Saving Planet Earth
Coppell: predictions are a waste of time
"If it is time Coppell wants, give it to him"
By Tim Dellor
BBC Radio Berkshire's sports editor Tim Dellor, who's commentated on every Reading FC game this season, reflects on the options for manager Steve Coppell in light of speculation he may resign from his post.
Rarely can the fans of a relegated club have been so unanimously behind the manager.
In the 24 hours following the final whistle at Pride Park BBC Radio Berkshire received more than a thousand texts (that's real texts rather than the imaginary ones recently favoured by ITV!).
Almost without exception they called for Coppell to stay.
It is never very healthy for an organisation to rely so heavily on one individual, but Reading's manager is the lynchpin, the fulcrum, the brains and the pulse of the team.
The consequences of his departure could be catastrophic.
The players trust him, the fans like him, the Chairman respects him, even the media are amused by him.
He is a brilliant tactician, a shrewd judge of a player, and for someone of his age has a remarkable lengthy managerial CV.
Above all he is a decent, modest, private, hard working, sport-loving guy. You cannot ask for any more, and you will not be able to name anyone better suited to getting Reading promoted back to the top flight.
One of his biggest strengths has been recognising his own weaknesses, and getting people around him to compensate those shortfalls.
He, Kevin Dillon and Wally Downes are the dream management ticket, covering off every criteria with their diverse characters.
Three Steve Coppells would be like a straight gin. The tonic of Dillon and Downes make it palatable.
Like everyone working at the top end of professional football he is paid big bucks, and bearing in mind the intensity he has had to cope with over the past four and a half seasons, who would say he has not deserved that reward.
John Madejski's biggest challenge lies before him. How to keep the man who guided Reading to their first stint in the Premier League?
Coppell may have already made up his mind. By the time you read this he may have already walked. How could/should the Chairman keep his manager?
Money is unlikely to lure him. He can command a huge wage wherever he goes.
A reminder he has money to spend, a Chairman who fully backs him, a squad with ability, and fans who want him to hang around, ought to help in the negotiations. He is not guaranteed any of those benefits at another club.
Money can't buy time, and that is what I suspect Steve Coppell really craves. He hinted earlier this season he might like a break from management.
It's an all-consuming job like no other, with demands flying in from all angles every day of the season. To be successful it takes monumental organisational and communication skills, and over time that becomes exhausting.
If negotiations fail, and Coppell can't be convinced to swap the golf course for the dug-out, he should be offered a sabbatical.
It has never happened before in football, but it is time for the game to catch up with other businesses. Valued staff need to be looked after.
If he wants six months in the sunshine, on the golf course, or studying the coaching and management methods in other sports, let him have it.
Kevin Dillon has been sitting next to him for half a decade, and is quite capable of looking after the shop for a few months while "the gaffer" is away.
If it is time Coppell wants, give it to him.
If it is money to spend, offer it to him. Until he can line up anyone better qualified to manage Reading, which John Madejski cannot right now, he must not lose Steve Coppell.
last updated: 12/05/2008 at 11:55
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