On a Wing and a Prayer, by Stuart Roach

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The Independent Culture

If football fans were allowed to choose their club's manager, Steve Coppell would come high on most people's lists. Highly talented, and a decent man – not qualities that always go together in the game – he became the youngest Football League manager at 28 when taking over at Crystal Palace in 1984, a year after injury ended a glittering playing career.

This thoughtful and entertaining biography, written with the tacit approval but not the co-operation of its subject, goes a long way to explaining why he is currently out of a job rather than managing England, as many had predicted. It claims the key is Coppell's reserved nature and dislike of the limelight, which led him to quit Manchester City in 1996 after 33 days, preferring to exercise his skills in relative obscurity at less-fashionable clubs such as Palace, Brentford, Brighton and Reading.

Always his own man, Coppell has never been slow to resign when he felt it necessary or appropriate. This book illustrates what a loss to the game he would be; let's hope he re-signs somewhere soon.

Published in hardback by Know The Score Books, £17.99

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