Club talk

The long good Friday…

What a difference three days can make.

Friday saw the announcement of the shuffle in Coventry’s management structure to accommodate a change in roles for both Phil Maynard and Scott Morgan, with Morgan being given total responsibility for the playing side of the club and Maynard becoming the new el supremo, with a job title of Managing Director.

By and large, the move was greeted positively on the messageboard, with most supporters pleased there was now a distinct line drawn between the two posts. Plenty of new threads appeared following days of relative inactivity and there was an obvious increase in anticipation over Cov’s game against Blackheath the following day.

Two days on and everything is back to how it was.

Only one thread of a dozen posts making reference to the game on the messageboard, expressing emotions ranging from disappointment through to frustration and on to anger. And there’s little in those posts to suggest there was anything positive to take from the game. It’s such very low response to what was billed as an important game. A chance to match ourselves against a top 3 team.

And yet relative silence.

Not messageboard…but messagebored.

Of those who did contribute, there was some concern that in a season in which the team has produced some fairly mediocre performances, the club appears to have rewarded the two main managerial protagonists with promotions. It’s not something I’d necessarily agree with, but it is something that I can completely understand. For those passionate about their club, it indeed could be seen as strange timing.

But overall, it’s hard to remember a Sunday following a game that has been so quiet. Given this was a home fixture with almost 1300 in attendance, one might have expected rather more in the way of comment. The sad fact is that the vast majority of supporters appear disheartened and somewhat disillusioned with what they’ve seen at the Butts so far this year. What was meant to be the season we really made a push for promotion has become a season of mid-table mediocrity and supporters aren’t going to buy into the recent announcement as a panacea for all the club’s travails. Had there been something different on view yesterday, well there might have been a bigger and better reaction yesterday, but that wasn’t to be and it was very much a case of the same old, same old.

It seems to me that the club has two main groups of supporters.

There are those who buy their season tickets or match day tickets and will come to home games most weekends regardless because, for their sins, they are Coventry RFC diehards.

And there are those who turn up at the turnstiles very much on an ad hoc basis, depending on what other sporting events are taking place in the city, what’s on the television, the weather or to avoid having to talk to their partner or look after the kids…

A bit simplistic, but it serves to make a point…

It is this second group, the supporters who aren’t regular attendees at the Butts, whom Coventry are in imminent danger of alienating; they have to do something to address this present lethargy amongst many supporters in this category. In many respects they are of greater importance those who come every week.

Their current ambivalence towards Coventry RFC is an illness that will spread and, like many illnesses, it will eat away at the club’s very heart and eventually only something radical will bring about a cure. The attendance figures must be a good deal lower than were expected in September, indeed I remember Tom Little suggesting the first game would be around the 1250 mark with figures increasing in the following weeks when the World Cup had finished and when, presumably, Coventry has started to win at home on a fairly regular basis.

Whilst the numbers were up yesterday by 150ish on the average so far this season (at1298) , the trend is very much downward on last season. And yesterday was always going to be higher as a result of what appears to have been a very successfully run Former Players pre-match meal. And of course this weekend was unusual because both Wasps and Coventry City weren’t playing. If there was ever a day when things fell in the club’s favour then it was yesterday. And in that respect 1298 wasn’t a great turnout against one of the front runners for promotion.

I don’t think the number of season tickets bought this year has been released, but it would be interesting to see how many  non-season ticket holders have been coming in through the turnstiles since September compared to last year and whether that number has fluctuated. If it’s more than 300-400 then I’d be surprised, and if it is, then they must be down on season tickets purchased in previous years.

Once the number of non-season ticket supporters starts to drop, the club would become anxious  because that is where the ‘new’ money comes from, the season ticket monies will have been accounted for elsewhere back in September. And let’s be honest, if you’re in that second group of supporters, the ones who come to a game depending on external factors and the form of the team itself, then there  probably isn’t going to be the same incentive to attend the home fixtures after Christmas as there was when optimism was high.

