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WHY I'VE TAKEN THE HIGHFIELD ROAD!; By GARY McALLISTER; I'm so glad to be back with Strach.

Gary McAllister revealed yesterday that the prospect of working with old mate Gordon Strachan again was the reason he quit Leeds for Coventry.

McAllister completed his shock pounds 3million move to Highfield Road yesterday and said: "It was a big decision to leave Leeds.

"But the board here have shown just as much ambition and commitment as the new board are promising to do at Elland Road."

McAllister, 31, said that once Leeds had accepted his transfer request, he want to move to Coventry because they wanted him badly.

"They were the team who came up with the fee and the financial package. It appealed to me to work with Ron Atkinson, and particularly with Gordon Strachan again.

"Gordon is perhaps the biggest influence in my decision to come here. His enthusiasm is second to none. If it doesn't rub off on you, then you have a problem as a professional footballer."

City assistant Strachan and McAllister led Leeds to the old first division championship in 1991-92.

And even though bookmakers William Hill offer odds of 200-1 on Coventry topping the Premiership - McAllister sees only blue skies ahead.

"I know where Gordon's standards lie and that is at the top. Last season City bought a few good players and it is just as well or else they might have been in the first division. At the start of every season you are in three competitions and your aim is to win them all.

"I won't be making any wild claims about us winning the Premiership - we are still a bit behind Manchester United! - but if your ideal is only to survive then that is all you will do.

"If English clubs do well in Europe this season then there could be another UEFA Cup place on offer come the end of the campaign, so who knows?"

Big Ron revealed that he had been chasing Scotland skipper McAllister for about six weeks. He said: "At one stage I didn't think I had a cat in hell's chance of getting him.

"But maybe our persistence paid off because of the vulnerable situation at Elland Road.

"Once we got our teeth in we stuck with it, and now we've been rewarded. We have a player who is a world-class performer."

Coventry chairman Bryan Richardson confirmed the board would make cash available if Atkinson wished to continue his big spending.

And McAllister believes that big-thinking Coventry's summer spending spree may not yet be over.

"No promises are being made but it is clear that Coventry's spending does not finish with me," insisted club record buy McAllister.

"If players of the right quality are available then they will be in for them.."

The Scotland star arrival came five days after Northern Ireland international winger Michael O'Neill joined from Hibernian for a reported pounds 500,000.

Now the cultured Scot will link up with his international team-mate Eoin Jess and ex-Leeds striker Noel Whelan, City's previous record buy.

The four-year deal which takes McAllister to within a few months of his 36th birthday adds fuel to speculation that he is viewed as a possible assistant manager to Strachan some time in the future.

Strachan is destined to assume the top job from Atkinson and McAllister has already said: "I am not the sort of player to turn his back on the game once his playing days are over."

But that is on the back-burner for the moment with Richardson stating that Strachan found it hard to combine both roles and in any case he himself is the perfect example of a player carrying on playing superbly into his mid-thirties.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:White, Peter
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 25, 1996
Words:603
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