Summerbee salutes Allison's influence
Manchester City legend Mike Summerbee has saluted a flag-bearer for a different era following the death of Malcolm Allison.
The flamboyant Allison, whose death at the age of 83 was announced on Friday, made his name as a coach at City, where he worked with great success under manager Joe Mercer, and twice took the hot seat himself. He was as well known for his enjoyment of life off the pitch as football's first superstars emerged.
"He was a great character and a very sociable man," said Summerbee. "We worked hard for him and we were exceptionally fit, but we could enjoy ourselves and he went along with that. The club itself at that particular time came from nothing under Joe Mercer and Malcolm and became very, very successful. It was a great era, a great period in the history of the club. He was a special, lovely man."
Under Mercer and Allison, who joined the club in 1965 as assistant manager, City won promotion from Division 2 and then won the league title, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the European Cup Winners' cup in quick succession before the former Charlton and West Ham defender took up the reins. His two spells in charge either side of jobs at Crystal Palace and Plymouth never quite reached those heights, but Summerbee insists his influence on those glory days cannot be underestimated.
"We played open, attacking football and Malcolm very much wanted us to play that way. Our strength was going forward and that came from Malcolm," he said. "There were great figureheads in the game at the time -- Matt [Busby] at United, Bill Nicholson at Tottenham and Joe Mercer at City. Whatever people say, Joe and Malcolm just gelled together and we had a wonderful time and were very successful."