Life Beyond the Premier League: Steven Pressley's kids stop Coventry being all shook up by move to Northampton

Life Beyond the Premier League

It seems fair to say that no club in English football had a more difficult summer than Coventry City, one dominated by the controversy surrounding their departure from the Ricoh Arena for Northampton, 35 miles away, and further darkened by a 10-point deduction imposed by the Football League owing to the liquidation of their previous parent company, Coventry City FC Ltd.

It is to the credit of manager Steven Pressley and his players that against this pretty desperate backdrop, they have begun their programme so brightly that, six games in, they have already climbed off the foot of League One – last Sunday's 2-0 "home" victory over Colchester provided their first official point, lifting them above Notts County on goal difference.

The fact that without their points' deduction – the club's second of 2013 – Coventry would be sitting in a play-off place underlines Pressley's astute work in building, in extremely trying circumstances, what he describes as a "young, energetic and hungry squad". He spoke to each player individually before the summer break and has been delighted by the focused approach of a team unbeaten in the league since the opening day. "They have not looked for excuses, they've worked exceptionally hard," he said. "The fact so many have come through the system together means they have a real feeling for the football club."

With Coventry under a transfer embargo, Pressley offloaded 18 players over the summer; this enabled him to bring in two new faces in Scotland defender Andy Webster and French forward Mathieu Manset but his overriding policy has been to put his faith in the club's young players with five academy graduates aged 21 or under starting against Colchester – Cyrus Christie, Jordan Clarke, Jordan Willis, Conor Thomas and Callum Wilson.

It helps that Pressley, the former Scotland, Rangers and Celtic defender, has been down this road before in his previous job at Falkirk, where he spent three years before replacing Mark Robins at Coventry in March. At Falkirk, the 39-year-old had to reduce his playing budget by 70 per cent and so focused his energies on the academy. "I studied the trends within Europe and many of the top clubs are developing their own players and that brings a spirit and unity to your club. Sometimes in English football that has been overlooked," he explained.

In Coventry's case, it has also brought a rush of goals from the lightning-fast striker Wilson, 21. His double against Colchester took his season's total to eight already from six League One outings – not bad for a player who had scored only one league goal prior to this campaign. "For a year and a half he had suffered setback after setback with injury and so had never got a good opportunity," Pressley said of a forward whose hard-working partnership with Leon Clarke sets the tone for an aggressive pressing game from the division's leading scorers.

The pity, of course, is that few Coventry fans have seen for themselves the fruits of Pressley's efforts. Despite the team scoring nine goals in their opening two fixtures in Northampton, Sunday's attendance of 1,789 was the lowest league gate in the club's history – a pretty stark message to the club's unpopular owners Sisu, even without taking into account the presence of some 200 protesters on the hill overlooking Sixfields.

Pressley understands the fans' feelings. "Ultimately we all want to play back at Coventry," he said. "The truth is, with our form and the attendances as they are, it is clear to see the supporters will only return when the team has moved back. It is a situation that we have no control over – all we can do is continue to try to put on performances that make our supporters proud."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'