Tony COTON

Manchester City FC

Tony Coton - Manchester City FC - Biography of his career at Man City.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 11 March 1994

Click on image to enlarge

    • POSITION
      Goalkeeper
    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Friday, 19 May 1961
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      Tamworth, England.
  • CLUBS
  • Birmingham City FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1978-1984
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 27th December 1980 in a 3-2 win at home to Sunderland (Aged: 19)
    • Club Career
      94 League apps
  • Manchester City FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1990-1996
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 25th August 1990 in a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur (Aged: 29)
    • Club Career
      163 League apps (+1 as sub)
  • Watford FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1984-1990
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 29th September 1984 in a 5-4 defeat at home to Everton (Aged: 23)
    • Club Career
      233 League apps, 0 goals
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Tony COTON - Manchester City FC - Biography of his career at Man City.

 

 

 Generally regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of the eighties and nineties, Tony Coton's name is normally
 one to crop up in a list of the best players never to have gained a full England cap. Born in Tamworth,
Staffordshire, he had spent the first part of his career at Birmingham City, where he had saved a penalty
in the very first minute of his debut against Sunderland in 1980, before moving on to Graham Taylor's
Watford in 1984. In his early days he was perhaps unfortunate to have had Peter Shilton in front of him in
the national team, and latterly would be behind the likes of Chris Woods and Nigel Martyn in the pecking order.

He was 29-years old when Manchester City manager Howard Kendall paid Watford a fee of around £1 million

for him in the summer of 1990, making his first appearance on the opening day of the 1990/91 campaign in

a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. Manager Kendall then resigned in November to take charge at his old club

Everton, but despite the team being in the top-six under player-manager Peter Reid for most of the season,

Coton initially had a job to win over the supporters as he had taken over from the popular Andy Dibble. Their

doubts were dispelled, however, when he produced a string of top-class displays, making some crucial saves

and showing great ability in one-on-one situations as a creditable fifth place finish in the league was achieved.

 

The following two years would see Tony firmly establish himself as one of the Premiership's top keepers and put

himself into the England reckoning, being rewarded with a 'B' team cap when he came on as a half-time substitute

in a game against France at Loftus Road in February 1992. Three months later he was also named as his club's

Player of the Year, making 37 league appearances with the team once again finishing in fifth spot in the table.

With Tony in the best form of his career it seemed inevitable he would be summoned into the full squad during

the 1992/93 season, but the call never arrived in spite of him keeping clean sheets in 10 of his 40 games as the

team finished in ninth place in the table.

 

Amid growing unrest off the pitch manager Reid was sacked at the end of August 1993 to be replaced by Brian Horton

, but Coton continued to perform consistently between the sticks as the team recovered from a dismal start to slowly

claw their way back up the table. With early exits in both cup competitions and only nine wins all season an eventual

sixteenth place finish was a disappointing effort, but Tony had been instrumental in keeping the club just above the

relegation zone and he was rewarded with the Player of the Year trophy for the second time in three seasons.

 

The 1994/95 season would prove to be Tony's last with club as he picked up a shoulder injury in early October which

would keep him out until the end of January the following year. He returned for a fourth round FA Cup defeat of

Aston Villa (1-0), but the Blues had been in freefall in the league as they had not won a game since early December.

Results then improved sufficiently over the next two months to stave off the threat of relegation, with Coton getting

a run of fourteen consecutive games, but he suffered a badly torn thigh muscle in a goalless draw with Newcastle United

at Maine Road on April 29th, a game which would be his last for the club. In the event it was only the quick-thinking

of doctors in a Bolton hospital that averted a potentially leg-threatening blood clot from turning into something

much more serious.

 

Manager Horton was replaced before the start of the following season by Alan Ball, who immediately signed

ex-West German international Eike Immel from VfB Stuttgart. With rumours of Coton and Ball having had a falling out and

the club needing to reduce the wage bill he was eventually allowed to leave in January 1996, when he moved across town

and joined Manchester United for £500, 000 as cover for Peter Schmeichel. He had played a total of 194 league and cup

games for City (including 1 as a substitute), and although fans were not happy with the manner of his departure

(and the destination) he remains one of the most popular players to have ever pulled on the sky-blue shirt.

 

After never playing a first-team game at Old Trafford he moved on to Sunderland six months later for a fee of £600,000,

but after only ten games he broke his leg in five places in a collision with Southampton's Egil Ostenstad, and the injury

marked the end of his playing career at the age of 35. After recovery he returned to Manchester United to take up the

role of goalkeeping coach, a position from which he was forced to step down in June 2008 due to ongoing knee problems.

(David Redshaw)