Mens Team

Lee: Managers should have been able to get more from Kinkladze

Former chairman Francis Lee says Georgi Kinkladze could have been managed better during his time at City.

The Georgian midfielder joined the Club in 1995 from Dinamo Tblisi.

He went on to achieve cult status with the fans, despite two relegations in his three seasons at Maine Road, thanks to his ability to beat players effortlessly in the final third.

Some, including Joe Royle who sold Kinkladze to Ajax, have suggested he was a luxury player whose impact in attacking areas was outweighed by the lack of solidity he provided.

But Lee believes any manager should have been capable of getting the best out of such a talented footballer – and says Frank Clark’s inability to find the right role for him in the side left him baffled.

“Full marks to Joe because Joe said to me ‘he's a circus act,’” Lee said during an open and honest episode of the official Man City Podcast.

“Joe had a way of playing football and I've got my way of seeing football.

“I see my way of playing football, the way that City play today - skill, ability, speed.

“So, I don't see big men running up and down lumping the ball and knocking seven bells out of one another.


“Joe was right in doing what he did. But in football, I believe football should be played by footballers. The managers should have found a way of getting Kinkladze in there that wasn't detrimental to the overall team.

“Frank Clark said we like to have a word with you and I thought 'Frank wants to speak to me What's this?' So I said, 'Yeah, what do you want?'

“He'd been there seven or eight months!

“He said, 'Richard [Money] and I want to know what's Gio's best position is?' I said 'you've been working with him for six or seven months. And you've seen him play,'

“They said 'we don't know what his best position is', so I said 'he's libre, he free like they say in Europe. You play 4-4-1, and he just goes anywhere.' I said 'if you wanted to waste his talent, you could put him on the wing.'

Lee also discussed how Kinkladze came to his attention.

In the days before global scouting networks and YouTube footage, Kinkaldze was an unknown quantity, despite him being a full international.

But Lee was alerted to him by agent Jerome Anderson - and after watching him lob Neville Southall in a game against Wales, City dispatched a scout to analyse his performances and then made a move. 

“I spoke to Jerome Anderson about it," Lee said. "I said, 'give me the video of it'. It was the worst video I've ever seen. It was crackling and everything.

"But you could see the guy was brilliant. And I sent Jimmy Frizzell down to watch him.

"He came back. He said, 'he is some player'. He said, 'if you've you got the orchestra, this guy could conduct it'. And so we bought him for a million pounds.

“And he was a very, very, very talented player.

"Maybe he came at the wrong time. Maybe he was playing with the wrong players. But you can't blame him for everything that went wrong because let me tell you this as well.”