Coventry City 1992/93 - Alive and Kicking (Pt 10)
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.
Kevin Gallacher got in on the scoring act in City`s next game, at home to Ipswich, equalising Chris Kiwomya`s strike before Micky Quinn put the hosts in front with a similar goal to his first for the club as he beat his marker inside the penalty area to head home. More frustration followed when former Sky Blues man Steve Whitton secured a point for the visitors with a penalty.
To continue the theme, Quinn then helped himself to a double at Southampton who equalised twice through Maddison and Dowie to make it eleven games without a win for the Sky Blues despite the best efforts of their new goal machine. Prior to the visit of Liverpool, however, there was good news as a permanent £250,000 deal was agreed which made Quinn a Coventry City player.
'It was the ideal Christmas present,' said the 30-year-old after agreeing the switch. 'It's good to know my future is assured.'
Gould`s return to the club brought back memories of the high water mark of his previous spell as manager. In December 1983 his motley collection of signings had humbled reigning champions and league leaders Liverpool 4-0 at Highfield Road with Terry Gibson scoring a hat-trick in front of the Match of the Day cameras.
The two clubs met on more equal terms in December 1992 as Graeme Souness was in the process of rebuilding the FA Cup holders but the resulting 5-1 scoreline was still a huge shock, especially in the light of City`s form over the previous weeks.
Jonathan Gould made his debut in goal after an injury to Ogrizovic and was the busier goalkeeper in the opening minutes as Atherton nearly put through his own net and Jamie Redknapp tried a speculative long-range shot. Then, after starting the move in his own half with a pass out to Rosario on the left wing, Lee Hurst got his reward for a driving run into the penalty area when Redknapp handled as he tried to make a saving tackle. Brian Borrows despatched the penalty with the minimum of fuss and then added a second goal from a free-kick, awarded to City inside the penalty area for an incident that only the referee appeared to spot.
Rosario showed his worth to the side once again when chesting down a high ball before slanting a pass behind the defence for Gallacher to make it 3-0.
Gould`s attacking tactics had left City exposed at the back at times during the season to date but when they worked they were a joy to watch and the Sky Blues continued to pour forward in waves even after Redknapp had crashed in a free-kick to reduce the arrears. The Liverpool man was then sent-off for a second yellow card before Quinn tormented the club he supported as a boy with two more goals, a crashing left-foot shot and a glancing header, both from in and around the six-yard box that he had made his own.
The Times paid tribute to City's attacking intent in their match report, commenting: 'Even without the exciting Ndlovu, the speed and breadth of some of their attacks was too much for Liverpool. John Williams was in thrilling form on the right, Gallacher was a constant handful for Liverpool on the other wing and Quinn scored two breathtaking goals to take his tally to eight in five games since his arrival from Newcastle United.`
A Late Christmas Present
Next up for City were Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Ron Atkinson had built an entertaining side since moving to Villa Park from Sheffield Wednesday and the early season purchase of striker Dean Saunders from Liverpool had had the desired effect of making the Villains genuine title contenders. Against the odds, however, things got even better after the Liverpool game for the Sky Blues` supporters packed into Highfield Road on Boxing Day, paying a club record of nearly £200,000 in gate receipts.
Robert Rosario had had a hand in most of City`s attacks against Liverpool and the blossoming of his partnership with Micky Quinn was shown once again against the side that City fans loved to beat more than any other. After an even first half he won two headers out of the sky, the second pounced upon by his fellow forward who then gleefully lashed home Rosario`s left-wing cross to make it 2-0. The big striker`s reward came with the third goal of the game (all within a seven minute spell) and a very merry Christmas for all Coventry supporters.
Bobby Gould paid tribute to an unlikely source when asked about the key reasons for City`s better than expected season to date. He told the matchday programme for the Villa game that 'I would definitely refer to our pre-season stint at Tidworth Army Camp under Sergeant Major Joe Roache.`
Sergeant Roache had been a guest of the club at the Liverpool game where he had been presented with a bottle of champagne as a mark of thanks for his work in improving the Sky Blues fitness and stamina levels. Quinn, of course, had not been present at the training camp but 10 goals in 6 games since joining from Newcastle suggested an instinct that could not be improved by completing an army assault course!
After the festive celebration often comes a hangover and Manchester United provided it in the next game. United had surprised the football world by prising Eric Cantona away from Leeds and the Frenchman was quickly into his stride at Old Trafford as he looked to win successive Championship medals. He added to goals by Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes before Lee Sharpe and Dennis Irwin completed a 5-0 win with the Sky Blues, who had once again named an attacking line-up with four forwards, on this occasion left at the mercy of a rampant Reds' outfit.
That meant a temporary return to earth for City supporters but the two previous home games would live long in the memory. When the Sky Blues were next in action at Highfield Road (a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest for whom Ian Woan was on the scoresheet) there was a new addition to the merchandise on sale outside the ground - 'Micky Quinn, Villa Killer` T-Shirts - while the club themselves were selling videos of both the Liverpool and Aston Villa games for £12.99 each.
Leeds` title defence had suffered more than a few blips and they began December with a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of struggling Nottingham Forest for whom midfielder Roy Keane scored twice. In a month of big local derbies, Everton edged past Liverpool at Goodison Park, Tottenham were narrow victors against Arsenal at White Hart Lane, Manchester United defeated Manchester City (with Cantona making his debut as a substitute) and Ipswich upset the odds with a 2-0 success at Norwich four days before Christmas, the best present possible for supporters of the Suffolk club.