Club talk

Shuffling the pack…

CovlogoSo here was the announcement at long last.

And with the changes to the roles of  Phil Maynard and Scott Morgan, Coventry RFC  now believe  that Coventry Rugby Ltd have an opportunity to move into a ‘new era of development both on and off the field’.

John Wilkinson’s article in yesterday’s Coventry Telegraph (Coventry RFC shuffle Butts Park Arena backroom pack) is extremely interesting for several reasons. In short, though,  on reading it through carefully a couple of times, I’m not convinced that the changes outlined in the paper will have quite the impact suggested.

The title to the article is in itself a give-away. If you shuffle something, as in a pack of cards, you produce a random re-ordering of the same items, or in this case people.

Now I know there is nothing random about the change in job descriptions and that presumably they are now more better defined with a clear demarcation between the two roles, but it is essentially the same two people doing the same two jobs. A slight shuffle at that, then.

The real difference now appears to be that Phil is concentrating solely on  ‘non-rugby activities’ whilst Scott has full responsibility for everything connected with the club’s playing activities.

So effectively, the real change is in Phil’s role. It would appear that he has been moved away, by either choice or edict, from all things related to the rugby side of the club, allowing Scott to have complete autonomy over playing matters.

Even so , with Scott perhaps diplomatically suggesting  that:

it’s not a significant shift or change and he (Phil) will always be there to support and help

it doesn’t exactly seem as if this is something that will lead to ‘a new era of development’ both on and off the pitch, given so much appears the same.

And if Scott is talking already about his move not being a significant ‘shift or change’ it seems that we shouldn’t expect anything major to come about as a result of this, at least nothing that’s visible to us.

And this is where a more detailed explanation of the revision would be so useful. It’s easy to read something and make assumptions, assumptions that aren’t going to be corrected by those in the know.

Another Fans’ Forum where each can speak about their own roles and answer questions from the audience would put an end to any such discussion overnight.

If this is the start of a new era, then perhaps the club could begin with communicating a little more fully what is involved directly with its supporters, and not through a third party.

Jon, Phil and Scott are all articulate and would do a great job in selling the new roles to supporters who already seem split in their opinions about the changes, given today’s comments on the messageboard.

It would be hypocritical of me to be too negative about such an announcement because it is something that many supporters on the messageboard have been asking for, myself included. Namely, a clarification of the two roles, albeit a partial one. So a big thank you to the Board for this; more of the same please.

But implicit in this is the suggestion that previously the two roles weren’t working as well as had been hoped, and the fact that the change in roles will come about with ‘immediate’ effect can really only lead one to that conclusion.

Comments on the message board earlier in the season did hint at tensions, and given it now appears that ‘immediate’ effect in reality means several weeks ago, it goes some way to explaining why the Coventry camp hadn’t looked the happiest of places prior to the Blaydon game.

I can help but go back to that fixture and recall the weight that seemed to have been lifted from the shoulders of the players out there that day, something that nearly everyone who commented on the game was quick to point out. And of course that game also marked a seemingly different approach to selection.

Now I wonder if the changes in the management structure that we are now hearing about, the same ones that are rumoured to have been in situ for some time, began around that time.?

It is speculation, but it’s so tempting to try and put all the pieces together retrospectively.

And guess what?

When you do, they seem to fit perfectly.

It will come as no surprise that I do welcome the move to give complete autonomy to Scott Morgan over all aspects of the playing side. He now can make his own decisions and be his own man. It always felt strange when it was Phil talking pre-match about the selection of the team in the Telegraph and more often than not it was Scott having to front up afterwards.

With this autonomy, Scott also has to shoulder complete responsibility; there’s really is no place to hide, no  one else to shoulder the blame should things go wrong. It’s Scott’s head in the firing line now and his alone. He’s a tough guy and he’ll rise to the challenge and I’m sure it will be a relief to him to have that added control, even though he might be a little more isolated now.

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Jon Sharp is clearly a sound businessman and can see the bigger picture. If, by acquiring the whole of the land on which the Butts stands, he can develop sporting and entertainment links that in turn raise revenues, some of which can be added to the playing budget, then brilliant. He’s only behaved in the best interests of the club as far as I know, so good luck to him.

And if there’s something in it for him, well I don’t see the harm in that. He’s clearly put a lot of money into the club, so he’s entitled to have something back in the long term – with the proviso from a supporters perspective that it doesn’t leave the club in difficulties. If everything is above board then it’s all hunky dory with me. Good luck him…

Jon Sharp spoke effusively at the Fans’ Forum about the success Phil was having in creating business links and Jon clearly has great faith in him. Generating additional income is going to be essential, especially if we continue to have lower than expected attendances and want to build up the playing budget. Good luck to Phil; it is a vital role.

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I was a little concerned, though, by a couple of comments made in the article. Phil Maynard talked about the ‘viable’ and ‘sustainable’ playing budget that we have now, one that will continue to improve so that:

we have a sustainable product once we get back into the championship

It’s the use of the word ‘once’ that concerns me somewhat. ‘Once’, in this context, suggests it’s a given, it will happen.

And it’s anything but that. The club (and I include many of the supporters here) were guilty of perhaps being over-confident in September. We’d put ourselves in the top two by April, recruitment meant we had players as good, if not better, than those already here and we all felt extremely pleased with ourselves.

And look at us now.

Talking about ‘once we get back’ could make us seem a little too smug. If and when…fine.

Whilst we were recruiting last summer, so were all the other National 1 teams, many of whom have smaller squads and tighter budgets. Only  many of them  were doing it better

And there are six of them presently with a higher league position than Cov.

