Thursday, June 8, 2023

Boothroyd’s career takes another nosedive

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Championship 15 Mar 2011


Where did it all go wrong?

Another manager got sacked yesterday, but perhaps this one was not quite as surprising as some of the other sackings have been this season. Championship side Coventry City parted company with their manager Aidy Boothroyd.


A dismal run of just one win in sixteen games has seen Coventry slide down the table to nineteenth place, keeping a nervous eye on the drop zone just seven points below them.

Boothroyd has only been in the role since May last year, but early promise has fallen away and Coventry felt compelled to make a change. A short statement on the Coventry website read,

“We would like to place on record our thanks to Aidy and Martin (assistant manager Martin Pert) for their efforts.”


Although this is not a surprising decision, it is worth taking a look at how the career of a man, once dubbed the most exciting young manager in England, has been derailed quite so much at just the age of forty.

Boothroyd had an unspectacular playing career in the lower leagues before injury ended his playing days prematurely at the age of twenty-six. The club he was with at the time, Peterborough, gave him a role coaching youth teams and he impressed so much that he was taken on at Norwich to coach their youth team.

An impressive two years at Norwich saw him take the role of youth development and technical officer at West Brom, before becoming first team coach at Leeds in the Summer of 2004.


In the March of the next year Boothroyd was surprisingly named as manager of struggling Championship side Watford at the age of just thirty-four. That made him the youngest manager in the game at the time and Watford fans, me included, were less than thrilled with his appointment. However, he soon gained the respect of the fans by managing to avoid relegation against the odds.

Prior to the start of the 2005-06 season we all thought Boothroyd had gone certifiably mad when he said that Watford would get promotion to the Premier League. He proved us all wrong by leading the club to the promised land following a memorable 3-0 play-off win over Leeds in Cardiff. It was a remarkable performance and people in the game sat up and took notice of this brash young man who could do no wrong.

The Premier League proved too much for Watford and relegation followed immediately. Boothroyd was unlucky with injuries to key players like Marlon King, but he seemed to have no ‘plan B’ as his direct, long ball, get the ball in the box and see what happens, style of play proved to be totally ineffective against Premier League defences.


The next season in the Championship saw Watford start well and go nine points clear at the top, but a horrible second half of the season saw them only just cling on to a play-off place where Hull thrashed them in the semi-finals.

The next season started poorly and with the players and fans becoming increasingly upset at Boothroyd’s one dimensional style, he left the club in the November.

After being out of the game for nearly a year Boothroyd took over at League One Colchester United where he had an unremarkable spell of eight months in charge before moving to Coventry.

It is sad to see a young manager with so much early promise, fading away. I’m afraid that his brash style and unshakeable belief in the long ball are just not likely to succeed. I hope he can adapt his style because at forty he still has a lot to offer the game.


Graham Fisher



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