Sacked. Walked. Sacked. Aidy Boothroyd`s C.V. is fast becoming a sporting version of the old schoolyard mnemonic about Henry Viii and his six wives. But Boothroyd`s not the Messiah. For now, he`s a very naughty boy.
The Yorkshireman re-emerged on football management`s Labour Exchange seven days ago, his name added to the running-total of 36 changes made in England since August 2010. He was unceremoniously fired by Championship Coventry City for amassing just one win in the club`s previous sixteen matches. Was it deserved? These facts say yes: peaking at fourth place this season, Boothroyd left the Sky Blues last week in perilously placed nineteenth.
Some Coventry supporters, however, are defending Boothroyd, even if his playing tactics invite headlines about sending football back to the Dark Ages. Fans instead criticise the board of directors, citing a lack of substantial squad investment as the overwhelming reason why their early running was not sustained. Only merge money was outlaid last summer, typically on those with lower-level league experience, for example, through additions like Richard Keogh and Clive Platt. This seemingly left City followers destined to hear their leader`s famously clichéd reassurances about either “being a work in progress” or a built-whist-moving “aeroplane in the sky.” Charm offensive, or just plain offensive?
As an often self-anointed man of miracles, he was feted upon appointment last May, despite deploying infamously direct football, thanks to a previous promotion-winning and Cup upsetting-causing record at Watford. For a while, it worked here, too. Come November, City sitting in forth, Boothroyd had presumably won over the doubters. Stories of innovation – such as asking the side`s own scouts to watch his team and report back on weaknesses – and possible rejuvenation (Marlon King`s transfer) followed. But the long-ball approach was not to be his salvation.
It instead became a crucifying rod for his own back – again – just as it had done during a nine-month stay with Colchester United. Upon arrival Boothroyd imported his route one style in Essex, also grandly pledging loyalty in contrast to Norwich defector Paul Lambert by saying he`d only quit if ‘Manchester United came in for me tomorrow.’ It`s not a dishonest assessment to call the former Leeds and Norwich youth coach a hired gun – one that nearly went off in U`s owner Robbie Cowling`s face when the U`s initial challenge for honours wavered. Boothroyd actually took United out of League One`s top six, where they were cemented until springtime.
In spite of the negative football, poor results and critical response from the stands, Boothroyd`s side limped over the line last season, achieving United`s fourth-highest ever finish amid a depressing run of six wins in 24 matches after Christmas. The appearance of an apocalyptic-looking headline, ‘I`m here until I`m told different,` via local lines in April confirmed crowds were probably witnessing a man`s numbered days.
All told, Coventry`s chance call to Colchester from Chairman Ray Ranson, supposedly made while the rest of the board where on holiday, did the club a favour.
Now, as the Mail makes a mockery of the optimistic man`s initial seven-year career plan to become England manager, the rest of us presumably wonder who might want to employ Boothroyd next.
You trust, for his sake, that he still believes in himself and any remaining venerable publicity, if only because he still has age, plus now the mixed blessing of experience, on his side.
A currently tarnished name and record, damaged thanks to a combination of underachievement and shabby treatment, left Scott Murray of the Guardian asking almost rhetorically recently: “Is Aidy Boothroyd still officially a bright young hope?”
Answer: no. He faces some soul-searching, similar to that which befell Ian Holloway before he became Blackpool boss.
Holloway`s court jester reputation, he told his wife, needed toning down; he`d have to ditch the caper and get serious if he wanted future success. Net impact: Blackpool, still somewhat unbelievably, presently grace the Premier League.
Perhaps Boothroyd must ask equally awkward questions of himself, principally about tactics, especially if he really intends one day to challenge for the international job. He`s back to square one. But what of the route one strategy? Only time will tell.