Sunday, 1 March 2015

Jim's column 28.2.15

Last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane together with results elsewhere pushed Coventry City into the bottom four of League One & precipitated the departure of Steven Pressley, after two years in charge. I think it is always sad when a Coventry City manager leaves the club in these circumstances but especially so in the case of Steven. There is no question that he worked tremendously hard to achieve success for the club & he unquestionably had his share of bad luck but ultimately it is about results & no club can afford relegation from any division these days with the financial rewards & crowds usually dropping after a demotion. Every manager is under pressure & with few exceptions, forced to work with a lower budget than they would wish for. The number of managerial casualties increases every season – a staggering 17 managers have left their posts in the Championship this campaign.

Steven took over as manager in March 2013 after Mark Robins jumped ship to join Huddersfield & had his best period in the first half of last season when boosted by the goalscoring feats of Callum Wilson & Leon Clarke, the team quickly wiped off the ten point deduction & at one stage looked set for a play-off challenge. His decision to give Wilson his chance, when others preferred Shaun Jeffers, is probably his greatest legacy at the club. Last season he was hamstrung in the transfer market & forced to play his inherited players, some of whom he clearly didn't fancy, but when the handcuffs came off a number of his loan players were disappointing.

Last summer he was again hampered in the transfer market but his signings have, with a couple of exceptions, been poor & although the defence has looked more secure he never remotely got close to replacing Clarke & Wilson.

At Bramall Lane a two-goal lead against the ten-man Blades was thrown away – not for the first time on Pressley's watch. Last season two-goal leads were frittered against Bradford & Crawley with woeful defending.

Steven had exactly 100 games in charge (87 league & 13 cup) – only four managers since 1986 have had more (Sillett, Adams, Strachan & Coleman). His league record in the same period the stats rank him as 11th out of 18 managers for win percentage, appreciably better than Messrs McAllister, Thorn & Atkinson. His home form was the Achilles heel however, with only fifteen victories out of 43 games (34%) but he is not alone in this – only Roland Nilsson out of the 18 managers had a better than 50% win ratio at home.

CCFC managers since 1986

Games W D L Wins %
1 Mark Robins 25 13 5 7 52.00%
2 Eric Black 23 11 3 9 47.83%
3 Roland Nilsson 40 19 5 16 47.50%
4 Iain Dowie 43 16 9 18 37.21%
5 Micky Adams 90 31 24 35 34.44%
6 John Sillett 128 44 37 47 34.38%
7 Terry Butcher 49 16 11 22 32.65%
8 Phil Neal 58 18 18 22 31.03%
9 Peter Reid 29 9 8 12 31.03%
10 Aidy Bothroyd 36 11 8 17 30.56%
11 Steven Pressley 87 26 28 33 29.89%
12 Bobby Gould 54 16 19 19 29.63%
13 Gordon Strachan 183 52 52 79 28.42%
14 Chris Coleman 107 30 35 42 28.04%
15 Gary McAllister 68 17 25 26 25.00%
16 Ron Atkinson 64 14 24 26 21.88%
17 Andy Thorn 59 12 21 26 20.34%
18 Don Howe 19 3 8 8 15.79%

League games only

The goal-glut at the start of last season means that Pressley's goals per game is the fourth best of the 18 – only Robins, Black & Nilsson had better scoring rates. Steven's cup record was a mixed bag also. Only six of the 13 ties was won & five of the victories were against lower opposition with the win at Barnsley in last season's FA Cup a rare highlight. This season's defeat to Worcester has to go down as one of the worst results in the club's Cup history.

Craig Richards asked if City managers had been sacked in previous relegation seasons. The club have only been relegated four times in their league history, in 1925, 1952, 2001 & 2012. In 1925 manager Albert Evans was fired in the November with secretary Harry Harbourne taking over the reins. In 1952 the great Harry Storer was in charge & survived a further fifteen months after relegation. In 2001 & 2012, Gordon Strachan & Andy Thorn were respectively sacked a few games into the following season.

On Saturday Sheffield United's Jose Baxter became the first opposition player to be shown a red card since January last year when Preston's Kevin Davies was sent off at Deepdale. In the time since then the Sky Blues have had six men ordered off – a pretty frightening statistic. Baxter's red card came in the 19th minute – the quickest opponent's dismissal since August 2011 when Leicester’s Darius Vassell was ordered off after only 10 minutes.


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