RUSSELL Slade has been appointed as Coventry City’s new team manager after a deal was concluded this afternoon, the Coventry Observer can exclusively reveal.
We revealed this morning the appointment was set to be completed, while advanced negotiations continued.
We can also reveal Slade beat other shortlisted candidates Gary Caldwell, the former Sky Blues player and ex-Wigan boss, and former Bury boss David Flitcroft.
Slade is set to be unveiled at a press conference at midday tomorrow.
The experienced 56-year-old former Leyton Orient, Cardiff City and Charlton Athletic boss takes over from caretaker manager Mark Venus with immediate effect, initially until the end of the season. Venus is set to continue in a role as a director.
Slade’s immediate task will be to avoid relegation, with Coventry now second from bottom in League One after six straight defeats.
We have also learned he will continue into the January transfer window and beyond with the same budget for players of between £2million and £2.5million – with the club seeking to balance the books and finish the job of eliminating annual losses.
Slade is particularly well respected at League One level and has a reputation for achievement on low budgets, which will suit Coventry City as a club without commercial stadium revenues, with the Ricoh Arena sold by the council and Higgs charity to rugby club Wasps in 2014.
He is regarded as an effective man manager and operator in the transfer market who never bought a player in four years at Leyton Orient, relying instead on free transfers.
Yet he took Orient to a League One play-off final at Wembley in 2013/4, when he won the LMA League One Manager of the Year award.
His team was strong and direct, and impressed Coventry City fans and officials in the two fixtures between the clubs that season.
He also took Orient to two seventh-place finishes, and an FA Cup fifth round replay against Arsenal.
He left Orient to step up to the Championship with Cardiff City, where in his two seasons there they finished 11th and 8th.
He then took a boardroom position as head of football at the Welsh side before being offered a job just two weeks later at Charlton Athletic in June this year.
In Charlton this season, he encountered a club mired in protests against the owners, so he will be on familiar territory at Coventry.
Ongoing protests are being orchestrated by current and former leaders of the Sky Blue Trust and associated groups, who for years have called for ‘fans’ ownership’.
It remains unclear how it could be achieved, with Coventry City parent company Sisu showing no sign of selling, there is no sign of a credible takeover bidder, and fans are divided over distress tactics including boycotting the club and last week’s pitch protest by a minority.
Slade was sacked by Charlton’s owner Roland Duchatelet on November 14, after signing a three-year contract in June following their relegation to League One.
They won only four games in 16 under his reign – including against Coventry in October when some of the two clubs’ fans staged joint protests – and were in 15th place, three points above the bottom four.
Venus replaced former Sky Blues’ boss Tony Mowbray in late September, when Mowbray resigned after ten league games without a win.
Despite an early turnaround in fortunes, Coventry City have slumped back into the relegation zone, and suffered a 4-0 FA Cup second round exit at Cambridge United.
Mark Venus said: “We are delighted to welcome Russell Slade to Coventry City as the Club’s new manager.
“We’re pleased to have secured the services of a highly-rated manager who has experience both at League One level and higher.
“Russell has been at football clubs in challenging circumstances before and has experience of steering them through to safety.
“The Club believe that Russell is the right man to take Coventry City forward and hope that everyone will give him their full support.”