Coventry told to trust Strachan

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The Independent Online
Coventry City 0 Everton 0

Having made himself unavailable to Coventry for seven games following two sendings off in the space of 10 days last month, Dion Dublin is anxious to atone and is ready to play wherever his club needs him.

Playing only his third game of the year on Saturday, the leading goalscorer was given an attacking brief. With the new signing Gary Breen cutting an impressive home debut as he shackled Everton's dangerman, Duncan Ferguson, it is unlikely Dublin will be asked to perform as an emergency centre- back again in the near future.

"But the fact that we're not yet clear of the relegation places means that I must be willing to play wherever I am needed and if the manager wants me up front, at the back or even in midfield then I will be happy to do that," Dublin said.

His manager, Gordon Strachan, felt that his side had done enough to have taken all three points, but is worried that his men simply lack the confidence to put together the kind of run that will preserve their 30-year top- flight status without the annual desperation stakes.

"Although I have no complaints about the commitment of my players, what alarms me a little bit is that they don't seem to trust themselves," he said. "At the moment we are like a batsman who has scored 20 or 30 runs and then gets out when he should have gone on to get a century.

"We went unbeaten for a few games but then seemed to panic and I've tried to get it through to the players that if anything goes wrong with the system I've asked then to play then it is my fault, not theirs."

With a delayed FA Cup fifth-round tie with Derby coming up this week, at least Coventry have the dream of Wembley to help ease the pressure of another relegation dogfight.

Everton looked nothing like a team that had once threatened to join the title race, even though they had halted a losing streak of six games by beating Nottingham Forest last time out. Craig Short hit a post in the first half and Ferguson struck a good chance into the side-netting soon after the break, but that was about it from the Toffees.

"The game reflected the positions of the two teams, with Coventry struggling at the bottom of the table and us coming out of a nightmare run," Everton's manager, Joe Royle, said.

Coventry City: Ogrizovic; Shaw, Williams, Breen, Richardson, McAllister, Telfer, Ndlovu (Whelan, 73), Hall, Dublin, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Jess, Burrows, Yevtushok, Filan (gk).

Everton: Gerrard, Unsworth, Watson, Short, Barrett, Phelan, Speed, Barmby, Thomsen, Stuart, Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Rideout, Branch, Allen, Ball, Southall (gk).

Referee: J T Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

Man of the match: Gerrard.

Attendance: 19,497.