With the signing of Aleksander Kolarov completed, Over The Blue Moon takes a look back at some of the more prominent players that have filled his position over the last 25 years.
Manchester born Paul Power started the 1985/86 season as the club’s recognised left back. The defender is probably best remembered for scoring the goal in the 1981 FA Cup semi final at Villa Park, which took City to Wembley at the expense of Ipswich Town. In total, Power made 445 appearances before swapping City blue for Everton in 1986.
Another Manchester born left back, Wilson had been with the club since 1979 but found his chances limited due to the aforementioned Power. He was left back for just one season, before being sold to Chelsea, then loaned back to the blues following the club’s relegation. But once again, Wilson found himself in the cold thanks to another home grown, emerging talent.
And another Manchester born full back, Andy Hinchcliffe became a firm favourite in his time at Maine Road. Given his debut by then manager Mel Machin, Hinchcliffe was a quick, firm tackling defender who would raid the left flank whenever possible. During the 1988/89 season, City found themselves 2-0 down at home to Shrewsbury Town before Hinchcliffe smashed home a penalty, then scored direct from a corner to give the blues a share of the points. However, he may well be best remembered for scoring City’s final goal against United, a bullet far post header as the blues crushed their Manchester rivals 5-1. Like Power, Hinchcliffe later moved to Everton in exchange for the blues next left back.
Pointon joined the blues in 1990 and established himself as City’s regular left back. But Pointon’s Coty career only lasted two seasons, during which he made 90 appearances and scoring two goals, before moving onto Oldham Athletic.
At the start of the inaugural Premeriship season, the blues were without a recognised left back and had to rely on the versatile Ian Brightwell to fill in for the first three games of the season. But then City signed Phelan from Wimbledon for a fee of £2.5m, equalling the British transfer record at the time for a defender. Tough tackling, and another left back originally from Manchester, Phelan made an immediate impact at Maine Road, and made 121 appearances for the blues in four season. In an FA Cup tie against Spurs at Maine Road, Phelan ran the length of the pitch, evading several challenges to score City’s second goal of the game. Unfortunately the gaol only reduced the deficit to 4-2 in Spurs favour and the goal subsequently sparked a pitch invasion by the City fans. Phelan was transferred to Chelsea in 1995 before making the inevitable move to Everton, a place where all good former City left backs go.
Following Phelan’s departure in 1995, City struggled to get another regular left back. Ian Brightwell filled in and Michael Frontzeck also appeared there but City were relegated in 1996 and they still struggled to fill the spot the following season. Gerard Wiekens seemed keen to take the role and Georgian defender Murtaz Shelia also tried to make to spot his own. Lee Briscoe made five appearances at left back while Richard Edghill and midfielder Kevin Horlock and a few goes as well, before Edghill took the role on for a while during the 98/99 season.
Edghill returned to right back in 1999 and the left back position was shared between a right couple of Danny: Granville and Tiatto, but despite many appearances by the latter, the blues were without a recognised left back until a true legend took over the duties under new manager Kevin Keegan
Psycho joined the blues for just one playing season; the promotion year of 2001/02. His debut at home to Watford saw one of his trademark free kicks find the target as the visitors were beaten 3-0, a sign of things to come from an exciting season. He got on the scoresheet again at Oakwell as City beat Barnsley 3-0, but most memorably, he had an opportunity to score his 100th goal in his final appearance before retirement with a penalty at home to Portsmouth. Unfortunately, Pearce missed the spotkick and finished his career on 99 goals.
But once again, the blues found themselves without a recognised left back. Chinese international Sun Jihai had a crack at it, as did centre back Richard Dunne, who finished the 2002/03 season in that position before the blues signed a new German powerhouse.
German full back Tarnat arrived for just one season at Eastlands, but showed he wasn’t a hard tackler. He showed his goalscoring abilities as early as the third game of the season at Blackburn when, in the third minute, he hammered a 40 yard free kick into the Blackburn goal to give City the lead. His most remembered game will probably be the FA Cup replay at White Hart Lane when, after seeing the blues 3-0 down at half time and having Joey Barton sent off as well, Tarnat started the comeback by setting up City’s first and second goals before providing the last minute cross for John Macken to score the winner.
Stephen Jordan and Ben Thatcher were two names that played left back for the blues but were both replaced by Michael ball, who in turn found himself sharing the left back slot during the Sven Revolution when Javier Garrido arrived. However, neither seemed up to the job, which prompted Mark Hughes to open ADUG large chequebook to make a January signing from the former richest club in the Premiership.
Bridge arrived at Eastlands, looking to restart his flagging career. He had seen Ashley Cole replace him at Chelsea and was looking to regain first team experience and his England place. He played regularly for City but the scandal involving his ex-girlfriend and John Terry seemed to take its toll on the player, who then refused to shake Terry’s hand when the blues hammered Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge and later when he refused to be called up to the England squad.
Out of the players mentioned above, who do you think was City’s best left back?
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