Last updated : 21 April 2004 By Editor

From The Independent:

Fans who have besieged local media to express their concerns have pointed to the departure of Bernstein last March as the pivotal moment in their decline.

Bernstein was popular with many members of the club's' staff, although his determination to keep control of the club's purse strings brought him into conflict with Kevin Keegan and led to his departure. The trigger was Bernstein's refusal to pay Leeds United £7m for striker Robbie Fowler. A compromise was reached and City spent £6m for Fowler, who has scored 12 goals in 54 games.

Bernstein has remained an interested observer and was at White Hart Lane on Easter Monday to watch the 1-1 draw with Tottenham. And, amid rumours of boardroom unrest and disquiet in the dressing room, Bernstein made his offer to return.

"In view of the extremely serious situation which the club finds itself in. I decided to see whether the club would be interested in my returning with immediate effect," Bernstein said. "I believe I could have made a difference. I am disappointed but hope and pray that the club's results over the next few matches are enough to save us."

There was no likelihood of a return while Keegan remains manager and, privately, City officials have been dismayed at the timing of the revelation.

"Everybody at the club is focused on climbing up the Premiership table," a spokesman at the club said. "At this time of the season, we do not welcome anything that could have a detrimental effect on our situation."

From The Sun:

Manchester City players will have their wages cut by a THIRD if they go down.

That means a loss of around £700,000 a year for top-earners such as Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler.

The players had the agreement activated in all their contracts when the club was promoted.

Anelka picks up around £40,000 a week, while Fowler earns around £35,000 a week.

This could lead to a bigger exit of players than the club had already wanted to implement.

As revealed in SunSport on Monday, City have discussed an emergency contingency plan for going down which involves offloading all the top earners.

Now even the lower-paid players like Shaun Wright-Phillips are sure to want away.

And this gem from The Guardian on Monday – sorry we missed it:

'Steve McManaman was withdrawn with a hamstring problem after 10 minutes but amid City's centre he could have limped through the remainder of the game without his lack of mobility standing out. Viewers of yesterday's London Marathon will have seen considerably greater athleticism and mobility from a 7ft rhino than those here got from Paul Bosvelt in his 60 minutes.'

By the time of the final whistle there was hardly anyone left to boo the home team off the pitch, although those who remained tried. This was Kevin Keegan's first game in charge of City after a four-match absence caused by a back problem. Much of the time, he says, was spent sifting through memorabilia and newspaper cuttings going back to the start of his playing days at Scunthorpe. His has been a remarkable career but any remaining doubt that Keegan's glory days are over was wiped away with this debilitating defeat.