Interview: Jimmy Wagg

You started supporting the club in the early sixties. Do you have any memories of the title-winning season, or the other successes of that period?
The title-winning season was fantastic. The football was brilliant and it all happened so quickly. I remember being on the Kippax for the 'ballet on ice'. Barely remember a kick of the game, but the feeling on the terraces was amazing. We knew we were watching something special. Went to the League Cup Final in 1970. The pitch was a dog, but it was my first trip to Wembley so it was still special.

In your many years supporting the club, no doubt there will be many to pick from, but what would you say was the lowest low in that time, and to be most positive, the greatest moment?
Winning the title was the highlight. We also had a couple of great road trips in the '81 FA Cup run - Peterborough and Villa Park. Lowlights would be the Colin Bell injury against United, and losing to Luton in '83.

What are your abiding memories of the nineties now? As stupid as it might sound it’s a time I look back on quite fondly, despite the obvious disappointments. I think that decade sums up the club more than any other…
Covering City for radio in the 90's was never dull. I hope it doesn't sound twee, but I've got real respect for younger fans who supported City through those years. As we were making a pig's ear of it, United were winning everything. Unlike older supporters the younger fans didn't even have happy memories to draw on. The highlight for me was watching Kinkladze. One of those players who split opinion. One former City manager described him as a 'circus act', Ken Barnes says he was the real thing and Ken is a pretty fair judge.

We’ve been at Eastlands for six seasons now, no doubt it’s a great stadium, and that the club had to move, but Maine Road was Maine Road. Does it feel like home yet for you?
No. Eastlands won't feel like home till we acquire a few great memories to go with such a magnificent venue.

If you were given the choice of us winning a cup or breaking into the top four, which would you prefer, and why?
I'd take either, but in the short term I'd take the FA Cup or League Cup for the lift it would be for everyone, and to get the club back in the record books. Ultimately, though, we'll be judged by our performances in the Premier League.

With the signings that have arrived, or sound on their way, where do you think we ought to be looking to finish next season? The chairman says top six is the target, would that represent good enough progress for the money spent?
Top six would be progress, but football is an impatient business, so I think it would need to be top six but not twenty points adrift of the top four.

The owners have been here for coming up to a year. What are your impressions so far, and what are your opinions on foreign owners in general?
So far so good. I'm always a bit wary when I read stories of two acquisition lists - the manager's and the owner's, but I suppose those stories come with the territory. As for foreign ownership, it's part of the evolution of the game. It's a worldwide market now and it needs the sort of money which is more readily available, say, in the Middle East than in Middleton. I suppose, like most fans, I want to have my cake and eat it. I want foreign investment as long as they understand the Mancunian soul of the club.

Mark Hughes seemed to split the supporters initially, with his Big Red connections and last year's indifferent form, but towards the end of the season seemed to really win the doubters over. Do you think he's the man for the job, and given the fact that we were going to need someone to come in at some point and pretty much rebuild the football side of the club from top to bottom, which he seems to be doing, how do you think he's got on so far?
I've never been bothered about the United connection - Matt Busby did a pretty fair job going the other way. Think he's done okay so far. No idea if he will take City to the top of the football tree, but I do know we won't find out if we sack him after a season.

One of the highlights of the last few years has been the kids coming through the Academy ranks, and the good work of Jim Cassell and his team in general. Stevie Ireland, Micah, Johnno and others got their chance because we were short of options. With the new investment it’s probable that the next group might not. Is this just something that should be expected, or do you see the Academy remaining an integral part of the club?
I hope the Academy is part of the future. The connection between fans and homegrown players is special, but the bar has been raised and I think we will see fewer coming through. You don't need to give young talent time to develop if you can go out and spend.

Garry Cook recently alluded to the new owners wanting to change the ‘defeatist attitude’ at the club. Of course, that comes primarily by the side doing the business, but do you think some of our supporters are ready for the possibility of us being decent one day? It seems like most will always find something to moan about, as you’ll well know from the phone-ins…
Fans will always find something to moan about, but I think the cynical, self deprecating attitude we have as City fans is more a self defence thing - get your Don in first. City fans are ready for glory. I wouldn't mind another taste myself!

If City could sign any player in the world now, who would you most like to see here? Similarly, which player of all time would you most liked us to have signed and why?
Iniesta, for me. The ever question is harder. One of my favourite ever players was Denis Law. I know we had him twice, but I would have liked the 14 years in the middle as well!

To end, would you be so kind as to tell us your all-time City XI?
Trautmann, Book, Booth, Watson, Pardoe, Summerbee, Bell, Hartford, Barnes, Lee & Law (I've only picked players I've seen, so apologies to to Ken Barnes. Bobby Johnstone, Roy Paul etc).

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