Sunday, 12 March 2017

Jim's column 11.3.2017

Russell Slade's brief time as Coventry City manager came to an end last Sunday after just 74 days – easily the shortest reign by a manager of the club, a record previously held by Mark Robins who stayed for 148 days in 2012-13.

Slade was in charge for 13 league games and three Cup games and his league record of just one win in 13 is the worst ever by a post-war City manager (a 7.7% win ratio). The only manager with a worse ratio is William Clayton – City's first boss when they entered the Football League in 1919. Under Clayton the side lost its first seven games at which point he was sacked. However it should be pointed out that Clayton had been the manager the previous season in the unofficial War Legaue Midland Division and it was City's performances in that 1918-19 season that were influential in the club being elected to Division Two in the summer of 1919. If that season's results were included he would have a much healthier win ratio.

The previous worst post-war manager was Don Howe who took over from the sacked Terry Butcher in January 1992. Don, whose managerial exploits never lived up to his record as Bertie Mee's number 2 at Arsenal when they won the 'double' in 1971, won only three games out of 19 as City hurtled down the league table. On the last day of the season the Sky Blues looked down and out as they trailed 2-0 at Villa Park only for already relegated Notts County to have a second half rally and condemn Luton to the drop. If Slade's cup results, two wins and a draw in the Checkatrade Trophy, are added into his record he overtakes Howe's win ratio for all games!

                                                                    Don Howe

By Monday Mark Robins was back at the club – only the fourth City manager to have two stints in the chair, the others being Harry Storer, Billy Frith and Bobby Gould. His previous stint saw him lift the Sky Blues from 23rd place in League One to 8th place when he departed five months later. Under his stewardship the team won 13 out of 25 league games and four out of eight cup games – with a win ratio of over 50% - the highest by any City manager. Only one other manager has won more than 50% of games – Jesse Carver in his short spell in the autumn of 1955 when he led the team to 14 wins in 27 games before disappearing to Italy to manage Lazio.

Robins is full-time manager number 42 in the 91 seasons since the club arrived in the league in 1919 – an average of just over two seasons per manager. The average tenure of our managers has been falling however and Robins is the 15th in the 16 seasons since we left the Premier League- an average of virtually one season per manager, and that excludes caretakers. In that time only one, Chris Coleman, has lasted more than 100 league games.

Robins is the fourth man in charge this season after Mowbray, Venus and Slade but it's not the most in one season. In 2012-13 Andy Thorn started the season as boss but was sacked after four games, Richard Shaw & Lee Carsley took over as caretakers but failed to win a league game, before Robins arrived. When Robins was lured away by Huddersfield in February Carsley was caretaker again until manager number five, Steven Pressley, arrived from Falkirk.

Apparently the record for any FL club is six different managers, set by Swansea in 1995-96 and equalled by Blackburn in 2012-13 and Colchester last season. The six Blackburn managers that season include two with Sky Blue connexions. Steve Kean, Chris Coleman's assistant, started the season in charge at Ewood Park but was sacked after eight games despite being top of the Championship and replaced by his assistant, former City manager, Eric Black. Black was temporarily in charge for six games before Henning Berg, Gary Bowyer (caretaker), Michael Appleton and Bowyer again.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Jim's column 4.3.2017

Last week I mentioned the fact that Coventry City players with the same surname, Thomas, had scored in the same game. Kwame & George Thomas netted in the Gillingham victory two weeks ago and I did some research into other similar occurrences for the club.

During the 1950s City had several players with the surname Hill. Two of them, Brian & Peter, are fairly well-known, and both passed away in recent times. However Ray Hill and Jimmy Hill (no, not the bearded wonder) played for the club in the 1950s and on more than one occasion the club fielded three Hills in a game.

There are a few instances of two Hills scoring in the same game, the last being in April 1961 at Watford in a Third Division game. City lost 7-2 at Vicarage Road and Peter and Brian netted the consolation goals. The following season in the infamous FA Cup defeat to Kings Lynn saw the last appearance together of the two men. When JH took over the following week he told Brian that he wouldn't be playing as a forward in future; Jimmy spotted the defending potential of Brian and he became a key member of the defence that took the Sky Blues all the way to Division One. Peter, on the other hand retired at the end of the 1961-62 season and became the club's trainer.

The other occurrences of two Hills scoring in the same game were:
1955-56 Norwich (h) (won 5-3) - Peter & Jimmy scored as well as Denis Uphill!
1955-56 Millwall (h) (won 5-1) – Peter & Jimmy scored.
1957-58 at Gillingham (lost 2-3) – Brian's debut as a 16-year old. Peter also scored.

The game at Gillingham in April 1958 was the only time that City fielded three Hills with Ray making up the trio.

Several readers thought that in the early 1990s two Williams might have scored in the same game. City fielded four players with the surname Williams in the decade, three of them christened Paul and the other John (the Flying Postman).

Paul A Williams was a loan player from West Brom, signed by Bobby Gould in 1992. He made one start and one sub appearance without scoring and in both games appeared alongside John.
                                                               Paul A.Williams

Paul R C Williams joined City from Stockport in 1993 and made 19 appearances, seven from the bench over two seasons. He failed to find the net.
                                                        Paul R.C.Williams

Paul D Williams joined City from Derby County in 1995 and earned the nickname 'Willo'. He made 199 appearances for the club over six seasons and scored six goals. He never appeared with any of the other Williams.
                                                         Paul D.Williams

John Williams joined City from Swansea in 1992 and played 86 games scoring 11 goals (including City's first in the Premier League) over three seasons.
                                                                  John Williams

The next question this begs is – what is the most common surname of Coventry City players? The answer is Smith – there have been 12 Smith's appear in first team games for the club since they joined the league in 1919. However no Smith has appeared since the winger David Smith (1987-93). Other popular surnames are Jones (10), Clark(e) 9 and Williams 7.