Pressley shouldn’t take blame
TOP-SIX budget. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But if top-six players won’t touch you with a bargepole, all that cash is about as much use as a Somali Shilling. Remember Hull’s second year in the Premier League under Phil Brown? They yakked on about a transfer warchest, made a song and dance of bidding for Michael Owen.
But while they had the money, they didn’t have the kudos. Owen was so desperate not to join the Tigers he actually knocked up a glossy brochure advertising his wares.
The England striker eventually signed for Manchester United; Hull got a load of mercenaries and ended up in the Championship.
So when Coventry chief executive Steve Waggott says manager Steven Pressley was sacked for failing to “make the most of a topsix budget”, we shouldn’t pay too much attention.
Maybe Coventry could pay big wages. But that didn’t stop them missing out on the likes of Jacques Maghoma and Kris Boyd during the summer. Nor did it prevent a host of others heading for the hills when a contract was waved their way.
Why? Sixfields of course. Back in the summer, Coventry were still playing 35 miles away in Northampton. Their owners were still pouting and litigating. Their fans remained absent in protest. It wasn’t until September that Waggott finally knocked a few heads together and engineered a return to the Ricoh. By definition, a top-six player will have top-six options. And who in their right mind would choose to spend their Saturdays pottering about in front of 1,000 fans when they could play for, say, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday or Bristol City?
Having lost the likes of Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson – who scored 40 goals between them last term – Pressley had little hope of replacing them with players of even similar quality.
That’s not to say the 41-year-old is blameless. Ambitious targets should always be backstopped by viable alternatives and Pressley himself admitted that those initial failures meant he didn’t go through the “correct procedure” (ie: background checks) on the players he did sign.
The resulting procession of loanees and injury-prone has-beens flopped badly and Pressley’s scattergun approach (he has signed 24 players this season alone) sug-
gested a man thrashing around for ideas.
You can also understand why Coventry pulled the trigger. A new manager always sparks a short-term reaction and, with just six wins from 28 games, that looks the only thing that can save the Sky Blues from League Two.
Nevertheless, it is disingenuous to suggest Pressley wasted Coventry’s cash. He was forced into that position by a board so hell-bent on fleecing their landlords that they uprooted a club, alienated its support and prompted potential players to run a mile.
The blame for Coventry’s current plight goes far beyond one young manager who had one bad season in the transfer market.