WIDZEW LODZ 0 CITY 0
(2-2 on aggregate, City go out on away goals)
UEFA Cup 1st Round 2nd Leg
28th September 1977
Ref Walter Hungerbuhler
City Corrigan, Doyle, Power, Owen, Watson, Booth, Barnes, Royle, Kidd, Hartford, Tueart – subs Clements(31), MacRae(unused), Keegan(unused), Conway(unused), Channon(unused)
Widzew Lodz Burzynski, Kostrzewinski, Janas, Chodakowski, Tickinski, Zawadzki, Kowenicki, Rozborski, Grebosz, Boniek, Gapinski – used sub Krawczyk(62)
Tony books comments from The City programme 8th October 1977
We have only ourselves to blame for failing in our task against Widzew Lodz. The match should have been won in the home tie and if you look back over my preview notes on the tie the message was clear, we needed three clear goals to visit Poland in a relaxed frame of mind and anything less meant that we had an uphill task.
Because of lapses at Maine Road. when we should have stitched the first leg up with a bundle of goals, we went to Lodz at a great disadvantage. With away goals counting double, and the Widzew team having two in their pocket, it meant we had to win or, at the very least, earn a 3-3 draw.
It wasn’t on. We had to go in front of 40,000 partisan fans and play to the strengths of the opposition. There is no question that they are equipped to defend powerfully and physically and beyond that they do not have a lot to offer. This is the annoying aspect of our failure to progress because Widzew are unrated and I cannot see them getting much further in the competition. They have shortcomings in attacking play and do not seem capable of scoring many goals.
Widzew appear incapable of changing their pattern of play because it all revolves around a defensive strategy and, therefore, they are never going to score enough goals to survive in the UEFA Cup. That is why it seems unbelievable when you view our proven home record, that we should concede two goals when they were visitors to Manchester.
My mind keeps tracing back over the turning points. the telling incidents, the what-might-have-beens. But it is no good living with regrets and we must always be forward-looking and leave our bad days behind us.
… Just one aspect of that second leg tie that I would like to mention is my selection of Mike Doyle at right back in place of our regular choice Kenny Clements. and the wayy I utilised Paul Power at left back in the absence of Willie Donachie, who was suspended. It was planned as a tactical move, although a lot of the intention wad diluted when we lost Mike Channon’s services on the eve of the match because of continuing trouble with a pelvic injury. That was a bad blow. I still reflect and wonder whether Mike’s pace in attack might have made the difference that would have taken the match away from a 0-0 stalemate.
But I paired Mike Doyle and Paul in the belief that they would give us more effect going forward. Kenny is a good defender, a very good one and one of the best in the club at breaking down the opposition attacks. But in terms of creating things by advancing out in support I was sure that the better combination in those circumstances would be Mike and Paul. We needed a result, not a stalemate. Of course. the idea was never put to a lasting test because Mike was injured in the first half and limped off with a sprain to be replaced by Kenny.
I was satisfied with the effort the City players put into the match, they were not lacking in character. There were times when they could have flown off the handle. but didn’t. For instance. when a Widzew player went down injured after an innocent tackle by Paul Power. There were amazing play- acting scenes as the Polish trainers went on the field and a stretcher was called as the drama mounted amid wild gesticulations. There must have been a three-to-four minute hold-up.
Did the player get carried off? Not on your life. He was on his feet and, to my eyes, showed no ill-effects for the rest of the game. What this break in the match rhythm did was to give Widzew a respite from the pounding they were taking from our attack at that important stage of the second half.
But these are little acting sessions and irritations that we know about when we go abroad or play foreign teams and we have to accept them.
I informed a Polish press conference afterwards that the kind of behaviour shown in that stretcher incident would never be tolerated by the public back in England, nor would the type of defensive play which they seemed quite proud about. A result matters, but there has to be signs of a positive contribution if a team hopes to achieve anything in the long term.