SEP 01] THE JIM BROWN COLUMN
City's Managers :
1995 - NOVEMBER 1996]
Whilst ‘Big Ron’s’ record
as manager does not stand up well to scrutiny – only 14 wins
in 64 games – he can be credited with not only helping
Coventry City back into the limelight with his ready quips and
larger than life persona but also attracting a number of top
class players to the club, including Gordon Strachan and Gary
RON ATKINSON ARRIVES
AS NEW MANAGER :
COVENTRY CITY v WEST HAM UNITED - 18 FEBRUARY 1995
Born in Liverpool on 18 March
1939 Ron started his playing career on Aston Villa’s books in
the late 1950s. While there he played for their youth side
against Coventry at Highfield Road in 1956.
After being released by Villa he
played over 400 games for Oxford United as they went from the
Southern League to Division 2 in five years earning the nickname
On retiring from playing he
became manager of Southern League Kettering where success led to
his appointment as manager of Cambridge United in 1974. He led
Cambridge to the Division 4 championship in 1977 and was invited
to take over at West Brom a year later.
Though he did not win any honours
at The Hawthorns, the club thrived under his leadership with an
attractive style of football and in 1981 he was given the
opportunity to manage Manchester United.
In his five years at Old Trafford
they won the FA Cup twice, in 1983 and 1985, and were League Cup
runners-up in 1983. The team never finished lower than fourth in
the First Division but the championship was the holy grail for
United in those days and when Ron couldn’t deliver they turned
to Alex Ferguson.
A further spell for Ron at West
Brom was followed by a very brief spell at Athletico Madrid.
in 1989 he returned to England to manage Sheffield Wednesday.
After keeping them in the top flight in 1989, from a seemingly
impossible situation, he somehow contrived to get them relegated
the following season. They bounced back in 1991 and also won the
League Cup, beating United in the final!
Within weeks of the final however
he controversially resigned to take over at Villa who he took to
Premier League runners up in 1992 and Coca Cola Cup victory in
1994. However after a poor start to the following season he was
He wasn't out of the manager's
seat for long as in February
1995 he took over from Phil Neal at Coventry City.
Arriving at Coventry in a blaze
of glory he banished talk of relegation and within weeks had
taken City well out of the danger zone with an unbeaten six
match run including a famous victory at Anfield.
A dip in form however, dragged
them back into the dogfight and Ron had to call upon his new
assistant manager Gordon Strachan to save the day in a crucial
evening game at Tottenham.
For the 1995-96 season he made
several acquisitions including John Salako, the Brazilian Isaias
and Paul Telfer and a major improvement was expected.
Once again however the club were
involved in a relegation battle and required a draw on the last
day of the season to stay up.
When 1996-97 started in a similar
vein Ron’s critics came to the fore and, after only one win in
twelve matches, he was asked to move aside to allow Strachan to
take the reins.
Ron was 'moved upstairs' and
given the title Director of Football. This new non-role meant
that he was not involved in day-to-day matters at the club but
he did carry out some useful coaching missions. The following
summer his contract was terminated and he left the club.
Since 1997 he has managed
Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, keeping the former up
in 1998 but failing with the latter in 1999.
Ron's career as an ITV pundit has
blossomed however and he can be heard regularly covering
Champions League and international matches.
Ham (h) : won 2-0
(a) : drew 1-1
win at Wimbledon to virtually guarantee safety (April
Cup defeat at Derby after leading 2-0