|Now, remember, the idea was that Coventry City was
the club that was going to take First Division by storm.
Hasn’t quite worked out like that, has it? Inconsistency has
been the Sky Blues downfall. Yes, of course, there have been
injuries and suspensions, but every team has to deal with those.
The Moroccans, Chippo and Safri, were called away on
international duty for a prolonged period which certainly did not
help, and – prior to that – there is no doubt that the team’s
form suffered while Roland Nilsson was sorting out precisely who he
wanted to work with on his coaching staff.
The original appointments made by former Chairman Bryan
Richardson after he sacked Gordon Strachan, saw Academy Director
Richard Money and European scout Ray Clarke called in to support
Roland in roles that appeared a little vague, at least from the
the fullness of time, Money returned to the excellent work he had
set in train at the Academy and Ray Clarke has gone back to
scouting. Jim Smith has arrived as Roland’s number two and, so far
as one can tell, the blend of youthful, inspiring young manager and
the wise old head that’s done it before, appears to be very
But all too often of late, just it looked as if Coventry City had
settled into a good run of form, a banana skin settles in our path
and we slip up in no uncertain manner.
The 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth is one such instance. Lots of
reasons, lots of excuses – a questionable surface that required
three inspections before the referee decided it was fit to play on,
a pre-match argument with the referee which culminated in Coventry
bizarrely being forced to wear a Portsmouth change strip and one or
two dodgy decisions during the match.
Portsmouth, it seems, had also done their homework well and had
worked out a way of reducing the effectiveness of Coventry’s very
own 'Billy Whiz' – David Thompson.
But none of that really explains how a side could be so dominant,
so good and so entertaining as they were against Barnsley just a few
days before and then concede all the points in a poor 1-0 away
Unlucky on the night? Maybe – but as I heard a former
Manchester United manager say on the radio this week, when it was
suggested to him that Sir Alex Ferguson had enjoyed a lot of luck at
Old Trafford, “you have to be good to be lucky”.
Now, I have stated from the start of the season that the Sky
Blues are good enough to go up and I stand by that. I have also
commented regularly in this column that we have a very talented crop
of young players, some of whom have benefited enormously from the
first team opportunities they have been given this season, who will
stand us in good stead when we get there.
But if we are going to do it, we need to find that vital missing
ingredient – consistency and find it now.
Wolves appear to have latched on to it, and they are well on
their way to an automatic promotion place.
Fascinatingly, Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City seem to have lost
it in the last few weeks. Another of my early season predictions was
that Keegan’s side – like any Keegan side – would be great
entertainers, but were just as capable of losing 3-0 as winning 6-0.
Over Christmas, it looked as though they were going to prove me
wrong, and they still might, but there has been evidence of late of
a wobble at Maine Road, as their honest, passionate manager readily
And, of course, it is to Maine Road that Roland Nilsson takes his
team next for a Sunday showdown that has all the ingredients to make
it one of the best matches of the season.
It is a stage and an occasion tailor made for Lee Hughes to
return all guns blazing, for a Thommo cracker to set the game on
fire, for Chippo to turn on the magic and maybe even for Julian
Joachim to at last remind us why we signed him.
A 'big Mo' special, too? Don’t bet against it.
But, you know as well I as I do, on their own ground Manchester
City, complete with our old friend Mr Huckerby, are formidable to
say the least.
So, we will no doubt need not only consistency, but also a bit of
luck – and don’t forget: “you have to be good to be lucky.”
[THE MATCH WAS PLAYED AT FRATTON PARK ON
TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY - COVENTRY LOST 1-0 TO PLYMOUTH]