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City DNA #86: The season that rained goals - at both ends!

City DNA #86: The season that rained goals - at both ends!
There has never been a season like it before or since and in some ways, more is the pity.

Though City would finish a more than respectable fifth in the First Division, one wonders where Les McDowall’s team might have finished with even just a slightly less porous defence.

Let this sink in - 42 games played; 104 goals scored… 100 goals conceded.

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It is an incredible statistic that is unlikely to ever be repeated and is yet another unique chapter in the history of our Club.

Every game averaged just shy of five goals and just three clean sheets were recorded all season – all the more mystifying when you consider City’s goalkeeper was Bert Trautmann – imagine what the numbers might have been without the great German keeper between the sticks?

Without looking at every game played, there were clues of an eccentric campaign ahead after just three games, with City losing 4-1 away to United and then beating Chelsea 5-2 in the next match.

The wheels seemed to come completely off when McDowall decided to try a new tactic involving Keith Marsden, who had been a striker with a decent record at his previous club Chesterfield.

McDowall was convinced the cultured forward would be better employed as a sweeper and so devised the ‘Marsden Plan’ – a distant relative of the Revie Plan that had helped City win the FA Cup in 1956.

It was a disaster.

In mid-September City travelled to Deepdale to face Preston North End – a side already beaten 2-0 at Maine Road a few weeks earlier.

Preston took full advantage of the defensive confusion Marsden’s new role created and won the game 6-1.

Just three days later, things became even worse as City were comprehensively thrashed 9-2 at West Brom.

Cruelly, for Marsden – coerced to play a role he had little understanding of -his career at City was as good as over and he was dropped from the team.

City bounced back with a 5-1 win over Tottenham meaning the Blues had been involved in 50 goals in the first nine matches of the season.

And it went on – a 4-3 win over Leicester, a 5-2 win away to Blackpool, a 4-2 win at Leeds United and a 4-3 loss at home to Wolves.

City then thrashed Everton 6-2 at Maine Road and beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-4 at Hillsborough – all this before Christmas!

Things weren’t as crazy in January and McDowall’s men exacted revenge on the 9-2 loss by West Brom by winning the return 4-1 at Maine Road.

The next three games were off the chart, with a 5-1 loss at Spurs followed by an 8-4 defeat away to Leicester! Yep, 8-4.

That was followed with a (by now) mundane 4-3 victory over Blackpool before a run of games that suggested there had finally been a rethink as City win four games on the bounce in 14 days, scoring eight and conceding just two goals.

City racked up a century of goals in the penultimate game against Everton with the third strike of the 5-2 win bringing up three figures.

However, the 2-1 loss at Villa on the final day brought up a more unwanted century – and the chance to finish as high as third in the table.

Trautmann had played 35 of the 42 games and some of the heavier losses he had missed – though not all – while Joe Hayes top scored with 26 goals.

City would concede 95 goals the following campaign, but with nowhere near the potency of the previous season, escaped relegation by the a single point

Life as a City fan. Never dull!

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