SEP 01] THE STUART LINNELL
A Fresh Approach
It has happened countless times
before and it will happen countless times more – a manager
leaves a club, someone else takes the helm and the team’s
fortunes change almost overnight.
Often the man who takes over is
only in his post for a temporary period – the so-called
“caretaker manager”. Even then, the same group of players
that disappointed before respond differently after the change
has taken place.
There are countless reasons why.
It is not always because the new man in charge is a better coach
or manager than the guy that went before, though, of course,
that can be a reason.
It could be that the sudden jolt
of their manager being sacked or otherwise removed from their
midst gives the players the proverbial kick up the backside they
needed. It may be that a different voice calling the shots, a
fresh approach to their training routines and pre-match
ROLAND NILSSON -
ENGLAND v SWEDEN - 5 June 1999 [empics]
Whatever it is, it appears that
Roland Nilsson has got it. Roland can, at the time of writing,
boast a 100% record from his time in charge. A Worthington Cup
win at Peterborough, albeit by the nail-biting route of the
penalty shoot-out, and an important League victory at Sheffield
United, have steadied the good ship Sky Blue at a critical time.
As many wiser pundits than I have
pointed out, it is still very early in this long, long season of
ours, but it is also true that too many disappointing results,
even at this stage, and the notion of a play-off place, let
alone automatic promotion, can quickly become a lost cause.
As it is, Roland, aided by
Richard Money and Ray Clarke, has put what he describes as “a
smile on the player’s faces”. The results, no matter how
they came, can only have contributed to the confidence building
exercise that clearly had to be Roland’s priority in the wake
of Gordon Strachan’s departure.
Roland’s quiet, likeable but
efficient style might well prove to be just what Coventry City
needs after two high-octane, high profile incumbents in the
manager’s chair in Gordon and, before him, Ron
Now, it is entirely possible of
course that Roland’s revival will run out of steam and that
one of the many available “big names” touted by the
newspapers in recent days will be appointed. Joe Royle, Dave
Bassett and Bryan Robson appear to be the three front-runners,
should Nilsson not get the job.
Chairman Bryan Richardson told me
in a radio interview I did with him when Gordon left, that
Roland “would be given time” to show what he could do.
"The job is his,” said
the Chairman, “if he wants it and if he can show us that he
I hope that holds true. Big
matches – and they are both big matches – against Manchester
City and Portsmouth await this week.
Both are at Highfield Road and,
despite the continuing public outcry and protests, it would be
great to see the ground packed for both fixtures with a mass of
sky blue on display from true supporters who just want to cheer
their team on to do well.
The protests bother me. Not
because I disagree with them. Whether I agree or not, I am
keeping to myself – and that is not a case of sitting on the
fence. It is because as a journalist looking on, I have to
remain objective and distance myself from the arguments, even
though I am as passionately interested as anyone calling
themselves a City fan.
They bother me because there is
so much being written and said that is either totally factually
incorrect, or simply based on emotion and prejudice.
Of course it’s emotional. Of
course people will feel strongly about their football club.
Quite right too.
But if we are going to have
public debate like this, let us at least do so on the basis of
the facts and not simply because feelings are running high.
Ultimately we are talking about
the future of Coventry City Football Club, an institution that
matters a great deal to all of us. We cannot afford to risk that
future just because you or I don’t like the way a particular
individual speaks to us, or because actions have been taken that
you or I didn’t agree with.
We must understand why those
actions were taken and why certain things have been said and
done. Then we can make a judgement; but please think before you
yell and if you’re going to yell anyway, make sure you yell
for the team first.
Roland Nilsson can do so much.
Once they cross the white line its up to the players, and
that’s where we come in. Let them know we are behind them in
no uncertain way.
And while we’re on the
subject..., before Birmingham City played at Maine Road
recently, manager Trevor Francis warned that Manchester City had
the equivalent of an extra man – their amazingly vocal
supporters. They travel well too, so be prepared for a lot of
noise from the visitors seats on Wednesday night – and be
prepared to show them what Cov City fans can do when we really
do “sing together”.