There has been a lot of question marks over the credentials of Andy Thorn and whether he is the right man to take Coventry as a club forward. At the age of 45 he is a man that does lack managerial experience but he is not lacking in football experience.
He had a relatively good career as a football player in which he began playing centre half for the ‘crazy gang’ alongside the likes of Dennis Wise and Lawrie Sanchez. He experienced two FA cup finals, the first with Wimbledon in which he came out a winner and the second with Crystal Palace which unfortunately for him he came out a loser.
Despite this he was probably best remembered as a player for his time at Crystal Palace. He made an immediate impact on his debut helping the Eagles who hadn’t won away from home all season to an away win at old Trafford. He was described as tough, unrelenting and a fearsome opponent with the ability to subdue even the nation’s best strikers and after taking over the captaincy he won the Player of the Year award in 1993.
Unfortunately though a troublesome knee injury kept him out for a long period and he then returned to his first club Wimbledon. The knee injury kept coming back and after two more moves to different clubs he eventually retired at the age of 31.
He didn’t leave the football world altogether though and ended up being at Everton as a scout. In 2006/2007 he moved to Coventry and became our chief scout. He held this post for three seasons and was instrumental in the signings of players such as Scott Dann, Danny Fox, Keiran Westwood, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Richard Keogh to name a few. He clearly has an eye for talent and he was doing a great job.
In the 2010-2011 season Aidy Boothroyd was sacked as Coventry City manager and to the surprise of many people Andy Thorn was appointed as caretaker boss. He led the team to safety and was rewarded with the permanent job as Coventry City manager and the initial response from fans was good as our general play had improved and the passion had been brought back into the players.
But then came the summer that we would all like to forget. We lost the likes of Westwood, Turner and most notably King and then Thorn was given minimal money to replace them. He didn’t complain though despite the fact he would clearly have been frustrated and just got on with the task in hand which we all then knew was to try and keep us in the Championship.
We could see from the off that this was going to be an extremely difficult task. We were still in the fight come January but then the inevitable happened and we lost Jutkiewicz; our top scorer; and didn’t replace him. Thorn again stuck at it though when other managers would of walked away and I think we have to commend him for that. I don’t know who else would have been brave enough to take on what was clearly a sinking ship. He kept the players motivated and we kept battling away, then finally a bit of luck came our way as we managed to sign both Nimley and Norwood who to my understanding were having all of their wages paid by their parent clubs on either side of Manchester. These two gave us a chance and were brilliant but it wasn’t to be and despite Thorn’s efforts we eventually slumped to relegation to League One.
In the year and a half that Thorn has been in charge he has been getting his coaching badges and after getting his level 2 at the start of last season has now just began his UEFA B license. I think it has been clear that he has been learning his trade as he goes along but one thing he cannot be questioned on is his passion and commitment to the cause.
He seems to have many critics based on a multitude of different factors. At times he has been tactically suspect but personally I think Steve Harrison has to take some of this blame in that he is an experienced coach and should be advising Thorn. I also think he has been harshly criticised in relation to his inability to change things. We have to take into account not only the fact we have a small squad which lacks quality but that when we have had players on the bench who may be able to change things, they have been injured and not really fit enough to play.
In terms of his portrayal of himself he doesn’t sound like the smartest guy but you don’t need to be the smartest guy to be successful in football. We have to keep remembering that he is still learning, as are the majority of the SkyBlues squad. He clearly has the backing of the players who have given him their all and more since he has been in charge and surely that is the important thing.
They believe in his ability and the fact that the two best clubs in England allowed for two of their youngsters to come on loan to us means they must have at least some faith in Thorn’s ability which has to count for something.
Personally I think given the financial situation we are in we should stick with Thorn and I think given a little bit of backing from the owners along with an attempt to keep some of our more important players we can have a real go next year. He along with the young players have had a valuable seasons experience in the championship and both will have learnt from their mistakes and I think we will come back much stronger for it next season