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[03 JAN 02] THE JIM BROWN COLUMN

Jim BrownCoventry City Managers : Dave Sexton

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In the summer of 1981, when Gordon Milne was relieved of responsibility for playing matters, the role of Coventry City team manager was given, ironically, to a man seven years Milneís senior.

Dave SextonDave Sexton had just been sacked by Manchester United, despite the Reds winning their last seven games of the season. Sexton arrived with a reputation as an astute thinker on the game and an outstanding coach and in his two seasons at the club helped develop Cityís latest crop of talented youngsters.

He was the son of Archie Sexton, a middleweight boxer of the 1930s and his career started at Newmarket Town and progressed via Chelmsford City, Luton Town, West Ham, Leyton Orient and Brighton to Crystal Palace where a knee injury ended his playing career. Sexton was a good lower division player whose only honour was a Third Division championship medal with Brighton in 1958.

Sexton took up coaching and earned a fine reputation at Chelsea, Fulham and Arsenal before taking his first managerial job at Leyton Orient in 1965. In 1967 he succeeded Tommy Docherty at Chelsea and inherited a strong squad which included Osgood, Hollins, Cooke and McCreadie. In 1970 they won the FA Cup, beating Leeds in a memorable replayed final. The following year they beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners Cup.

Despite these successes after a couple of mediocre seasons Sexton was sacked by Chelsea. Within weeks he was appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers where he was unlucky not to win the League Championship in 1976 with an outstanding team built around Gerry Francis, Don Masson and Stan Bowles.

In 1977 he resigned from QPR and was on the verge of rejoining Arsenal as coach when Manchester United persuaded him to replace Docherty again. However Sexton lacked the charisma for the Old Trafford job and despite an FA Cup final appearance in 1979 and League runners-up the following year he failed to end the long wait for the championship.

After his departure from Old Trafford Sexton joined Coventry in the summer of 1981, replacing Gordon Milne. Ironically his first game in charge for the Sky Blues was against United and he tactically outthought his Old Trafford successor, Ron Atkinson, to give City a 2-1 win.

During his time at Highfield Road Cityís style became more cultured but it rarely set the world alight, although in Sextonís defence he was never given the freedom to spend like other City managers.

Sexton's first season in charge went well until Christmas then City picked up just three points in twelve games including a 5-1 home defeat to Notts County. However, just as things were at their blackest, and fans wondered where the next league win was going to come from, City mounted a tremendous revival. A run of thirteen games with only one defeat including a never-to-be-forgotten 5-5 draw at the Dell, and a 6-1 win over Sunderland took them well clear of relegation.

In his second season with gates falling under 10,000 he had to survive with a squad of 14-15 players. After Garry Thompson was sold over his head in February 1983 the teamís form fell away disastrously and 13 games without a win took them to the brink of relegation. They survived by the skin of their teeth but Sexton was sacrificed for the return of Bobby Gould much to the disgust of the players.

Whilst at Coventry Sexton managed the England Under-21 side to victory in the European Championship and after leaving City he was appointed assistant manager of the England team under Bobby Robson. He never managed at club level again although he has had numerous coaching roles and is currently heading up Sven Goran Ericssonís scouting network.


FACT FILE

APPOINTED

June 1981

FIRST GAME

Manchester United (h) : won 2-0

LEFT

May 1983

LAST GAME

West Ham (h) : lost 2-4

BEST SIGNING

Gerry Francis

WORST SIGNING

David Bradford

SKY BLUES HIGHPOINT

6-1 win over Sunderland (April 1982)

SKY BLUES LOWPOINT

1-5 defeat at Notts County (February 1983)

MANAGERIAL RECORD

played 84 : won 26, drew 20, lost 38 : win ratio 30.9%

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