Michael Morton

Michael "Mikey" Morton

Born (28/July/1984) and raised in York, Michael Morton attended Millthorpe School and York College. He was a City supporter, most famously pictured at Wembley in 1993, Dean Kiely, City’s keeper that day being one of his boyhood heroes.

He’d attend City games with granddad who had been a prominent local amateur player with Rowntrees.

As he grew older, supporting had to take second place to playing. He spent some time playing with City juniors and then Middlesbrough before a senior career beckoned with the likes of Garforth Town.

Drawn towards formations and figures, it was inevitable that coaching would soon call. He recalls that he was often to be seen helping out in under 15 and under16 soccer schools.

An early (and long term) influence was David Harrison who Morton played under and later worked with at Leeds (2003-9). After a long spell with Everton, David Harrison was named Head of Youth Recruitment by Manchester United in March 2023. He also names John Francis, a former Burnley striker, now head of their academy, Rick Passmoor and Steve Holmes as strong influences on his career. As his playing career wound down, his coaching career ramped up. In 2005, he was offered a full time coaching role at Leeds where he was to complete his caching badges. He is a UEFA ‘A’ licensed coach.

In 2009, he was head hunted by Manchester City’s academy where his main roles included academy coaching and talent identification. One unsuccessful task was to establish a centre of excellence in York. At times, he worked under Brian Kidd with the first team squad. He returned to Leeds' academy in 2018 and remained there until City came calling in 2022. Early part time roles included Under 19 Head Coach at York College (2008 - 2018) and with Reform Coaching (2011-4).

Whilst at Manchester City, he was given some opportunities to work in men’s football with Pickering Town and Tadcaster Albion (2013-8) where he saw the club reach the 2017/8 Evo-Stik North play offs. He worked as assistant manager under Paul Marshall and later Billy Miller before stepping up to become manager. He took a team that had finished just above the relegation zone a season earlier into the play offs. At Taddy, he worked with experienced professionals like Jon Greening and Michael Ingham.

He also worked at i2i as their Academy Manager (2012-8), setting up an academy where he was able to implement his own ideas. Ronaldo Viera, later Leeds and Torino, was his star graduate, one of 9 professional footballers they produced.

In 2018, he took up a post as Youth Development Phase Lead at Leeds United when he was offered the chance to return to Leeds’ academy and learn under Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds regained their top flight status.

Come late 2022, Morton started to hear rumours linking him to York. At the time he was considering taking a team of coaches across to Norway and had spoken to another National League side.

Arriving at City in December 2022 as David Webb’s assistant, he took charge for the first 2 games when Webb was struck down with covid. They were a backs to the wall 2-0 win at high flying Woking and a routine 5-0 FA Trophy win over Blyth. Barely 2 months later, after Webb was sacked on February 8, Morton was appointed City's interim manager on the sacking of David Webb. Taking over after a calamitous run of results (and performances) and amid the ongoing ownership crisis, he guided City to safety and was appointed permanent manager on May 23.

The 2023 close season was difficult, starting in the Glen Henderson era, money was tight. He indicated that he wanted to go into the new season with a small and tightly knit squad. Once the Matt Uggla takeover was completed, money became readily available and by the time he was relieved of his duties on August 28, he had 36 professionals in his care. Equally, his desire for a squad with "Premier League" fitness seemed to go awry as City were frequently second best fitness wise in the opening games. His last 2 home games saw City's defence torn to shreds by Altrincham and Rochdale. He was sacked on the evening of the 1-3 defeat by Rochdale.

Speaking a couple of weeks after he had completed his takeover, Matt Uggla openly admitted that he had a new manager in mind when taking over but was quickly won over by Mikey Morton, the pair were on the same page. But had that statement already set in motion the end?

After all the pre-season hype, City had just 2 points from 6 games when he was sacked. Whilst handicapped by late signings and injuries, he regularly changed formations (seemingly to match up with the opposition) and his clarity of thought from the previous season became lost in a series of cliched interviews (transitions and stats to the fore). There was talk of unrest in the camp, Dan Pybus left under a cloud whilst Alex Hurst was rumoured to be have refused to play and despite using 25 players in the 6 games, Mitch Hancox surprisingly featured for just a few minutes. Despite the squad size, there was a persistence to play Maz Kouhyar at left wing back whilst midfield and forward options were limited.

Even his last weekend seemed muddled. Having noted at Easter how the “quick” 3 days turnaround between Good Friday and Easter Monday saw the unchanged side he put out for Easer Monday fail to match the energy of Halifax. He regretted fielding an unchanged side, having been swayed by the excellent result at Chesterfield on Good Friday. Come Dorking, he took his entire first team squad to Dorking for a team bonding overnight stay entailing a long coach journey and a lot of time to fill for the non players. Even after that game, he recalled the Easter games. Come Monday, he fielded an unchanged side, bar the suspended John-Lewis and post match he noted how some of his players were “gassed” by half time.

Elsewhere, there were rumours of ill discipline across both last season and this season whilst the summer and beyond had been rife with rumours of signings and team line ups, an uncomfortably high number proved to be true for comfort.

The first 6 games of the 2023/4 season saw City receive 3 red cards and his final game saw Crookes receive a straight red and 4 players (plus Tony McMahon) booked. Discipline seemed to have gone out of the window.

Michael "Mikey" Morton: Linkedin.