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10 years in the Championship: 2001/02

10 years in the Championship: 2001/02

Coventry City will be the Championship`s longest serving club next season following the relegation of Preston North End, the 2011/12 campaign being their 11th in a row in the second tier of English football.

The 2001/02 season began with fans in bullish mood about a swift return to the top-flight, backed up by some hefty spending in the transfer market. With Craig Bellamy having departed for Newcastle United upon relegation, Gordon Strachan persuaded Lee Hughes to leave his beloved West Bromwich Albion and come to Highfield Road, paying a cool £5m for the striker.

It took Hughes less than half-an-hour to score his first goal for the Sky Blues but an opening day win at Stockport was followed by three defeats in four games (the other being a goalless draw against nine-man Nottingham Forest).

'mixed bag'

Strachan was axed, Roland Nilsson took charge and the Swede swiftly settled into his first managerial role, a 10-game unbeaten run culminating in a home win against Sheffield Wednesday that took City to the top of the table.

Results after that were very much a mixed bag, every resounding win (6-1 at Crewe for example) being cancelled out by some depressing defeats (Gillingham were winners at Highfield Road helped by a Marlon King goal while Stockport gained one of only ten points on the road at the same venue) which ended automatic promotion hopes but kept alive play-off dreams.

Amidst a gathering black cloud of financial woe and with no sign of the club`s new stadium ever being built, Nilsson`s team fell apart in the run-in despite a brief cameo from Sky Blues fan Tim Flowers in goal and the Swede parted company with City before the final game, another case perhaps of what might have been on the managerial front had the intelligent and popular Nilsson been given a proper crack at the job.

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Writer:CCFC
Date:Sunday June 5 2011
Time: 10:32AM

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8 Gillingham 45 19 12 14 69 16
9 Coventry 45 18 12 15 66 16
10 Sheff Utd 45 18 12 15 66 7
11 Rochdale 45 18 12 15 66 6
12 Port Vale 45 18 11 16 65 3
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17 Oldham 45 12 18 15 54 -12
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