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Their new club was in a woeful state, marooned in the Second Division and overshadowed depressingly by their all-conquering neighbours, Matt Busby's United.

They knew City possessed vast potential, however, and set about effecting a transformation - with immediate success.

His reaction on recovering from TB was to "at least give myself a reason for being sick" by embarking on a series of wild sprees. He became immersed in betting to the extent that he spent two years as a professional gambler.

Then followed a brief and unsuccessful spell as a car salesman and a time-marking, booze-soaked period running a nightclub off London's Charing Cross Road.

Allison enjoyed himself in the refined surroundings of the Georgian city, and did well enough to landthe manager's seat at Second Division Plymouth Argyle a year later.

He could be ruthless, was boorish at times and was possessed of a cruel tongue when riled, yet Allison was honest and generous, and blessed with a messiah-like knack of inspiring loyalty, even love, among his followers.

But what made him special, at least in sporting terms, was his visionary ability to communicate his creedof positive football to the young menin his charge.

New players were acquired, and at the end of the management duo's first season at Maine Road, the Blues were Second Division champions.

They consolidated their berth among the élite during 1966-67 and then – joy of joys – pipped none other than United to the League title in 1967-68.

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When everything else was stripped away, when the cares and responsibilities of high officetook second place to his pure passion for his calling, Malcolm Allison was magnificent.

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