Club talk

No eyes to see, no ears to listen, not mouths to speak…?

Hats off to Scott Morgan…

Another disappointing performance against Blaydon…

His owns own frustrations with regard to his current position at the club and all the publicity over the last couple of weeks concerning Rowland Winter’s appointment and speculation amongst the supporters surrounding his future at the club. The will he/won’t he  speculation…

Yet immediately after the game his thoughts remained very much with the players and the uncertainty over their situations at the moment.

It’s a measure of the man….

In John Wilkinson’s report of the Blaydon game, Scott seemed at pains to point out the situation the squad are presently in:

It’s very difficult at the moment, it’s a very fragile environment and it’s got to the point where it’s really important that the boys are told what’s happening with their careers next year and get some clarity to take away the uncertainty.

His concern is not simply about the current predicament the club finds itself in, teetering as it is over the abyss, looking down on those teams below who are steadily pulling themselves out of the chasm just as we are steadily inching towards it.

No, he also is concerned about the futures of his players, suggesting as he does that at the moment the lack of information regarding the players’ positions at the club is a ‘contributing factor’ in the poor performance against Blaydon.

As he said before, his heart is with the club, but it is also very much with the players too.

It makes sense. As the Head of Rugby, you’d want your players totally focussed on the task in hand, namely ensuring National 1 survival next year, rather than worrying about where they’ll be in August. I’m sure, too, that Scott wouldn’t want individuals in the team to go through the fiasco that he had to endure over the appointment of the DoR when decisions were clearly being made without any consultation with him.

He helped bring many of the current squad to the club and I guess he feels he has an obligation to look after them – it’s shame the club didn’t feel the same way towards Scott.

Maybe there’s a lesson for the Board to learn from Scott here.

It’s always easy to read too much into what is or isn’t said, and I accept that I’m guilty of that on occasions, but I think the implication of what Scott is saying is that players are on edge at the very least. I’m not sure what a ‘fragile environment’ means here, but whatever it is, it sure as hell isn’t healthy and if players aren’t clear where their futures lie, however professional they try to be on the pitch, the motivation surely isn’t going to be quite the same? I suppose the argument would be that this is the same for players in national leagues all over the country at this time of year, but with so many players not knowing what is happening, let alone the coaches, it must be unnerving.

Unfortunately, Scott does tend to make the odd statement that suggests a lack of experience at times. For instance:

I think we certainly lacked a bit of direction today and at times it was probably quite difficult to see what we were trying to achieve

is actually as much a criticism of the coaches as it is of the players. He’s absolutely right, there was no direction, no obvious game plan and at times the players were so flat across the pitch that the ball was passed from one player to another without any movement forward at all.

In those situations surely the direction  should be coming from the coaches…yes, they are helpless to a great extent once the players are on the pitch, but you’d hope the systems and structures drilled into the players in the practice sessions would enable them to change their game plan according to the conditions and situation. It needed a leader on the pitch and a leader on the benches to take control and that didn’t seem to be evident on Saturday.

Scott shouldn’t really have to see what they were trying to achieve, he should know, and if he doesn’t he and his coaches should be getting messages out to the players to do things differently. Certainly, it didn’t look as if the players knew how to change their play and we seemed to stick with Plan A throughout the game.

Blame can’t solely lie with the players and the coaches have to look to themselves and wonder where they might be at fault, something Scott has accepted before. It looks like they will be moved on by Rowland Winter at the end of the season, or if one or more do stay on it might be in a different capacity within the club. And that seems the right decision. There’s no guarantee that even with a new intake of players, the coaches would do any better and I think that makes it too much of risk for Jon Sharp.

