We talk to a Coventry fan ahead of our midweek meeting with the Sky Blues
Ahead of Tuesday’s game with Coventry, Sky Blues fan Joe Harty talks to us about the team, the state they’re in, and Marvin Sordell. Yep, we may be seeing him on Tuesday.
How has your season been so far?
In a word? Depressing. The fans expected us to build on last season`s optimism and attacking excitement, but things have never really got going. The club sold our star midfielder, Romain Vincelot for the princely sum of £50,000 to Bradford, and that raised some serious questions about who authorised the sale and whether Tony Mowbray really felt that the club`s first commanding defensive midfielder since Dennis Wise was just dispensable.
Supporters have come to expect us being a selling club, but since we sold youngster James Maddison for around £3-5m to Norwich in the last 30 minutes of January deadline day, we thought we could keep hold of our existing players for now. How wrong we were.
Last season had us playing an exciting brand of counter-attacking football, with young stars James Maddison, Jacob Murphy and Adam Armstrong running the show. We even signed Joe Cole at the crest of our wave. Of course the same side that steamrolled Gillingham 4-1 in November to sit proudly at the top of League One crumbled tamely, and made it the 46th season since we finished in the top six of any league.
This season has been as boring as any I can remember. Tony Mowbray changed a working 4-2-3-1 system to an experimental 3-4-3, and we just never turned up to any games. It took us until October to get our first league win, with our misfiring attack managing just six goals in our opening 10 league games. Mowbray stepped down after the last game in September, calling the side ‘babies in a man`s league`. Up stepped our head of recruitment Mark Venus to try and get something out of the squad he spent all summer recruiting.
Since then we`ve had a bit of a resurgence, somehow claiming four victories since October. The side has never looked convincing and an abysmal display in a 4-1 defeat against Oxford on Saturday reminded us just how poor the squad really is.
The people who own your club seem useless/clueless. Is it true you may lose your ground again?
Our owners are absolutely both of those things. The debacle around the stadium has many opinions that divide the fans, and I remember away ends being quite heated the year we moved out of Coventry and into Northampton.
Presently, we`re back at the Ricoh which is now owned by a London rugby club (I don`t know either), and are in the last year of our lease. The fabled new stadium`s announcement has been ‘very close` since 2012, so no one`s expecting it to really happen. The anxious part for the fans is whether we extend our lease with Wasps for an extended time, or whether we face the possibility of another spell homeless and out of the city.
Our protests have done nothing to stop the owners sucking us dry for years, so I really hope something miraculous happens soon. I and many other Coventry fans would like to worry solely about the football instead of the club`s mismanagement.
How is Marvin Sordell getting on?
Most of the players we brought in this year have been uninspiring to say the least, but Sordell is one I really like. He has been played in a different position every week, but is giving his all and finding some form. There`s a really good player in him, but I think he`s hindered by the team lining up next to him.
Several times this year he`s just found the net out of absolutely nothing, and it`s vital he keeps up that confidence to drag the team forward.
What should we expect tactically?
Players running around in a vague 4-3-3 shape. Mark Venus has played around with the tactics a few times, but 4-3-3 seems to be the formation we get most points from. Expect us to have a dreadful first half, as that now seems to be a staple of our game.
Sometimes we escape the first half and bring on our very direct impact substitutes, Jodi Jones and Kyel Reid, who can give us a bit of an edge over a tiring opposition back line. Our midfield tries quite hard but often doesn`t click. Returning Coventry youngster Gael Bigirimana plays on one side of the midfield three, and if he plays well then the team often follows.
Your player to watch?
It`s odd to have a season where you can`t find a stand-out player, but this might be one. I enjoy watching our young midfielder Ben Stevenson, who is clearly going to be too good for this league.
He`s still a kid so can get muscled out of games easily, but he`s an extremely classy footballer and I expect him to be off next year.
4-0 to Bolton. We`re very fragile at the moment and our defending has been comical. Our attackers are very predictable and any side with an ounce of quality about them should beat us.