CWN - News & Information for Coventry & Warwickshire 20x21spacer.gif (59 bytes)What's New?Search CWN
A Tale Of Two Cities

Anyone reading this is a committed Coventry City supporter or, possibly, just a football fan who likes to take on board what’s going on in the game generally. Either way, you will no doubt have been as staggered as me at the headlines in this week’s national press.

“A Soccer City In Crisis” they screamed.

Where were they talking about? Manchester, of course!

Yep, the very same Manchester that is home to the Premiership Champions, the same club that is probably the biggest and richest football club in the world. So how on earth can Manchester be “a soccer city in crisis”?

Come to Coventry, if you want to sample fears and anxieties about local football. In Coventry, we have a club that sustained top flight football for 34 consecutive seasons, winning the FA Cup along the way and not experiencing true relegation in living memory – until now.

Our team has just succumbed to the inevitable and currently finds itself applying for membership of the Nationwide League, Division One.

A crisis? Well, not if you believe the bookies who are tipping the Sky Blues as favourites to make an immediate return to the Premiership, but it’s bad enough for the long-suffering fans who are desperate to enjoy even a hint of the success that appears to be the God-given right of Manchester United.

But compare what is happening in Coventry to the state of the game in Manchester. Coventry City may be facing at least one season in the First Division but does so knowing that its youngsters are widely regarded as among the best in the country.

Those young players include Chris Kirkland, rated as somewhere between £5-million and £12-million depending on which ‘paper you read, and tipped as a future England goalkeeper. Chris is already an Under-21 international.

Also, striker Jay Bothroyd, an England Under-18 international just called up to Under-21 level, Irish international Barry Quinn, former England Under-21 full-back Marcus Hall and a young midfield battler who must surely soon win international recognition, John Eustace.

There are many others, Calum Davenport, the 18-year old central defender who made such a sound impression on his debut against Bradford at Highfield Road, among them.

So, the future for Coventry City looks good with manager Gordon Strachan looking for the “old heads” as he puts it that will guide his youngsters on the pitch.

In Manchester, one set of fans have every reason to tell you that their future looks more than good. The supporters of the red half of Manchester are legendary, of course, in coming from every part of the world except Manchester, but the truth is that many do actually live somewhere vaguely adjacent to Old Trafford.

They have been brought up on stunning success ever since the Munich air crash and the Busby Babes placed them firmly on the front page of every newspaper. The name of Manchester United football club became instantly known in every household, so that even in homes where football is neither welcome nor understood, there will be at least a flicker of recognition should the words “Manchester United” or “Bobby Charlton” be mentioned.

Not that it’s been total success. It’s easy to forget that while Coventry City enjoyed its 34 years at the top, United went up and down the Leagues, tasting relegation as well as glory.

Now, though, with yet more honours to boast of after a season when they swept the rest of the Premiership aside as if it didn’t exist, United is said to be “in turmoil”. Why? Because the club’s most successful manager ever, Sir Alex Ferguson, having failed to secure the role he sought to follow his retirement, has announced that he will sever all his ties with the club at the end of his contract this time next year.

Speculation is understandably rife that Sir Alex did not let that slip accidentally and that he might well move on to another job in football before that deadline.

Within three days of that little bombshell, United’s struggling neighbours, Manchester City – relegated alongside Coventry and Bradford – announced that its manager, Joe Royle had been sacked, apparently after disagreeing with plans to make members of his coaching staff redundant.

All relegated clubs have to cut their cloth according to their new circumstances and you can bet that Coventry and Bradford are having to pursue a similar process of making cuts and therefore bidding farewell to some of their employees – and I don’t just mean players.

At Manchester City, however, the plans disturbed Joe Royle to such an extent that, following a three-minute meeting with his Chairman, he was also on his bike.

So – United has twelve months, possibly less, to replace the irreplaceable, while City faces an immediate search for a new man to guide it at least to a position of respectability, and then take it as close as possible to the pre-eminence of its neighbours.

Coventry City, on the other hand, is busy trying to convince its public that the ship is on course for a rapid return from whence they came, with Gordon Strachan still at the helm and a lively, exciting, young crew ready to respond to his call to arms.

Crisis, what crisis? Go to Manchester, if that’s what you’re looking for.

[24 MAY 00 - Kevin Keegan has now been appointed as the new manager of Manchester City]

1x22rule.gif (89 bytes)  

150x15more.gif (274 bytes)

Buy the Sky Blues CD

'Coventry City - An Illustrated History' by Jim Brown

Staying Up by Rick Gekoski

Buy your books from Amazon - support CWN

Coventry Sports Trust

Teachers for Coventry - information and jobs


CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / Stuart Linnell / 23 May 01
©1995-2001 Coventry Internet Developments Ltd This page updated 27 May 2010