sport

Mac: Ricoh return a platform

Gary McAllister believes Coventry's Ricoh return can give them a platform for a Barclays Premier League comeback.

The former Sky Blues manager wants the club to unite ahead of their homecoming against Gillingham on Friday.

It will end a 13-month exile in Northampton after a rent dispute with the stadium's owners, Arena Coventry Limited, saw them to play 35 miles away.

But McAllister, who also made 200 appearances for the club in two spells, reckons the return can provide a catalyst for success.

"It's a one-club city and they don't want to get ahead of themselves but Coventry have a proud history in the Premier League," he said.

"It was a club who were established in the Premier League, there were flirtations with relegation but they managed to stave it off until they went down (in 2001) I remember one particular escape at Tottenham (in 1997).

"I hope this pulls everyone together and I'm sure they will get some proper attendances now. There's a good hardcore fanbase in Coventry and they can use that to push back up to where they should be."

McAllister was boss at Highfield Road while plans for the Ricoh were put in place but left a year before they moved in during the 2005-06 season.

But he can recall the anticipation around the club as they prepared to move from their home of 106 years.

"It's been quite sad seeing the Sky Blues fans up on that bank at Sixfields. I was a fan of Highfield Road, I liked the atmosphere but it was an old stadium," said the ex-Leeds and Liverpool midfielder, who was in charge of Coventry between 2002 and 2004.

"It was exciting, Highfield Road had served them well but the club needed to move forwards yet it sent them into a downward spiral. With the way it was structured it became very messy and difficult to understand from the outside.

"I'd gone by the time the team went there but I've been invited back and it's a magnificent stadium.

"I know how passionate the Coventry fans are and I had good years there, we had a fantastic side which played nice football and it's good too see they are home."

The Sky Blues are 15th in Sky Bet League One after finishing 18th last season, following a 10 point deduction for exiting administration without agreeing a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

Pressley had been heavily linked with the Huddersfield job before Chris Powell was appointed and McAllister knows his fellow Scot has not gone unnoticed.

"It's no surprise when a job comes up Steven's name is mentioned and that's going to continue to happen," he said.

"People are aware of what he's done under very difficult circumstances."

And former Highfield Road favourite Darren Huckerby agreed.

Huckerby, who made 109 appearances and scored 34 goals during three years with the Sky Blues, also feels they must escape the third tier.

"The manger has done a good job under difficult circumstances and a lot would not have had it," said the 38-year-old.

"They have to try to get out of League One and back into the Championship because a club of their stature and history should not be knocking around League One.

"And bringing players in now will be move attractive. I don't know what their financial situation is, I'm sure they will be reserved, but showing players around the Ricoh is better than 35 miles away.

"I'd like to think it shouldn't have got to that stage but everyone stuck to their guns

"A club of Coventry's size should not be messing about at other people's stadiums."