CET Articles 05/6
July 31 2006
Many people seem happy with our top half of the table finish, and class this season as successful. And, I suppose it is, simply because a season of struggle was predicted - but I'm still slightly disappointed!
CET Article 8
The reason for my disappointment is that, having got ourselves in site of the play-offs, our next two games were Crewe away, followed by Preston Reserves at home. We couldn't have asked for better fixtures in our bid to become contenders (And to improve our poor away record!), but we didn't compete, didn't take a point, and the dream was over.
To settle for mid-table (Or just above) just because we thought at the start of the season, and up until the end of November, that we might be relegated, is negative thinking. If you aim for second best, you'll be second best. Had Portsmouth shown this attitude a few years ago, they wouldn't be in the Premiership now.
The squad is better than they showed up until November, and has possibly over-achieved since then (Strange that we've done far better this season with our best player, Stephen Hughes, out of the side) - but this doesn't mean you have to accept taking your eye off the ball and dropping out of the promotion race so easily.
And trust us to find our away form when it was just too late! Seven points from games at Wolves, Luton, and Stoke, is a superb return. Let's hope that, having finally worked out how to play away from home, we can remember this for next season.
So now it's almost time to scour the world for players to take us to the next level - Note to Mr. Adams: the world does not end at the other end of the M69....
The summer shopping list has to include: a central defender with pace; a right-sided midfield player with pace; a 40-goals-a-season striker(!); and Marton Fulop! (Anybody we sign has to have pace as one of their assets, as we are hopelessly short in this area). Looking at their squad list, I can't see any Leicester players that will add anything we don't already have....
After some of the nightmare keepers we've had recently, seeing somebody as competent as Fulop between the posts has made a refreshing change. If we can't sign him full-time, another year long loan would be a start. Coventry City is where he wants to be, and there aren't to many players that have said that over recent seasons!
A good World Cup for Stern John could leave us needing a new striker, and we might need a replacement for McSheffrey too if the rumours that Premiership clubs are looking to make a bid for him. Fingers crossed they will both be here in August, as they are a major part of anything positive to do with Coventry City this season.
There looks to be two or more extra local derbies on the cards next season, though disappointingly it looks as if Aston Villa will just escape the drop. Maybe next season .... or maybe we'll be swapping places with them!
Good luck to the people at Peugeot, a fair few of whom will be spending the summer looking for new employment (More than likely me included), and adios to the Evening Telegraph as we currently know it. Despite the fact the story doesn't seem to have appeared on its own pages, I was told last December that most jobs are going, and, according to another source, their offices in Corporation Street will be closing.
And good luck to the England football team. The talent and ability to win the World Cup is there, but will they disappoint once again? A fair few pints of beer will be sunk finding out!
CET Article 7
I resisted the temptation to mention the words 'play offs' for a good while, as until very recently the reality of reaching them seemed as far away as my peerage without a far healthier bank balance. But, thanks to some stunning home form, they really were a possibility.
Now, thanks to a dodgy decision by a match official, our chance has possibly gone .... which is probably what would have happened to Andrew Whing's head had he not protected it - it would have been in Car Park C, with a matchday steward asking if his ginger bonce "had permission to be in that parking space".
Victory over Leeds would have seen us six points off sixth place, with rock-bottom Crewe next (A great place to improve a poor away record!), followed by slightly off form sixth place Preston at 'Fortress Ricoh' the following week. We also have to play the two teams in seventh and eighth position soon - Wolves and Cardiff - and while these are tricky fixtures, daring to win them all would have put us in a great position.
Added to the fact three points last Saturday would have improved our chance of a top six finish, victory would have seen us record our seventh successive home victory, which I'm presuming hasn't been achieved by many Coventry City sides throughout our history.
An eight point deficit with eight games to play is probably just too much to overturn (Though not impossible!), which is a shame, as I've heard Cardiff in May is quite nice....