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The current injury crisis amongst the backs is pretty grim and with Cliffie Hodgson and Scott Hamilton both looking unlikely to play much of a part in what’s left of the season, the team selection for the Cinderford game looks like it’s already going to have to be a juggling act. With no recent announcements on the current injury situation, I’ve had look and amongst the backs as far as I can see, it’s looking something like this:

  • Dom Lespierre
  • Wayne Evans
  • Matt Jones – injured but might be back by Cinderford?
  • Rob Knox – injured
  • Scott Hamilton – injured
  • Caolan Ryan
  • Peter Weightman
  • Gaston Mieres – injured
  • Callum MacBurnie
  • Rory Hutchinson -recalled to Northampton for the Blaydon game
  • James Tincknell – left to play in Australia
  • Cliffie Hodgson – injured, out for season?
  • Sam Smith – at Broadstreet and now passed transfer deadline
  • Ryan Hough – injured
  • George Tressider – recalled by Leicester for the Blaydon game
  • George Worth
  • Dan Rundle – injured
  • Adam Canning – injured
A lot is going to depend on two factors…whether George Tresidder and Rory Hutchinson will be released from their home clubs and therefore become available to play for Coventry, and the fitness of Matt Jones. His return to the team would free Caolan who is a more than useful full back and could probably play in the centre too, given his versatility.
It is extraordinary just how many injuries have befallen Coventry players of late; and more training ground mishaps and one or two of the forwards might again be earning their corn in the back division – it might be the only way Devlin will get a full 80 minutes, mind.
Even if we had been riding high in the top two or three in the league and playing rugby of the quality that we all enjoyed so much last season, it is unlikely we could have sustained that sort of form this season given the catalogue of injuries the team has suffered.
One of the things that did slightly unnerve me about Rowland Winter’s thoughts on next season was the small sized squad he’s intending to build – some 28-30 which seems very small. Okay, he’s going to supplement these with some of the youngsters who’ll play the Nighthawks games and be developing their rugby at other times with some of the junior clubs in the area, but he’s  acknowledged that they won’t yet be ready for the step up to a promotion chasing National 1 side, and he’s also said he wants to avoid DR players if possible.
What happens if he encounters another injury crisis of this season’s proportions?
The numbers out at the moment mean he wouldn’t have a full match day squad, unless I’m missing something blatantly obvious which is always a strong possibility. Maybe that’s a question for the Members’ Forum, but it is a concern for me. However, were most of the team to stay fit and healthy, then a small squad would probably be very united and if Winter avoids signing players who have to travel long distances to train, I think they could be a very tight knit squad, which is no bad thing at all
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I don’t think I’ve ever known the messageboard so quiet over a weekend where Cov have played. A quick count and there appears  to have been just 5 posts about the result, a couple regarding injuries and another half dozen about the threat of relegation and what we need to do over the remaining 6 games in order to make sure we’re still in National 1 next season.

Mick Carter raised the question as to why the Coventry away support yesterday was so low, certainly in single figures. And the suggestions he offers, the cost and it being a general statement of how the season has fared, seems spot on to me. Whilst clearly cost isn’t an issue as far as the messageboard is concerned, supporters frustrations with the way in which the season has unfolded and the manner of some of the defeats definitely is.

I do find it puzzling that so many of the regular contributors to the messageboard, die-hard Coventry supporters who clearly feel passionately about the club are posting far less frequently these days. These supporters are the life-blood of the club really, the one’s who have been there through the good and the bad times but have always remained faithful. And they still are, of course. But there silence does worry me…

…and if it worries me, then it certainly should be worrying the club.

Supporters involved in robust discussions, even at times abrasive, is no bad thing and were I looking on from on high, I might be frustrated or even angered by what I read but I would be delighted that the club’s profile is such that the supporters are getting involved and sharing their thoughts. A silent messageboard would be more of a concern because the silence tells you nothing about the mood of the supporters and the messageboard is a pretty good barometer of the supporters’ views in general.

Does the current silence reflect apathy, perhaps?

Not to me…no, definitely not. It suggests supporters are fed up and frustrated by the results, the uncertainty surrounding the positions of the current coaches and players and another deafening silence from the  club as to what the current position is over injuries, contracts and coaches to name but three. The supporters who use the messageboard are not those who will attend games when Cov are winning and move away when things aren’t going quite so well. Far from it….they are passionate about the club, and will be still here long after the current players, coaches and most of the Board have gone their separate ways.

The silence to me is more about frustration and anger at what is happening…

…the same people can’t keep banging on the same drums if there are no eyes to see them, no ears to listen to them, no mouths to speak to them.

The gap between the club and its supporters is as great as I can remember it being and as it grows wider the bridges that need rebuilding, the ones we have watched burn over the last few months, will become more and more difficult to repair.

