100 games and out. Steven Pressley this morning received his marching orders from Coventry City’s Chief Executive Steve Waggott after a run of disappointing results has left City in the relegation zone. Where did it go wrong and from a supporters perspective, what good will it do the football club with dispensing of Pressley?
Oh to be back to that September evening. Full of hope. Full of belief. Full of euphoria that after the long, bitter and traumatic Sixfields exile, Coventry City were back where they belonged. In Coventry, at the Ricoh Arena. I took my seat along with 27,000 other City supporters and welcomed the team out as if they were returning heroes. And they didn’t let us down. Within 10 minutes, the Ricoh was rocking like it hadn’t since Muse played there the year before.
Brimming with confidence, City showed the fans what they had cruelly been missing for over a season in Northampton. Free flowing football. The goal a result of a lovely passage of play, a beautiful ball spread to the wing, a superb cut back and a delicious finish into the far corner of the net from Franck Nouble. Okay so City had to hold on towards the end but when the referee blew after 90 minutes, the sheer ecstasy from the crowd was palpable. Pressley ran onto the pitch, fist pumping his players and the fans. And we loved it. A 1-0 win over Gillingham- and yet it was so much more than that. City were back. City were on the up. A new era beckoned… And then along came Worcester City.
As a Coventry City fan, you don’t expect too much. Yet that Gillingham game was just cruel in its irony for whilst City supporters flocked to buy Season Tickets certain that this was the beginning of something, little did we know that that Friday night in September was going to be as good as it got.
4 league victories in 24
No home win since October 25th
1 league win in 2015
A run of 7 matches without victory
Occupying the 4th and final relegation place in the league 1 table
This is not what we signed up for!
It’s safe to say the writing has been on the wall for Steven Pressley for some time now. With stats like the ones above its amazing the Scot lasted this long. The final nail in Pressley’s Sky Blue coffin was the capitulation from a seemingly cushy position in the final stages of the game at Bramall Lane on Saturday. Cruising with 15 minutes to play, 2 goals and a man up on the Blades, City somehow managed to throw away 3 points for 1 by conceding 2 goals in the space of 2 minutes: a result which dropped City into the relegation doldrums for the first time this season.
For many fans this was the last straw, and so it ultimately proved for the board. That is why when Coventry City supporters woke this morning to the news that Pressley had been ‘relieved of his duties’, that well-used euphemism for ‘a manager has been given the boot’, the reaction from the majority of fans was one of relief and inevitability.
For weeks, it has become increasingly clear to supporters that Pressley just was not the right man to lead City out of the serious predicament the club is facing, no matter how much we wanted him to be. A man who last season during the clubs exile in Sixfields had been praised for his honesty and passion, became more and more defensive of his teams clearly inadequate performances; churning out adjectives like ‘tremendous, excellent and outstanding’ to describe matches that supporters would label ‘poor, stilted and dreary’.
Not only had Pressley’s tactics begun to be seriously called into question by supporters, his relationship with his players was debated. Had Pressley lost the dressing room? Were the players playing for him? Rumours were constant of dressing room in-fighting. Whether such claims were true it has been evident for any supporter watching City’s games in the last few months that the ‘Pressley philosophy’ was not being communicated to the players in a manner that impacted the levels of performances on a Saturday afternoon. Fans had become tired and frustrated with performances where effort couldn’t be questioned, but where quality was seriously and alarmingly at a loss.
The club in the last 4 months has dropped down the league 1 table alarmingly which has only contributed to the continuing downward spiral of the football club as a whole over the past decade. Coventry City faces the very real prospect of heading out of the top 3 divisions in English football for the first time since 1959. Change has been needed and has been needed for some time. Ultimately, whilst the removal of Steven Pressley may prove dividends in the short term, unanimously Coventry City supporters will argue for the long-term security of the football club, there needs to be further change at the very top of the clubs hierarchy.
The decision to sack Pressley has been met with a mixed reaction from City supporters. Whilst many argue the decision was right to address the alarming winless run the club is currently on, others question what more the Scot could have done when working under owners who during his 22 month reign at the club, have continuously denied him financial resources necessary to build a team capable of challenging at the top end of League 1. Pressley has been forced to work not just with one hand tied behind his back but in a metaphorical straightjacket! Sisu, the clubs owners, have time and again shown their preference to spend money on pointless and damaging court cases rather than invest in the playing side of the football club. Working under such restricted conditions therefore; fans are questioning whether it matters who the manager is if they are not going to be supported by the clubs ownership.
The level of hostility towards Sisu from Coventry City supporters has been toxic since they decided to move the club to Northampton last season and has only proliferated recently with news of further court action and clear lack of investment into the football club. Agree with the decision or not, Coventry fans are under no allusions that the removal of Steven Pressley merely serves to paper over the cracks of the real fundamental problems that currently exist at the football club. The predicament that currently belies the football club, has always ran much deeper than the manager at the Ricoh Arena.
For Coventry City supporters tonight the burning question that rages is now that Sisu have called time on Steven Pressley, who can call time on Sisu? For the longer the clubs owners persist to linger without committing to invest in the football club, Coventry City’s downward demise will continue regardless of who fills the managerial hot-seat.
Steven Pressley’s record at Coventry City:
Played 100 Won 32 Drew 30 Lost 38 Win % 32%