THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Coventry were making the same mistakes

icon sack31 August ~ Coventry City travel to Crewe this weekend looking for their first win in League One, having dispensed with the services of manager Andy Thorn three games into the campaign. Among supporters, there is surprise at the timing of Thorn's sacking, if not at the decision itself. The season is still in its infancy and a new squad has been built after relegation from the Championship. Results haven't been neither spectacular nor atrocious, with three draws in a row. The first was away at Yeovil, followed by two at home to the hotly-tipped Sheffield United and the much less hotly-tipped Bury.

There has been relatively little of the moral outrage that normally accompanies a sacking this early in the season. A poll conducted by a local paper suggests that the majority of supporters agree with the board's decision.  

For many fans, the nature of the three league draws – City led each game before being pegged back – was depressingly reminiscent of last season, when 20 points were dropped from winning positions between August and February. In some of those matches, it was impossible to understand the change that came over the players.

Under the slightest pressure they were transformed from purposeful and dominant agents of their fortune to supine, trembling wrecks, camped out on their own 18-yard line. Thorn may have received a vote of confidence from the board after relegation in May but the memories of those capitulations were not erased.

When a comfortable 2-0 half-time lead against Bury turned into a 2-2 draw, the precedents were too raw and numerous to ignore and the side were booed off the pitch. The board and the owners – unpopular at the best of times – were never going to stand by Thorn while his team felt its way through the first few months of the season. Sacking him has probably made them more popular, not less.

Despite this bumpy start, there are reasons for measured optimism. Assistant manager and former player Richard Shaw has taken temporary charge of the team and oversaw an excellent win against Birmingham in the League Cup, laying to rest the gruesome spectre of Bobby Gould returning as an interim manager.

Several of the summer signings look promising and there have been two encouraging 45-minute spells against Sheffield United and Bury – if that level can be sustained over an entire match, results should improve. For now events on the pitch seem inconsequential when compared to the ongoing search for somebody to occupy the manager's post on a more permanent basis. Ed Wilson

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