columnist Steven Woodgate wonders if Steve Coppell can be the first
manager to achieve a hat-trick of Premier League promotions.
In a time that all current trigger-happy chairmen are stuck
in a persistent routine of dismissing Managers at their peril, it remains a
remarkable, even astonishing, that Steve Coppell remains the only man that has
a realistic opportunity of achieving a hat trick of promotions to the Premier
Normally with relegation the manager, more often or not,
receive their P45. It's a testament for Reading to keep utter faith in Coppell;
well the Royals would have been foolish to get rid of their most successful
manager in history.
While with Crystal Palace, Coppell won promotion in 1997
steering the Eagles through the playoffs for his first promotion. He then
masterminded the historic Reading record-breaking season in 2005 to give the
club their first taste of top-flight football for his second. Now he has the
opportunity to make history once again with his current Reading team for his
Obviously, being constantly in the top flight would be the
much greater reward but having the audacity to rebuild and supply a team that
can obtain promotion time after time is a talent in itself. Losing key players
then having the knowledge to replace those players with better ones is not a
task for the light-hearted.
At present, Coppell is in a select group of managers that
have achieved two Premier League Promotions but unfortunately, some of these
managers' potential and reward have never materialised. Some of these men find
it difficult to warrant a job and find it harder getting one, Reading kept
faith in Coppell and that has paid dividends this term but for other clubs this
has not been the case.
Bryan Robson won promotion twice with Middlesbrough in 94/95
and 97/98 where the directors kept much deserving faith in the ex-Manchester
United Captain. Ironically, he wouldn't have to win back promotion in 97/98 if
Middlesbrough had not suffered that three-point deduction for cancelling a
fixture at late notice but he suffered the fate of relegation.
But as Middlesbrough have kept their top flight status, Robson
hasn't. He could have achieved a third promotion with West Brom, but he wrecked
their chances with bad buy's and bad form, he soon left by ‘mutual consent'
after just eight games of which three he won. Robson's ill-fate spell with
Sheffield United did nothing to help his cause. He has been since chucked into
Kevin Keegan had the habit of taking big clubs back to the
top and he duly delivered this with Newcastle United and Manchester City in
92/93 and 01/02 respectively as they both saw a return of top flight football.
He could have easily made it a third if it was not for the public demand of the
England job. He succeeded Glenn Hoddle back in 1999 and Fulham, whom he managed
and built the foundations of, were promoted two seasons later under the
guidance of Jean Tigana.
Peter Reid won promotion twice with his beloved Black Cats.
Sunderland reached the top flight in 95/96 and 98/99 and Reid was so close to
making it three in the 97/98 season for only Michael Gray's saved penalty
resulting in Charlton Athletic to win the penalty shootout to win promotion but
Reid and Sunderland bounced back to win the division with a, then, record of
105 points. He was soon sacked and spells at Leeds United and Coventry City
never promised much.
Alan Curbishley twice steered Charlton Athletic to the
Premier League, one with that famous penalty shootout win against Reid's
Sunderland and one in 99/00. Curbishley will have to look for a Championship
club if you were to make it three after leaving West Ham United as finding a
job in the top division has been difficult. Surely, there are making takers in
Gary Megson took West Brom back to the top league on more
than one occasion; his first full season saw a defeat in the Semi-final stage
of the playoffs to the hands off Sam Allardyce's Bolton Wanderers but Megson
bounced back and won promotion in 01/02.
After being relegated the following season, Megson and West
Brom soon returned to the Premier League for the 04/05 season with the help of
newly installed Jeremy Peace's financial prudence. Megson is currently doing a
good job at Bolton, after ill spell times at Nottingham Forest and Leicester
City but doesn't look like adding to his two promotions at any time soon.
Steve Bruce took Birmingham City up twice in 01/02 and
06/07. Birmingham beat his old club Norwich City on penalties in the playoff
final to win promotion in 2002 and lasted until their relegation in 2006. Bruce
soon took his team back up in sluggish fashion as they finished second place to
Sunderland after Derby County's defeat at Crystal Palace in 2007.
Paul Jewell remains the last body of this list. He famously
won promotion with Bradford City back in 1999 before leading Wigan Athletic to
the top flight for the ever first time in their history in 2005. His third attempt
with Derby County did not go quite to plan as the team struggled immensely
throughout this season, Jewell was eventually replaced by Nigel Clough to
postpone his search of a ‘hat-trick' of promotions.
This season Mick McCarthy (Wolves), Dave Jones (Cardiff) and
Neil Warnock (Crystal Palace), all look to join this select group of men that
have achieved promotion twice.
Nevertheless, it leaves Steve
Coppell to become the first manager who can claim a third promotion to the
Promised Land. No mean feat indeed.