SEP 01] THE STUART LINNELL
Another Week On - The Run Continues
The last column I wrote for CWN
was only a week ago, yet since then the Sky Blues have played
three times and they are still unbeaten under Roland Nilsson.
It is one of the curiosities of
English football that so many matches can be played in so short
It is also, by the way, what
prompts the top managers to complain that we play too often, yet
those same managers can’t wait to take their teams into the
incredibly badly organised European competitions and add to
their fixture list!
If you ever need any proof that
football’s biggest enemy is greed you only to have to consider
how the European Cup – once the greatest Cup competition
outside the UK – has been devalued and reduced to an
illogical, ill-conceived shambles as the European Champions
However, thoughts of Europe are
hardly relevant to Coventry City right now. Mind you, when
Roland Nilsson is confirmed in the manager’s job as I expect
him to be before the end of the week, a swift return to the
Premiership could be on the cards after all and Europe must then
be our next target.
To get there Roland and his men
have to negotiate their overcrowded, disjointed fixture list.
Three matches in seven days, another to come on Saturday, then
nothing for ten days because the home match against Crystal
Palace (6 October) has been postponed due to the international
In fact, if it wasn’t for the
home Worthington Cup tie against Chelsea the following Tuesday
(9 October), we would be two weeks without a match.
TRAINING - 18 SEP 95 [empics]
The problem this creates for
manager and players is that of maintaining fitness levels. A
typical week: day before a match (Friday) – light training;
Saturday – match day; day after the match - warm down (very
light training); next day (Monday) – full training; Tuesday
(day before a match) – light training; Wednesday – match
day; Thursday – warm down; Friday – day before a match –
light training; Saturday – match day, and so on.
For a player on the fringe of the
first team, playing in the reserves for match fitness, there’s
even more light training thrown into the pot, because his
fixtures have to be worked into that schedule.
Interestingly, although the
Coventry City players have been very careful not to criticise
Gordon Strachan, the one thing that most of them have said is
that the training sessions are less strenuous altogether now.
They say that they still work hard, but the Nilsson-Richard
Money approach is to ease back from time to time from the
constant 100% go-for-it style that was adopted before.
It is certainly working as the
results show – 1 Worthington Cup-tie and 3 League matches won,
1 League match drawn, no defeats.
For the supporters it has also
been almost like having a new team to cheer, with Delorge,
Guerrero, Martinez and Edworthy given the chance to show what
they can do. Two of that four – Delorge and Martinez have gone
on to score goals, so the opportunities have not been
Youssef Safri has also arrived to
deserved acclaim and has shown himself to be every bit as good
as we were told he was.
And let’s not lose sight that
all of these players arrived while Gordon Strachan was manager.
He found them - Roland, Richard, Ray Clarke and Trevor Peake are
getting them to play.
It was often said about the ’87
FA Cup winning team that Bobby Gould signed them, but John
Sillett and George Curtis made them play.
If Nilsson and Money achieve
anything approaching the success of the Sillett and Curtis
years, we will all have good cause to celebrate.
With Magnus recapturing his best
form, big Mo carving a reputation as the centre-back no-one
wants to play against, Safri and Carsley controlling midfield,
Chippo emerging from the shadow of Hadji, and Bothroyd, Martinez
and Hughes all hungry for goals, there is every reason to
believe that an automatic place is not beyond us.
Keep an eye on Wolves though. No
one expected them to do quite as well as they are, but their
manager - former City man David Jones - is repeating what he did
at Stockport and was on the way to doing at Southampton.
They might just last the course,
as well, and we have to keep our run going to catch up with
We should do it, as long as the
players stay fit, and the fixtures don’ t get in the way!