|After the disappointment of the Sky Blues’ last
three matches, this weekend’s break is more than welcome for one
Thompson, for whom the description “midfield dynamo” could have
been written, says he felt really tired after Saturday’s goal-less
draw against bottom-placed Stockport County and he is grateful for
the respite of a weekend without a fixture.
The popular Thommo’s comments came when I interviewed him in
the Carling Club at Highfield Road after the matchball sponsors had
named him “Sky Blues Man of the Match” for the Stockport
encounter. Our post-match interviews are becoming something of a
double act as the little Scouser is regularly selected by various
sponsors as their pick of the City team, though – for what it’s
worth – I would have chosen Marcus Hall for his performance
against Stockport, in the second-half particularly.
Thommo also took the Man of the Match award after the Cup defeat
by Spurs and to my mind there would be few who saw that match who
would disagree. He was everywhere, giving total commitment to the
cause in a style that you just hoped would rub off on to one or two
of his colleagues.
Although he never criticises his team-mates, he will always offer
a frank appraisal of the ninety minutes, admitting – for example
– that, in the first half against Stockport, “we were awful”.
Those of us that saw the match at Wolves, either in the flesh at
Molineux, or on ITV, were equally sure that we had witnessed an
all-time low in Coventry City performances that afternoon, with the
notable exception of Lee Carsley.
So, if a rest will do the trick, then we can only look forward to
seeing an improvement thereafter. Mind you, cynics will quickly
point out that City had been without a game for nearly two weeks
prior to the match at Wolves, and much good that appeared to do
them, plus the fact that Thommo will shortly be able to enjoy an
enforced rest through suspension.
Still, I understand the point he was making, that three matches
in a week, particularly at this stage of a long season, is draining.
That, of course, is where the clubs with the bigger squads come
to the fore, as long as the players who come in while others are
rested are good enough for the task. Coventry City’s great problem
is that its second string, though full of promise, is not quite
Roland Nilsson has been absolutely right, in my view, to blood so
many youngsters. To some extent he has had no choice, injuries,
suspensions and international call-up’s forcing a number of
changes of late, but he has quite deliberately given the likes of
Robert Betts, Calum Davenport and Lee Fowler their chance and they
have not let him down.
Inexperience is the worry and it is there for all to see, but
that can only be corrected by allowing these young guys to get some
games under their belts and, at the same time, put pressure on some
of the more established players.
I was in no doubt when the season began that Coventry City had a
squad good enough to go straight back up and I still hold that view,
despite all that has happened. However, the disappointing results
the club has suffered mean, as Roland has said, that they may have
to do it through the play-off’s.
But the prospect of seeing an increasing number of home-grown
youngsters coming through is really exciting, promising a return to
the days when the likes of Danny Thomas, Gary Gillespie, Paul Dyson,
Andy Blair, Garry Thompson and Tommy English were setting the League
It surely won’t be long now before the Coventry City first team
regularly includes names like Ford, Davenport, Spong, Betts, Fowler
and McSheffrey. Hold that thought and take comfort from it when you
look in despair and anxiety at the results and the League table.