WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - The last time Coventry City graced the Premier League - The Coventry Observer

WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - The last time Coventry City graced the Premier League

Coventry Editorial 22nd May, 2023 Updated: 22nd May, 2023   0

ON THE eve of the 2000/01 season, Coventry City were looking forward to a 34th successive campaign in the top flight of English football.

However, that season would prove to be Coventry’s last in the Premier League for more than two decades.

In the transfer window, the ill-fated sale of star striker Robbie Keane to Italian giants Inter Milan was offset by the signing of Craig Bellamy for a club record £6.5 million fee from Norwich City.

However, Bellamy scored just six league goals in 34 appearances to finish as the club’s joint-top goalscorer that season along with John Hartson and Mustapha Hadji.

Coventry made a promising start to the campaign as Gordon Strachan’s side put their opening day defeat at Middlesbrough behind them with away wins at Southampton and Manchester City.

However, the Sky Blues managed just one win in their next 14 league matches before a 2-1 defeat at lowly Bradford City saw them drop into the relegation zone at the start of December.

Following the defeat at Bradford, City’s form picked up as crucial wins against Leicester City and Everton briefly lifted the club out of the bottom three heading into the New Year.

However, City’s much-needed late win at Everton on Boxing Day would prove to be their last until the end of March as Coventry dropped to 19th in the table following a run of 10 games without a victory.

Coventry kept their faint survival hopes alive with three wins in four games between March and April as February signing Hartson inspired City to victories against Derby County, Leicester City and Sunderland.

A late home defeat against Liverpool left Coventry on the brink of relegation from the top flight for the first time in the club’s history with City having remained in the top league since they were promoted into the division in 1966/67.

And the club’s fate was sealed on May 5, 2001, when the Sky Blues surrendered a two-goal lead at Villa Park as Juan Pablo Angel and Paul Merson struck late on to complete a dramatic turnaround.

City’s final match of the season would prove to be the last Premier League game ever played at Highfield Road.

Coventry and Bradford played out a goalless draw in front of just over 20,000 supporters with both clubs relegated from the division along with present day champions Man City.

Manchester United secured a seventh Premier League title ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool who all secured Champions League qualification.

And Leeds United, Ipswich Town and Chelsea qualified for the UEFA Cup with Aston Villa and Newcastle United to enter the Intertoto Cup.

The Sky Blues picked up just 34 points from their 38 matches to finish eight points from safety in what remains the club’s last season in the top flight to date.

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