Only a short-sighted football manager would not contemplate the cost of failure when he takes a job and Steve Cotterill admits he considered the impact managing stricken Portsmouth might have on his CV – and decided it was worth the risk.
Cotterill quit as interim manager at Notts County to take over at Fratton Park, turning his back on a position in which his stock could not be much higher after winning the League Two title with 14 victories in 18 matches.
After losing his first competitive game in charge of Portsmouth on Saturday – two days after the club won its battle for survival in the High Court – Cotterill confessed he was already feeling the strain, but insisted he had made the right decision.
"I thought it might be a good opportunity to get hold of a good club," he said. "I didn't think it would be quite this tough. I thought it might be bit more straightforward. There have been a few surprises but you don't find things out when you first walk through the door.
"I am tired. But it is not tiring just for me though, it is tiring for a lot of people. There are some good people at this club and these last weeks have been very difficult. I don't know if there is a tougher job in football but if I do pull it off it will stand me in good stead as a manager. I'm certainly not doing it for the money."
With no certainty yet that Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai will agree to take his former club out of administration, Cotterill's only options for strengthening the club's depleted squad are the loan and free transfer markets. Finding reinforcements could hardly be more urgent. The 15 players involved on Saturday, when those seats not left vacant on his substitutes' bench were occupied by four trainees, are all he has and one of those – striker John Utaka – is expected to follow the absent Kevin-Prince Boateng in leaving soon.
"I don't know what I'll do if we have any injuries because what you've seen today is all we've got," he said, reflecting that, as much as he might like to send a reserve team to tonight's Carling Cup tie at Stevenage, it is not an option.
With Michael Brown, Richard Hughes and the impressive Marc Wilson offering Premier League quality in midfield, Portsmouth showed glimpses of promise but produced little in the way of scoring opportunities and a home team bolstered by five new signings won with workmanlike performance, Freddy Eastwood scoring twice.
Ironically, Cotterill turned down a move from Coventry to make him their manager before agreeing to succeed Avram Grant at Fratton Park and he cannot have failed to cast a wistful glance or two at Aidy Boothroyd in the neighbouring dugout. "I am committed to this job," he said. "It is my club now and I'm not going to walk away. Nobody misled me about the problems and I'm going to try to make it work."
Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Keogh, Cameron, Turner, Cranie; Bell (Baker, 76), Carsley, Doyle, McSheffrey; Eastwood, Jutkiewicz (Platt, 73); Substitutes not used Quirke (gk), Clingan, McPake, Wood, O'Donovan.
Portsmouth (4-3-2-1): Ashdown; Mullins, Mokoena, Sonko, Ritchie; Brown, Wilson, Hughes (Ciftci, 73); Nugent, Utaka (Gregory, 83), Smith; Substitutes not used O'Brien (gk), Pack.
Referee A D'Urso (Essex).
Man of the match Wilson.
Attendance 18,814.Reuse content