Thought I’d give some quick thoughts on our current situation, in truth I’ve wanted to forget all about the club since relegation but I will be back there next season (of course) so it’s only proper to engage my brain and keyboard.
To my mind the club faces it’s most important few months, months which will set in place a course of events which will see us become a fixture in League One or claim what – realistically – is our place in English football, a playoff challenging Championship team.
As I predicted the team was relegated in one of the most frustrating, lacklustre series of games I can remember as a fan – but this was only compounded by the fact we had clawed our way back and got out of the relegation zone, only to then throw it away in a spectacular fashion. The first question to answer is therefore whether Thorn should now be in charge next season, still my answer would be no. A nice guy, yes, a decent manager, yes, a victim of our ownership structure and the carnage that came before him, absolutely – the right man to take us forwards, no. I don’t blame Thorn for relegation any more than the iceberg can be blamed for sinking the Titanic, the incompetence of those around him (both players and owners) did for us. However, I still think that fundamental mistakes cost us points which could have seen us get out of the scrape. An insistence on the diamond formation, an inability to make substitutions and the fact he couldn’t motivate some of the senior players suggests to me that if we stick with Thorn then what is a crucial season could peter out, we’ll make a change in November and any potential promotion challenge will be lost. So on issue one – Thorn out, somebody (Carsley?) in.
Now on to the more prickly situation with our owners. We are caught between a rock and a hard place in my opinion. I am discounting the Hoffman ‘bid’ entirely as an option, we cannot continue to hold on for a white knight who clearly can’t quite manage to find his horse. I’m sure he is well intentioned and extremely passionate about the club but the ‘noise’ which surrounds his ongoing ‘bid’ clouds the fundamental issues here. Unfortunately we have a choice between allowing our club to go out of existence by SISU continuing to own only the club (and no stake in the Ricoh) or we accept that they take the Higgs share of the arena and risk further incompetence. Our only option is to accept the second one, however unpalatable or incompetent these guys have been at running a football club, the fact is you do have to accept that even competent owners would struggle with the club’s current structure – the only way we would be a profitable business is if we were bankrolled by somebody who had no interest in seeing their money again. Therefore allowing SISU ownership of at least 50% of the Ricoh alongside complete ownership of the club at least partially removes one of the millstones around our neck. If the Higgs Charity are happy with the offer on the table then they should do the deal. The medium-term view here is that once we have brought the club and stadium together this will then encourage a more reasonable level of interest in the club from other investors, Coventry City is not a rational investment decision, Coventry City + 50% of the stadium is – even with SISU as the current owners.
In terms of players then it’s obvious to me that Cranie will leave, even though I rate him extremely highly, of course we all hope Keogh stays but staving off cash bids will be hard. So we are resigned to another summer of free transfers and wheeling and dealing. However one thing which does frustrate me is that we will have another season of David Bell and Carl Baker, two wretched players at a Championship level, I have never been so frustrated by two professional footballers in all my time as a Coventry fan.
So in short, I’d replace the manager, accept our owners are going to stay our owners, support SISU in buying a stake in the Ricoh and then get behind the lads (and many of them will literally be ‘lads’) when they take the field next season. I’ll be there in the cavernous stadium backing them all the way knowing that one day, one blessed day, we will turn the corner and begin the climb back to having a club we can be proud of. #PUSB