Analysis: Nice guy Danny Coyne has re-energised Shrewsbury Town
Well, that was fun wasn’t it?
A re-energised, reinvigorated Montgomery Waters Meadow had fresh life swept through the stands and the pitch as Danny Coyne’s Shrewsbury Town showed superb mental strength to win from behind.
But it wasn’t necessarily the superb turnaround victory against a tidy if leaky Rochdale side that had raised the spirits – there was just a different feel inside the place from the off.
There seemed more of a willingness for Town to do well. That feels a strange thing to type, but there felt like more of a backing for the men in the dugout, something John Askey & Co had definitely lost (from a section of fans) towards the end of their tenure.
It wasn’t the perfect performance but it was a perfect win. The rollercoaster style encounter got Town fans going and increased the drama.
Coyne said himself the two goals his side conceded were ‘awful’. Town were less defensively assured than they have been for the most this season.
But, to be honest, it didn’t matter.
Goalkeeper coaches are seldom loved as much as Coyne is in Shropshire.
His five years plus at the club mean he is a character fans can relate to. A guy that supporters are familiar and confident with.
The loving between the stands and the players and management at full-time was telling. Positivity was palpable.
On top of that he is a lovely man – but nice guys don’t always get it their way, as Askey found.
Coyne and academy boss Eric Ramsay, helped by Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy win at Crewe, have quickly given a feel of organisation and control amid the state of limbo that is a managerial appointment.
Things didn’t work out for Coyne two years ago and it was hard for him, as well as the club’s hierarchy.
But the position is so different this time around. Coyne was more prepared, he has more assistance, and above all a better squad.
Fans know this, they were right behind Coyne taking on the baton for the interim period, but wins have undoubtedly helped no end.
The former Wales international shot-stopper doesn’t want the job and won’t be Shrewsbury’s next manager – despite the number of calls from supporters – but he is doing a superb job of ‘leaving things in good hands’, as he puts it, for Askey’s replacement.
The next incumbent in charge of Salop will find himself with a more-than-decent League One side on his hands. A side in 16th (far from cut adrift and three points from 12th), and a team – ignoring Wednesday’s Salford replay – still in two cup competitions.
It’s a team that should be nowhere near the bottom four and that is credit to the players Askey assembled.
Two of his summer signings, Ollie Norburn and Fejiri Okenabirhie, scored Town’s goals.
His shortcomings were that, 17 league games in, he couldn’t build up a run to take them away.
But the positive feel around the Meadow felt like a breath of fresh air. There was a better atmosphere before kick-off. It was probably best described as feeling like a weight had been lifted.
The afternoon could’ve been a lot easy and less eventful for Coyne and Ramsay had Aaron Amadi-Holloway not spurned a gilt-edged opening after 90 seconds.
That strikers Amadi-Holloway and Okenabirhie, who started together, went into the game without a league goal between them said a lot.
Town didn’t quite build on their lively start. They looked the better side but Rochdale stood firm until Norburn’s opener from the spot.
Keith Hill’s Dale are a decent attacking side and are always likely to threaten. The timing of their equaliser, on the stroke of half-time, was not ideal.
But credit Shrewsbury’s players and supporters because it did not deter them.
Coyne’s men started the second half the brighter team but found themselves behind on the hour.
Again, you wouldn’t have known it. There was no moping around, no angst or anguish from the stands. They merely went again and were back on top.
Okenabirhie’s goal, his first in the Football League, was a great moment and should get him up and running. He could be a real find for Shrewsbury, his pace, energy and directness is a real asset.
Town didn’t settle, they went for the kill and Norburn’s winner was a reward for belief and a real resurgence.
The entire game felt like chalk and cheese to Askey’s final match in charge, the 1-1 FA Cup draw with National League Salford six days prior. On that day there felt like no intent, no belief and no cutting edge. On Saturday those three were with Town by the bucket load.
There hunt for a new boss at Montgomery Waters Meadow goes on.
Newport’s Michael Flynn said he was ‘flattered’ by the links but insisted on no contact last Thursday, Wrexham boss Sam Ricketts did the same on Saturday.
The search looks to be rumbling on, but one thing Coyne and Ramsay’s fine work with the team is doing is buying Shrewsbury time.
Chairman Roland Wycherley and chief executive Brian Caldwell are safe in the knowledge that, while they deliberate, the squad is being led in the right direction.
That is such a boost. Last time Coyne was in a post, as Town slumped to a third and fourth defeat, calls from the stands were aimed to the board, telling them – in no uncertain terms – to hurry up.
This time there feels no need to rush. Yes the appointment needs to be swift, but the club can bide their time to make the right call.
Coyne can do a fine job. If he is in the role for Salford, and Wycombe on Saturday, and Plymouth next Tuesday, then so be it. Because he is making Town tick.