x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Summerbee sees special things on horizon at Eastlands

The first impressions and impact of Roberto Mancini has given the Manchester legend a flashback to those past glories when City "were the best team around"

In the eyes of the Manchester City legend Mike Summerbee, his former coach Malcolm Allison was always the special one. Way before Jose Mourinho and at a period when English football was at its competitive best, Allison was revered for his innovative methods and man-management skills. With Joe Mercer as manager, the pair led City to five trophies between 1968 and 1970, including the First Division title and the League Cup after they had beaten Manchester United in the semi-final. According to Summerbee, 67, he "was the best coach there ever was".

But the impact of Roberto Mancini has given the former winger a flashback to those past glories when City "were the best team around". "I saw it in the first two games against Stoke and Wolves," said Summerbee. "He saw things weren't going right, changed it and we won games. Malcolm did that and Roberto has too. "Malcolm was a personality and he had that ambiance and aura. He gave you confidence and belief so you felt you could do anything. We had players like Neil Young, Glyn Pardoe and Alan Oakes who had been there for years and people thought they couldn't get better. "They became an important part of a very successful side. Mancini has done the same already with players like Javier Garrido and Martin Petrov. He will bring the best out of people. I think he has taken the team to another level and we have a special person in charge."

City last met United at this stage of the competition in 1969 when Summerbee's equaliser in a 2-2 draw gave City a 4-3 aggregate win. Summerbee is excited by what is now being shaped at Eastlands. "There's so much potential and I think it's a great opportunity for us to win a trophy after so long," he added. "To beat United to get to the cup final will mean a lot to everyone. A derby doesn't lose its glamour.

"When we beat them, we were the better team. Individually they were better with players like George Best, but collectively we were the best team in the country and showed it." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae