Shrewsbury are currently being managed from the hospital bed of Steve Cotterill. After an initial spell in hospital with Covod-19, he was readmitted with pneumonia. His pre-match and half time talks are delivered remotely.
At Rochdale on Tuesday night, Shrewsbury improved after the break and won thanks to two goals of varying style: the first after some patient build-up which resulted in right wing-back Joshua Daniels arriving at the far post, “where he was told to be” by Cotterill. The second involved a counter-attacking move and a cool finish from Josh Vela. “The gaffer got his team talk spot on at half-time,” assistant manager Aaron Wilbraham concluded.
Cotterill became more involved in the second half. “It varies from game to game and it depends how it’s going,” Wilbraham explained. “Watching on the TV, he can see things that we can’t see from pitchside. He’s still the manager and makes all of the decisions: the shape of the team, team selection and the substitutions, as well as training.”
Cotterill’s managerial career in England began at Cheltenham 24 years ago. Michael Duff was a player in that team and last year, from his position as the current manager, he told The Athletic that the team’s rise out of non-League would not have been possible without Cotterill. “The driving force behind promotion was Steve,” Duff said. “He was intense, fiery and he got the best out of the players. It was his attention to detail and him being a Cheltenham man — his stature in the town will always be legendary.”
Between Cheltenham and Shrewsbury, Cotterill took charge of seven clubs, most of them in the Championship. While the best of those spells was at Bristol City with Wilbraham, his experiences at Portsmouth, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City counted for more when Shrews chairman Roland Wycherley came to consider his options because each of those clubs were in distressed states and Shrewsbury were facing relegation
Officially, Cotterill has been in charge of 21 games but only nine of those have been in person. There is no expectation from inside the club that he’ll return to full-time work this season but it sounds as though nobody will be able to stop him from operating remotely. For the time being, this is his new normal.