With the Sky Blues sitting 23rd in SkyBet League One and boasting a meagre 19 points after 22 matches, it would be difficult to see why any manager would want to fill the vacant position that Tony Mowbray left back in September. Step up Russell Slade – the former Leyton Orient and Charlton Athletic boss was announced as Mowbray’s successor on Wednesday afternoon on a deal until the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
Initially I began to wonder whether Slade has a weird love for poor ownership and shoestring budgets, but then I sat down and thought about the appointment. Let’s face it – whoever came in would be faced with what seems like an almost impossible task, but he could be the man to ensure our surivival. I doubt that Tim Fisher and Mark Venus were sifting through hoards of applications, but Slade has experienced this type of situation before and he knows the division – unlike Mowbray.
During his first few months at Leyton Orient he guided the club to survival in League One in an incredibly short space of time. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the ability to unite the players and get them fighting on all fronts, but he will also be tasked with strengthening the squad and adding experience to the ranks in January. At Orient he went four years without spending any money on transfer fees and it’s likely he will be required to pursue free agents once more.
I and many other supporters would love to see the board back him with funds, but we all know that is very unlikely. Just how difficult will it be for him to work some magic during the transfer window? Only time will tell, but he now has a brief time to assess the squad before making any adjustments. It is evident that we lack quality and depth, so I wish him luck in improving that situation.
One thing Slade isn’t renowned for is his tactical nous and that is something we should perhaps worry about, but at least he is a football manager. A few Orient, Cardiff and Charlton fans that I know have all blasted him for ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ football, but I’d take that if it brought us points, wouldn’t you? If he can give the players a much needed boost and galvanise them then I will be a happy man.
After a brief upturn of fortunes under Mark Venus, we have looked utterly clueless over the last month or so. Why we didn’t go out and bring someone in earlier is a mystery to me, but I am certainly glad that Venus can return to his former position upstairs. The results were evidently breaking him and he wasn’t the man to get us out of this horrible mess – hopefully Slade can do that.
His overall win percentage during his career that spans 22 years thus far stands at 37.56 per cent. It isn’t a phenomenal record by any means, but his teams tend to be organised and difficult to beat and that’s something we haven’t been recently. Our away form is horrendous so it’s imperative that we become harder to break down. I don’t want to witness anymore embarrassing displays such as those churned out at Oxford United and Cambridge United.
Whichever way we look at it, it is going to be a long five months or so but with a bit of luck we’ll still be a third tier side come May. As supporters we need to give him a ‘fair crack of the whip’ so to speak but I sympathise with him already working under what can only be described as a shambles of a hierarchy. His sanity must be questioned, but I wish him all the best of luck at the Sky Blues – he will certainly need it!