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Steve Coppell

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 07/09/1955


Born in Liverpool on 9 July 1955, Coppell was one of the most talented wide players in the 1970s and early 1980s until his playing career was cruelly cut short by a knee injury.

He started out as a professional footballer with the Wirral-based outfit Tranmere Rovers, where the young winger managed to bag 10 goals in 38 appearances. After spending just under two years at Prenton Park, Coppell attracted the interest of Manchester United.

He joined United in February 1975 and helped their push for promotion to the then First Division. His career at Old Trafford saw him win the FA Cup in 1977, when United beat Liverpool. He also represented United in two other FA Cup finals in the '70s, playing against Southampton in 1976 and Arsenal in 1979. Steve scored 54 goals in 322 appearances for United and during his career at Old Trafford, he made 42 appearances for the full England team.

After injury cut his playing career short, Steve moved into management with Crystal Palace, and guided the Eagles back to the top flight in 1989 after the South London club had dropped into the second tier under Alan Mullery.

Coppell also led Palace to an FA cup final appearance in 1990, against the club he represented three times in the most prestigious fixture in English football. Having beaten Liverpool 4-3 in a classic semi-final, Palace took Manchester United to a reply, where they lost 1-0. A side containing Mark Bright, Ian Wright, Nigel Martyn, John Salako and Reading manager Alan Pardew lost to Alex Ferguson's men, as Coppell's counterpart picked up his first trophy in English football.

The 1990s were not an easy time for Coppell in management. He spent two years at Palace in a senior role while Alan Smith took over in his first spell as team manager between 1993 and 1995. Coppell took on the role of team manager again in 1995-96, but he relinquished the position once more at the end of the season.

In 1996-97, a departure from his otherwise London-based managerial career came when he took the role of manager of Manchester City. Coppell became City's third manager of that season, in which five men took charge of the team in one capacity or another. His short tenure ended in resignation and he returned to Crystal Palace early in the 1997-98 season.

He remained at the club while Attilio Lombardo and Terry Venables had spells as team manager and head coach but he returned to the role of team manager at Selhurst Park for a fourth spell in 1999, until Alan Smith took over once again in the early part of the 2000-2001 season when Simon Jordan became the new owner of Crystal Palace.

In May 2001, the former Crystal Palace owner Ron Noades took Steve on as the team manager at Brentford, the club he had bought after selling The Eagles. It was the fourth time Noades had appointed Coppell to a managerial post.

It looked to be an inspired appointment, as Coppell - on a severely limited budget - led Brentford on a charge for promotion in Division Two.

The Bees were chasing Brighton and Reading for an automatic promotion place and, eventually, faced The Royals on the final day of the season needing a victory to snatch the runners-up spot. Despite taking the lead, a late equaliser for Reading - managed by Coppell's former Palace player Alan Pardew - condemned Brentford to the play-offs. They beat Huddersfield in the semi-finals, but lost to Stoke in the final at Cardiff.

Coppell resigned as manager less than a month later, on June 5 2002, after 13 months in the position having been given no assurances about his future at Griffin Park while chairman Ron Noades appeared ready to sell the club after a period of financial difficulty.

Steve was strongly fancied to be appointed to succeed Peter Taylor as the new manager of Brighton and Hove Albion, who finished the season as Division Two champions to secure their second successive promotion. Despite a lengthy interview with Seagulls chairman Dick Knight that summer, Coppell was not given the job as Albion chose to promote from within and give Martin Hinshelwood his first chance as a manager. However, twelve games into the season Coppell received a call from Knight and was offered the managerial post, which he duly accepted, signing a one-year deal with the club on October 7, 2002.

With Brighton cast adrift at the bottom of Division One after a ten-game losing streak, Coppell faced what seemed an impossible task in what would prove to be an arduous battle against relegation.

It was a fight that they took all the way to the final game of the season, when a 2-2 against already-relegated Grimsby was not enough to save them.

Despite their relegation, Steve agreed to another one-year deal to stay with the club in the summer of 2003 .

"My only area of concern is perhaps the high expectations level," he said. "I'm determined to do the best I can to get the club promoted but it's going to be a testing time with the psychological fall out of the First Division"

But, he added: "Our target has got to be promotion. They will be 100% focused on that, there will be no recriminations, no 'what might have beens', it'll be all guns blazing and looking forward."

Brighton certainly made a promising start to the 2003/04 season, and were at the top of Division Two when Coppell left the club to become the new manager of Reading following the departure of Alan Pardew to take charge of West Ham.

Although The Royals initially approached Peter Taylor to discuss the vacant position at the Madejski Stadium, the ex-England under-21 coach chose to remain with Hull, and Brighton chairman Dick Knight gave the First Division club permission to speak to his manager.

Coppell felt it was an opportunity he could not pass up and admitted after his switch was confirmed on October 9th 2003: "I am excited by the prospect of taking Reading forward, but anxious about the responsibility.

"I am also sad to leave Brighton. It's such a good club, so I have mixed emotions. But once I start to work with the players I will put the blinkers on."

He took charge of Reading with the club lying 12th in Division One, following an excellent start to the season that was followed by a less successful spell after Pardew's acrimonious exit.

Reproduced under permission from the League Managers Association.
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