Football: Strachan's optimism proves false as Coventry return to bad old ways

Coventry City 0 Leicester City 2
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Gordon Strachan should have known better than to start thinking Coventry's fortunes were about to take a turn for the better.

A month or so ago, when Arsenal and Manchester United were the only sides to have beaten them in the Premiership, the Coventry manager allowed himself to consider the possibility of a season not haunted by the fear of relegation. How foolish he was to tempt providence.

Since then, Strachan has seen his right-hand man abandon his post to become manager of Aberdeen and his team slip back into their old, familiar habit of dropping down the table. Saturday's defeat stretched a miserable run of results to one win in 10; nine points from a possible 30.

Worse still, he may now have lost his - and Scotland's - captain. Gary McAllister will discover today how badly he damaged his right knee on Saturday. Two heavy tackles within a couple of minutes left him crumpled on the turf and the immediate signs were not good.

Ligament damage is the obvious fear, which would be bad news for the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, as much as for Strachan, if not more so. Brown's pivotal midfielder is certainly out of the exhibition match between Europe and the Rest of the World that forms part of Thursday's World Cup draw schedule. He can only hope it is the only element of France '98 he is forced to miss.

And if that were not enough, Strachan now finds referees conspiring against him; or so it seems to him, anyway. Only a week ago he was railing against David Elleray; this time it was Martin Bodenham's turn for a broadside.

Bodenham fell foul for failing to send off Kasey Keller when the Leicester goalkeeper handled the ball outside his penalty area after 11 minutes. Judging that the offence was more instinctive than pre-meditated, the official awarded a free kick to Coventry and merely booked Keller. "It is a decision that might work against us for the rest of the year," Strachan said.

Leicester reacted to their own loss of form - only one win in six before Saturday - by putting shoulders to the wheel.

Goals: Fenton (32) 0-1; Elliott pen (75) 0-2.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Nilsson, Shaw, Breen, Hall; Telfer, Boland (Haworth, 77), McAllister (Soltvedt, 38), Williams; Huckerby, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Lightbourne, O'Neill, Hedman (gk).

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Prior, Elliott, Walsh; Kaamark, Savage, Lennon, Izzet, Guppy; Marshall, Fenton. Substitutes not used: Campbell, Claridge, Wilson, Watts, Arphexad (gk).

Referee: M J Bodenham (East Looe).

Bookings: Coventry: Shaw, Williams; Leicester: Keller.

Man of the match: Elliott.

Attendance: 18,309.

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