After picking up just one win in SkyBet League One from 13 attempts, Russell Slade’s short stay at the Ricoh Arena came to an abrupt end on Sunday afternoon. The former Leyton Orient and Cardiff City boss has been hailed as the club’s worst manager in Coventry City’s history by some supporters. Despite leading the Sky Blues to a Wembley final, a 13-point gap between safety looks unsurmountable as the club career towards the fourth tier.
I will openly admit that when the board decided to appoint Slade, I felt as if it was a reasonable appointment. Me and many others thought that he would come in and shore up the defence – unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition. In fact, we shipped 24 goals during his stay and the brand of football he served up was nothing short of unwatchable at times.
The club’s off-field turmoil would’ve affected whoever was in the dugout, but his decisions often baffled the majority. He was forced into playing Ben Stevenson and Gael Bigirimana during the 0-0 stalemate at Shrewsbury, and their contributions improved our side dramatically, further reiterating the thoughts of the fans. Why he persisted in playing Kevin Foley out of position instead of one of them, I will never know.
Tactically, he came across as very naive at times and that resulted in us losing games and sliding down the table. Persisting to play long ball when you’ve got George Thomas and Stuart Beavon up front, both whom stand less than six feet tall, is ludicrous. However, Slade didn’t want to budge from that style and he continuously left out the more creative players such as Kyel Reid, Jodi Jones and the previously mentioned pairing of Bigirimana and Stevenson.
As far as excuses go, he couldn’t even defend himself with the ‘they aren’t my players’ phrase that often gets uttered. He was allowed to draft in a number of bodies and he also got the privilege of keeping hold of our young stars, something which came as a surprise to supporters. Letting Marvin Sordell leave proved a very costly mistake, however, and that coincided with our dreadful form. Our one goal threat was gone and an injured 18-year-old Michael Folivi was drafted in.
Do I believe our position is solely down to Slade? Of course not. Does he deserve a fair proportion of the blame? Definitely. We were a poor side before he came in, but we showed that we had some potential in flashes. Under his guidance, we transformed into a very, very poor team who couldn’t buy a victory. Dragging us past a few U23 and League Two teams to set up a day at Wembley doesn’t justify keeping him at the club.
A portion of fans are questioning the timing of the decision to part company with him, but we have to prepare for next season. A drastic amount of work has to be done on and off the field from now until August. Complete restructuring of the way we operate seems to be the only way this club can turn around its fortunes. I can imagine that Sam Ricketts will take the reigns for the foreseeable future, and I welcome that. He has played at the highest level and despite his flaws, he clearly knows the game well.
It remains to be seen who will want to come in and manage this football club, but we need to be patient with the appointment. Make the incorrect decision again and it will have a negative impact on next season. It’s arguably the most crucial appointment the club has ever had to make as our future hangs in the balance. The main issues lie away from the pitch and we know that, but strides need to be made in reforming us on it.
I hope the new manager, whoever that may be, is given time to assess the current squad and make decisions on who to retain. The task at hand is a very difficult one and I certainly wouldn’t want to take it on, but good luck to Slade’s successor – they will need it. It’s the board that I would be getting rid of as well…