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Friday, 9 August 2013

The Inside Line: Coventry (11/08/13)

For this third edition of The Inside Line, Lewis Hancock debuts on The Exiled Robin to take a look forward to our first away game of the season, against Coventry.  He asked Sky Blues fans Joey Crone (from @NiiLampteyShow, who produce a weekly podcast on Coventry - I'm sure that's been interesting recently!) and Rich Johnson  @FootballAttic, a website well worth checking out as they produce a fabulous retro view on football's good old days www.thefootballattic.blogspot.com

Some great answers here, well worth a read!

City travel to Northampton's Sixfields Sunday to face Coventry City. 

Cobblers? The Sky Blues fans certainly think so and their attempted boycott could see more away fans present than 'home'. Cue witty choruses of "Is that all you get at home?"

It's safe to say it's been a turbulent time for all those associated with Coventry City recently, what are your thoughts on the club's ongoing off-field problems?

Rich Johnson: Where does one start? In all the years I've followed CCFC, this is easily the darkest hour. Personally I think both sides are now acting like children in the way they're dealing with each other and the bad blood between them runs so deep that I think only something drastic will change their position. ACL have offered a vastly reduced rent, but have perhaps played hardball too long, whereas SISU approached the whole situation badly from the start. Nobody seems to give a toss about the club and the fans and both sides seem almost determined to do as much harm to each other and to hell with any collateral damage.

Going into liquidation has seen your side fixed with a 10 point penalty, add to that a transfer embargo, how difficult a task is it for Coventry to stay above the dreaded drop zone?

RJ: -10 is not an insurmountable task, especially given our campaign last year. The problem this time round is we've not been able to strengthen the squad and it's a very young one. Add to that the lack of a proper home, the likely drop in attendance and the fact we're still in administration so there's no guarantee we won't suffer further points deductions, it's going to be an almighty struggle. The way the club is now is very similar to Portsmouth a few seasons ago, but we seem to be stuck with the same owners who've landed us in this situation and until they're gone I can't see it getting any better. 

Do you think the supposed boycott of 'home' matches at Northampton's Sixfields have a major effect on Coventry's home form?

Joey Crone: Hmmm. I guess only time will tell. I can't see how it couldn't affect them. It must be strange for the players. Not to mention the added distance they will have to travel to get to home games. Ex-Liverpool and Guardian journalist Gregg Bakowski was asked about the importance of home advantage and he said that there is something psychologically important about feeling like you're at home before a game because it relaxes you. Presumably (for the first season at least) it's gonna feel like they're playing 46 games away from home. This can't be a good thing. 

What's next for Coventry City? Is a return to the Ricoh entirely out of the question?

RJ: I'm in two minds...the stubbornness shown by both sides (ACL & SISU/Otium) makes me think that too many bridges have been burned and that unless there's a dramatic shift, we won't be returning anytime soon, if at all. At the same time, I can't entirely rule out the possibility that this stand off is just more brinkmanship and that maybe it could just be resolved. I think with each passing match played at Sixfields, the possibility of a return diminishes as dissenting voices may fade with time. I hope this isn't the case and that we can get back to the city as soon as possible.

The Coventry squad has been completely overhauled since the last time the sides met, who should City fans be looking out for this time around?

JC: Leon Clarke will be the name that stands out. He's one of only three players in last year's L1 team of the year who is still in the division. You would think given his previous record that he's pretty much guaranteed to score goals at this level. (Though this will probably jinx it!)  He's not massive or 'that' strong but he's a real presence up front and very canny. (See the penalty that he drew against Leyton Orient on Tuesday)

John Fleck has a big reputation but has only occasionally shown what he's capable of. Our full backs Cyrus Christie and Blair Adams are amongst the best in the division but don't have the players around them to hurt teams on a regular basis.  Franck Moussa has two goals already this season from midfield. 

What style of play does manager Steven Pressley look to display and what can City fans expect of the Sky Blues?

JC: Last season it was reasonably indistinguishable to the homogenous 451 that everyone in league one seems to play with. The only change being that he deployed the spare man in midfield in front of the defence as opposed to behind the striker like our previous manager Mark Robins did. At the time this made sense given the personnel we had but this season Pressley has opted to pair Leon Clarke with nippy Cov kid Callum Wilson in a fairly straightforward (and increasingly 'retro' feeling) 442. Like every manager in the football league, Pressley will tell you that we're a 'passing team'. This isn't strictly true. We play quite a direct style of football, albeit with the ball on the deck rather than at Boothroyd height.  It's more Dortmund than Barcelona which I guess is the popular style at the moment; especially after the Germans taught us that passing is passé.  We typically look to use Fleck's passing range, Moussa's dribbling and/or the directness of the full backs when attacking. Nothing that you won't have seen done better a million times before... 

You suffered a narrow loss to Crawley in the first game.  Upon reflection, was it a fair result and were there signs of promise?

JC: I couldn't argue too much with the result but there were certainly reasons to be cheerful. It's unusual for us to get back into a game having gone behind. Our trademark is going one up and losing 2-1 and if we go even one goal down we very rarely pull it back for a point or, God forbid, three (no wonder we never get promoted) so to get it back to 2-2 after being 2-0 down at half time was quite a sight. Again, we were let down by defensive naivety for the third Crawley goal but we'll get past that sooner or later. Or get relegated again. One of the two.

And to wrap up, can I please have a prediction for the match?

RJ: I can't see us getting a decent result...I reckon a 2-1 defeat.

JC: I'm gonna say 1-1 with us scoring first and neither side's fans going home happy.

Thanks very much to Lewis, Joey & Rich for a top set of Q&As. Turbulent times indeed for the Sky Blues, and I sincerely hope they can find a brighter future, and quickly.


The Exiled Robin

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