ended 0-0 but the League Cup replay at Loftus Road saw the blues progress with a 3-1 win. November ended with two more draw. 2-2 at Luton and another home goalless draw, this time with Wimbledon.
City started December by being knocked out of the League Cup 2-1 at Middlesbrough. In the league, three successive draw meant City had lost ground on the leaders and a 3-1 defeat at Villa Park didn’t help the blues. City then contrived to throw away a two goal lead at home to QPR before David White haunted Liverpool again at Anfield. With the home side leading 1-0, White’s brace gave the blues a 2-1 lead but a Steve Nicol goal meant the points were shared. A 2-1 Boxing Day win over Norwich put the blues back on course and City ended the year with a 1-0 home win over Arsenal.
New Years Day saw City at Chelsea an earning a point in a 1-1 draw. Three days later, the blues again travelled to the North East to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round. Peter Reid opened the scoring but two lat goals again knocked the blues out at Boro’s hands.
City returned to London for a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, before beating Coventry 2-0 as they ended January out of the FA Cup and fourth in the league.
A 1-0 win over Spurs at Maine Road was swiftly followed by a 4-2 defeat at Sheffield United, Paul Lake’s brother Michael opening the scoring. City squandered many chances in their next game at home to Luton, but still beat the Bedfordshire side 4-0. A 2-1 defeat at Wimbledon was followed by a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa. Although still in third place, City were nine points behind leaders United and effectively out of the title race.
March got off to the worst possible start with a 4-0 hammering at QPR. This was followed by a 1-0 defeat by Southampton at Maine Road and a 2-0 loss at Forest. A 0-0 home draw with Chelsea compounded a miserable month for City but April would be much better.
Leeds United were in second place, one point behind United when they arrived at Maine Road in the first match of April 1992. Eric Cantona was in the Leeds side but even he could do nothing to prevent a thrashing. City won 4-0 with two goals either in each half to almost send the title to Old Trafford. Almost. For City’s next game was at Old Trafford and despite Ryan Giggs opener and having Neil Pointon sent off for trying to castrate Giggs, Steve Bruce brought David White down in the area and Keith Curle smashed home the penalty to take a share of the points.
A 2-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday meant City’s title hopes were definitely over but the blues still won their last four games. West Ham were first at Maine Road and were beaten 2-0, while Everton were next being beaten by City 2-1 at Goodison Park. Notts County were then beaten 2-0 at Maine Road before City’s final game of the season took them to Boundary Park.
City’s only game in May was the last of the season at Oldham and despite going a goal down, recovered well to lead 2-1 at the break. David White hit a hat-trick as the blues won 5-2 to avenge their 2-1 defeat earlier in the season.
City’s ended the season in fifth place with a points total of 70, twelve points behind eventual champions Leeds United. And with the new Premier League ready to start, City had a bright future ahead.
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