Does that mean they recruited more effectively, or that they are able to get more from their players through a better coaching set up?

I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but if we accept the above is true, then how is this the case?

And who was responsible for the recruitment of players last summer and who will be this summer?

The other thing to remember, and my son put me in my place over this one, is that we all think of last season as being a very successful one. In doing so, I often cite the 18 match unbeaten run as being evidence of this.

However, we only actually won 4 of our last 10 games, so the malaise had already begun in the final third of last season. The warning signs were there and perhaps we didn’t pay enough heed to them. We mustn’t allow ourselves to do that again.

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If the change in roles allows Scott to continue to slowly and surely restore confidence both on the pitch and in the stands, then that can only be to the good. Normally, a Friday post would be about selection , but with so much else happening, then that’s not the case this week. But I think it’s clear that we can already see Scott’s influence in the selection for the team to play Blackheath.

Despite the disappointing defeat last week, there are only 3 changes and one of those is to allow the return of Matt Price, with Devlin Hope going back onto the bench. Whilst Pricey deserves his return, Devlin had a solid game and I’m sure will get on at some stage.

Hough on the wing is probably a good shout. He is quick and although he only made a brief appearance in the pre-season games he did enough to suggest he’ll be a handful.

Pailor is unlucky to miss out totally, but if Scott feels Carpo is the man for the job, then Sam wouldn’t be able to add him to the bench as Danny Wright offers more versatility, being able to play at 4,5,6 and 7. The back row is big and strong, but whether it has enough pace  has yet to be seen. The Blackheath back row is formidable. The breakdown could be crucial…win that and we should have a big advantage.

No knee jerk response, just three sensible changes to a team that have won  3 out of their last 4 games.

And the fining of players…yep, I can see that might work in the short term.

Coach them to better understand how to adapt to the referee might be better in the long run, though.

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With three new notices appearing on the official website yesterday, we almost had an overload of information. Putting it all out on a Friday prior to a home game is a good move, too, creating added interest and a general buzz on the messageboard that might pull in a few extra today.

Still, not the sustained advertising campaign that is needed to build up interest in the home games, but certainly a welcome improvement in recent weeks and one that is duly noted. Well done, Cov.

I’m desperately hoping that Scott can turn things around on the pitch between now and April. No one is really expecting promotion now, least of all because Scott scotched the idea last week. However, a decent run and a move up to the table is essential and certainly 3rd or 4th position by the end of the season must be a reachable target.

Would be acceptable to finish any lower than we are now? Given that the justification for the move is to allow Scott more autonomy and therefore a better chance to raise levels of performance on the pitch, I’d argue it that it wouldn’t be.

Scott must deliver now…he’s been given a fantastic opportunity which must be seen as a reward for is efforts up to this point.

He was my choice before and he remains so now…

It’s too early to make any judgements about how the new era’s looking come 4.45 on today, but it will be very interesting to see how both the players and the crowd respond to yesterday’s announcement.

The pack has been shuffled and the cards laid out on the table…

Let’s hope it’s reveals a couple of aces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 replies »

  1. Perhaps it is you can’t have two bosses, you disregard one and obey the other with the team individuals picking their own choice of leader,direction, hence breakdown in team continuity

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    • Yeah…very pertinent point. I’m sure it’s partly that. Let’s hope it’s all behind us now. Continuity must be the key at the moment. As results pick up as I’m sure they will, then you can start to tinker. With injured players coming back, it’s starting to look more promising.
      Thanks for commenting, John, it’s great to get some feedback.
      Have a good one, Tim

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  2. I would say “once” implies that yes, we will get promoted but it does not determine a time frame so is pretty much open – ended.

    Today’s game… I think it will be a 5 point win. Think I’d prefer to see Pailor on the pitch in some form; contrary to your post, I have seen him cover 4-8 whereas I have only seen Wright play 4-7. That said, they’re both good players so don’t mind too much. Thinking about it, I think I recall Pailor and Wright playing together in some of Cov’s better performances.

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    • Hi Paul…I’d have had Pailor starting too, at the expense of Carpo. But on the bench I’d have Wright not Sam because he’s an accomplished second row and a decent backrow and offers more options. You’re absolutely right, Sam has covered second row…but Wright is the better replacement for me. That’s what makes it so interesting…we all have different views. I’d be a cr#p coach…I’d never get selection right.
      Keep warm…and have a great Christmas. Thanks for taking the time to comment…Tim

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  3. Wise words as ever Tim. I would say, however, that I personally approved of Phil’s wording…’once we get back into the championship’ gives the message that the club won’t rest on its laurels until that aim is achieved. I read it as determination rather than over-confidence but that’s just my personal take on his comment.
    Shame about the weather today, I think, prior to this season, I had taken shelter from the elements 2 or 3 times at the Butts Park. Today looks like it will be the 4th game in a row that I’ve watched from the ‘mini cowshed’. Ah well, the Ubu will warm me up…

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    • Hi Rob

      Yep, can see exactly what you mean, but there are 15 other clubs with the same idea as us and several with similar aspirations. I used to be of the opinion that ‘our time will come’ but not so much these days…it’s not just about the players you recruit, it’s also about the set up they come into and the ability of the coaches to get the best out of them. It’s brilliant we have sound finances and can use additional income to support what goes on the pitch BUT we’ve already seen that doesn’t guarantee promotion. ‘If and when’ just adds a note of realism for me, ‘once’ seems to assured given our track record of late.
      Will need to keep warm today, but I’ve gone for a Cov win on the messageboard and I genuinely believe we’re in with a great chance.
      The wetter the better!
      Have a great weekend….

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