Attendances  across the league are down anyway, so it’s going to be a struggle in January unless there is a turn around in Coventry’s results or the marketing prior to home games improves considerably, although there were some promising signs of that happening for the Blackheath game, albeit far to late in the day. The website looked a lot better…!

So, let’s hope for an upturn in those using the messageboard after Christmas as things hopefully begin to pick up.

To misquote The Specials…a fine Coventry band of the late 70s/early 80s

This board (board) is coming like a ghost board
All the threads have been closed down
This site (site) is coming like a ghost site
Posters won’t post no more

It’s a shame because the power of the messageboard shouldn’t be underestimated.

There are several very loyal posters on there whose discussions, I’m sure, help to shape the club’s thinking to some extent. The more who use it, the more influence it will exert…and the importance of that can’t be overstated.

It is all so quiet at the moment and the silence is deafening.

The long, good Friday of 3 days ago seems an age ago now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Take a minute to look at the following statements:

  • At the moment players are not in a groove. They are still working hard and trying a lot of things, but there is just not that fluency to their play;
  • It looked like there were individuals and a collective all trying to find a game that fitted together;
  • The greater problem is that teams find you out;
  • As a coach you have got to keep tweaking things and have enough variety in your game so that you can pick and choose how you attack;
  • I think at the moment they have been found out a little bit because they are trying to do things just as they did last year, and teams are waiting for them;
  • They are still getting enough front-ball ball from their forwards to be attacking a lot better than they have been in general this season.

They were all written by Sir Ian McGeechan in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph about the struggle Bath have had to recapture last year’s form. But anyone of these could apply just as much to Coventry as well…teams have done their research on us, from this season as much as last, and we have been found out, and certainly the forwards are dominating and providing enough ball for us to be attacking far more than we presently are.

And if teams have found us out, or if it’s just that we’re one-dimensional and in fact there isn’t really anything to find out, then the coaches must develop  variety in Cov’s game to keep the opposition guessing. I’m sure there is a plan B, C and D, but the problem seems to be that when plan A isn’t working, then the team doesn’t appear to be able to switch mid-game. They start with a plan, whether it be A, B, C or D and then have to stick to it, come what may.

If you’re going to cross the gain line, then you have to be able to offer something different if what you’re doing just isn’t working.

Scott Morgan now has autonomy in the running of the club’s  playing affairs that some of us had been advocating for a while now. But with that, he is now the one who is really the most accountable. If things go wrong on the playing side, then Phil is sitting pretty as long as the corporate side of the business is doing well. I would imagine there will a couple of changes in the Head of Rugby’s  role before there is any movement in the post of Managing Director.

So for  Scott, it is important that he ensures things are seen to be done fairly quickly and that he keeps the momentum of change going over the remainder of the season.

It’s not necessarily all about results at the moment and he’s still very much in the honeymoon period, but too many performances like that of the second half on Saturday and Scott will be having to look over his shoulder. In an age of league tables, target setting and value-added, no one in a position of responsibility in any walk of life is free from accountability, and rightly so.

Jon Sharp and Phil Maynard have both mentioned the club’s vision. Jon Sharp with regard to the club’s facilities and Phil Maynard with regard to providing, ‘a sustainable product once we get back into the Championship’. But both depend to an extent on the success of the team and whilst Scott will surely be given the time and resources to achieve this, the longer things remain as they are, the more pressure he’ll encounter.

I’m backing him to succeed, but the there are other voices, louder and far more influential, that will be less forgiving. Quick changes that are visible and make an immediate impact would do Scott’s cause no harm at all and give him a breathing space to develop a style of play that provides the variety in the game plan that Sir Ian McGeechan referred to in his analysis of Bath’s present plight.

Of the two changes announced on Friday, Scott’s appears far more challenging from the outside looking in.

I wish him all the very best…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was interesting to read in the Coventry Telegraph’s article on Friday of the:

pending acquisition of the 125-year lease to the whole of the land comprising Butts Park and the Arena by a company owned wholly by club chairman Jon Sharp – a significant move which will give the club the platform to develop the site, improving both the sporting and entertainment facilities

but it would be even better to hear from Jon Sharp himself what improvements he is hoping to make, both on and off the pitch. This reluctance to speak publicly is something I just don’t ‘get’…he’s probably the most popular chairman at Cov in the time I’ve been supporting Cov, someone seen as a benefactor who has the best interests of the club at heart and someone who is genuinely appreciated.

