Over the weekend it seems that one or two people in the know appear to have been hinting at some ‘interesting’ news due to come out of the club this week. Certainly this has been alluded to on the Messageboard and elsewhere and a number of people been asking for further information and speculating as to what it might concern. Today, it’s my turn to second guess…
Now I’m a sucker for this sort of thing when it comes to Coventry. I’d like to put in an early disclaimer here; I don’t do ‘gossip’, but a good dose of speculation never did anyone any harm. Considered opinions are totally acceptable, at least in this blog. So there we go…let’s a have a stab at what it is, or even better, what we’d like it to be…
I’ll start back-to-front if I may and mention first what I think it won’t be – and that’s a significant ‘adjustment’ in key personnel within the staff. The Board have successfully weathered the storm as far as the calls for changes to the coaches/management are concerned. By saying and doing nothing, they bought themselves valuable time and helped by a run of games against teams embedded at the foot of the league, they are now in a much healthier position than they were after the Esher game.
Whether this will prove in the long term to have been the right decision remains to be seen, but the Board stuck to their policy of ‘no comment’ and just bided their time in the knowledge, or perhaps hope, that things would improve. But credit where credit’s due, the coaches and players have turned things around in the last two games and there’s a feeling of optimism returning to the club.
I will add a couple of personal observations here. For the most part, the players have quite rightly remained free from criticism throughout this season’s trials and tribulations. There are some very talented individuals within the squad, many of whom are either extremely experienced and have previously graced the higher tiers of professional rugby or are still young but will do so at some stage in the future. The vast majority of concerns and frustrations voiced by supporters seem to have revolved not around them, but more about whether there are the coaches in place to bring out the best in the squad, indeed even to select the best team. And the spectators were right to raise them.
Anyone who might feel this is an unfair criticism should remember that Scott Morgan voiced exactly these concerns himself after the humiliation Cov suffered at the hands of Esher:
This is the same group of players that we had last year. What’s going wrong?…It’s the worst we’ve been for the four years I’ve been here.
I’ve got to look at myself and the other coaches. Is it us or the players?
So before anyone has a pop at me, I’m just stating the reality of what was happening at the time. Questions were being asked of everyone involved in the club as they had to be…quality assurance, self-evaluation, call it what you will, it happens in any business especially when targets aren’t being met.
I felt for Morgan then, as I do now. I think he has the makings of a fine coach, but whether he has the right people around him to take Coventry to the next level, well that’s where, for me, there are still questions to be asked and answers to be given. It could be that Jon Sharp is going to bring someone else in on a temporary basis to give Scott some additional support…that would make sense, but nothing more substantial than that.
The final comment I’d like to make on this is that whether or not the Board were right not to take any action when we had that desperate run of 5 losses from 7 games (and the 2 wins weren’t too convincing, either) they were totally wrong in the way they dealt with the genuine concerns of the many supporters who felt let down by what was happening both on and off the pitch.
By appearing to bury their heads in the sand, it looked as if the Board were just hoping it would all go away – and this ostrich like behaviour is not an endearing quality. Eventually, the e-letter went out, unsigned, and just added to the uncertainty, seeming to point the finger unfairly at the players for the most part and at the coaches to a lesser extent. There was certainly no willingness for a little introspection on their part. It was poorly handled and whether the Board are proved correctt come April, in this instance the means will never justify the end. By all means accept the accolades if and when they arrive, but also accept the criticism too.
So, if it’s not a change in the coaching/management, and with my ‘speculative’ hat firmly on my head, what might this week’s news be?
Well, it could be a hoax for a start, a couple of rogue insiders wanting to appear in the know…unlikely though because it seems to have come from more than just a couple of sources.
The addition of another overseas international looks a fair bet as this is a rumour that started a couple of weeks ago now. It’s interesting that whilst Daniel Carpo came straight into the club, Mieres has to undergo a month’s trial – is that because Mieres is unsure as to whether he wants to commit himself to Coventry or because the Carpo move hasn’t really worked. Once bitten etc.
Mieres is clearly a classy performer at any level and if a contract can be agreed, then we should get it signed as soon as possible. It would be a huge shame to let him slip through our hands. Had Daniel Carpo been on a month’s trial I’m not sure I would have been writing the same thing, great player that he is – he just doesn’t seem to suit Coventry’s style of play in quite the same way.
I do have reservations about taking on another ‘star’ player (I have to say we have a few here already without the need to get involved in further recruitment)…but if this is to happen, then let’s make sure we are certain he is right for the club and we are right for him and that we sign him up for an 18 months contract, not a 6 months one. We need players who will be here for some time and around whom we can build a team.
It might also be an announcement connected with the thorny subject of communication – perhaps bringing someone in to oversee the website and match day updates etc. This is an issue that everyone has a view on, often with little consensus. The Board could get a lot of extra brownie points by employing a full-time media officer to do the things that Tom Little can’t. His role seems a clear one and he does it well, with the team announcements and ‘pre’ and ‘post’ weekend roundups and lately some updates on injuries.
However, the official website is poor, with little else on there for the individual supporter other than JB’s match reports. Everything else is aimed at the corporate market and whoever is overseeing that aspect of the website should be commended. However, a lot of supporters have said they’ll turn to the Messageboard for information in preference to the website and that just shouldn’t be the case.
Match day highlights could be made available, together with interviews, weekly audio or visual, with key staff and players, articles on how the players train, diet, treatment of injuries, care for the pitch, a day in the life of…(Eric, Geordie, the guy on the turnstiles, one of the player’s wives etc etc). Anyone with a bit of imagination and an understanding of how to put things on to the club webpage could make a huge difference. It shouldn’t be just a match day experience for the supporters (is it even that?), it should be a whole week’s build up. Get supporters interested in the club news and you’ll get them through the turnstiles come Saturday.
The other big announcement could be connected with Coventry City’s alleged interest in the Butts as a potential replacement for the Ricoh. The report on the BBC’s website is a classic case of a misleading headline, ‘Coventry City dismiss speculation over Butts Park Arena move’ glossing over the real truth that lies within the article itself.
The title would have us believe that Coventry City want to bring to a speedy conclusion any further speculation about a move, one that just isn’t going to happen. But as we read on, we learn that:
Reports linking us to any long-term deal with the rugby club is only speculation
so in actual fact absolutely no denial there…and:
We will not be making any further comment at this time
another way of refusing to either confirm or deny any interest.
New managing director Chris Anderson, who took over last week, made it clear at his introductory press conference on Tuesday that he is open to all options as regards the promotion-chasing League One club’s future home
all options must surely include looking at the Butts…?
Whether or not there is any news this week, this story is certainly not over and we will undoubtedly be involved in further speculation before a decision is finally reached. However, at least Coventry City were quick to release a statement.
And in the midst of all this, what do our Board have to say on this most important of issues…?
Perhaps then this week’s announcement might also have something to do with recruiting a full-time PR person so the club can avoid future embarrassments of this type…