WHILE the decision to sack Chris Coleman might have come as a surprise to most outside the Ricoh Arena, for a large band of Coventry City supporters the writing was on the wall for some time.
The 4-0 home defeat to Watford in the final game of the season was just the last in a series of embarrassing performances that fans have had to endure over the last two months – a period which saw the club go eleven games without a win.
During that time, City dropped from a spot just outside the play-offs to an embarrassing finish of 19th in the Championship – two places lower than last season. It has been a wretched run of results which forced the board’s hand, but the fact is Coleman failed to back up his tough talking with results on the pitch.
When he took over from Ian Dowie in February 2008, Coleman presided over a poor side in a relegation battle. Results failed to get any better and City only managed to avoid the drop by the narrowest of margins (goal difference) after succumbing to a 4-1 defeat at Charlton on the final day of the season.
Fans were sceptical, but believed, that given time, Coleman could put his own stamp on the team. However, things didn’t get much better the next season and City suffered another dip in form late in the season to finish well outside the expected play off places.
This season Coleman was fully backed by the board and said he had brought in the players he wanted. Results were still sketchy and despite a ten game unbeaten run after Christmas, City again fell well short of what was required.
He had promised much but delivered little and City’s long suffering supporters had grew tired of his antiquated style of management – a style which sadly mirrored his playing career. It was a method based on lots of graft and effort with very little emphasis placed on skill or technique.
Forwards, who could ruffle a few feathers, were favoured in preference over players with pace and skill, while the midfield lacked genuine creativity.
The players he brought into the club echoed these sentiments. Too many of his purchases were either past it or just not up to it. The majority of these signings (Clinton Morrison, Freddie Eastwood, Leon Barnett) proved to be a disaster.
This ‘up and at ’em style’ never sat easy with most City supporters who realised its limitations having endured a similar fate under Peter Reid and Dowie. It’s an outdated method of management which is all too prevalent down the lower leagues in England and in the modern game of pace and skill its flaws are severely highlighted.
Like so many of his counterparts Coleman is a manager, who forged a career as an average player in an era where power and strength were seen as key attributes. But that was 20 years ago and just like a Conservative MP, Coleman is now completely out of touch.
The success of West Brom and Newcastle this year has dispelled the myth that to get out of the Championship you need to play a brand of football bordering on all out assault. Nottingham Forest and Cardiff are two other sides reaping the success of placing their trust in a young, forward thinking manager and this is the step Coventry must now take if they are to return to the Premiership.
And while it might take a few years to come to fruition they cannot afford to step back in time to an era when power and strength are favored over skill and pace.