Sheffield United v Coventry City ‘should be a Premier League game’
Bear with us here, kids, but there was a time, that really doesn’t seem that long ago, when Sheffield United v Coventry City was played in the top flight of English football...the Premier League even.
Alas, it’s been almost 22 years since it featured on the fixture list of matches in the higher echelons of our game.
A lot has happened over the course of that period, which if you want to put into context, United’s Che Adams and City’s on loan forward Adam Armstrong were two or three years from being born.
The Blades went down, eventually came back up, went down again and then went down even further.
The Sky Blues’ slip was a lot more protracted as they spent nine seasons in the Premier League before one of the longest continuous spells in the top division, stretching back to 1967, came to an end in 2001. In 2012 they, too, fell into the third tier, joining United who had succumbed a year earlier.
And so, here we are, still in League One.
But according to Bobby Gould, the man who was in charge of Coventry when the Premier League came to fruition back in 1992, it shouldn’t be this way and those who have been in charge are to blame for the position the respective clubs find themselves in.
“Coventry have been through some rough times of late; moving out of the beloved Highfield Road to a new stadium, then having to leave there and play in Northampton, then coming back...it’s been a tough time,” he said.
“Now, I love Coventry City with all my heart - I supported them, I came up through the ranks and played for them, I managed them, but to me the problems they have faced have been of their own doing.
“The people who have been in charge have made successive mistakes. Mistakes in terms of finances and in terms of decisions over management and it’s the same for Sheffield United. Those in charge of both clubs have sacked managers when they should have been kept on and given the opportunity to try and put things right.
“Then the next man comes in and that doesn’t work and they do it all over again.
“Every club needs stability and thankfully it looks as though that might be coming back to Coventry but you just never know because it only takes a poor run of results and the pressure is back on again...it’s crazy.
“Coventry City and Sheffield United are big clubs. I have a lot of time for Sheffield United, I remember playing there many times, even back when cricket was played there. I remember playing against Tony Currie...it’s a great place and a great club who should be playing at a higher level then they are.
“The two teams are playing this weekend and it really should be a top flight game but Sheffield United, like Coventry, are paying the price for big mistakes made by decison-makers and that’s why they both find themselves where they are now.”
Gould added: “Everyone in all walks of life need stability, whether that be in football or not, and I can only hope now that Tony and Nigel Adkins at Sheffield United are given the chance to get longevity at their clubs because we appear to have the American way of ‘hire ‘em and fire ‘em’ in English football now.”
Gould has been impressed by the job done so far by Tony Mowbray at City, but he also has a warning for the Sky Blues boss and indeed Adkins about how they put together their squad.
The 69-year-old, who is currently working as a co-presenter alongside Andy Goldstein on the Sports Bar on Talksport on Friday nights, believes there is an over-reliance on loan players in this level of the game, which he believes does little to benefit anyone, long-term.
“Tony (Mowbray) is doing a very good job so far and he has bought well. In fact, I say he has bought well, he has signed well, is a better way of putting it,” said Gould.
“He has got some good players in on loan but I don’t like the system. The lad Armstrong has come in from Newcastle and scored goals and signed until January - what happens after that? If he goes elsewhere where do the goals come from?
“I don’t think it benefits anyone, club or player and that goes for most clubs in leagues outside of the Premier League.”