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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 2

29 August 2012

There are times when I think there's nothing much that can surprise me anymore in football. I've been involved in the professional game for 35 years but when I heard that Coventry have sacked Andy Thorn before the end of August and after just three games into the new npower League 1 season, I realised football still has plenty of surprises up its sleeve.

To say I was amazed when I heard the news would be an understatement. It's no big secret that there's plenty going on behind the scenes at the Ricoh Arena but I still find the decision to sack Andy at this stage of the season unbelievable. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Obviously the club must have been hugely disappointed to get relegated last season but if they were so disenchanted with the job Andy was doing, why not make a clean break in the summer? They've allowed him to oversee the whole of the pre-season build-up, bring in new players and let others go, and now they're looking for a new manager who has virtually no room for manoeuvre in terms of transfers.

There's a limit to the patience any club will show in this day and age but three games seems ridiculous. The fact the Sky Blues are actually unbeaten in the league with three draws just makes the news even more mystifying.

And of course, whoever now replaces Andy will face a race against time to make their mark and instil their own philosophy and that will take at least three or four weeks. That means, even if the club does announce the new man in the next couple of days, Coventry's season might not be up and running until October. That, for me, is two months that will have been needlessly wasted.

The only thing that doesn't surprise me about the story is the quality of the managers already being linked with the club. The likes of Jim Magilton, Paul Ince, Dennis Wise and Kevin Blackwell have all been mentioned and whatever is going on in private at Coventry, I still think it's a great opportunity for the right coach.

Speaking of premature sackings, I'd also like to say how disappointed I was to read my old mate John Sheridan has lost his job at Chesterfield. The Spireites may be an npower League 2 club this season after relegation, and I may be treading on Sammy's territory here, but John's a friend and I'm gutted that, like Andy, he's only been given three games before they showed him the door.

I was on the BBC Radio Manchester football phone-in on Monday night and it was pretty obvious there's also a growing lack of patience when it comes to fans and their expectations of their teams, which raised its head at the weekend with some supporters at Oldham, Coventry and Bolton booing. Fans have every right to express themselves but I do feel that kind of reaction can panic chairmen, who then make harsh, knee-jerk decisions when it comes to their managers.

Moving on to other business, I was reading Doncaster chairman John Ryan has promised to give Kyle Bennett his £50,000 Bentley if he scores 20 goals this season and helps them win promotion. It's not the first time a chairman has tried an extra, unusual incentive and who knows, maybe it will work for Doncaster.

When I was playing at Oldham, I had a deal with the assistant coach Willie Donachie that I'd get a tenner bonus if I had five shots on goal during a match. Not quite as glamorous as getting the keys to a Bentley but it certainly gave me an extra incentive.

The trick though, is not to not let the potential rewards make you too greedy. Every striker needs to be selfish but there is a line and you've got to make sure you don't get tunnel vision and forget to look for team-mates because you're thinking about a few extra quid or a new car.

I'd have one word of advice for Bennett and that would be to ask his chairman exactly how much he intends to drive the car between now and the end of the season. If he puts 20,000 miles on the clock or scratches the paintwork, he could be looking at serious depreciation and a motor that's only worth £35,000 come May.

I spoke last week about the unpredictability of the division at this stage of the season and I think the point was proved at Brunton Park on Saturday when Carlisle beat Portsmouth 4-2, with four of the six goals coming in second-half injury time.

I've never, ever heard of anything like that before and to my mind, it's a result that had to come in the opening few weeks of the season with both sets of players still finding their feet. I'm sure Greg Abbott was happy to come away with the three points but with the Cumbrians leading 2-0 after 90 minutes, I bet he was also bemused that it all got quite so dramatic at the death.


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