Coventry City 1992/93 - Alive and Kicking (Part 3)
Vital Coventry's look back at the 1992/93 season. This series was originally intended for publication as an e-book. Thanks to Jim Brown's book 'Coventry City - The Elite Era' for reference.
Robson and the Rest
Stewart Robson had been the club`s 1991/92 Player of the Season by a long way. The midfielder had risen through the ranks at Arsenal, making 150 appearances for the Gunners before a move to West Ham United in 1986.
Beset by injuries throughout his career, Robson had played a key role in City's resurgence at the end of the 1990/91 season after Terry Butcher had taken a gamble on a player without a top-flight appearance for three years. The following year it seemed at times that Robson was battling the opposition on his own as he made 37 league appearances, his body appearing to be held together by his cycling shorts as he covered acres of ground across the pitch with a galloping stride.
As results under Howe had shown, the Sky Blues main strength lay at the back where two players plucked from the lower leagues formed an effective central defensive partnership.
Andy Pearce, signed from non-league Halesowen, had established himself in the side in the latter part of the 1990/91 season and his emergence allowed Terry Butcher to sell the man who lifted the FA Cup in 1987, Brian Kilcline, to Oldham for £400,000 at the end of that campaign. Shortly after the start of the following campaign, Kilcline`s long-time partner Trevor Peake joined Luton Town with Peter Atherton of Wigan Athletic his replacement.
Steve Ogrizovic and Brian Borrows remained, however, and both the goalkeeper (signed by Bobby Gould in 1984) and the right back continued to turn in consistently good performances week in and week
out without getting the international recognition they deserved. Experienced former England left back Kenny Sansom completed a solid defensive unit.
Another star of the famous day at Wembley, Lloyd McGrath, had given his all as usual when paired alongside Robson but Micky Gynn (also signed by Gould in his first spell as manager), Sean Flynn and David Smith had all struggled to provide a threat from the midfield and wide areas.
Going forward, the Sky Blues had relied almost solely on Kevin Gallacher to provide a threat to the opposition. The club`s record signing at £900,000 from Dundee United, Gallacher had been switched to a striking position by Terry Butcher and scored 8 of City`s paltry total of 35 league goals in the 1991/92 season, reaching double figures for the season by scoring twice in cup competitions. Easily the most valuable asset on the playing staff at Highfield Road, his future was the subject of speculation throughout the summer.
Robert Rosario, with 6 goals in all competitions, was the next highest-scorer but the former Norwich City forward had struggled to live up to his billing as a replacement for Regis, Big Cyrille`s goal in that final game against Villa being a reminder to many supporters of what they felt had been Butcher`s biggest error of judgement.
It had been Rosario, ironically, who had missed a glorious chance to equalise for Norwich in the final game of the 1983/84 season as Bobby Gould`s City escaped from relegation by the skin of their teeth.
One player in the squad that Gould inherited in 1992 did have the ability to get the Highfield Road crowd on their feet.
Zimbabwean teenager Peter Ndlovu, signed from the Highlanders club in his homeland after a successful trial (brother Adam had also impressed on trial but City were unable to obtain work permits for both) capped a series of cameo appearances as a substitute early in the 1991/92 season with a goal at Arsenal to clinch an unlikely three points and then marked his second start for the club with a stunning solo goal to defeat Aston Villa. In a struggling side, Ndlovu featured only sporadically after that but his raw potential was clear for all to see.
Part 2 - Bobby is Back