Why Uwe Rosler’s dream of managing Manchester City could be over

Manchester City Etihad

The former City striker made no secret of his desire to reach the top of the English game as manager of Manchester City – but have his slim hopes vanished?

As a player, Uwe Rosler always enjoyed a special affinity with Manchester City fans, having first joined the club at Maine Road in 1994 after impressing while on trial from Nuremberg.

In truth the striker’s background mirrored that of the Citizens – born in Alternberg, East Germany, he was forever the underdog, playing for a variety of unfashionable teams based in the less affluent side of the country.

Moving to a club like City, who at that point could be found lurking deep in the shadow of their neighbours United, was a perfect fit and the fans knew it.

Speaking of his memories upon joining the Maine Road side last year, Rosler said: “From the moment I walked in the door, I knew the club was made for me. I felt the energy, the vibe, from day one.”

Player of the year in his first full season, Rosler was also top scorer three years in a row for the Sky Blues, amassing 64 goals in 176 games for the club.

But the bond went beyond his exploits on the pitch – when the forward was in recovery from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2003 he recalls being phoned by a friend at a City game only to hear the fans chanting his name.

That support spurred the striker on to not only beat the illness but find a way into management and to his one true love.

But the desire to take over at City had burned for long time, even while the striker was in the final days of his playing career at Lillestrom and looking to pick up a UEFA coaching licence.

"Now I have three options - to become a coach, a scout or maybe a full-time manager,” he told one interviewer at Sky Sports around the time.

"I want to be the boss of Manchester City one day."

At first the words appeared to be in jest, but as time went on and Rosler’s career developed, City fans were left wondering whether the cult hero they once cheered as a player could soon command from the dugout at the Etihad.

Spells in Scandinavia with Lillestrom, Viking and Molde saw the 45-year-old hone his craft before he got his big break with a move to then-League One side Brentford.

A spell with the Bees saw Rosler come close to a dream debut season, with promotion to the Championship, only for a missed penalty from the on-loan Marcello Trotta – who was not Brentford’s designated spot kick taker – to deny them automatic promotion.

Play-off misery followed but the German had done enough to catch the eye of Wigan who came calling for the ex-City man the following season – a campaign in which Brentford went on to promotion.

Taking over in December of last year, Rosler led the Latics to the FA Cup semi-finals after beating Manchester City – a phenomenal achievement that arguably matched that of the previous season.

A late surge in the Championship also saw Wigan reach the play-offs where they were tipped to see off a QPR side that had failed to gain an automatic return to the Premier League despite spending heavily.

It was simple: win and Rosler would be one step closer to his City dream – a dream that have burned within for well over a decade.

A 0-0 draw at the DW set things up nicely for the return game, with Wigan moving into an early lead through James Perch with less than 10 minutes gone.

For a further 54 glorious minutes the Latics held on but then disaster struck – Gary Caldwell gave away a penalty for a foul on Junior Hoilett which £4 million signing Charlie Austin duly converted – the Rs had been saved.

In any normal knockout competition Wigan would have still progressed on away goals rule but the play-offs were different with the game in extra time Austin struck again with what proved the winner.

A season on and the stark reality was that the Latics and perhaps even Rosler never recovered from that loss, winning just three times in the next 17 competitive outings.

Owner Dave Whelan decided to wield the axe with Wigan third from bottom, though it should be noted only 12 points off the play-offs.

For Rosler, like David Moyes after Manchester United, the next move is now key – succeed at his next club and this season can be written off, like Brendan Rodgers’ reign at Reading, but fail to get the best out his next group of charges and any lingering hopes of a Manchester City reunion may remain just that.

Here’s hoping the dream stays alive.

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch