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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Coventry Preview

Well, its all gone rather quiet, don't you think. Everyone's just lost interest and are trying really hard to do something else. In fact just about anything else will do, be it a touch of gardening for the open air types, the latest version of Grand Theft Auto IV for those who can't keep away from their PC or even following the attempts of a third division French team in Lyon to win promotion. And who can blame them because it would be nice if this nightmare of a season would just go away.
But that's the trouble, they gave us 46 games, that's 69 hours of football Pards, to get it right and there's still one sorry example left. Perhaps its the one we need to sort things out. To at last get it right.
Because Pards, I'm sorry to say but this season has been a complete failure. There I've said it. Failure. Not a nice word on which to end the season but I'm afraid on this occasion its the only one that fits.
We've had all the excuses, the latest one of which was; "If we'd stayed fitter we'd be in the play-offs. But this squad can have a better year next season just by staying healthy. But I do want to improve. I think we have a good base here and we have some very good young players who are going to threaten the side. But I certainly need to bring in at least two or three first-team players."
But to tell the truth we're all a bit tired of excuses, because excuses remind us that we all expected to win promotion first time round and Pardew feels he has to explain the current situation. As far as we're concerned next year will be different, 'cause we won't expect so much, in fact, many people won't expect anything at all. Just a few more home wins at the Valley would be nice thank you very much and a couple of away wins to keep the real supporters happy.
Anyway, moaning over, in case anyone is still at all interested in the very last 90 minutes on offer, we will try to tell you all we know about Coventry.
There's about half of the current fizzy collection that can all remember, and reminisce, about better times of Tier One football. And probably Coventry fans have more dreams than anyone. For an unbelievable spell of 34 years they enjoyed top-flight football without winning anything. Between 1967 and 2001 they were continuous members of England's top division and at the time of their eventual relegation, only Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton could claim a longer stay in top-flight English football than Coventry. OK, they did win the Cup in 1987 but never finished higher than 6th in the league.
As for ourselves, Sunday was, of course, the day that we all planned to give Monica a huge farewell wave with accompanying laughter, as we departed the fizzy shores for more healthly climates but alas not only has Monica been shown the door but we're not going anywhere either. Current manager is Chris Coleman, ex of Fulham and Real Sociedad of San Sabastian in northern Spain. They are in 19th place with 53 points; Coventry that is not Real Sociedad. They're in better shape since he left and are in 4th spot in the second division with 7 games left.
Attempting to gee myself up for what will be another empty and meaningless encounter except that Coventry need a point to ensure that they avoid relegation, I have asked myself the question, have they got anyone of interest? Captain is number 8 Michael Doyle, another Dublin midfielder, and he'll probably be alongside another player eager to be a thorn in our side, number 6 Stephen Hughes, who spent a fruitless year with us in 2003/04 without Curbs giving him a game. Up front they'll be the Maltese mosquito, number 17 Michael Mifsud who, if you believe the hype, is the best player ever to come out of Malta. Unlike the Addicks strikers he knows what its all about and has scored 16 goals this season. Unfortunately he's in a bit of a dry spell and hasn't scored in the last 25 league games since getting two in Coventry's shock 4-2 win at West Brom on December. After scoring against us in September, he's obviously due a goal about now.
On current form we can also expect another home pasting as, over the last 8 games, Coventry have amassed twice as many points as we have, 10 to 5, and whereas NOBODY has suffered more defeats in those last 8 than we have, eg 5, Coventry have only lost 2 and moreover enjoyed a rumping 5-1 win over Colchester on their last trip away from home.
As for the Addicks, who knows what Pards will offer us. Lack of width being one of the excuses, sorry reasons, for Saturdays defeat at Barnsley mean he's rather desperate for a winger. With Cook's departure back to Fulham, there's only Sam and Thomas left of the experienced wide men and both are reported as injuried. Perhaps its time we saw what 18 year old Scott Wagstaff is all about. But more likely it'll be Varney or Ambrose on the right.
Therry Racon, whose birthday it is today - he's 24 - has returned from his education at Brighton, 8 games in 5 weeks, and will presumably take some part on Sunday. If you've forgotten what he looks like, there's a pic on seagulls along with encouraging words like energetic and dynamic.
It's Sam Sodje's last game before his loan spell is up so perhaps Pards will include him and give us a hint of his plans for next season. Otherwise it'll be Bougherra and McCarthy in central defence. Again Greg Halford is due to return to Sunderland after the game and with the 3.5m that Keane laid out to get him from Reading last summer in mind it would appear unlikely that we'll see him again. Whether he plays on Sunday will depend on Pardew's desire, and perhaps need, to get a result.
Who else? Jonjo Shelvey must start and at least get the fans some promise of a bright future.
So Weaver; Semedo, McCarthy, Bougherra, Thatcher; Racon, Shelvey, Holland, Ambrose; Varney and Iwelumo.
Subs; Randolph, Halford, Wagstaff, Basey, Gray
And what does Pards say about the game? "Our fans will be coming on Sunday, and we'll have to put on a display with character, tenacity and a bit of quality. The players need to show some spirit, and we are looking to finish the season on a high note." Another 1-1 draw then.

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