Bobby Gould

Bobby Gould

Coventry-born Gould is one of only three men to have managed Coventry City for two separate spells - Harry Storer and Billy Frith being the others. Both Gould's reigns were short lived and ultimately his fan-like devotion for the club and talent-spotting ability was insufficient to make him a success in the job.

 

Bobby was born in 1946 and joined Coventry City in 1962 after starring for Coventry Schools. With his bustling, brave style the young forward quickly made an impression on manager Jimmy Hill and was given a debut at the age of 17. He had to wait however, until the departure of the fan’s hero, George Hudson, in 1966 to win a regular place in the side. Many supporters made the mistake of comparing him with Hudson and he took some severe barracking from the crowd.

In the 1966-67 season however he confounded his critics by topping the Second Division goalscorers with 24 goals as City won the championship.Injury restricted his appearances the following season but eight goals in 14 games convinced Arsenal manager Bertie Mee to pay City £90,000 for his services in January 1968.

In two and a half seasons at Arsenal he struggled but did make a Wembley appearance in the 1969 League Cup final when the Gunners were sensationally beaten by Swindon. Spells at Wolves, West Brom, Bristol City, West Ham, Wolves (again), Bristol Rovers and Hereford followed as the nomadic striker failed to settle in one place for long.

His managerial career followed a similar pattern. After coaching posts at Charlton, Aldershot, Wimbledon and Chelsea, Gould made a mark in his first managerial position, at Bristol Rovers, between 1981 and 1983. It was enough to convince City’s temporary chairman, Iain Jamieson, that he was the man to replace Dave Sexton.

He arrived to discover that eight first team players, including Gary Gillespie, Danny Thomas and Mark Hateley, were out of contract and had no desire to stay at Coventry. Gould quickly had to rebuild the side by recruiting a combination of lower division players and First Division reserves and cast-offs. Some of his signings were naïve and failed, for example Raddy Avramovic and Ashley Grimes, others were of a short-term nature, like Sam Allardyce and Bob Latchford, but most were inspired.

In total Gould bought 25 players in 18 months. Trevor Peake, Terry Gibson, Michael Gynn, Dave Bennett and Stuart Pearce were all bargains and the following season he followed them with Steve Ogrizovic, Cyrille Regis and Brian Kilcline.By December 1983 City were fourth in the table but a disastrous run in the New Year left City needing to win their final game to stay up.

The following season, despite the new recruits, started badly. An embarrassing League Cup exit to Walsall and some poor league results left City in 21st place at Christmas. Gould was sacked and replaced by his assistant Don Mackay.

His legacy however came to fruition two years later when under George Curtis and John Sillett .Coventry won the FA Cup with a side largely consisting of Gould signings. Gould went back to manage Bristol Rovers again but returned to Division 1 with Wimbledon in 1987, with whom he won the FA Cup the following year.

Two more successful years were followed by a period of advising QPR until he joined West Brom. He failed to stop West Brom's relegation to Division 3 in 1991 and after looking certain to bounce straight back the following season they blew up in the final straight and Gould, unpopular with the long-suffering Baggies fans because of his long-ball tactics, was sacked.

As one door closed at the Hawthorns, another reopened at Highfield Road, and in May 1992, after another close shave with relegation, chairman Peter Robins invited Bobby back. Originally it was to be in tandem with Don Howe but Howe turned down the offer, because of “traveling problems”, and Phil Neal became Gould's assistant.

In a mini-repeat of 1983 Gould swooped to sign lower division players such as Phil Babb, John Williams and his own son, Jonathan. His team got off to a dream start and were the first leaders of the new Premier League. Mick Quinn, an inspired signing at £250,000, perked up the attack and City stayed in the top six well into March. Despite a tailing-off which saw them finish 15th the season was, by Coventry standards, a success.

The 1993-94 season saw City have their best start since 1937 but behind the scenes financial pressures were increasing. Gould had been forced to sell Robert Rosario and Kevin Gallacher earlier in the year and rumours abounded of other economies and unrest at the club.

It all came to a head after a 1-5 defeat at QPR in October. Gould announced his resignation but the reasons were hard to fathom. He appeared to accuse new chairman Bryan Richardson of forcing him to sell Peter Ndlovu, but the player was not sold and the chairman claimed that the decision was ‘stress related’. A week of claim and counter-claim and rumours of a Gould-backed consortium taking over ensued but the whole episode was quickly forgotten.

Since then Bobby has managed Wales for a period and last summer left Cardiff where he had been Director of Football