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Former City boss Billy McNeill dies aged 79

MCNEILL: The former City manager has passed away aged 79

MCNEILL: The former City manager has passed away aged 79

Former City manager Billy McNeill MBE, has sadly passed away aged 79.

McNeill became City boss in June 1983 after leaving Celtic where he was considered a legend as both manager and player.

His pedigree could hardly have been higher, but he arrived at Maine Road at a difficult time with the Blues still reeling for relegation from the top flight for the first time in 17 years.

After bringing former Oldham Athletic manager Jimmy Frizzell in as his No.2. McNeill set about rebuilding City as best he could.

He was given a small budget to work with, but immediately identified strikers Jim Tolmie and Derek Parlane for a combined fee of just £30,000 and both Scots helped City to a fourth-place finish, just missing out on promotion.

McNeill brought in David Phillips, Mick McCarthy, Neil McNab and Jim Melrose for the 1984–85 campaign and this time the Blues regained their top-flight status on the final day of the season with a 5-1win over Charlton Athletic in front of more than 47,000 fans at Maine Road.

It had been an enjoyable campaign and McNeill looked set for a long stay in the manager’s hot seat.

However, City could only finish in 16th place on our return to Division One after struggling for much of the season.

Frustrated at not being able to build the team he believed the City fans deserved, McNeill quit the Blues for Aston Villa in September 1986 and later returned to Celtic after Villa lost their top-flight status.

In Scotland, McNeill, MBE, was a hero.

The former Celtic star had collected 23 winning medals from major competitions, including the famous ‘Lisbon Lions’ European Cup triumph in 1967.

With nine championships, six League Cup victories and a further seven Scottish Cup successes and 29 full caps for the national side, it is understandable why he was considered as an icon to the supporters at Celtic Park.

He was awarded an MBE in 1974 after playing a quite incredible 831 games for Celtic and then moved into management, first with Clyde and then Aberdeen.

The thoughts of everybody at Manchester City are with Billy’s family at this difficult time.

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