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Manager Coppell reaches milestone

Steve Coppell
Coppell guided Reading to the Premier League for the first time in 2006

Steve Coppell took charge of his 1000th game as a league manager when Reading played Doncaster on 17th March 2009.

Coppell began his managerial career at the young age of 28 in 1984 when he began the first of four stints at Crystal Palace.

"It's ridiculous, to be absolutely honest," he told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"There were various times during that first season where I would have very happily gone to prison rather than go to the training ground."

He added: "We finished seventh from bottom, which was the highest we'd been all season.

"It was the blind leading the blind, I didn't know what I was doing. I just wasn't prepared for it. It was a very lonely job."

After 20 seasons in club management Coppell admits he has witnessed a lot of changes in the game.

"When we go to away matches on the bus now I have 10 staff with me. When I went away with Palace, my kit-man was also the groundsman, I had my assistant Ian Evans and the physio, who was part-time and used to meet us at the ground.

"The three of us together were 'the staff', so times have definitely changed."

The year we got promoted was perceived to be my best year in management, but I probably did the least amount of work that season

Steve Coppell

Coppell is the sixth longest serving manager in England behind Premier League bosses Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes and lower league managers Graham Turner (Hereford) and John Coleman (Accrington Stanley).

But despite his wealth of experience Coppell insists he still does not get much job satisfaction.

"I don't think you do enjoy it. Once you're in the thick of a season, I genuinely don't think you enjoy it. I've always said that the drug that keeps you in management is the victory," he said.

Coppell joined Reading in October 2003, replacing his former Palace player Alan Pardew at the Madejski Stadium.

Six seasons later the Royals have been to the Premier League and back, amassing a record 106 points in their 2005/06 Championship winning season, but despite all his success Coppell knows that management remains a fickle business.

"Alex Ferguson said to me last year 'you get old very quickly when you haven't got a winning team, but when you have a winning team life is a breeze' and I can testify to that," he said.

The 1,000th club
Sir Alex Ferguson
Harry Redknapp
Neil Warnock
Sir Bobby Robson
Joe Royle
Brian Horton
Denis Smith
Lennie Lawrence
Dario Gradi
Alan Buckley
Dave Bassett
Graham Taylor
Jim Smith
Brian Clough
Sir Matt Busby
Alec Stock

from leaguemanagers.com

"The year we got promoted was perceived to be my best year in management, but I probably did the least amount of work of any year I've been in management that season."

But as Coppell takes stock of his long career on the eve of this milestone, what does he think is the key to his longevity?

"I think I've been able to do it because I have had breaks and a chance to look at how other people do the job," he explained.

"For me it's amazing that I've made 1000 games because, as I said, that first year I hated it."

Looking to the future, Coppell remains characteristically modest, adding: "I've always said I have no ambition in management other than to win the next game."

In managing 1000 games Coppell joins an illustrious list of managing greats including Sir Matt Busby, Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Overall he is the 17th manager to have reached the landmark.



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