Sunday, 19 September 2010

JIM'S COLUMN 18.9.10

There is an interesting match in the Conference Premier today when the Holdsworth brothers, David and Dean, become the first ever twins to face each other as managers. David is manager of Mansfield Town who travel to South Wales to face Newport County, managed by former City player Dean.

Dean, a striker in his playing days, had a brief spell at Coventry City in 2002-03 season making 17 league appearances and three cup appearances but managing just one goal in arguably City’s worst side of the last forty years. His sole goal however was a stunning curling shot against Cardiff in an FA Cup replay, City’s only home victory between Boxing Day and the end of the season in a slump that almost resulted in relegation. In March 2003 with City’s bankers on the doorstep demanding cost reductions Dean was released and joined Rushden & Diamonds.

Prior to joining the Sky Blues Dean had had a good career after starting as an apprentice at Graham Taylor’s Watford in the mid-1980s. In 1986, along with goalkeeper David James, Tim Sherwood and his twin David, he was part of an outstanding Watford youth team beaten in the FA Youth Cup by an even better City youth team who went on to reach the semi final, a year before they lifted the trophy. His first team chances were limited at Watford however and he went down the leagues to join Brentford where he was a success.

Dean had five years at Wimbledon followed by a similar period at Bolton and scored a good amount of goals for both clubs and after his spell at City he played for MK Dons, one of the few players to appear for the two Dons’ clubs. Later he became chairman of the PFA and has been boss at Newport since 2007. Last season he led his club to the championship of the Conference South with a record 103 points.

Unlike Dean, David, a central defender, did make the grade at Watford and made over 250 appearances for the Hornets between 1986-96 before shorter spells at Sheffield United and Birmingham City. He played his part in the Sky Blues history when in 1998 he scored the very late equaliser for the Blades in the FA Cup sixth round replay at Bramall Lane. The goal took the game to extra-time and ultimately a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out which ended City’s hopes of a semi-final appearance that their performances that spring probably deserved.

David managed Ilkeston Town prior to arriving at Mansfield’s Field Mill in 2008 and his team have made a good start in their third season in the Conference. I will be looking out for the result of this unique game with interest.

There have been a lot of negative comments from City supporters since last weekend and I find it hard to join the chorus of criticism. City have picked up just one point from their last three league games, a home draw sandwiched by away defeats at Millwall and Swansea. Let’s put those results in context. Millwall are unbeaten at home in over 20 games stretching back to last November and are always difficult to beat on their own patch. When Carl Baker was sent off City were holding their own at 1-1 and with 11 men would have got a result. Swansea too are a hard nut on their own ground, losing only three games at the Liberty Stadium in the whole of last season. After a woeful first half City had chances to level the game with a much improved second half performance. The Leicester performance was dire but in mitigation it was a local derby and they are rarely thrillers. Paolo Sousa has got Leicester playing the passing game and they keep possession well making it hard for opponents to get the ball and play themselves. For all the visitor’s possession however City defended well (something they often failed to do last year) and got a valuable point. Leicester showed that the early form was deceptive with a good victory over Cardiff in midweek. Some fans are saying that we are worse off than last season but after six league games last season we had lost our home record (to Swansea) and got a terrible thumping at Blackpool. I think City fans should be patient and judge progress when the season is more advanced than now.

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