Date:Tuesday March 6 2007
The old line about Coventry is that it is a place to send people as a form of punishment. Let`s hope it does not turn out that way for new manager, Iain Dowie, whose side visit Colchester this weekend.
The former Northern Ireland international became the latest man to assume control of City`s spinning hot seat a fortnight ago, the club`s sixth manager in as many years. He has now amassed a respectable seven points from a possible nine.
Life in the West Midlands certainly was not painful, in his own words, for Gordon Strachan, one of the most under-rated managers in Coventry`s history. Sacked after half-a-decade in charge, he became a scapegoat when the club were relegated from the Premier League in 2001.
Strachan, now manager at Celtic, reflected upon his tenure thus: "I had one bad season at Coventry and I was there for five years. I took over when they were second from bottom of the [Premier] League and kept them in the League for the next three years. Before that, I was player-coach and player-assistant manager and player-manger.
"So I helped keep them in the League for six years. The moral of that is get rid of me after five years and you`ll be ok."
Should new boss Dowie last even half that amount of time with the now Championship club, then he will be doing a good job. Back on the managerial merry-go-round after a brief absence, he falls into a division where only four of the current dugout-minders have been in charge for a period longer than 365 days.
As Saturday approaches - and Dowie notches up his fourth game in charge - Coventry will come to North Essex for the first time since losing at Layer Road, in a surprise FA Cup defeat, during the 2003/4 season.
The Sky Blues have unwillingly had a foot on the ladder of football`s second tier for the past six years, although Dowie comes promising a swift elevation back from whence Strachan sent them, saying: "Coventry is a big club and there is a burning desire to get back into the Premiership."
To make good on that promise, he must continue his unbeaten run of results, which so far include beating Hull, Southampton and drawing with Norwich. Colchester may have other ideas, and are looking to inflict a first Dowie defeat by securing their first win in four matches.
He would also do well to lift the humour that Strachan brought to the job during his spell. The intense Scot is famous for his severe personality, which sees him grill an unfortunate interviewer, by asking questions with one of his own, not unlike Jeremy Paxman with Britain`s politicians.
A typical example of Strachan`s quick-wit, during conference: "Gordon, can we have a quick word, please?" He replies: "Velocity," before walking off. His policy was far weightier than a few caustic remarks, though, since Coventry`s turnover increased five-fold under his stewardship.
Strachan worked as a BBC pundit until recently, too. During this time, he cemented his status as an icon in both stands and stadiums across the country, with comments like this one, on Wayne Rooney: "It`s an incredible rise to stardom. At 17 you`re more likely to get a Michael Jackson than you are from Sven Goran Eriksson."
As he also once said: "I`ve laughed my way through all the jobs I`ve been at." If Iain Dowie is able to say the same about his Coventry days, they will certainly be smiling again in the Midlands before too long.
Date:Tuesday March 6 2007
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