So we’re three games into the season and it’s fair to say that we haven’t got off to the flying start which many hoped (and some laughably expected) we would do. A patchy performance at Dagenham in the League Cup, a below-par run out at Yeovil and then a nervous display at home against Sheffield United has lead many to see tomorrow’s game against Bury as a must win and those even more pessimistic to begin hovering dangerously over the panic button.
My personal view is that I can’t think of three stranger opening fixtures we could have had to begin the season. With so many new players coming in, fans who have no experience of exactly ‘what’ League One is, a trip to one of the smaller grounds and teams for the league opener and a subsequent game against the other ‘big club’ in the division I believe we simply cannot draw any firm conclusions on where we stand.
Tuesday’s game against the Blades was the first game I’ve seen and therefore my surmising of the first two games is purely by the commentary and comments from other fans, so I’ll concentrate on exactly what I saw. The first half did leave me worried that we were simply going to continue the disjointed and limp-wristed home games of last season, a more fluent and higher tempo second half gave me more hope and the fact that we now have two strikers off the mark is an encouraging sign. My fundamental worries from Tuesday come from the fact that we do clearly lack pace in the team, we still lack confidence on the ball and therefore give possession away cheaply and we still play too many long balls to our strikers who are not equipped to win much in the air. All of that said, a point against Sheffield United in the context of this league is a result all Coventry fans would have taken, the issue has purely been the context of the Yeovil game and to a lesser degree the performance at Dagenham.
Last season I blogged that I would like to have seen Andy Thorn leave and Lee Carsley come in, purely to give us a better chance of attacking League One with a squad that still includes many young players. Now I’m not going to join those who are calling for Thorn to leave now – the tail-end of last season or the summer break was the time to make that change – we have Thorn in place and must therefore allow him to show whether he can build momentum and points in League One.
But what if he doesn’t? I had an interesting chat with a City fan on Twitter at the weekend around whether the parroted ‘give him 10 games’ is enough to get a true sense of whether we stand a chance of challenging at the end of the season. He didn’t think 10 games was enough, I maintained my gut-feel that it was. Given the fact that gut-feel tends to end up being indigestion I decided to do some digging into the numbers on past League One standings after ten games compared to the end of the season. The conclusion is that broadly speaking ten games gives you an average view within ten points (either way) of your points total at the end of the season. So the rule I am currently working to is that if after ten games our extrapolated points total plus an extra ten points (let’s try and be optimistic that our form will improve through the season) positions us on an average playoff points total then Thorn still has my backing, if not then I think that’s enough time to begin looking at our options either inside or outside of the club.
And so to Bury’s visit tomorrow, a win is important within the context of our other results, but I’ve learnt never to expect or indeed be confident of a win before going to the Ricoh. We need three points, but on top of that I would like to see us play with a level of controlled confidence I honestly cannot remember seeing a Coventry team play within the last two years, an element we clearly lacked on Tuesday. All too often our games are characterised by harum-scarum exchanges of the ball, a flaccid midfield too easily broken through and last ditch defensive tackles – a relatively pedestrian game with us retaining possession in a controlled midfield and scoring incisive well worked goals would do me fine tomorrow. In short, calm heads are required from the fans, calm play is required rom the players. PUSB