Steve Cotterill was dismissed as manager of Sky Bet Championship side Bristol City yesterday, with the Robins in 22nd place in the league table and in real danger of an instant return to League One following last season’s promotion.
Talk to supporters of either Nottingham Forest or Notts County about Steve Cotterill’s managerial skills and you will get contrasting points of view.
The 51-year-old manager only managed the Magpies for 18-games but managed to steer the club home in their race for the League Two title, before jumping ship at the end of the season for a return to Championship football with Portsmouth.
Just 18-months after taking the job with the Magpies, Cotterill found himself on the other side of the Trent, this time to manage their city rivals Forest, where his time paled in comparison to his tenure at Meadow Lane.
I appreciate that during his spell at the City Ground, Cotterill’s hands were tied. He was forced to sell Wes Morgan in order to give himself the funds to recruit four new loan players, which in fairness all contributed to keeping the Reds in the division. Adlene Guedioura in particular was a superb Cotterill signing for Forest.
It is an argument often thrown at current boss Dougie Freedman that with the Reds’ current crop of players they should be doing better and I have no doubt in my mind that Steve Cotterill should have performed much better in his role as Nottingam Forest manager with his win record of 32% quite frankly pathetic.
Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a piece designed to pull the management of Steve Cotterill to pieces and in fairness he has worked wonders in putting Bristol City back on the map.
Last season he oversaw a league and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy double, but once again his tactical knowledge has once again been proven inept for the Championship.
The stats do not lie and when Cotterill as managed in the second tier with his previous clubs the one dimensional, negative, unattractive and frustratingly average football has come to haunt him.
Cotterill’s win percentages in the Championship have been abysmal. Stoke City (23 per cent), Burnley (34 per cent), Portsmouth (29 per cent) and Forest (32 per cent) do not make great reading.
Cotterill is a likeable man, I completely get that and if we are talking about a team who needs a manager to grab them by the scruff of the neck in League One or Two then he’s your man, but his style of football is too simple to suss out in the second tier and being totally honest he seems incapable of adapting any sort of plan B.
A lot of his post-match press conferences during his final few games at Ashton Gate spoke about how unlucky he felt his side had been. Is it really unlucky when you have managed just four wins all season, Steve?
It is up to the manager to identify a team’s strengths and weaknesses and the Championship can be a cruel league at the best of times. The quality teams adapt to different situations and playing decent football in the second tier just isn’t enough sometimes.
Bristol City played some gorgeous football last season but it was incredibly naive of Cotterill if he thought the same group of players were going to be alright in the Championship without any ability to adapt to different situations.
The sacking culture in modern day football is getting silly but few could begrudge the Robins for handing Cotterill his p45 at this stage.
For Steve it is back to the drawing board. I am sure he will take a great sense of pride from getting City back into the Championship, but if he is to be successful in the second tier as a manager, he has to find ways that he himself can improve, with adaptability to tactics at the very top of the list.