JUL 01] THE STUART LINNELL
Ready For The Ride?
Could Be Fun
Interviewed on the radio
immediately after Coventry City’s relegation from the
Premiership was confirmed, Sky Blues Chairman Bryan Richardson
said “next season could be fun”.
His comments were not entirely
well received by the City faithful who were experiencing the
whole range of emotions, not least because the final nail had
been driven home by the dreaded Villa.
Now that the club’s first
season in the First Division of the Nationwide League is almost
here, you might just start to understand what he meant.
The arrivals of Julian Joachim
and Phil Masinga, the return of Roland Nilsson and a fit-again
Tomas Gustaffson (now to be known, apparently, as Antonelius!),
John Hartson’s fresh commitment to the club and his
appointment as captain, and the decision of Carlton Palmer to
make a fresh start under Gordon Strachan, have all contributed
to a positive mood in the training camp.
Yes, we have said goodbye to
Moustapha Hadji, Craig Bellamy and John Aloisi, Magnus Hedman
looks likely to follow and Jairo Martinez may yet move
permanently after an initial loan to Lucerne.
saddest farewell of all must be Steve Froggatt. There is no
nicer guy in football, or indeed in many other walks of life.
After fighting back from serious, potentially fatal, illness to
relaunch his career at Highfield Road and win, on merit, a place
in the England squad it was a particularly vicious turn of
events that has led to him having to retire.
Those of us who witnessed the
tackle by Nicky Summerbee, then with Sunderland, that has
resulted in Froggatt having to retire will forget it easily.
Steve Froggatt will live with it forever, knowing that had he
not been injured that day 18 months ago, he might well have
played for England within a few days and could easily have
solved the national left-side problem for quite some time.
As it is, he is left to
contemplate what life holds in store after football, while still
considering the possibility of legal action against Summerbee.
Steve, however, is one of those
people who will always try to smile in the face of adversity and
that, I am sure, is what Bryan Richardson was trying to do when
he said that the season ahead “could be fun”.
And he could be oh, so right, if
the pre-season optimism engendered by Gordon Strachan and his
players bears fruit at Stockport, Grimsby and those other new
locations on the schedule of the travelling Sky Blue Army.
Can City bounce straight back?
Well, based on my observations of matches in the First Division
at the end of last season, including two featuring sides that
made the play-offs, they have every chance.
There are two, maybe three, good
sides in this Division, the rest are worse than awful. Coventry
City should certainly be one of the top three if they play to
their potential and if Gordon can bring in the goal-scoring
midfield player he says he needs.
Be prepared for the announcement
of a loan signing from the Premiership that will intrigue and
entice you, because I understand that is what the club is aiming
to do to solve that midfield problem.
Fun? Yes, I think it will be.
Ready for it? Well, I don’t know about you but I need a week
on the beach first.