Were he to speak to supporters he would get the warmest of welcomes; I know of no one who is against his modernising of the club, or the desire to move us to the next level as far as the rugby itself is concerned. Now that we’re in the doldrums a little on the pitch, he could blow the winds of change a little off it and enthuse supporters about what he has in store for our club.

That’s where the tag line ‘Our City, Our Club’ runs into difficulties. ‘Our’ is a possessive pronoun and gives the impression of ownership – in reality, we have no right to expect Jon to do anything other than what he’s presently doing…

Obviously, if negotiations for what ever changes he has in store are at a delicate stage, then I can quite understand his reluctance to jeopardise things by making a personal public statement, but with some important announcements already made and others presumably in the offing, it would be great if he’d talk to the supporters directly.

He needs to feel the lurve…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Great news about the superfast Wi-Fi, by the way. Seems that one went under the radar!

I’m sure many of us are very grateful for it’s introduction.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 replies »

  1. Ye gods. I’ve never witnessed a rant quite like Roy’s before. Your calm, considered and non-confrontational comments, Tim, about JS and his situation as club chairman are not exactly echoed by Roy, are they? The worst thing about his rant is that, if JS were in any shape or form, or to any degree, positively persuaded by your comments that some form of communication to the supporters, possibly by means of a Fans Forum, would be a good, positive and constructive move, he would run a mile from the concept and any resultant commitment after having read Roy’s rant. The very worst thing about these blogs, message boards, etc, is when they are used as a vehicle for myopic, biased, unsustainable, unjustified, unethical and, frankly, borish rants which, to make matters worse, are hidden behind the so-called anonymity of the blog/message board. If Roy feels so strongly (which his use of capital letters throughout his rant would seem to indicate) where has he been over recent weeks/months/seasons and why has he never posted (as Roy Thompson) on the Message Board in a persuasive manner in order to work on the apparent apathy of which he is so condemnatory?
    I feel very sorry for you, Tim, that the vehicle for your well meaning, well thought out, constructive and positive observations has been so badly abused and high jacked. In fact I think an apology is due. Whilst I would like to apologise for Roy and his rant, I’ll be damned if I see why I should take responsibility for someone like him to the extent of apologising for him. Maybe, just maybe, he might, with a little reflection, consideration and thoughtfulness, conclude that the use of even a modicum of tact could well get him very much further than a mindless and high decibel rant. As my grandfather used to say “strengthen your arguement, not your voice”.

    Like

    • Hi Cliff – I’ve decided to remove the comment as I felt it was verging on libellous and this isn’t the right forum for such debates anyway…Roy needs to approach Jon Sharp directly rather than through the blog. He obviously feels strongly about

      There’s absolutely no need for you to apologise for his tirade – having stood in front of classrooms full of disgruntled inner city kids for many years, it’s water off a duck’s back!!!
      You’re absolutely right about such comments actually holding back discussions rather than moving – you wouldn’t expect JS to respond to such an attack…
      Anyway…hope you’re well and looking forward to Saturday…just don’t know what to expect from Cov really..no stand, so if it rains you could get very wet.

      Like

  2. Hi Roy – and thanks for coming over and being so frank about your concerns. I’ve remained loyal to JS because I’ve not heard anything to make me disloyal. If what you say is true, then it needs answering, and urgently.
    You clearly feel passionately about the club – perhaps you should also post this on the messageboard where it will be seen by others as well. The more you voice your concerns, the more people will listen.
    You’ll understand of course, that I can’t condone the comments as at the moment they’re just your opinions and I certainly don’t want to part of anything libellous.
    Produce some evidence and put it to Jon Sharp and let him respond…the questions you raise are all fair, and certainly ones that many would want answers to as well.
    Thanks for coming over…but no need for the capital letters, though. We’re not deaf!!!

    Like

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