We learned more from Rowland Winter about his vision for the club and the structures that he wants to put in place in that one interview with JW than we have from the club in the whole of this season so far. The new DoR seems to get it, seems to understand how important communication is between the club and its supporters…why can’t those who are already at the club, with perhaps the exception of Scott Morgan in his interviews with JW, understand that too.

 

 

8 replies »

  1. From my point of view Tim I posted comments on the message board more often than not as a way of venting frustration at certain developments both on and off the field.
    That frustration has now turned in to resignation and, I hate to admit, apathy, hence me not posting comments of late.
    You know I live and breathe Cov but next season can’t come soon enough for me when, once again, I’ll buy into the hype that accompanies it.
    Having said that I still hold out hope for a couple of home victories in the spring sunshine.

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    • I think there must be something about the name Carter…die-hards the both of you. Resignation is the biggest fear for me…I don’t mean being resigned to a series of more losses than wins over the remainder of the season or the loss of the vast majority of the present squad. It’s resignation of the club’s silence, of their unwillingness to acknowledge the support or the club or the strength of it’s voice – if we all accept this then things will never change. Hopefully, Rowland Winter will understand this and use his position to begin to chip away at the wall of silence that has been building for some time now. I don’t think they’ll be much hype next season – Winter was talking in terms of at least a couple of seasons before the team is ready to push for promotion and that seems far more realistic…I’m going to enjoy the next few weeks and like you am hoping for a couple of wins for the team to sign off on…

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  2. If I was a player and I knew that a new broom was coming in, and he’d offered the players the chance for them to show him that you deserve the chance to stay and develop, then I’d be doing everything I could to stand out -in training/games and around the club- to be part of the future at BPA. I can’t imagine any of the Cov players not doing that, unless they’re definitely looking elsewhere, and if they’re not then RW should get rid. I think that SM is using the ‘uncertainty’ card as an excuse for the poor performance of the team. He gives that away by the second quote in your blog which can be distilled down to – ‘no direction & no clue’. Unfortunately SM and the other coaches are struggling to get any kind of performance out of the players left standing. The next two games against the bottom two are massive, and 10 points from that would be a very small morale boost.

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    • Couldn’t agree more…but maybe they don’t believe there is that chance and what we thought might be a fair few players leaving is actually going to turn out to be more of a real exodus and the vast majority of players are offski come the end of the season…hard to put your body through the pain barrier when there’s not being given in return. Maybe that’s unfair but it’s certainly a possibility.It would be a worry of that is the case because they’ll need to be fired up for the next two games…but they’re ‘professionals’ and they won’t want to let themselves down, or the supporters…we’ll win one at least.

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      • Surely even if players see the writing on the wall and don’t think they’ll be playing at Cov next season, I would have thought they’d still bust a gut for Cov as they’re in the shop window for other potential teams to see them.

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      • Hi Warren

        Yes…I thought that when I wrote the comment, I guess what I meant was that if players are demoralised with all that is going on at Cov and all the uncertainty, would that, or rather could that, not have an adverse effect on their confidence and therefore their performance on the pitch – I’m not sure I’ve made that clear even now! I’m sure you’re nearer the mark than I am but it did seem to be inferred in what SM said after the match…a quick response only because I’m about to start tomorrow’s post. I promise you I don’t sit by the computer waiting for someone to comment!

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  3. I think maybe we are all dumbstruck by what is/is not going on with our club. I read the forums everyday and have also noticed many of the regulars are not posting, frustrations or just acceptance and annoyance at what (we all believed) should have been a great year for the club has turned into a unmitigated disaster. Yes things are happening come the end of the season, but i fear that we all accept that it could take RW a number of years to get things right on the pitch, if indeed he can and does, we also know, the “great opportunity” that we had back in September are few and far between in this league.
    One final point, even with the lack of recent postings, we still get more information from the forum than we do from the club!

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    • It is a really sad indictment that there is more information coming from the board than there is from the club…shocking. And of course it leads understandably to speculation as with Phil Maynard today…scouting or touting…? But the club has only itself to blame for much of it…in some respects, I hope that the vision is for a two or three year programme of building towards a real push for promotion. If it comes quicker than that, well all well and good…no hype, no getting too carried away…

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