Welcome back, chums. Doesn’t summer fly when you’re having an excruciating time?
At the end of last season I was told to relax; that the administration was necessary, and that this was all for the greater good. I was told that everything was going to be fine, and we needed to sacrifice the whole season in order to get back to stability for the following year.
Things haven’t quite gone to plan, have they? Life as a City fan is more fragile than ever, and we start this brand new League One campaign with very little sense of hope having been hit with liquidation and another points deduction a day before we’re set to kick off. The ambition of 12 months ago is little more than distant and ridiculous memory. These swines have stolen our club, rinsed it, spun it and hung it out to dry. And for what? Sod all.
Now we’re all off to Northampton (by that I mean 200ish, and definitely not me), ten points behind the pack, and it doesn’t feel like I support a club any more. All the campaigns, all the blogs, all the desperation – yet still they refuse to listen.
But before that horrible moment next weekend, we’ve got game one to contend with – Crawley Town away. I’m in Tenerife at the moment, enjoying the all inclusive life and catching sneaky peeks at naughty postcards – but will be following events from afar like many of you.
Will our depleted group of rascals handle the spectre of a points deduction any better than they managed last year? Let’s have a look at the opposition, and whether they will be able to make things any easier for us.
How are they getting on?
Crawley hung around the play-offs for a large chunk of last season, without really making a concerted push or making use of their games in hands. But for their first season in the league however – a 10th place finish, just 6 points off 6th – you’ve got to hand it to them; that’s how you go about your business in a new division. They harnessed the momentum of their previous promotion, stretched away from the relegation thinking early on, and proved themselves as a decent side along the way.
Manager Richie Barker has been rewarded for this guidance of the team with a two year extension to his contract, although we know more than most just how tame these contract lengths are in reality. Well done to him for earning it, though.
Pre-season has seen them take on a few Championship sides. Defeats to Ipswich, Millwall and Brighton will have offered useful tests, but they’ve most recently beaten Premiership new boys Crystal Palace, and I’m sure that’s the result they’ll be taking most of their motivation.
Who could cause us trouble?
They’ve not been too busy in bringing in new faces, with midfielder Andy Drury from Ipswich and right back James Hurst (from an Icelandic team I can’t spell) joining the ranks.
Personally, I bloody love Sergio Torres in midfield, although he doesn’t play as often has he used to. Irishman Billy Clarke scored against us back in April, and of all the names in their squad, he’s the guy my eye is drawn to. He’s 25 now, but played all the way through the Republic of Ireland youth ranks, and with 14 goals last year, he’s a clear goal threat for them.
Sky Blues team news
There’s been so much chopping and changing in pre-season, at this stage, it’s hard to predict how Pressley’s going to start. There are a few players who you have to imagine will be certs for the starting line up. Murphy, Christie, Adams, Baker, Clarke and possibly John Fleck (given how regularly he’s talked up). I’d imagine we’ll see Conor Thomas get a start in midfield too, and don’t be surprised to see Billy Daniels milling around the matchday squad in an attacking capacity now they’ve realise he’s actually more comfortable there.
The two Jordans are our only real options in defence, unless Pressley goes for one of the miniature guys from the Under 21’s. However he approaches it – there’s going to be some risk present. But that’s the position we’re in – with no signings over the summer, and poor Billy Edge bombed out, these are our options. It’s not sugar coat-able.
A win would be smashing and may take our minds off things, albeit temporarily. Mind you, my biggest concern from a footballing perspective this season is that we already have an excuse to fail. It’s not a conscious decision, but the players immediately took that option at the end of last year, and you can’t underestimate how strongly this mindset can take hold in situations like ours.
On a brighter note, we still have some very good attacking players. Leon Clarke ain’t going to care about what’s going on around him, and Carl Baker always seems capable of producing something brilliant, regardless of his overall performance.
If I balance all of that, I see an opening day draw. Providing the defence is half-way reasonable.
For a bit of fun, I’ll also be compiling the predictions from Lamptey boys during these rambles. They’re saying…
Joey: Crawley 2 – 1 Coventry
Paul: Crawley 0 – 2 Coventry
Neil: Crawley 1 – 1 Coventry