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PART ONE: Coventry City's Steven Pressley and Neil MacFarlane 2014 review

29 December 2014

We sat down with Coventry City's management duo as they look back on a 'challenging' year for the Sky Blues...

Steven Pressley and Neil MacFarlane - 2014 review

Coventry City manager Steven Pressley and assistant manager Neil MacFarlane sat down with the PUSB match-day programme to do an exclusive review of 2014.

The entire interview is available in the Chesterfield edition of PUSB but here is Part One for you...

PUSB: What one word would you use to describe 2014?

SP: Challenging.

NM: Frustrating.

PUSB: Why?

SP: With the amount of different scenarios and situations we’ve been through this calendar year, it has been challenging. There doesn’t seem to be a day which goes by that doesn’t throw up a problem which needs to be addressed. But, that is football management. 

NM: If you look at all the factors throughout the year, it has been frustrating. We lost the two top goal-scorers at the start of the year which affected our run-in at the back end of last season. The manager has spoken about the recruitment before and we’ve got to improve in that area.  However, even though it’s been frustrating, you keep the club up and finish what would have been 9th last season was a great achievement.

PUSB: At the start of the year, you were faced with the Leon Clarke situation. Was that a difficult time?

SP: Yes, but it also coincided with a two-month injury lay-off for Callum Wilson as well. So, not only did we lose Leon but we lost Callum as well. At that point, we lost the division’s most dynamic striking duo and had we had to find the right replacements for them in the January and loan transfer window, which again, was extremely challenging. 

PUSB: What made Leon Clarke so difficult to replace?

SP: We’re a transitional team. A team which like to break with speed and counter-attack. Leon was a player who linked the midfield and the attack and he was a player who made good decisions in the final third. Also, he really brought into the work-ethic of the team and I’m sure in his football career, he will never have worked as hard as he did here. He benefitted from that, but so did the team.

NM: He made a massive difference. It’s been said before that big players make a big difference to the side and they will be missed. He was a really important part of a strike-act. To replace them in a short window was really difficult and it proved to be so as we didn’t get the strikers which lived up to Leon and Callum last season.

PUSB: Name one thing you’ve learnt this year which you didn’t know last year?

NM: Physicality of the player you need. Not so much learning that but something we’ve really improved on. We’ve got in some really physical players and I think last season, we didn’t have the physicality which was needed. Mix that physicality in with our footballing ability, I think the potential to be better than we were is there.

SP: Although, organisation and the tactical aspects of a team are very important, what is even more important is the recruitment of the players. If you can get the recruitment of the players right and the right tactical structure, then you’ve got a chance of success. If you don’t get the two right, you don’t get results.

PUSB: Have you been disappointed with the recruitment?

SP: In some aspects, yes, in others, no. We’ve recruited some good players who’ve been very good since joining the club, and we’ve recruited players who haven’t been as effective as we’d hoped. I’m disappointed in certain aspects but pleased with others.

PUSB: In the summer, you were still signing players for Sixfields. Did that hinder?

SP: Yes. The reality is that you’ve got to carry out the correct scouting on every target and as a manager, I’ve got to have seen the player the appropriate amount of times before you make your judgement. We missed out on the vast majority of our targets due to Sixfields so a number of the players who we did sign, we didn’t go through the correct procedure. Even if you do go through the right procedure, there are no guarantees but there is a greater chance of you getting the decision right.

PUSB: We switched to a 3-5-2 formation at the start of the season. Did it work?

SP: It did to a degree as we went on a seven-match unbeaten run and were sitting fifth in the League One table. But, we lost key personnel for the system at that time and it got to us, the continuity of the team and how we played. When you go through an indifferent period, you’ve got to find solutions.

NM: To be fair, it did work. We used that formation to get to fifth in the table. Then we didn’t win in six or seven games and a big factor in that was the loss of Reda Johnson. Whatever formation or system you play sometimes, you’ve got to have the right players on the pitch. In the end, we had to change it around because, as the gaffer said, you’ve got to find a solution.

Part Two will be available on from 3pm tomorrow...

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