Coventry’s Gould reign is nearly ended by QPR – History

We reflect on a 5-1 victory over the Sky Blues in 1993 that ended Bobby Gould’s second tenure at Highfield Road before Coventry City travels to Loftus Road on Saturday.

Saturday, October 23, 1993, Premier League: QPR 5, Coventry 1.

Bobby Gould spent a total of two months at Queens Park Rangers in December and January of 1990 during his roving playing and coaching career, which lasted from 1963 to 2012. However, it is a spell that has become part of Rangers history and is still talked about in the area of Loftus Road today.

During his previous managerial tenure at underdog Wimbledon, Gould had won the FA Cup and led his team to finishes of sixth and seventh in the First Division. Don Howe had been his assistant at Plough Lane for a significant chunk of that time, therefore his move to Loftus Road represented somewhat of a role reversal with Howe now serving as the main figurehead for Rangers following the miserable, fruitless, and thankfully brief reign of terror of Trevor Francis.

However, Howe’s potential young team was severely hindered by a biblical injury list, with the absence of centre backs Alan McDonald, Danny Maddix, and Paul Parker all at once being one of the major problems. Only a last-minute 3-2 home victory over fellow bottom-dwellers Sunderland could break their eight-game losing streak during the autumn. That victory was promptly followed by three more losses and a tie.

It was primarily thanks to Gould’s emergency winter recruitment push and his in-depth understanding of the lesser levels that Howe was able to guide the squad through a successful second half of the season with only one loss and eight victories out of 13 games. Both Darren Peacock and Rufus Brevett, who came from Doncaster and Hereford, respectively, would develop into Rangers mainstays for years to come. While not quite as effective, Andy Tillson was nonetheless a highly reliable addition from Grimsby Town. It helped QPR avoid danger with ease, record their first-ever league victory away at Liverpool (3-1) and go on to defeat title contenders Man Utd and Leeds 4-1 the following year.

After a few months, Gould left to become the manager of West Brom. He later returned to Coventry City, where he had begun his playing career in the 1960s and scored 40 goals in 82 league games while a teen, for a second term as manager in 1992. He had the Sky Blues fourth in the first Premier League in 1992–93 up until January before a late-season slump to fifteenth, but it didn’t seem to have carried over too severely into the next season as they defeated Arsenal 3-0 on the opening day with a hat trick from Micky Quinn. In reality, City started the season with eight straight victories in the league, including a 1-0 victory over Liverpool

Although there were five draws among the contests, the team eventually won 1-0.

Midway through September, a terrible streak began with losses to Leeds at home (2-0), Norwich (1-0), and lower league Wycombe (4-2) in the League Cup. Before they arrived to Loftus Road, the ship was partially stabilized with a 1-1 draw against Southampton at home. Despite losing their opening two games of the 1993–94 season badly to Villa and Liverpool, Gerry Francis’ club, led by youthful Les Ferdinand, had finished fifth in the inaugural Premier League. They were already in position to at least replicate that performance. At 4-0, West Ham had been defeated.

The week before the Sky Blues’ visit, Ferdinand had been in unstoppable form for a 2-1 away victory against Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, with Jan Stejskal saving a penalty with the last kick of the game at St James’ Park. Upton Park, Ipswich, and Loftus Road were all destroyed 3-0. The Coventry match would be one of five straight league and cup victories.

How, too. Rangers surprised everyone by attacking the Loft End in the first half and lost no time in putting the guests to shame. After 15 minutes, Ferdinand received a long ball from Alan McDonald and instead of taking a touch, drawing the goalkeeper, or doing anything else, he just casually sent his boot through a wonderfully placed first-timer into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.

On the half-hour mark, that advantage was extended when Simon Barker skillfully flicked Bradley Allen into the left channel, where he hit the opposite corner to Ferdinand with a customarily precise finish. Ferdinand had recovered the initial ball following a Stejskal clearance.

The third goal came in stoppage time of the first half and was all about the same kind of searching ball behind a defense that Ray Wilkins made a specialty of when playing for Rangers. This one forced Jonathan Gould’s son out of goal to engage Phil Babb in a collision, which caused the ball to squirt out to Allen, who hardly missed an open goal from 12 yards. A fast free kick was sent up for Ferdinand to nudge toward Andy Impey, who expertly finished into the bottom corner from just inside the box. Wilkins repeated the maneuver in the second half with the same intent.

From the Coventry bench, there was a glimpse of Roy Wegerle in his later years, and Peter Ndlovu took advantage of a team disaster that David Bardsley, Darren Peacock, and Jan Stejskal were all a part of to make it 4-1. However, Ferdinand immediately hit the bar with another header after receiving an outside-of-the-boot pass from Ray Wilkins, and Simon Barker quickly followed for an unavoidable fifth.

At full time, Gould resigned while in the tunnel. He told the assembled reporters, “Gentlemen, this will be short and sweet.” “I just announced my resignation to the chairman and the players. All I will say is that a statement will be made on Monday.

For that QPR team, there were still some special moments to come. Soon after, Allen scored a hat trick in a 3-0 victory at Everton, and the crowd was uplifted by further memorable away performances at Coventry (1-0, Devon White), Ipswich (3-1, Wilkins masterclass), Norwich (4-3, Bruno, Bruno), and Spurs (2-1, a double from Sinclair). However, it unable to live up to its potential, finishing the season in ninth place while having the opportunity to finish sixth and qualify for Europe with four more wins. A wave of anti-Richard Thompson protests and pitch invasions at home games resulted from Darren Peacock’s sale to Newcastle two thirds of the way through, when it seemed likely that he would win player of the year, and Rangers would only win one game

Two-thirds of the way through, with the player of the year award probably headed his way, sparked a flurry of anti-Richard Thompson protests and pitch invasions at home games, and Rangers would go on to win just two of their remaining 11 home games. This stretch was highlighted most egregiously by a 3-1 home loss to whipping boys Swindon, their only away win the entire season.

With the kind of late flurry of results that became a trademark of theirs, and Southampton’s, around this time—Norwich, Ipswich, Spurs, Blackburn, and Chelsea—they were able to climb out of relegation trouble into an eleventh-place finish. Gould, who later had a witty run as Wales manager (“let’s circle”), was replaced at Highfield Road.

In their final nine games, Sheff Wed, Everton, and Man Utd were all defeated while remaining tied.

Stejskal, Bardsley, McDonald, Peacock, Wilson, Impey (Holloway, 86), Wilkins, Barker, Sinclair, Allen, Ferdinand are the QPR starters.

Ferdinand, 15, Allen, 30, 45, Impey, 74, and Barker score goals.

Boland (Williams 73), McGrath, Flynn, Ndlovu, Quinn, and Jenkinson (Wegerle 60) are the players for Coventry.

Attempts: 75 Ndlovu

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