There can't be too many people that don't like the Arena now, and with that badge that somehow found itself on the wall, it does seem more like 'home'. As daft as it might sound, it makes a difference! And, most importantly, the players seem to like the Arena too!
There is a certain amount of sadness driving past our old 'home' at Highfield Road and seeing it slowly being dismantled (I daren't tell the other half quite what stage the demolition is up to, as this is where we were married, and there will be floods of tears!), but the decision to move was the right one. You can't help but wonder where we might be now had the Arena been delivered on time though....
The Arena seems to have resulted in the building of something you cannot buy - team spirit! Money to strengthen the side in the summer would still be appreciated though!
I'm not sure how many 'True Sky Blue members' will have to be found in order for the club to fund the signing of Fulop from Spurs, but this is one transfer I really hope happens. He really does stand out like a decent joke in a 'Birds Of A Feather' script compared to some of the keepers we've 'suffered' in recent seasons.
Every area of the team has improved with the signing of Wise, and the team even looks okay when he is suspended (Good job too, as it's a fairly regular occurrence!). The defence looks as if it knows what it is doing, and our three main goal threats, McSheffrey, Adebola, and John, have all hit form together.
McSheffrey's white boots appear to have coincided with him learning a new trick or two (Either that or he's been watching The Premiership during his suspension), and seeing him leave Akinbiyi spinning on his backside was most amusing, while his Huckerby-esque run past the Leeds defence was also most entertaining - shame the finish wasn't quite so good though.
Had he put that effort away, according to the new book by Graham Smith and Neville Hadsley (Sky Blue Heaven II - a quality read!), this would have taken him to joint 17th in the all time Coventry City goalscoring charts. Fifty goals is still a great achievement though. Let's hope there are plenty more to come....
CET Article 6
What happened?!?! I thought the defensive frailties that allowed teams to hammer Coventry City so easily were long gone? Alas, like a Cliff Richard Christmas record, it seems they are still around....
Play off (Pipe) dreams were all but ended on Saturday, while hopes of an unrealistic trip to Wembley (Or Cardiff!) were ended by a beatable Middlesboro side last week.
So do the last two results mean the wheels have come off the Sky Blue bus? Or is it merely a puncture?!
Plenty have asked: "why the negative tactics versus Watford?" So they had scored eleven goals in their last three Championship games? We had scored ten! They had won their last five league matches? We had won four out of five, and only lost to runaway leaders Reading! Attack was always going to be a better option.
Micky Adams was quoted as saying we can improve on the display versus Watford - I'm sure that comes as a relief to all that wasted their time and money making the journey South on Saturday! (And especially to those thinking of making the slightly longer journey to Plymouth!).
With Scowcroft and John out, Saturday seemed like a good time to try out Craig Reid - or at least give him a place on the bench. His five goals in recent reserve matches surely should have seen a first team call-up? There should be some reward for such consistency.
The next three games, against Sheffield Wednesday (Result now in!), Plymouth, and Burnley, are all very winnable. These three games will go a long way to deciding whether we have a dull end of season run-in, or an anxious one.
While results have improved, and supporters are more cheerful, only Coventry City fans could argue over the fact somebody DID score a goal! I am of course referring to THAT penalty against Derby (Coventry City have denied rumours the "Half Time Hot Shots" competition was scrapped because Gary McSheffrey didn't want anybody else to take a penalty).
Yes, allowing Stern John to take it and score a hat-trick would have done his confidence a world of good, but nobody seems to be taking into account the fact he might have missed - again! McSheffrey didn't....
Interesting to see a few days later that David Bentley, on his debut as a fully-fledged Blackburn player, scored twice before Blackburn were awarded a penalty. The usual penalty taker did the honours, and without a sulk anywhere in sight, Bentley simply scored a third from open play soon after.
The bringing in of old blood, with the signings of Hutchison and Wise, seems like a master-stroke by Adams - though if Saturday's match is anything to go by, playing them together in midfield isn't such a good idea.
