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Monday, 3 February 2014

The Inside Line: Coventry City (04/02/2014)

With the anticipation of building on Saturday’s victory versus Carlise, getting out of the bottom four, and correcting that result against Coventry last year Stu Radnedge welcomed back Joey Crone (from @NiiLampteyShow) who answered the following questions ahead of Tuesday night’s game versus the Sky Blues.

From the beginning of the season’s misfortune (-10 points and a transfer embargo), it would appear to many that the Sky Blues have achieved more than was expected/predicted of them. Is it all rosy at the club now on the field?
We have achieved, way, WAY above expectations this season. Steven Pressley is proving to be the best managerial appointment since... Well, Mark Robins who immediately preceded him, but in terms of the pre-Robins era (i.e. the rest of our history) he’s the best we’ve had in my lifetime. He’s implemented a very modern, high pressing system that his team of raw, talented youngsters has bought into fully. A number of our academy players have stepped up to unimaginable levels this season and young imports like Blair Adams and John Fleck are realising their early potential under the man they call ‘Elvis’. We’ve been very exciting to watch this season (see our 5-4 ding dong at the start of the season) which has meant scoring tonnes of goals and letting loads in at the other end but which is a far cry from the turgid, negative football on display under managers such as Boothroyd and Coleman. Leon Clarke’s departure last week will hit us hard but more of that below…

How much is Leon Clarke’s departure going to hit the club?
It will hit us hard. In such an inexperienced squad the Clarke’s guile has been vital. When we signed him a year ago we thought we were getting a basic thug who was ok at league one level.  He ended up being so much more than that. He linked play brilliantly, had a great touch and struck up a brilliant relationship with strike partner Callum Wilson; a player who, seemingly overnight turned from a bit part player destined the lower leagues to a lethal, pacey goal scorer. Clarke finished his Coventry career with 28 goals in 43 appearances, which makes him the 5th most prolific we’ve ever had. The vitriolic outcry against him as a result of his transfer request is probably the greatest single indicator of just how good he’s been for us.  

Off the field, the SiSu (Coventry owners) and Ricoh Arena fracas continues - will there be any end in sight? Can you provide any insight into the situation?
I wish I could. No end in sight, though the results of a Judicial Review into the alleged misuse of taxpayer funds to prop up Arena Coventry Limited in a few months time might hopefully see us make some progress but it’s been a season of false dawns on that front. Being taken out of our hometown is the worst thing about the situation but the split that it’s caused between fans comes a close second. As everyone struggles to make sense of an unnecessarily complex situation some have chosen to aggressively pursue their own agenda, be it Sixfields attendees baiting those who choose not to/aren’t able to go to games, or those that aren’t going accusing the attendees of being ‘scabs’. Even if we are brought back to the Ricoh tomorrow, for some the nonsense surrounding this season has been the straw that broke the camels back and I fear that it will take a number of years - or a great deal of success - to restore attendances to what they were.

On the bright side, a couple of loan signings have come in. And Delfouneso from Villa will be someone City fans should be worried about - if he slots in to the squad. Are the loan signings something you’re happy with?
Yeah that’s quite exciting, albeit not as exciting as if we’d have kept Clarke. Pressley has a good record of helping hungry young players achieve their potential and hopefully he can inspire Delfouneso and Swansea’s Ryan Donnelly to bang the goals in while they’re here.  More excitingly we’ve signed Dylan McGeough on loan from Celtic who I’m reliably informed is excellent. We’ve been crying out for some competition in wide areas and his arrival is a welcome one. I think people were hoping for a more experienced striker to come in – Luciano Becchio was strongly rumoured late on Friday – but getting bodies is was the priority and I think the loan window opens again shortly anyway. Despite our porous defence few have demanded defensive reinforcements which indicates how much fans have signed up to Pressley’s ‘Never say die, never do any defending’ style of football.

The last time the teams met, we played what has to be one of the most bizarre games of football ever (5-4). Will there be a repeat on the cards at Ashton Gate?
Haha. I still haven’t recovered from that game. After that game we beat Carlisle 4-0 away then drew 4-4 against Preston at Sixfields. It’s been that sort of season. We haven’t kept a clean sheet for ages but we pretty much always score. Looking at how many goals Baldock and Emmanuel-Thomas have got comparative to your league position I would guess that your problems are in defence so I expect another goal fest. Wilson is injured so expect to see the loan signings thrown straight in - our success will be largely dependent on how they do. That said, earlier in the season we signed Chris’ Dagnall and Maguire who scored one and two respectively in their first game for us. You have been warned…

Can I get a score prediction?
I’ll go 3-1 away win.  Three goals born of kamikaze defending and a Franck Moussa wonder strike.  The Coventry City 2013/14 set menu.

The Exiled Robin

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