THEY won’t finish the season with silverware, were always big outsiders to gatecrash the play-offs and will never be one of the sexy names.
But in the maddest, most screwball league in the country, Coventry City are setting the sanest, most sensible example of all.
When the dust settles on another Championship season, no fewer than HALF the 24 clubs will have changed their manager at some stage.
Never mind Premier League owners being trigger happy, it’s the ones a tier below who have been firing bullets like western gunslingers.
While the prizes for two or three — the Holy Land of untold top-flight riches — are unbelievable, it is financial misery for the rest.
For the bulk of the bosses in charge of clubs who fall short, the price is a P45 and a reputation in tatters.
And the knock-on of that means a league which was once a breeding ground for up-and-coming managers has now become a burial ground.
It may be a finishing school for players en route to the top but for bosses it is simply the finish.
Yet this week, amid the mayhem, came a ray of common sense when Coventry handed manager Mark Robins a new contract. It got barely a mention on a national scale, just as the Sky Blues themselves rarely trouble headline writers.
But extending Robins’ deal for another couple of years beyond 2024 was a throwback to the days when owners realised it didn’t need a trophy to prove a job was being done well.
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Having been in charge since 2017, he was already the longest-serving manager at that level, now Tony Mowbray is leaving Blackburn.
And the reward for chairman Tim Fisher and chief executive Dave Boddy has been a club that has got better every year under the former striker.
Robins took over a club heading into League Two, yet within three years he had them back in the Championship.
And this year, despite working on a shoestring budget, he has them 12th, their highest position in 16 seasons. Indeed, they held hopes of sneaking into the play-offs going into the last month of games.
He has transformed them from a club without a home into one on the rise — and the board have had the foresight to reward it.
What a contrast to so many others, who want instant success and are changing the managerial nameplate as soon as it fails to materialise.
Now, though, plenty of them are running into another problem… namely where the next generation of gaffers is coming from?
It’s become the most common question in Championship boardrooms — which way do we turn now for our next boss?
The fact is the well is running dry. There isn’t an endless supply. They are paying the price for knee-jerk reactions.
It is further proof of what a madcap division the Championship really is — although one which almost encourages clubs to run up debts is always asking for trouble.
Under FFP rules, clubs are allowed to go £13million into the red every season. It has almost become like a football speed limit.
If you can drive at 60mph most people will go that fast, plus a touch more.
So it is with the money. Many are scared they’ll be at a disadvantage if they stay within their means and go as far as possible the other way.
For the ones who have dropped from the Prem, the parachute payments merely mask the issue, and for most the gamble of stretching themselves too far doesn’t pay off.
That’s when they get twitchy — and we know what comes next. That’s why so many bosses find themselves out of work. And that’s why Coventry are such a beacon of hope.
The only problem is with so many clubs constantly looking for a new gaffer, it’s only a matter of time before one of them comes calling for Robins.
BIG SPUR FOR GERS
RANGERS have an even greater incentive to win the Europa League, after Uefa’s decision to ban Russian clubs.
Their ruling means title winners Celtic will go straight into the Champions League group stages, as Scotland’s coefficient has risen enough to make them the beneficiaries.
Ironically Rangers’ own European exploits played a key role in that, thus opening the door to riches for the Hoops.
Yet lifting the Europa League will guarantee their own ticket — and at least stop Celtic from getting a massive financial leg-up on their Old Firm rivals.
Now for Giovanni van Bronckhorst, it’s just the little matter of beating Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday week.
DRUMMER BOY DAVID
THE misting over in David Moyes’ eyes when he lost the plot and volleyed one back at the ball boy during West Ham’s Europa League defeat proved one thing.
You can take the boy out of Drumchapel but…
BETTER TO BE LUCKY
IN 2018 a wrongly disallowed Gabriel Jesus goal against Liverpool wrecked Manchester City’s Champions League hopes.
The following year Fernando Llorente got away with handball for the decisive goal that sent Spurs through, after Raheem Sterling was inches offside when scoring at the other end.
And against Real Madrid, City led for 178 minutes over the two legs of their semi-final and once more had their hearts broken.
It is indeed better to be lucky than good.