‘There are more questions than answers
Pictures in my mind that will not show
There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know…’
‘There are more questions than answers’ – Jimmy Cliff
Having been somewhat critical in the past few months about Coventry’s reluctance to communicate with its supporters, I must begin by saying how welcome the latest edition of the e-letter is. Any connection between the club and it supporters outside of match days is something to be congratulated, especially when the official website does little other than provide the most basic of information, and even then often lagging behind other forms of media. So a big well done to whoever is responsible.
Unfortunately, my appreciation doesn’t stem much further than that. The content is somewhat contentious…I don’t think it’s intended to be so, but were I a player or coach reading this, I’d be somewhat miffed to put it mildly. I know it’s a bit unfair to dissect a text in the way that I am now going to, but when you put something out into the public domain you do so knowing that you have to be careful what you say. You make sure that it is checked and double-checked to ensure that if can’t be misinterpreted.
And having praised the club for it’s willingness to share its news, overt criticism of the content of this newsletter is the one thing that might prevent future mailings. Once bitten, etc. But I am just one of many hundreds to whom it will have been sent…these are just my views. There is always the danger of deconstructing a text merely for the sake of effect…I have tried to avoid that here and just concentrate on what the messages coming out of it mean to me. I could be right or I could be wildly off the mark, that’s up to the anyone reading this to decide. Please do comment if you feel this is in any way unfair.
The first thing that stands out is the anonymity of the writer. Given it talks about the Board and refers to the efforts of Phil and Scott, one can only surmise that it comes from the Chairman, ie Jon Sharp and reflects the views of the club as a whole and not just of one individual? But it isn’t at all clear.
It begins by mentioning the performance of the team has been something of a ‘surprise’, especially the ‘four unexpected losses’. No argument with that other than no one would have expected to have gone 8 games without at least one defeat…I’m not sure if there was an expectation that we would have remained unbeaten at this point in the season? Anyway, following the Rosslyn Park game, it goes on to state that ‘we need changes’ to improve performance and get us back into the top 3 in the table. This would appear then to be the revised target for the remainder of the season – a top 3 finish? Certainly the word ‘promotion’ is notable only by its absence. If getting into ‘the top three’ is the target to be reached by February, for instance, with the expectation of pushing on from there, then that would be very different. It’s just getting back into the top 3.
So, it appears there ‘s now an expectation by which ‘success’ can be measured. It’s a brave statement, because if it’s not reached then those who haven’t achieved it will be held to account…and it’s hardly an improvement on last season. Would this be success…? In the present context of 9th in the table, perhaps..
The newsletter goes on to say that the Board are ‘totally committed’ to finding the reasons for this poor start – well I’d be rather surprised if they were only half-hearted in their approach, but I’ll let that one go. Of more interest is the sentence:
Players who don’t perform when they play will not will not* (sic) be part of the playing squad and other squad members will get their chance to prove themselves
*glad it’s not just me who misses typos!
Now this clearly echoes Scott Morgan’s sentiments in the CET after the Fylde game. Does this explain Danny Wright’s sudden departure a couple of weeks ago, or Tom Poole’s and Devlin Hope’s exclusion from the team against Park? Without any clarification from the club, with no explanation despite plenty of comments/speculation on the Messageboard that this is the case, it’s fair to make that assumption. If we’re wrong then just explain the reason…
The e-letter then makes it clear that ‘Phil and Scott’ are also constantly looking at what needs to be done to turn things around. Given that at this point the newsletter is solely referring to what’s happening on the pitch, the hierarchical order of the two – ‘Phil and Scott’ – can’t be ignored.
I understood that Phil Maynard was to ‘(concentrate) on building the club’s business interests’
and that he was to:
effectively hand the first team reins to the new regime (and) believes the opportunity is no more than (Scott) Morgan deserves.
Now, this has all changed, or so it would seem. What is Phil’s role exactly…? It’s a question that has been raised several times on the Messageboard and rightly so. It’s something I’ve held back on because there’s never been anything come officially from the club to suggest that Phil has any involvement in playing affairs. Until this statement. Is this a recent development given the sudden drop in form, or has there always been an input…is it something both Phil and Scott are happy with…etc etc? This is where the club’s reticence in communicating what’s happening comes back to bite them. It’s now more unclear than ever, to me anyway.
But the biggest mistake of all, or is it just honesty, comes in the sentence:
One of the goals during the off season was to assemble a group of players who could make a charge for promotion and to try and achieve that without loan players…we all believed we had achieved this, but the warning signs are clearly there…
Given that the four losses thus far were ‘unexpected’, then the charge was meant to happen from the beginning of the season. The squad was going to be ‘largely self-contained’, yet since the poor run we’ve brought in another 7 players, with a further trialist announced yesterday evening, and the suggestion that there’s more in the offing. The evidence…’last weekend saw the first opportunity to bring some of these players in’. So with more to follow, it smacks a little bit of confusion, if not panic.
The message seems to be that the group of players brought in just haven’t been up to the challenge and if I were one of them, I would feel pretty aggrieved at that. Firstly, I don’t think that is necessarily the case at all. And, if it is, and let’s play devil’s advocate here, if it is and the player’s aren’t of sufficient ability to achieve the expectations of the club, then it’s the club that’s at fault for appointing them, not the players for doing their best and falling short. Workmen and tools, eh? Does that put the coaches at fault, or the Board, or both?
What the writer of this newsletter is actually doing by implication is tacitly blaming the coaches whilst overtly admonishing the players. Deliberate or accidental? Maybe I’m not giving whoever wrote this enough credit…
The only other implied criticism of the coaches comes in almost the final sentence of the section in the newsletter dealing with playing matters. Here, the writer states that:
…the simple questions around the ability of the squad we have and whether the game plans are right or just not executed or why simple basic errors persist must be answered and put right’
I’m sure the coaches would hold their hands up and say they’ve had just as big a part to play in what’s happened so far. You’d hope so, anyway. Deflect the criticism from your players and let them focus on what happens on the pitch. It’s the first time the coaches have been implicated and it’s not before time.
An over-reaction on my part? Conceivably, so.
Reading too much into what is a genuine attempt to put supporters’ minds at rest. Maybe.
But it is as it is and where there was smoke, there’s now the faint glow of an ember or two which, if not doused quickly, could ignite into flame. The coaches and players have been somewhat marginalised…doesn’t the Board have any responsibility for what’s happened? Not according to the e-letter. I was hoping to read something in it about everyone having had a part to play in what’s happened from the top down, but it’s more about the hard work that being done at Board level and by Phil and Scott to repair the damage caused by underperforming players. It just doesn’t seem fair, as has been pointed out elsewhere.
I’m from the old school and believe in corporate responsibility, but in the end it’s about knowing where the buck stops.
I totally accept that some might see this as an attempt to stir things up…it’s honestly not.
If it’s anything, then it’s an attempt to show how misleading things like this are if the communication between the club and its supporters works on a principle of ‘too little, too late.’ Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning will know that I have been hugely supportive of Jon Sharp and the Board. However, this isn’t their finest hour, if indeed the letter is from them, but at least it’s the beginning of a ‘dialogue’. I’m sure they listen to what their supporters have to say…
…and besides…the letter clearly states:
Your feedback helps us…and we value it greatly.
This is mine. I hope it is of some value.
‘There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know…’