This post marks my 200th since beginning this blog roughly two years ago. As it is such a milestone, I have decided that now would be a good time to take stock of what has happened to this club ever since I began posting semi-coherent ramblings about them back in April 2013.
My very first post was a review of what was to be the last home game Coventry City played at the Ricoh Arena for 16 months, against Leyton Orient. There was an atmosphere of uncertainty heading into that game, the club was in administration, the season was over for us competitively and Steven Pressley was effectively using the game as an early pre-season friendly to assess which players would form the nucleus of his squad for the following season.
What followed was a tempestuous and thoroughly soul-destroying summer where any hope of SISU finally leaving this club was extinguished with the farcical decision from the administrator to sell Coventry City to Otium (a company coincidentally owned by SISU). The team was under a transfer embargo and it was then confirmed that Coventry City would be playing their home fixtures in Northampton. On the eve of the 2013/14 season, the club were lucky to be deducted only ten points after part of this club’s arcane company structure has been placed into liquidation.
Just under two years on from that dramatic summer we head into a massive relegation six-pointer in League One against Leyton Orient, ironically the very same opposition I wrote about in my first piece on this blog. We are back at the Ricoh Arena but are now tenants to a rugby team from London for the next 250 years with SISU still maintaining that their intention is to build a new stadium, with very little evidence that this is any more than a commitment to a failed bluff.
Amidst all of this chaos and drama that Coventry City has endured during my stint blogging about them, the manager of this football club is a man with experience in both the Premier League and the Champions League. The appointment of Tony Mowbray was symbolically important as it showed us fans that this football club is still a big draw. The way Mowbray has talked ever since taking the job has made it clear that it is his intention to take this club ‘back to where it belongs’ and that he knows exactly how is going to do it.
Then again, Mowbray’s contract only takes him up to the end of the season and we were met with the revelation last week that there was no scouting infrastructure in place at the club upon his arrival. On the one hand, those two things can be explained as firstly an insurance option were we to get relegated and secondly it allows Mowbray to make the changes he wants to this football club. On the other, it feels like that despite the constant talk from Steve Waggott and Tim Fisher that there is a long-term plan in place, there is nothing in place beyond the end of the season.
I find that particularly disappointing given that during Steven Pressley’s reign, meaningful changes to the club were being made that would help us over the long-term. There was meant to be a ‘Coventry way’ that would give this club from top-to-bottom an identity that players, managers and fans would see on and off the pitch. Even if Pressley was not able to lead us to promotion, everything he was doing would one day make the job of the next man a lot easier.
When Steven Pressley arrived at the club, one of the things he pointed out was that there was no scouting infrastructure. When Tony Mowbray arrived at the club, one of the things he pointed out was that there was no scouting infrastructure. Finding out stuff like that makes it feel like very little is being done by the board to meaningfully improve the way this football club is run. It suddenly starts to add up just why we have failed to convert a top six budget into a top six league position. Maybe this isn’t just a bad season, maybe this is the club reaping what the board has sowed.
When faced with a wealth of evidence to the contrary, even when things were going well, why did I believe that there really was a long-term plan in place at this football club? Nearly every action SISU have taken at this football club have led us further down this path of decline, why did I believe that they were capable of anything else?
Mainly it’s because it feels like there is nothing I can do to change the fact that these are the people running our football club. I didn’t boycott going to Sixfields, I thought this could well be my final chance to watch my team and I didn’t feel comfortable taking the risk that I might never see them again. Had someone told me that not going for a year would result in us coming back to the Ricoh Arena, I wouldn’t have gone but I didn’t know and nobody knew what really was going to happen as a result of the boycott.
Call it naivety, call it lilly-liveredness, call it whatever you want, I am a barnacle on the ship that is Coventry City. I have to believe that one day all of this hardship and pain that has been following this club will pay off, preferably some day soon. I believed that there was long-term plan because I wanted to believe, that was my choice.
Blogging about Coventry City can be especially depressing because you end up micro-analysing things to the nth degree. I wish I hadn’t written so much about legal battles, rugby teams and worst of all the defeats on the pitch. Yet still, I wouldn’t have got to 200 posts though if I hadn’t got something out of it. Whether it has been those Twitter conversations with those who had stumbled across this obscure corner of the internet, or witnessing the reaction that several of my more successful pieces have had, or simply the fun I have had writing.
200 posts in and we have moved rather sideways from being in administration and playing Leyton Orient to being in a League One relegation battle and playing Leyton Orient. Typically though, I remain optimistic about the future despite what could be another summer of uncertainty, turmoil, and possibly League Two football.
There are slivers of evidence that there maybe is a long-term plan in place like exciting youth players coming through, having a manager like Tony Mowbray who aspires to make this club a success by playing attractive football. Maybe I am being played for a fool once again but to paraphrase Albert Einstein, I find it more comfortable being an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and (probably) right.