In another tumultuous week for the Sky Blues Tony Mowbray became the 25th Coventry City manager to leave the club in the forty nine years since Jimmy Hill stepped down to join ITV in 1967. Rarely do Sky Blues' managers resign without a job to go to – of the seven managers in the SISU reign, only Mark Robins wasn't sacked and he went to a more lucrative position.
Tony's record in his nineteen months as boss is very good compared to many of his predecessors. Of the 25 managers post-JH only four, Mark Robins, Eric Black, Roland Nilsson and Iain Dowie, have a better win percentage, and only Robins, Black & Nilsson have a higher points percentage.
Mowbray joined the club in early March 2015 after Steven Pressley had been sacked and Neil McFarlane and Dave Hockaday had been in temporary charge for two games. City were 20th in League One with only one win in nine games and a crowd of under 7,000 had watched Pressley's last home game in charge – the relegation clouds were hovering. With no transfers allowed Tony was only able to bring in Tottenham's Grant Ward on an emergency loan and just had to get the best out of the squad he had inherited. He failed to lift the Sky Blues' home form, winning just one of seven at the Ricoh but six unbeaten away games including four wins steered the Sky Blues to safety even though there were some nail-biting moments on the final day at Crawley.
2015-16 was undoubtedly the best season the club has enjoyed in over a decade with an unbeaten home record until mid-January, goals galore from loanees Armstrong and Murphy and some outstanding team performances. City fans will reminisce about the 3-2 comeback against Peterborough and the 4-1 victory over Gillingham that took us to the top of the table. But after the 6-0 win over Bury, the biggest win for over 50 years, the wheels fell off and a run of ten games with one win saw City slip out of the play-off places.
Four wins out of five at the back end of the season ensured an eighth place finish, the best for many years, and raised hopes that with some shrewd trading in the close season that this campaign would see City making an even more serious challenge for promotion. Sadly the summer activity left City with a weaker squad and to date the loanees have not made the impact that Armstrong, Murphy and Kent made last year. After the worst start to a season for almost 100 years, something had to give and Tony, being an honourable man, decided to step down.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tony on several occasions and about a year ago I offered to give him a presentation on the club's history at Ryton. The slide show would normally take about 45 minutes but his interest was so great that after 2 ½ hours we were still chatting about football in general and Coventry City in particular. Having met most of his predecessors over the years, Tony is the nicest and most approachable – he is a true gentleman in a sport where there are many disreputable characters and his insistence on not receiving a severance package is testament to this. He is a football fanatic as well as a football purist and the latter probably contributed to his ultimate failure at the club. The majority of the clubs in League One play what I would describe as Caveman football with teams of giants and a football philosophy to stop their opponents at all costs. Mowbray's team always tried to play football but as we saw after Christmas opposition teams could easily frustrate us, especially if we weren't totally on top of our game.
The search is underway for Mowbray's replacement and there are scores of ex-managers looking for work. With revenue at an all-time low, the restrictions of Financial Fair Play not to mention the fact that a large swathe of fans are unhappy, means that it could be a poison chalice to take the job. The state of things off the pitch may put off some candidates but others will be out to rebuild their managerial career and break the hoodoo that has seemed to afflict so many Coventry City managers (before and since SISU bought the club).
games w d l F - A GD Pts Win % Pts %
|Bobby Gould II||54||16||19||19||66||73||-7||67||29.63%||41.36%|
|Bobby Gould I||63||18||15||30||62||78||-16||69||28.57%||36.51%|
(league games only)