Coleman targets top flight after taking the reins at Coventry

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The Independent Football

The new Coventry City manager, Chris Coleman, has vowed to move the club "in the right direction" after agreeing a three-and-a-half-year contract at the Ricoh Arena.

The former Fulham manager was confirmed as Iain Dowie's replacement by chairman Ray Ranson yesterday. First up for the Welshman will be the task of guiding City to safety in the Championship. But he believes the infrastructure in place at the club has all the hallmarks of a Premier League outfit.

"I am very excited and very confident that eventually we can put the club in the right direction and we can do great things," he said. "Obviously we have all the foundations in place, I think some have already been put in place. I want to build a team to be able to compete to play in the Premier League. It sounds easy but it's not, it's very difficult and we all know that."

Coleman left Real Sociedad last month after a difference of opinion with the Spanish side's new president – a situation not dissimilar to the one which saw Dowie depart Coventry. However, he revealed it was Ranson's vision which was a key factor in him deciding to accept the role.

He added: "I'm delighted to be here. I've spoken to Ray before, he shares the same vision as myself in terms of what we want to do with the football club and he has got a long-term plan and that's what attracted me to the club. I am under no illusions how difficult the job will be but I'm excited and very optimistic.

"The most important thing for me was where the club wanted to be in two or three years' time. We are not in an ideal position at the minute and we have got to improve to get out of that position. But I think looking at it long term it was an opportunity I didn't want to turn down and I'm very confident that we can go forward."

Ranson said Coleman was his "number one target" and is confident he is the man to bring success back to the club.

Ranson said: "Chris is a progressive young manager with excellent coaching credentials and has a real desire to deliver success for our club. I have been flattered by the number of top-class coaches and managers who have shown an interest in managing Coventry City, but Chris was always our number one target.

"I am looking forward to working with him. We share the same passion for football and how a club should be managed. I have no doubt that he will help to take this great club forward."

City were scheduled to face Sheffield Wednesday last night, but the game was postponed due to the Hillsborough pitch being frozen.

Coleman, whose first game in charge will come against Leicester on Saturday, said he would not have taken charge for the game anyway, and admitted the news had not come as a disappointment.

"For me, I'm glad the game's off as I would have gone to the game tonight with the chairman and would have found it very difficult to sit in the stands and watch. It's another game where we can try and get three points," he added.

Elsewhere, Ottmar Hitzfeld has been confirmed as the next Switzerland coach.

The Bayern Munich coach will take charge of the Swiss team in July after leaving his current job at the end of the season, the Swiss Football Association said yesterday.

Hitzfeld will succeed Kobi Kuhn, who is stepping down after the European Championship being played in Switzerland and Austria in June.

The 69-year-old Hitzfeld began his coaching career in Switzerland and won two league titles with Grasshoppers Zurich before returning to his native Germany.

Hitzfeld then became only the second man to win European Cup titles with different clubs, achieving the feat with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern in 2001. He has accepted a two-year contract, aiming to lead Switzerland to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Ukraine will invite the Uefa president, Michel Platini, to tour a new stadium to see for himself the ex-Soviet state's progress in preparing to co-host the Euro 2012 finals, President Viktor Yushchenko said yesterday.

"In a few weeks, I will invite Mr Platini to Dnipropetrovsk," Yushchenko said after a visit to a stadium nearing completion in the city to be used in the 2012 tournament.

"I would like it known that Dnipropetrovsk is showing a high level of readiness of its sports facilities for Euro 2012."

A Uefa delegation is visiting Ukraine this week to inspect building sites and other facilities.

Platini last month expressed alarm that Ukraine and their co-hosts Poland were behind schedule in their preparations. Authorities in Kiev have since taken a decision to allow the city's main stadium to be used in 2012 by dismantling parts of an adjacent shopping centre which threatened to disqualify it on safety grounds.