Coventry City: Steven Pressley sacked by struggling Sky Blues

Steven Pressley
Scotsman Steven Pressley had been in charge of Coventry City since arriving from Falkirk in March 2013

Coventry City have sacked manager Steven Pressley after almost two years in charge of the Sky Blues.

Pressley's assistant Neil MacFarlane and professional development coach Dave Hockaday, who arrived only three weeks ago, have been put in temporary charge.

Coventry have slipped into the League One relegation zone, having failed to win any of their last seven matches.

"It was very difficult from a personal and professional point of view," said chief executive Steve Waggott.

"But results over recent weeks and months, and our precarious position in the league table, means that a change of direction at first team level is needed."

A century and out for Pressley
Coventry City won 32, drew 30 and lost 38 of Steven Pressley's 100 games in charge of the Sky Blues. He previously spent a season as a player at Highfield Road in 1994-95, having been signed for £630,000 by Phil Neal in 1994, scoring one goal in his 19 appearances - against Manchester United.
He began his playing career with Rangers, moved back north of the border to Dundee United in 1995, then in 1998 to Hearts, where he also had a short spell as caretaker manager. Joined Celtic in 2006 then had a spell in Denmark before ending his playing days at Falkirk, where he was assistant manager to Eddie May before being appointed boss in February 2010.

The final game of 41-year-old Pressley's 100 in charge came at Bramall Lane on Saturday when, despite playing against 10 men for most of the game, City allowed Sheffield United to score twice in the final 11 minutes to earn a 2-2 draw.

The former Rangers, Dundee United, Hearts, Celtic and Scotland centre-half left Falkirk to take over at City in March 2013 following the resignation of Sky Blues predecessor Mark Robins to join Huddersfield.

Pressley was contractually tied to the Sky Blues until 2018, having signed an initial three-and-a-half-year deal before having that extended to a new four-year agreement in September 2014.

The new contract was signed in a mood of euphoria that followed City's return to the Ricoh Arena, but that mood has changed in recent months - and home gates have fallen to below 7,000.

For the majority of his time in charge, Pressley was generally viewed by fans as a popular, engagingly frank character, who motivated his team well in adversity, but had to contend with the distracting backdrop of the club's off-field woes.

Coventry City chief executive Steve Waggott
"While clubs are sometimes labelled as being 'trigger happy' when it comes to letting managers go, that's not the way I operate. But the performances and the results of the first team are always under scrutiny. So, while you always want to look long term, you have to take a view of the shorter term too and, with no league win at home since October, a slide into the bottom four in League One and what happened in the FA Cup, we came to the very difficult decision that it was time for a change. I know the question will be raised about the 'backing' he has had but our budget (money spent on players' wages) is up there in the top six for this division".

As well as twice being docked 10 points as a result of the club's owners Sisu, now rebranded as Otium, going into administration, while fighting against their landlords at the Ricoh Arena, City even underwent an entire season in exile at Northampton.

And they have been made to play second fiddle at their own stadium following confirmation, then the harsh economic reality, of their new landlords Wasps' well-marketed move to the Ricoh Arena.

Since the news broke of rugby union's arrival at the stadium, Coventry have won just four times in 24 League One games, as well as suffering the embarrassment of losing at home to non-league Worcester City in the FA Cup.

With 15 games of the season to go, City lie 21st, in danger of being relegated to the fourth tier of English football for the first time since 1959.

Three of their next four matches at home, starting with Saturday's visit of second-placed MK Dons, but the state of the Ricoh pitch since Coventry's new landlords came in does not necessarily make that an advantage.