Some said they are only here for one last pay-off - for one glorious moment, it looked as if their goals might take us towards the play-offs! It doesn't take to much to get the imagination working overtime with thoughts of a Top Six finish! A couple more displays like last Saturday, and thoughts will turn to the wrong end of the table again....
And whether he's here for a week longer, 'til the end of the season, or next season too, if Dennis Wise can impart some of his wisdom to Michael Doyle (A la Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid!), we might finally get to see more than glimpses of what Doyle is capable of.
He can become that annoying player that his own fans adore, that his team can't do without, and that opposition players and fans hate!
CET Article 5
Well, it's not been the worst start to a New Year we've ever had! We've beaten one of the supposed better teams in the Championship (If Wolves are Top Six material, how bad is this division?), and are still in the F.A. Cup.
A win away to Reading would make a fine hat-trick - that or winning £70 million on the Euro Lottery on Friday! Some would say the latter is more likely....!
Nuneaton Boro at home would be a better draw in the next round of the Cup, as there seems to be a lack of interest in Middlesbrough by their own fans, and I doubt to many would pay us a visit. Nuneaton Boro do have a few ex-Coventry players who possibly feel they have a point to prove though!
I would also like to see Nuneaton go through just so the the "last great giant killing" cliche stops being Sutton-Coventry!
The last two festive periods have seen a Coventry City manager leave the job, but, after a fairly decent last six weeks, Micky Adams looks unlikely to make that three. And we could have been two points better off if Michael Doyle hadn't been such an idiot. Sadly, the lack of depth in our squad meant Doyle was re-called as soon as he was available.
Those two points could be vital come the end of the season (Whichever end of the table we are at), though quite what we would do if we accidentally slipped back into the Premiership I don't know! Most teams in the Championship are so poor by Premiership standards, that Sunderland's six points tally so far would probably seem massive by comparison with what others might manage!
With Hughes, Jorgensen, and now Doyle sent off for dissent this season, it would have been nice to see Doyle properly punished for this stupidest of offences, by being kept out of the team for a while (A long-term injury to Osbourne makes this even less likely now). Doyle mouths off to the officials so often Im surprised it took him as long as it did to get a red card because of it....
I doubt the transfer window will be too interesting as far as Coventry City fans are concerned, with any expected transfer budget probably lost after the crowd figure for the Wolves game was 3,000+ down on what was predicted.
Plenty of people mention the fact we need to sign a 20-goals-a-season-player (Which team doesn't?!). If you check the figures for 2005, it's worth noting that Gary McSheffrey scored 21 goals. He does dare to miss a few though, doesn't he? (And Henry never does?).
There are some that say he only reached this figure because he takes penalties - there are some of us who couldn't care less how he reaches such a figure! (Will these people complain when England win the World Cup in the summer because of a Lampard penalty?!). They count on the score-sheet, and the bookies pay-out on them, so they are as valid as any other sort of goal!
The team could do with somebody else chipping in a few more goals, especially Adebola, who's only managed one goal in his last dozen matches. Signing Don Hutchinson would probably help.
While the first match of the New Year resulted in a win, I can't stand the 9-0-1 system deployed in the second half versus Wolves (Mild exaggeration - don't write in), mainly because we normally concede goals when we try it! Amazingly we didn't, though it didn't surprise me that the defence looked more assured with Williams being re-called.
Quite why he has been ignored is a mystery, and it's worth noting (Again!) that of our seven Championship wins, four have come when a certain player who is regualrly selected (No names!) wasn't involved, one after he went off injured, and only two have been achieved with him in the side - his re-call saw us out-played on the last day of the year too. Eight of our 10 Championship defeats have occurred when said player has started.
CET Article 4
Has Micky Adams just enjoyed his "Howard Kendall Moment"?! Around 3.25 last Saturday, with another poor defeat looking on the cards, and the Coventry crowd understandably getting restless, an enforced triple substitution possibly saved his job - for now.
