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 and here is Part Two for you...
PUSB: Name your highlight of the year?
SP: The highlight this year was when we guaranteed survival in League One. We shouldn’t under-estimate how big an achievement that was. We were in a situation where we were in a transfer embargo and where we’d released many players from the previous season going into the season. We were left with a paper-thin squad, 18 players, and had players who had no league experience. For us to survive with such a small squad, the transfer embargo, the 10-point deduction and playing at Sixfields, it was an achievement and we should be proud of that. It took a club effort to stay in the league. It shouldn’t be a highlight for this club to stay in League One but in the circumstances, it is a highlight.
NM: There has been a few, like the manager said, keeping the club in League One tops it. It was really satisfying. This year though, I would say it is the amount of young players who’ve come into the first-team and performed really well. One particular highlight was in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Exeter and Wycombe when we ended the game with nine players from the Academy. It shows we’re getting close to the 50% mark of Academy players in our first-team. Also, the Gillingham game was fantastic, not just for us but for our supporters and staff as well. It was difficult for everybody at Sixfields but to get was an incredible night.
PUSB: Name your low-point of the year?
NM: Worcester. It will stay with us. It will never get lower. It will be a driving force for us in the future as it was unacceptable.
SP: Again, Worcester City. It hurt. Physically hurt. I didn’t want to leave my house because I was embarrassed by the result. When you work as hard as my staff and I do, it was like a knife in the heart. But, you’ve got to use moments like that as a catalyst for success.
PUSB: Is that happening now?
SP: When you lose an FA Cup tie like that, it is always a long way back. In recent weeks, there has been a degree of consistency come back into our side. The response from the players has been a positive one but I still think we’re nowhere where I want us to be. It was never going to be turned around short-term but this will be turned around over the course of a couple of years.
PUSB: After the Worcester game, there was a lot of pressure on yourself and your staff. What was that like?
SP: I put myself under that pressure every single day because I can’t tell you how much I want to make this club a success. It’s difficult to convince people that a lot of good things are happening at the club on the back of the defeat against Worcester. There are so many exciting young players at this club, in our first-team and in our Under-18s. I would say the ‘Coventry Way’ is very evident in all our young players. But again, these things go un-noticed because I need to get results, and I know that.
NM: We’re working really hard to make things better. It wasn’t so much pressure but there is a real want to make this club better as this is a great football club, one which me and the gaffer are very proud of working at and managing.
PUSB: If there is one thing you could go back and change from 2014, what would it be?
SP: There are too many. One thing I’ll always do as manager is make decisions. As a manager, you’ve got to be brave when you make a decision. I’ve never said that I’ll get them all right, no-one can. I think as long as I can look at myself, evaluate and admit I’ve got certain things wrong, then you can move forward and get it right next time. I accept that I get a number of things wrong but I will always make a decision.
PUSB: Finally, what do we have to look forward to in 2015?
NM: One, our young players continuing to come through. Two, improvement in our recruitment. Three, continue to push forward in the league. We’re six points off the play-offs, I’m not saying that should be an aim but it’ll be nice to get near that.
SP: Improvement in all aspects of the club. Hopefully, we’ll improve at recruitment and make sure we get the balance right but also, the continued improvement of our young players. We’ve got some talented young players at this club and I hope to see their progression continue because if they do, as I’ve shown before, they will get a chance. Of course, league position is something we always want to improve but if we get all the aspects correct, that will come.