Club talk

Match day and the irrelevance or otherwise of league positions…

The gods may throw the dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It’s simple and it’s plain
Why should I complain?

Abba – The Winner Takes It All

Week 14.

And an important one it is, too.

It’s all getting a bit close in mid-table for my liking, with several teams lining up behind Cov, ready to overhaul us should we trip ourselves up against Old Albanian later today.

A win would ensure that we remain in 6th place.  And, with Ampthill taking on Plymouth Albion at home, if the result goes the right way from our point of view, we could narrow the gap between ourselves and Ampthill to just 3 points.

 

week14

 

It was interesting, and heartening, to hear Rowland Winter talking of what’s happening at Cov as being a ‘two, three or however many year project’…

but I would take issue with him (now here’s a first!) in one respect.

He says in the same article that:

It’s not necessarily about where we finish in the league, it’s about what we do in the games. League position – as long as we don’t get relegated – is completely irrelevant to me…

Now I think I understand where he’s coming from – that as a DoR, it’s all about playing the long game and that in terms of ‘Project Cov’, if we accept that it is very unlikely that we’ll gain promotion this year, then provided we don’t get ourselves relegated then it really makes no difference if we finish 2nd or 13th provided that happens this season takes us a step nearer to promotion in the next one or two seasons or so.

He’s going to be more concerned about how the team performs over the course of the season, how individual players develop during their time here, how they respond to what is being asked of them by the coaches and so on…

That makes complete sense to me.

However, whilst the position Cov finish in might be of an irrelevance to RW as DoR, to supporters it is important.

Very important in many ways.

His remark struck me as odd at first as it almost seemed to ignore the feelings of supporters who don’t necessarily play that long game, but instead concentrate on individual games, checking the table to see where we are from one week to the next.

In dismissing the league position as being completely irrelevant once you take out the promotion and relegation places, you’re in danger of ignoring one of the fundamental tenets associated with being a supporter, namely the success of your team against the others in your league whether it be weekly, monthly or over the duration of a season  …you only have to have been following Cov over the last three seasons to understand what it means to the supporters to finish 3rd or 8th…

D’ya get me?

Sorry, just been watching Gogglebox…

But thinking it through, if you are focused on the end game, then often the end justifies the means, so-to-speak, and that it might well be that to get into a position to challenge for the top spot, you have to experiment with the team, try different game plans, work though different structures and routines and in doing so there might be more lows than highs to begin with.

And that’s tough for the coaches and the players because as supporters, we don’t look much further than the next couple of games and we tend to judge on the short term, not the long term. I can imagine that if we finished 13th this season (and that won’t happen, so I’m safe to say it!) then Rowland’s position would be made that much harder because of the adverse reaction he would no doubt receive from most supporters – and I think even I would be beginning to have my doubts at that stage!

If the lessons from this season are already being learned, which I am sure they are, then I imagine the coaches will already have an idea of the areas in the team they might want to strengthen, of the players they will need to keep for next season and of those they might be looking to move on.

If this year is about setting in place the building blocks for future successes (which is something that RW has stressed almost from day one) then, yes, the position we finish won’t ultimately make any difference if it’s not first in the league and provided it isn’t in the bottom three either.

Originally, I thought that the:

League position – as long as we don’t get relegated – is completely irrelevant to me…

remark was very ‘unWinteresque-like’, given that he has been at pains to put supporters at the heart of the club, encouraging them to be involved far more than in previous seasons.

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense – RW is a man on a mission and whilst outwardly he is very relaxed and always warm and welcoming to supporters, there has to be a more steely edge to his nature – to have got to where he is, and as quickly as he has, suggests that must be the case. Maybe the comment about the ‘irrelevance of league position’ shows how, if necessary, he’s prepared to incur the wrath of the  fans if it means that it will ultimately result in that long-term goal of promotion into the Championship.

The same goal but two different ends of the spectrum.

I guess that’s where having the vision and the almost single-minded belief in what you’re doing sets successful leaders apart from the rest.

The winner takes it all…

And talking more generally now, as much as I hate to admit it, I’d settle for something similar, too, if it meant promotion. If finishing 13th one season was followed by promotion in the next one or two seasons, then yes it would be worth it.

Pain v gain…

The test would be whether you’d have the faith in your DoR to stick by him and give him another season to prove he was right – or indeed whether the Chairman would have that faith. All very hypothetical I know, but it is interesting how comments can be interpreted in different ways…and how the same comment can be seen so differently by the same person after a couple of readings.

And to be fair, I have tended to re-read the articles on the official site (over-read!) more this week because there’s been so little traffic passing through the Messageboard at the moment. With little else to fall back on, JW’s articles have been a godsend. I don’t think there’s been a single posting, other than those by John Wilkinson, these past two days and I’m pretty sure that’s a first for a Thursday and Friday before a match day. I’m at a loss to know why.

Yes, the previous weekend’s result was a poor one, but that often produces more posts rather than less, and I can’t believe the team news for Saturday’s game doesn’t offer a number of talking points, especially Brendan Burke’s inclusion into the starting XV and Freddy Tuilagi’s return.

Even the Supporters’ Cub have gone incommunicado this week!

All very bizarre.

In the past, such silence on the Messageboard has tended to  signal a lower than average crowd…a crowd that might well be hit by the England vs Australia game which has a 2.30 start. If we get 950 I’ll be pleased…and that’s’ not something I thought I’d be writing back in September.

It’s going to be a really interesting game to watch at the BPA today, with plenty of things to keep an eye on…how the new look back row shape up, whether Brendan can work his magic on the back division that has been a little lack-lustre of late, how the scrums and lineouts hold up after last week, whether moving Owain James to full back pays off and how Max Trimble fairs on the wing after a lengthy absence.

And hopefully another home game that sees plenty of points and another Coventry win.

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

As always:
If you’ve opted to stay in the warm and watch the England game but want to know what’s happening other than just updates of the scores, please let me know and I’ll be happy to tweet a ‘commentary’.
Apologies in advance  if sometimes the predictive text takes over, it seems to have a mind of its own. On other occasions it’s just because things are happening so quickly on the pitch and my fat fingers get very cold.
@CoventryRugby will usually offer score updates, as will the Messageboard.
However, mine is probably a bit more detailed…there’s some choice available though, depending what it is that you’re looking for.

I’m on @Cowshedtim.

If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me), all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end.

Up the Cov

Tim

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

Still in love with Agnetha…

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