Steve Cotterill appointed at Shrewsbury Town: The expert take on the new Shrews boss

Shrewsbury Town have moved quickly to appoint Steve Cotterill as boss, following Sam Ricketts' sacking earlier this week - get the inside track on the new man at the helm here.

Steve Cotterill
Steve Cotterill

We spoke with Paul Binning, Bristol City writer, and Stanley Hughes from the One Stream in Bristol podcast, to get a proper look at the former Birmingham City and Bristol City boss.

See what they had to say here.

What kind of football can Shrewsbury Town fans expect to see under Steve Cotterill?

PB: It'll be committed and intense, that's for sure. He's a bit of an old school manager in that sense and gets every ounce out.

He came to City with a reputation (maybe unfairly) as being a long-ball merchant, being ex-Wimbledon probably influences that thinking.

But whether that's inaccurate or whether he just had the players at City to do something different, we played with real style, sweeping forward at pace, equally capable of counter-attacking and dominating possession and, for most of the period he was with us, it was a delight to watch.

Steve Cotterill

SH: Hardworking, frantic, open attacking football was what Bristol City fans witnessed for the majority of SC’s tenure.

Very fluid movement with all sorts of players getting on the scoresheet and impacting the game up the match.

The team all worked as one and would often press from the front and win the ball back high up. If fans were back in the stadium like normal then I’m sure you’d be getting off your seats.

How successful was Cotterill?

PB: He delievered our best ever season by some reckoning.

He came in halfway through a season with us 23rd in League One and led us to comfortable mid-table safety.

Then we signed seven players that summer who all had a specific purpose and role within the team style he had set up, they all played 35+ games and we went on to win the league at a canter, doubling up with the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

He told the players at the start of the season he expected to win the league, that they would win the league, and we were top from start to finish. One insight into his character though is that he was irritated by only getting to 99 points and not reaching 100...

However, the following season we struggled in the summer transfer market, spending too long chasing names that were probably beyond us (Andre Gray, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire and more) and ended up not really strengthening at all.

He stuck rigidly to the system and style we'd been promoted through - understandably perhaps - but it wasn't producing results.

He started firing off comments about not being backed, not having the players he needed, ended one home game visibly arguing with a fan as we walked off, and his days were numbered.

Steve Cotterill (AMA)

SH: Incredibly successful. When he took over you would have struggled to find any Bristol City fan who wasn’t totally disenchanted with the football we were witnessing.

He immediately turned the ship around and ended the season looking as good as anyone else in the division. His first full season with us will live long in the memory of us all. To win our first league title for 60 odd years and make it a double with the Football League Trophy was nothing short of amazing.

I guarantee that the majority of Bristol City fans may not have experienced a more enjoyable campaign. Unfortunately it never really kicked on in the Championship.

Perhaps woeful summer of recruitment was to blame but nonetheless we struggled and the writing was on the wall perhaps. Many City fans, myself included, feel he should have been given more time.

Did you see a fairly standard formation from him?

PB: Yes, he wanted a 3-5-2 and credits himself (he does this a lot) with almost being the forerunner of Sheffield United's over-lapping centre-backs, and to be fair in Luke Ayling and Derrick Williams within the back three, they spent as much time attackking as defending sometimes.

He brought in players to suit that system - Aden Flint as the defensive fulcrum, Marlon Pack and Korey Smith to anchor midfield and allow the flying wingbacks as much freedom as they wanted.

It worked sensationally in League One and the flexibility he allowed within it meant we saw some great football.

SH: Yes. 352 no matter what.

Think Sheffield United under Wilder. Maybe he nicked that from Cotterill…

In all seriousness it worked wonders for us, the wingbacks need to be physical and very fit for it to work. We had wide centre backs who were brilliant on the ball too, I’m sure SC will recruit well for that formation if he brings it back.

He played two hard working midfielders just behind a playmaker.

Did it take him long to settle in, when he joined the club?

PB: Not at all. As outlined above he had the nucleus of a good side there already, and he seemed to quickly understand what was needed to start getting results.

It only went one way for the first 18 months.

Steve Cotterill

SH: No. He was a breath of fresh air. From his first press conference he had the fans in the palm of his hand.

I feel there are similarities between him and Dean Holden. Two very straight-talking football fans who talk about the game the way supporters love.

We started winning pretty soon into his tenure and that always helps the fans get used to him.

How did fans take to Cotterill?

PB: Initially there was apprehension due to that reputaion for long-ball football, and a concern he wasn't the quality we needed to get us back up, but he very quickly turned fortunes around on the pitch and in doing so, with the success we had, has turned himself into a club legend.

He still lives locally, he regularly attends games and always gets a warm reception from fans - although the club's marketing department appear to have been told to airbrush him from history, which will tell you all you need to about his abrasive style and the relationships he clearly doesn't have with senior club officials!

SH: They loved him. The majority of the fan base will always hold him in supreme regard. He annoyed me a little nearer to the end of his reign.

Can be a bit tasty with the press on occasion. I also never felt that he gave our youngsters enough of a chance.

How do you expect him to fare at Shrewsbury Town? Do you think he'll be a success?

PB: Expect fireworks. He does things his way and doesn't like anyone who suggests otherwise. If he does well you'll love his interviews and style, he'll make you all feel a part of it, but if it doesn't he can appear to sulk and divert attention from himself.

Depending what set up you've got don't expect lots of youngsters to play - rumours are he only ever watched our under 23's side once in over two years with us, although he'll claim at least three names that he "brought through", the truth is somewhat blurred.

He's clearly got an eye for a player. That summer before we went up he signed Luke Freeman, Luke Ayling, Derrick Williams and Korey Smith amongst others, all of whom have had a great career at a higher level. We also brought in Matt Smith and James Tavernier on loan who were both a tremendous success and again have gone on to do well at a higher standard.

I don't think you could have got a better appointment given where you are, if I'm honest. He's proven, will be fired up to re-prove himself after a few years waiting for a Championship job to come his way and will not be found wanting for effort and hard work. I think it's safe to say everyone at Bristol City will be watching closely, with interest, and mostly hoping he does really well.

SH: I believe you guys have been playing a similar formation to the one SC used with us so perhaps you will have the right players for that system!

I hope he is a success, you can tell he wants it just as much as any manager.

It seems like Shrewsbury have a passionate fanbase and he knows how to whip fans up as good as anyone.

Perhaps it’ll be a perfect match and we can welcome him back to Ashton Gate at some point in the future!

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