League Insider - Coppell
Rob Parrish takes a look at the talking points from the Football League in our new feature.
Last Updated: 23/08/10 12:21pm
The new Football League season is only two games old but there have already been a pair of managerial casualties in the Championship.
Steve Coppell's shock decision to walk away from Bristol City after a mere 112 days at the helm and call time on his career in management was followed swiftly by Kevin Blackwell being ushered towards the exit door at Sheffield.
Blackwell's departure from Bramall Lane was ostensibly by 'mutual consent', a phrase which is appearing in football parlance with increasing regularity and which most supporters are smart enough to see through.
But is was Coppell turning his back on the game which has been part of his life for the past 37 years which caused shockwaves at the end of last week and raised a host of questions over the reasons behind his departure.
Coppell, who boasts a degree in economic history, is far from being a typical football manager and has freely admitted in the past that he would not have stepped into the dugout had an untimely injury brought his impressive playing career to a premature conclusion.
He even once joked: "Often I wondered what on earth I was doing and would have been happier going to prison than driving to the training ground!"
Yet the 55-year-old is one of just 18 men to have clocked up 1,000 games at the helm in England, an honour he shares with legendary figures such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp and late greats Sir Bobby Robson and Brian Clough.
The fact that he has achieved such a milestone makes a mockery of those who claim Coppell is a quitter, having exited Manchester City in similarly abrupt and unexplained circumstances back in 1996.
Crystal Palace and Reading supporters witnessed at first hand what could be achieved with the former Manchester United and England winger at the helm as he guided the Eagles to the 1990 FA Cup final and third in the top-flight, before leading Reading into the Premier League with a record haul of 106 points. Hardly the efforts of someone who cannot take the heat.
The popular theory doing the rounds after his Ashton Gate vanishing act was that the arrival of England's World Cup goalkeeper David James had been instigated by chairman Steve Lansdown without Coppell's consent, but given the former Pompey No.1 cited the manager's influence as a key reason behind his switch, that particular piece of chat holds less water.
There is every chance the full explanation behind Coppell's decision will remain under wraps, after all his Maine Road departure of 14 years past continues to be a mystery, but why should a manager who has given so much to the game be forced to spell out the exact reasons for stepping down?
It would be more fitting to celebrate his achievements in football and bemoan the fact that a talented English manager has decided to turn his back on the game.
There can be no doubt that pressure and a weight of expectation play a major part in the shelf-life of many bosses in the current climate, with Blackwell's exit from Sheffield United coming just 16 months after he took them to within 90 minutes of the Premier League.
It is the second time in his career that Blackwell has paid the price soon after reaching the Championship play-off final, having suffered the same fate in the wake of Leeds' defeat by Watford at the Millennium Stadium in 2006.
He lasted until the September of the following campaign before being replaced by Dennis Wise and Leeds were relegated after finishing rock bottom of the Championship. Blades fans must hope the woe of their West Yorkshire rivals is not repeated in the South of the county.
Cardiff have emerged as the latest club hoping to land Wales international Craig Bellamy after it became abundantly clear the striker was surplus to requirements at Manchester City.
Bellamy's baggage has been all too evident at times in his career, but he demonstrated last season that he remains a potent threat in front of goal, which is why Tottenham, Fulham and Celtic have all expressed their interest.
Should the Bluebirds lure Bellamy back to his hometown club, then the Premier League's loss would certainly be the Championship's gain.