Play Up Sky Blues

Going to take a little break from blogging about Cricket tonight to have a moan about something else close to my heart, Coventry City football club.

Last night’s 2-1 defeat away at Blackpool was the second time this season that the team I support has managed to lose an away game after leading 1-0 going into the final 3-4 minutes, the other game was against Crystal Palace early on in the season.

When you are leading a game going into the last 5 minutes, the worst case scenario you can imagine is drawing the game, so to end up losing it must be a real kick in the teeth.

I believe last night’s defeat could be far more significant though, we already looked doomed to go down to Division 1 for next season, but what happened last night could just about have sealed our relegation.

If the team had hung on for all 3 points we would have been off the bottom, we would have had an away win to go with the recent 3 home victories, all of a sudden we could have looked back at our recent results and taken heart from them and maybe believed that we had a good chance of staying up.

That’s why I think this defeat could be so significant. How does a young inexperienced team come back from that again? 

To most Coventry City fans these days what goes on on the pitch is almost secondary to what is happening off it. There is the constant fear of administration, even liquidation has been mentioned in some quarters, as the clubs owners SISU continue to cut costs down to the bone.

I can totally understand cutting costs as to keep losing money is unsustainable, but SISU’s current position at the club is also unsustainable.

There is no way in the current climate that the club can become profitable, to do that SISU would need to own the ground. There is no way that is going to happen, as the grounds owners – the City council and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity – will not even entertain the thought of selling an asset of the whole of the City of Coventry to a group of faceless venture capitalists.

In reality, I believe that it is checkmate against SISU at the moment, they would appear to have no where to go, so why they are hanging in there I don’t know. There is a group of would be investors fronted by City fan Gary Hoffman, who has contacts in the world of finance after spending 30 years in the business which at one time seen him as chairman of Barclaycard.

I am in no doubt that Hoffman has the finances, he also is rumoured to already have a deal struck with the council to buy half of the Ricoh arena, paramount if the club is to be run as a profitable going concern.

So at the moment, all I can see that SISU are doing is holding out for a better deal. But the club is worthless, they have no home, a threadbare playing squad and are heading for relegation. Hoffman is also a businessman and is all too aware that the club has no value, so it would appear that a game of Poker is currently taking place – while the team slides toward Division 1.

If a deal is to be struck in the next couple of weeks, we could have a chance as I would presume that manager Andy Thorn would be given the funds to go out and strengthen his squad with loan signings – hopefully much needed experienced ones.

But as it stands we have our squad if willing kids, who are currently giving their all. This coming Saturday sees Coventry at home to Ipswich, this could really be the defining game of the season. If we can show character and bounce back, we have a chance. If Tuesday’s result really has knocked the stuffing out of us and we lose again, I think we are all but condemned to Division 1.

Was Ray Ranson right to sack Aidy Boothroyd?

Slight change in sport, but as a fan of Coventry City I feel the need to write my views on the club sacking Aidy Boothroyd today.

I wasn’t overly impressed with Boothroyd’s appointment at the time, I’m not a footballing snob that expects to see every team play the Barcelona way , but I’m also not a fan of the total long ball game, which is a Boothroyd staple.

A bit of variety yes, with route one used at times, but not 70 yards punts up field into the mixer from your goalkeeper for the whole 90 minutes.

The stats look awful for Coventry City, 10 managers in 10 years or something along those lines. It has been pointed out today in the local press and on the local radio phone-in that this kind of hiring and firing is no recipe for success. I think that goes without saying.

Where I disagree with most Coventry fans though, is on this view that this is a chairman panicking and pulling the trigger. Ray Ranson played football at the top level, he knows sacking a manager every 12 months won’t bring you success.

That’s why I have sympathy with Ranson and believe he was in between a rock and a hard place on this one.

There are constant rumours that the club is up for sale, also that they will go into administration. SISU – a hedge fund who own the football club – are rumoured to have lost interest, the only money they are (apparently) currently putting into the club, is the weekly deficit to keep the club afloat.

For all we, the fans know, Ranson might be fighting a battle behind the scenes to persuade SISU just to continue to back the club.

What chance SISU remaining on board if Coventry go down to Division 1? Add to that the fact that the TV deal in Division 1 is supposed to be £100,000, compared to the current £4M in the Championship.

If this is true and CCFC are struggling to survive as it is, then what chance does the club have if they get relegated? Suddenly the spectre of administration becomes more realisitc.

In some cases it isn’t just as simple as a manger getting fired because he isn’t living up to unrealistic expectations, I believe this to be one of those decisions, one based on other eventualities, rather than just results.

I know this might sound extreme, but Ray Ranson might have taken a decision today that could even affect the future existence of the football club. In getting rid of Boothroyd he might have saved the club from relegation and convinced SISU that the club is worth sticking with.

The decision might also condemn us to relegation, who knows. In a way though, I’d sooner have a chairman who acts, rather than one that sits on his hands and waits for the inevitable.

But even if I was to base the decision on footballing reasons, I think I would still agree with the sacking. 1 win in 16 games, apparently he had lost the dressing room. What choice did Ranson have?

When a manager loses the dressing room he is doomed, if Boothroyd had, then Ranson would be incompetent as a chairman if he had not sacked him.

On the 10 managers in 10 years stat, I believe where CCFC really let themselves down was in the reckless way they went through managers in the 2001-2006/7 period.

They started off sacking managers because they failed to make the play-offs, this is really coming back to haunt them now.

Because of this every time they now sack a manager, even if the manager had, or deserved to go, it just looks like another over reaction and the stat backs that theory up.

Anyway, just to cheer me up I noticed a story about an hour ago that Arsenal are trying to bring back 41-year-old nut job Jens Lehmann on loan until the end of the season, just when Arsenal fans thought things couldn’t get any worse.