I can't remember such a change being made so early in a match, and at the time I presumed it was the last desperate act of somebody trying to hang onto his managerial career, making one last crazy ape bonkers throw of the dice. Whatever the reason, it worked.
While the win over Plymouth was much appreciated, many think that is has merely delayed Adams' leaving by a week or two - no doubt if we win the next couple of matches he will become flavour of the month again, and thoughts of him going will be forgotten. How fickle are football fans?!
And, unbelievably, despite what I regard as our worst opening twenty-two games (In my time of watching!) - football and results-wise - we are still only 10 points off the Top 6. A good December, and who knows where we might be? (OK, this probably isn't going to happen!). Maybe if we started playing to our strengths? Those strengths being a passing game.
This leads me to ask: when Micky Adams took over as boss, he (Or Alan Cork?) said we were the best passing side he had been in charge of - so why has he changed the tactics to hoof-ball?
I presumed, because the personnel we have lack the two qualities necessary for this tactic to work (Heading ability and pace!), this was why Don Hutchinson was brought in (Minus the pace!) - how wrong I was! He looks a cut above most with the ball at his feet. So far so good.
OK, so he's only managed just under 90 minutes in two games (Not a bad goal ratio though!), but as a Coventry City fan it's almost compulsory to get over-excited about a player before being severely let down....
I'm sure people will be calling for us to sign Hutchinson if he manages another decent display, though having seen other players turn from hero to zero seconds after signing a full contract with us (Lee Mills to name but one!), I would prefer to keep him on a permanent loan deal!
Two of our better players will be "home" soon - Stern John and Adie Williams (Expect the "it's like having two new signings" cliche to be trotted out!). Let's hope we finally get to see the sort of quality we thought we had signed, rather than what we usually got (Not that Williams was any worse than those selected ahead of him).
Stern's nightmare at Derby will hopefully have made him realise that we're actually not such bad supporters (As they seem to have given him a far worse time!), and we'll get to see the best of him before his trip to Germany next summer.
If John doesn't like it at Coventry City (As some have suggested), the best thing he can do is score a hatful of goals for us, and for Trinidad & Tobago, and earn himself a move! We might just need to keep him if our front two keep on scoring though....
Gary McSheffrey's recent burst of seven goals in eleven games will surely have alerted one or two clubs, and one things for sure, if he and Adebola continue to score at their current rate, offers will be made for them in January - and will know doubt be accepted if the price is right.
As for Williams, how rare is it for somebody to use somewhere else as a stepping stone to further their career with Coventry City, rather than using us to get somewhere else? Williams said all the right things when he went off on loan, and deserves his chance when he comes back - we need the real AW to help steady our poor looking back-line.
What you really want when you are seeking back-to-back wins for the first time in a while (Not to mention a much needed three points) is a home fixture against the bottom team in the division .... usually. It will be one step forward and two steps back if we lose - so let's not!
CET Article 3
In December I'll be 38 years old, which means, in a perfect world, I still have at least half of my life left. Whether or not the second part will involve watching Coventry City is under review.
This used to be the highlight of my week. Not because we were beating anything and everything put in front of us - a la Chelsea this season - but because football was entertaining. And even when football wasn't quite worth the substantially lower entrance fee, those wearing Sky Blue at least looked bothered.
Nowadays, as I try to leave my house, with my three year old daughter clinging on to me crying: "don't go to the football daddy!", by the time the final whistle has gone I'm often wishing I had listened to her! I don't think I've heard the word "abject" used quite so often as I have over the last few months....
There simply is no spark come match day for me at the moment.
The three Championship wins we've managed this season have been at home, and a fair few people I've spoken to were less than impressed with our performance in two of those games! (Watford and Luton). Winning is everything though, isn't it? Winning and making money.
