Walking the walk…
As a erstwhile English teacher, it was incumbent on me to ensure the students under my tutelage were always able to analyse a piece of
prose carefully, explore the narrative running through it, highlight the subtext and evaluate how any significant nuances in the language were used to create an intended effect.
And once an English teacher, always an English teacher. The danger of this is you’re always likely to over-read something, look for meanings that just aren’t.
However, Scott Morgan’s comments in the Coventry Evening Telegraph this week seem clear enough (CET – Scott Morgan’s comments). If the players won’t follow the game-plan, then I’ll make the necessary changes to ensure that I have a team on the pitch on Saturday that will. The article is essentially about Coventry’s poor disciplinary record this season (11 yellows and a red) and the impact this is having on results.
However, towards the end of the article, Scott says:
There are some tough decisions to make and some tough action to take. We’ve got to make sure that all the players on the pitch follow the script, that we are all on the same page, and the people making the decisions out there are doing what is being asked of them.
And this is where the English teacher in me kicks in. Morgan uses the word ‘tough’ twice in the one sentence – the repetition is deliberate and a clear indication that it is time to be hard on those who aren’t performing; and he wants to emphasise the point. The choice of ‘we’ and not ‘I’ is interesting. The use of the first person plural pronoun ensures that the players are left in no doubt that it’s not just Scott Morgan speaking, it is ‘we’ the supporters, the coaches and the club. Everyone has had enough. ‘The people making the decisions out there’ is a direct message to the more experienced players within the team who should be calling the shots. And ‘doing what is being asked of them’ is a euphemism for ‘doing what they’ve been told to do’.
Scott’s considered choice of words shows his frustrations and if this is anything to go by, then we can expect some major changes on Saturday. As this is post is being written before the announcement of the team, I’ll be interested to see if I’ve done what I often tend to do in these situations and read too much into what has been said. I know I’m being subjective, allowing my own misgivings about the season so far to impact on my understanding of what Morgan has said. Perhaps it’s more a case of hoping he means this, rather than actually believing he does. We’ll see soon enough.
I do think there does need to be some changes made. I’m a firm believer in the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke….’, but things are clearly not working as they should and Scott would be right to send out the clear message. ‘No one’s place in the team is safe. I’ll do what I have to do.’
Morgan makes a similar statement about the lack of discipline this season:
It comes down to discipline, responsibility, and the complete buy-in to what we are to do, and it’s something we clearly have to address
Here again, Coventry’s head coach and the man who makes the ultimate decisions over selection is making his situation absolutely clear. His comments are unequivocal. You do exactly what we have trained so hard to do; if not, then I’ll take action to ensure you do.
What we don’t know is when these comments were made – immediately after the match where emotions were running high, or later in the week when he’s had time to reflect. I have to say though, it’s what I want to hear from the Coventry coaches. This isn’t a knee-jerk response to one poor performance, it comes after a run of games in which Coventry have failed to deliver what we know they can. It’s good, strong leadership and Morgan should be respected for it. How the players respond on Saturday is the acid test though.
As an aside, the photo accompanying the article shows Tom Poole illegally pulling the shirt of a Fylde player who is about to tackle Matt Jones…a great piece of editing on the part of the Telegraph! Well done them.
Have the players taken on board everything that has been said…?
Saturday can’t come soon enough for me.
‘From out of left field’ doesn’t do justice when describing the team selected to play Rosslyn Park tomorrow. And fair play to Scott Morgan, he said tough decisions would be needed and boy has he made some difficult choices, not the least of which is the decision to start himself in the second row. 37 years old and desperately short of match fitness, yet ready to put himself through the pain barrier in a team that sees several changes. He’s prepared to lead from the front, presumably feeling that he can have more influence on the pitch and use his vast experience to steady the ship than he can in the stands. It’s a bold move and a brave move and one that might just pay off.
Presumably, if he doesn’t last the full 80 minutes, Sam Pailor (welcome back, Sam) can move into the second row and Jacques Le Roux go into the back row. With Oliver and Carpo starting, the back row is huge and Pailor, Carpo and Le Roux are all good ball carriers. Just how quick to the breakdown they’ll be is a worry for me, especially against a Park back row which, when firing, is one of the best in the league.
Andy Brown is given a well-earned break but remains on the bench with the new Tongan prop coming straight in. Congratulations to Tiploma Kivalu on making his debut. With Jake Farnworth on the bench, there is no place for Devlin Hope. He did seem to pick up an injury towards the end of the Fylde game so I can only assume he’s not fit enough to play, surely he’d be included otherwise?
Evans isn’t even on the bench – whether that’s indicative of how Morgan views his contribution last week or the result of an automatic suspension is unclear, but it would appear there is no cover should the ever-improving Lee-Everton have to come off at any point. Maybe Caolan Ryan can double up?
Whilst there were some calls for a change at fly half, that was never an option for me. Matt Jones is quality and with Ryan committed to fullback given Hamilton’s absence and Canning not yet fit, there was never a viable alternative. Matt is more than capable of controlling a game. Let’s hope he does so against Park.
Weightman hasn’t looked match fit since his return and although we’ve seen glimpses of his ability, moving Tincknell to the right wing seems sensible. He has played some of his rugby in the past there so he knows what to expect. With Smith and MacBurnie starting (how many combinations have we had at 12 and 13 so far?) defensively the midfield is as strong as it’s been all season, but it lacks the pace and power of Rob Knox. Smith had a couple of strong runs on Saturday and as he gains in experience, I’m sure he’ll become a potent force in attack, too.
The bench is interesting…two more new players in addition to Farnworth and Kivalu; both Hutchinson and Worth are dual registration and with Hicks and Marshall also joining us, that’s six new faces this week. Both Hutchinson and Worth are centres, so Morgan appears to recognise that without Knox, options in the centre are limited at the moment. No place for Tom Poole…? One of the decision-makers Scott mentioned in the article, perhaps?
I can’t help but feel that this team is a statement of intent from Morgan. If you don’t play to the game-plan, if you don’t show the self-discipline that I expect and if you don’t put in a performance that merits you wearing the blue and white hoops, then I’ll do it myself.
Strong leadership. And right now, that’s just what we need.
Not just tough talking. He walks the walk as well.