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Strachan And Hartson Staying Put

Gordon StrachanCoventry City striker John Hartson and manager Gordon Strachan have pledged to stay with the relegated club.

The Highfield Road side dropped out of the top flight for the first time in 34 years when they lost to rivals Aston Villa on Saturday casting a doubt over Strachan’s future and also alerting a host of clubs keen to secure Hartson’s services.

But Strachan today said that he had not considered resigning and had been given an assurance by Hartson that the Welsh international would stay at the club.

Strachan, who was rumoured to have tendered his resignation earlier in the season, said the attitude of his players ensured he would stick with the job.

“Resignation never crossed my mind. If I had seen in the players eyes that it was not happening for them at any time in the season I would have thought about it for the benefit of everyone, but never once did I see that.

“There were a few games when the crowd had every right to boo us but in the second half of the season it was hard to point the finger.

“We made a massive mistake in that we started the season with two 21 year olds in attack and that wasn’t right. Cedric Roussel and Craig Bellamy had only played 15 games between them at that level and from then until we signed John Hartson, we were practically toothless. 

“In some games we were making eight or nine chances and not taking them. We tried to sign John Hartson before Christmas and when we got him we realised that the problem had been staring us in the face.

“John will be staying. He has told me wants to stop and has not got a problem with playing here. I think everyone who goes down looks on it as their duty to get the club back up. John has never asked for a transfer from anyone and has no intention of doing so now. No player has told me they are unhappy.

“We can all learn lessons from what has happened. I don’t know if there will be a stigma attached with us for going down, only time will tell. I thought I would be embarrassed but I am more annoyed because of the things we could have done better.

“Other teams have been relegated and kept their manager. My heart is here, I have a belief in my players and the way they have played in the last few months. I would like to start next season today. There are ideas bouncing around my head and I want to get on with it."

Strachan knows that his squad will change in the run up to the season but has vowed to buy British in a bid to bounce straight back up.

“We will not be looking for foreign players. Our scout Ray Clarke has been pulled out of Europe and will be operating in the UK from now on. I have enough foreign players and you do have the problem that they disappear for 10 days at a time for internationals against Guatemala when the squad needs to stay together.

“You can’t say such and such players are not for sale because if the bank manager sees a big bid you never know.

“The heart of the squad is here in the youth of the club and we need some experience to help that. The squad will chance because of circumstances but we will try and keep the quality we have. The teams who have come up are the ones who pass the ball the best, have experience and are well organised.

“The First Division will be a learning experience for everyone. No-one should think it is easy because they will be in for a shock.”

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 9 May 01
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