Speaking of which, had Coventry City actually turned up for their recent match against Crystal Palace, they might just have got closer to the dream of one day filling the stadium. As PR exercises go, this was a disaster.
I know a fair few people that came along to watch Coventry City for the first time in years for that match (Some for the first time ever) - they won't be back. Myself, my brothers, and my sisters wanted to take my dad to this match as a birthday treat too. For once, socks seems like a decent present....
Interestingly, with things having reached rock bottom as far as some fans are concerned, it seems the club are trying to take get people on-side by inviting fanzine editors, website owners, etc, to meetings, but the cynic in me says this has done before, and nothing has ever come of it. So why should it this time?
Maybe the club has finally realised it's only asset is it's supporters? Or maybe they've finally run out of ideas, having taken the club as far down as is hopefully possible to go (I know there is further, but I'm trying not to think about that!), and now finally want our ideas to help dig them back out again?
Weren't the club supposed to ask the opinion of the Sky Blue Trust on a subject I think has been as important as any over recent years: matchday ticket pricing at the Arena. They didn't. But they did ask them if they would perform the slightly smaller task of helping to raise £250,000 to save the Academy....
I know that certain people at the club read the message boards - sadly, they are only making sure nothing to libelous is said, rather than taking on board some quality suggestions. Maybe if these people realised that a lot of fans know what they're talking about, and hadn't ignored their ideas for so long, the club might not be in such a mess?
And so ends my latest chance to moan about Coventry City, something I'm frequently accused of doing by those that know me - this is only because I care so much. Probably too much.
CET Article 2
Having seen the response a recent Fan Zone columnist got when he dared to criticise a Coventry City player, I think I had better steer clear of doing the same, or criticising the club! With that in mind....
Our return to the Premiership draws ever nearer, the football on view is top class, and half-a-dozen Coventry City players are selected for the "Team Of The Week" section in various newspapers.
With Christmas fast approaching, and the football transfer window set to open soon after that, expect our first XI to be sold off for enough money to pay off the debt, to be replaced by an equally impressive XI, who will take us to the "promised land" of the Premiership.
Meanwhile, back in the real world....
What has happened to the taller of our two central midfield players, and the person that plays on the left of midfield? Their current form is making a mockery of all the "these two must stay at any cost" calls at the end of last season, and they are unrecognisable from the players that helped maintain our Championship status.
The rest of the side, with very few exceptions, haven't been much better either. We've played okay in patches, but as the experts will tell you, football lasts for 90 minutes plus injury time. Okay in patches gets you one win in 10 games (Now two in 11. Play-offs, anybody?).
Too often the excuse is "players need time to gel", or "it's only early in the season, there's plenty of time yet" - to this I say "rubbish"! Most of the players we have have played together for a while now (Except for the goalkeeping position, which we have substantially improved), and the season starts for everybody in August, with other sides seeming to be doing okay.
Injuries are no excuse either. If reports are to be believed, the entire Championship are playing with anything from a paper cut (I sympathise!) to a broken leg!
Maybe rather than putting square pegs in round holes, it's time to try some of the youngsters that are actually comfortable with certain positions? If we don't, I'm left asking myself: "Just what is the point of trying to keep the academy open"? Merely for us to continue to act as a feeder club for League One and Two sides?
Maybe I should treat certain teams with more respect, but I am seriously bothered that our first defeat at the Arena was to the likes of Hull. A Chelsea or an Arsenal in the cup maybe (Well it's not going to be in the Premiership, is it?!). But Hull?
The Championships' "Most Wanted" midfielder over the summer claims an inquest was held after the game, to discuss exactly what went wrong - what went right would have been quicker! And I hope he had a mirror to hand, as he needs to ask questions of himself.
I am also bothered that every team seems to be able to waltz through our defence as if they were standing still, yet we have nobody in our side/squad that can do the same. And we have about as much width as Kate Moss! (Topical reference!). We might as well plant flowers at the side of the pitch, for all the action they see....
