OCT 01] THE JIM BROWN COLUMN
City's Managers :
1983 - DECEMBER 1984 / MAY 1992 - OCTOBER 1993]
Coventry-born Gould is one of
only three men to have managed Coventry City for two separate
spells - Harry Storer and Billy Frith being the others. Both
Gould's reigns were short lived and ultimately his fan-like
devotion for the club and talent-spotting ability was
insufficient to make him a success in the job.
Bobby was born in 1946 and joined
Coventry City in 1962 after starring for Coventry Schools. With
his bustling, brave style the young forward quickly made an
impression on manager Jimmy Hill and was given a debut at the
age of 17. He had to wait however, until the departure of the
fan’s hero, George Hudson, in 1966 to win a regular place in
Many supporters made the mistake
of comparing him with Hudson and he took some severe barracking
from the crowd.
In the 1966-67 season however he
confounded his critics by topping the Second Division
goalscorers with 24 goals as City won the championship.
Injury restricted his appearances
the following season but eight goals in 14 games convinced
Arsenal manager Bertie Mee to pay City £90,000 for his services
in January 1968.
In two and a half seasons at
Arsenal he struggled but did make a Wembley appearance in the
1969 League Cup final when the Gunners were sensationally beaten
Spells at Wolves, West Brom,
Bristol City, West Ham, Wolves (again), Bristol Rovers and
Hereford followed as the nomadic striker failed to settle in one
place for long.
His managerial career followed a
similar pattern. After coaching posts at Charlton, Aldershot,
Wimbledon and Chelsea, Gould made a mark in his first managerial
position, at Bristol Rovers, between 1981 and 1983. It was
enough to convince City’s temporary chairman, Iain Jamieson,
that he was the man to replace Dave Sexton.
He arrived to discover that eight
first team players, including Gary Gillespie, Danny Thomas and
Mark Hateley, were out of contract and had no desire to stay at
Gould quickly had to rebuild the
side by recruiting a combination of lower division players and
First Division reserves and cast-offs. Some of his signings were
naïve and failed, for example Raddy Avramovic and Ashley
Grimes, others were of a short-term nature, like Sam Allardyce
and Bob Latchford, but most were inspired.
In total Gould bought 25 players
in 18 months. Trevor Peake, Terry Gibson, Michael Gynn, Dave
Bennett and Stuart Pearce were all bargains and the following
season he followed them with Steve Ogrizovic, Cyrille Regis and
By December 1983 City were fourth
in the table but a disastrous run in the New Year left City
needing to win their final game to stay up.
The following season, despite the
new recruits, started badly. An embarrassing League Cup exit to
Walsall and some poor league results left City in 21st place at
Gould was sacked and replaced by
his assistant Don Mackay.
His legacy however came to
fruition two years later when under George Curtis and John
Sillett Coventry won the FA Cup with a side largely consisting
of Gould signings.
Gould went back to manage Bristol
Rovers again but returned to Division 1 with Wimbledon in 1987,
with whom he won the FA Cup the following year.
Two more successful years were
followed by a period of advising QPR until he joined West Brom.
He failed to stop West Brom's relegation to Division 3 in 1991
and after looking certain to bounce straight back the following
season they blew up in the final straight and Gould, unpopular
with the long-suffering Baggies fans because of his long-ball
tactics, was sacked.
As one door closed at the
Hawthorns, another reopened at Highfield Road, and in May 1992,
after another close shave with relegation, chairman Peter Robins
invited Bobby back.
Originally it was to be in tandem
with Don Howe but Howe turned down the offer, because of
“travelling problems”, and Phil Neal became Gould's
In a mini-repeat of 1983 Gould
swooped to sign lower division players such as Phil Babb, John
Williams and his own son, Jonathan. His team got off to a dream
start and were the first leaders of the new Premier League.
Mick Quinn, an inspired signing
at £250,000, perked up the attack and City stayed in the top
six well into March. Despite a tailing-off which saw them finish
15th the season was, by Coventry standards, a success.
The 1993-94 season saw City have
their best start since 1937 but behind the scenes financial
pressures were increasing. Gould had been forced to sell Robert
Rosario and Kevin Gallacher earlier in the year and rumours
abounded of other economies and unrest at the club.
It all came to a head after a 1-5
defeat at QPR in October. Gould announced his resignation but
the reasons were hard to fathom. He appeared to accuse new
chairman Bryan Richardson of forcing him to sell Peter Ndlovu,
but the player was not sold and the chairman claimed that the
decision was ‘stress related’. A week of claim and
counter-claim and rumours of a Gould-backed consortium taking
over ensued but the whole episode was quickly forgotten.
Since then Bobby has managed
Wales for a period and last summer left Cardiff where he had
been Director of Football.
FACTFILE : FIRST
(a) : won 3-2
(a) : lost 0-2
win over Liverpool (December 1983)
defeat at Southampton (May 1984)
63 : won 18, drew 15, lost 30
win ratio 28.6%
FACTFILE : SECOND
(h) : won 2-1
(a) : lost 1-5
win over Aston Villa (Christmas 1993)
defeat at Scarborough (October 1992)
54 : won 16, drew 19, lost 19
win ratio 29.6%