We might have a new man in charge, but there will be no more money - hands up who's surprised? While we're all hoping for our very own Roman Abromovich to come along, we'd be lucky if we got Raddy Avramovic (I still say he was fouled when Steve Sherwood scored that goal!).
A team that is going nowhere will not be improved, yet those in charge still expect attendances to substantially go up? It's like hoping to win the Lotto, without actually buying a ticket.
For anybody that wants to criticise me for daring to have an opinion that says "all is not well", we have also been beaten - hammered! - by a poor Burnley side, and only managed draws against Millwall and Brighton. These are teams that will be looking to avoid relegation when the seasons end draws near! Just not good enough.
And it's worth remembering that we are still in the bottom half of the table! Following yesterday's win, I can hear the "we're only six points off the Top Six" conversations starting already....
The win against Watford was vital, as a defeat against Sheffield Wednesday (Who hammered us 5-1 last time we visited them), and other results going against us, means we still won't be bottom of the table come 4.50pm on Saturday.
The opening of the Arena was a great chance to put our recent disappointing past behind us, and really try and build something special - both on and off the pitch. It seems those opportunities have been totally missed.
As for the shambles with the turnstiles on Wednesday (No fault of the operator's, though they seemed to cop most of the blame!) .... better leave it there.
CET Article 1
Despite the best efforts of QPR's tactics and a poor referee (You can change you manager, your team, and where you play, but alas, match officials will always be the same....), Coventry City began their Arena life with a victory.
The referee did threaten to spoil the party, with at least three of Coventry City's five yellow cards seeming very harsh, and QPR getting away with far worse. Richard Duffy is already in danger of being suspended before August has ended!
Maybe this is the season we see the real Adebola, scoring for fun, and terrorising defences, but I think Saturday was as close as he will get to scoring a hat-trick. And he deserved one....
It's hard to knock somebody that, according to Teletext, has scored five of Coventry's four goals this season though!
As for the Arena, it might not be the one we were originally promised, but it's a fine place to play football! Winning on the pitch helps too....
The noise made by the home support was fantastic on Saturday, though there appears to be a design fault in the away end, as I couldn't hear them at all! Reading one of the QPR message boards, it seems they were impressed with the noise the Arena makes too - high praise indeed.
I hope the reduced capacity for the first match doesn't mean we have been denied the chance of ever seeing the home sections of the ground full (If we're to wait until we reach the Premiership for this, it could take some time!). 27,000+ Coventry fans getting behind the team would be awesome.
Sadly, once the novelty of our new home has worn off, if we're not winning every match 3-0, I fear we will be back to crowds of 15,000 (Reports suggest we've sold 16,000 already, so maybe that figure is slightly out!) - and the chairman will be off to his villa.
MM has stated we need to average 22,000 a match to start making a profit - I hope there's a Plan B. I would love to think the people of Coventry (And surrounding areas) will return match after match, but I doubt it.
Maybe we should sell every game as "The End Of An Era" or as our first at our "new home" (Maybe leave brick dust unswept, and a few nut and bolts around the place too?), as it seems to bring a few extra fans out of the woodwork.
While it's sunny and warm people might be interested, but I doubt those without a season ticket will be so keen to leave the comfort of their armchair in the autumn/winter, when there is football on TV, after a hard day at work!
Let's hope the sun always shines on the Arena!
Our next two matches, Sheffield United away and Southampton at home, are tough tests, though so far we have done well against supposedly better opponents, and disappointed against those expected to struggle. Some things never change....
Following victory over QPR, Micky Adams has the sort of problem managers love: whether or not to bring back his best players, John and Hughes (The latter suspended for the stupidest of all offences: dissent). Scowcroft and Jorgensen proved more than adequate replacements, and it would seem unfair to drop the man who made Arena history by scoring the first goal there.
Whichever Adams chooses, he will be criticised if we lose! Some things....
View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.
Bookmark or share this story with: