Going underground…

And the public wants what the public gets
But I don’t get what this society wants
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow

The Jam – Going Underground 

I’d chosen not to travel up to Leeds yesterday, a decision that on balance was probably the right one given the report in this weekend’s  The Rugby Paper describes Coventry’s performance as being ‘well below par‘…

And not for the first time away from home this season either.

I’ve seen 5 of Coventry’s 7  losses on their travels in the Championship/Cup competition thus far and it’s a struggle to think of one that has been even ‘par‘ to be honest.

7 games, 7 defeats. It’s all a bit demoralising really and I can only admire the Cov faithful who made their way up to Headingley knowing full well Coventry faced another uphill struggle against an improving Carnegie side who will surely finish comfortably above their current 12th place in the league in April.

Still, Coventry’s ever-optimistic Director of Rugby, Rowland Winter, was yet again positive in his post-match comments:

The Cup competition has been a good opportunity to give squad players some experience and we’ll be better placed in our next league game against Nottingham as a result

I’ve booked my place on the Supporters’ Club coach to Nottingham next Sunday and am looking forward to seeing just how much Cov’s somewhat mediocre away form pre-Cup will have improved as a result of these opportunities given to the squad in the last few weeks of the Cup competition.

I have to say though, I’m not expecting too much.

Especially against such a strong Notts side that had won 6 games before the break and was on something of a roll.

Winter’s comment has confused me a little as pretty much everyone in the Coventry senior squad had already had plenty of Championship opportunities in the nine games leading up to the Cup anyway, so it will be interesting to which areas of Cov’s game will have benefited most.

Yesterday’s squad, at least on paper, looked a pretty strong one…?

0511-0809-1401-2848_Full_House_Poker_Hand_Clip_Art_clipart_image.jpg
From The Rugby Paper…

In fairness, it appears that Cov’s discipline yesterday was much, much better than it has been on occasions this season, with Winter’s side conceding just 7 penalties in all. The penalty count does seem to vary from game to game, but if Cov are to come away with the points next weekend then they’ll have to show the same sort of self-discipline once again.

And even if that is the case that still might not be enough, as was clearly the case against Carnegie.

Cov’s  early home form in the Championship was such that it ensured the club went into the break mid-table and in a decent position to force its way into the top 6  come the end of the season.

For that to happen though, two things have to occur.

Firstly, Cov will need to produce similar form over the remaining 6 home games to that which they produced prior to the Cup competition commencing. And that will be a big ask, especially given we still have the visits of the Pirates, Ealing and Nottingham to look forward to.

Secondly, we’re going to have to pick up one or two away wins as well and we have some really tough places to go – Jersey, Irish, Bedford, Carnegie and Scottish to name but five. It’s expecting a lot from a team that has yet to win away from home but Cov have always excelled against the better sides, so it would be churlish to dismiss their chances even on the evidence of what we’ve seen so far this season.

It was interesting to read Mark Forster’s post on the two Messageboards this week. His is obviously a far rosier, and better informed, view of what is happening on the Cov front than mine but, even so, I can’t see too many players in the current squad whetting the appetites of the Premiership clubs at the moment.

For me, there are too many players who still have to prove themselves at this level, both individually and as part of a team, before they can be thought of as possible Premiership acquisitions.

As good as sixth place is after nine games, at times we’ve flattered to deceive and, for me, relatively few of the senior squad have so far come out of Cov’s first 4 months back in the Championship with reputations actually enhanced (as opposed to ensuring they have at least remained intact).

And I must stress that’s a personal viewpoint and one I don’t necessarily expect to be shared by many.

One or two of the squad seem to have made little impression and with no mention of Jake Sharp for several weeks now in particular, the writing would appear to be very much on the wall for the former London Scottish fly-half. 

Fortunately, there are some very promising youngsters within the club for whom this season has been something of a breakthrough one.

Much of the talk this season has been about the relative strengths or otherwise of the senior squad. Is it, for instance, a group of players capable of ensuring, at the very minimum, Championship rugby next season. Does it have the makings of a squad worthy of the investment the Board is working so assiduously to bring into the BPA over the next few years?

And so on.

Hopefully, the answer is yes to both. That said, it would only take a couple of defeats at home in the opening games of the New Year to put a very different perspective on just where Cov might finish the season, but as things stands we are in a healthy(ish) position.

However, just how good this squad really is, even in this first season back in the Championship, must be open to some conjecture. During pre-season, Rowland Winter was adamant that it would take time for the squad to bed in, but that we would see a significant difference as the players gained experience at this level.

I’m not exactly sure that there’s been any real evidence of consistent improvement out on the pitch up to this point, although we’re not yet half way through the season.

However, losing every single competitive game away from home is less than acceptable and it matters not that there might have been aspects of Cov’s play in all 7 of those defeats that have impressed.

Is it realistic to expect supporters to remain silent and not to start voicing genuine worries if we continue to lose so many games away from the BPA?

It’s not for me, anyway.

At the moment such worries are centred for the most part on the players and the players only. As far as I’m aware there have been no expressions of concern about the coaches abilities to turn things round away from home, at least not publicly. Rightly, Messrs. Winter, Walshe and Deacon are being given plenty of time to adapt to life in the Championship following their stellar achievements  in National One, but the longer this run continues, the more questions will be asked.

It might be heresy to suggest that change might be needed at some stage, and I’m certainly not for a minute suggesting any of their positions are in jeopardy in the short or even mid-term. However, I think it is fair to ask if we are missing the input of a defensive coach or whether one day a week of Boris working with the forwards is enough, or indeed, whether the support of a coach with several years experience of Championship rugby might not be useful.

Many of the players in the current squad have plenty of experience of playing in the Championship, ironically far more so than the coaches.

Is that, perhaps, a factor in Cov’s current form away from the BPA? We’ve seen how competitive this squad is at home and we’ve got pretty close to winning on our travels as well.

But close won’t be enough for much longer, will it?

All I’m asking is are those 7 losses all down to the players’ inexperience?

And I do believe that’s a pertinent point to raise.

In the last three seasons, when there has been an occasional dip in fortunes or a run of injuries, we’ve seen the club bring in players to strengthen the side  – where appropriate. Might the time not be right to buttress the coaching set up, too?

I guess they’ll be one or two folk seething as they read this, presuming they’ve actually got this far. I openly acknowledge that it might be something akin to heresy to even debate the current coaching line-up given its previous successes, but people are reading this post because they choose to be so and as such must accept that my views will often be out of kilter with those of most Cov supporters.

I’m not expecting to be flavour of the month…

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

Which is all the more reason to end the blog with this post.

After three and a half years and having typed out getting on for 1.75m words, it’s the end of the road for the blog in its current format. Any future posts will no longer be visible and will be password-protected. The only exceptions will be posts relating to the Coventry Bears, although I’m looking at setting up a separate blog to cover those.

I would just like to say a huge thank you to those who have followed  the blog, regularly or otherwise, since it’s inception back in July 2015. There have been nearly a thousand posts in all and it’s been a real roller-coaster of a journey, with plenty of highs with a few lows thrown in for good measure.

Those who have kindly received the blog via email (and that is over 150 alone) will no longer receive notification of posts as has been the case in the past.

For the time being, the blog will remain visible and all posts up to today’s will remain accessible. A number of people have requested this but I’m not sure for how long that will be the case.

From now on, I’ll be writing for an audience of just one (or two). This gives me the opportunity to be a little more frank and open, something I’ll be able to do without incurring the wrath (often justifiably) of others.

Today’s post is probably a case in point!

I’m not sure how subsequent ‘private’ posts will appear on the blog so I’ll do a couple of test posts first.

There will be no notifications via Twitter either, obviously.

Finally, and most importantly, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year one and all…

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

Some people might get some pleasure out of hate
Me, I’ve enough already on my plate…

You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns

I don’t think the lyrics to any song I’ve used in a post better reflects its content than this…

 

 

Author: Tim

25 thoughts on “Going underground…

  1. Sorry to see the blog come to an end Tim. You have raised some good points again. For me a good blog sometimes needs to throw a cat among the pigeons, as it stimulates debate. Narraway leaving was undoubtedly a blow on and off the pitch. I still think some players are bedding in as we have been forced to chop and change a lot. I also think we are still stepping up fitness wise to this level and we are a bit light on strength and depth in the backs. A lot of rugby to go and we are far from safe. Kim and I will be at Nottingham but not on the coach. Thanks for such a great blog and consider publishing it!!!

    1. Hi Alan…thank you for kind words, as always! Agree about players bedding in but I’m not convinced RW and the coaches know what their best team is, or if they do they haven’t been allowed to play it yet because of the unforeseen amount of injuries we’ve suffered in the pre-season/first few games. I understand there might be a new conditioning coach coming in over the summer to ensure the squad is even better prepared next season!

      Hopefully, Nottingham will be a turning point and we’ll see a consistent Cov performance away from home for the first time this season. Here’s hoping.

      Have a great Christmas and thank you for all your support…

      Tim

  2. Hi Tim,
    Been trying to get onto the blog for the last few days but password protected, entered what I knew as my password but not recognised, then hallelujah today got straight on without the password screen…….strange. However, sad to read about closing the blog, have enjoyed the experience and I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and New Year.
    I agree with your comments about the future, problem if we start losing at home and really do think a defence coach is required but still have faith in RW to sort it out.

    1. Sorry you’ve had problems, Pils, that’s was my fault – I was getting ready for the post-pubic blog. I’m sure RW and his coaches will get on top of the away form. but do think someone with plenty of Champ experience amongst the coaches wouldn’t be a bad thing. Thank you for being such a loyal reader of the blog over the months/years and likewise wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a blue ‘n white New Year. Tim

  3. Tim it’s a very sad that this is the last blog. For someone who can’t get to the games as much as I would like your match day tweets and blog have kept me connected to the club. I love the blog as you have never been afraid to put those difficult questions or nagging thoughts in. If other have had issues with that it probably says more about them. Enjoy your “retirement”

    1. People have been very kind and said some very nice things, but probably none nicer than your comments which are really appreciated. They’ll be the blog’s epitaph! Many thanks, Krys – have a great Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

  4. Tim, it’s a sad day today but that’s being selfish. Your blog has been compulsory reading for the last few years and will be very much missed. Having said that, you are very much respected for your comments and level headed approach which has brought a balance to some of the comments which have been posted on the unofficial message board.
    I think the majority of us are beginning to become seriously worried about our away form. At some point decisions will have to be made and the appropriate actions will have to be taken.
    Have a good Christmas and New Year. We fly out tomorrow to have Christmas in Gran Canaria.

    1. Hi Cliff! I have to say, without your enthusiasm and encouragement (and that of Paul I and Quent) that first season, the blog might not have gone into a second year!

      It’s going to be an interesting second half to the season, one that might yet get a little nervy towards the end if we don’t continue to pick up wins at home. Still, a win against Notts on Sat, who I reckon are definitely beatable if we play to our strengths, could give us all a bit more confidence going into the New Year.
      Happy Christmas to you and yours…see you soon, I’m sure!

  5. Thanks for your blog over these past few years. As a new supporter it really helped me understand more about Coventry RFC. I’m sure the side will continue to improve over the coming months. Have a good Christmas.

    1. Thanks Ed. I’ve really appreciated your support and insight; for someone like myself who is so naïve and writes purely from a supporters’ perspective, it has been invaluable. And encouraging.
      Hopefully, we’ll see more of Cameron over the remainder of this season and into next…
      Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  6. Hi Tim – I’d just like to add my thanks to those already posted. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Cov’s journey over the last three years. A journey definitely enhanced by your writing. I share your apprehension about our performances over the next few months. I have a feeling we might inversely mirror Carnegie’s ascension!! I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Like you, I arrive early to games. To soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the warm up. I often see you on your laps, with your lad! Next time I do, I’ll shake your hand. All the best for Christmas and beyond.
    Thanks again – Richard

    1. Thanks, Richard…yes, I’ll be delighted if we end the season where we currently are. And very surprised. Should our home form ever fail us…

      Do come and say hello, might need a breather if we continue to lap at the rate we have over the last couple of games!

      Once again – many, many thanks for your encouragement. Happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year.

      Tim

  7. Thanks very much Tim, shame you’ve decided to stop issuing your blog, it has always been very informative and interesting, I will miss it. thanks again and let’s hope we get a result at Nottingham and continue the good home form for the rest if the season, whatever, it will be good to get back to the Championship. cheers.

    1. Hi Paul and very many thanks for your kind words. The Nottingham game is a big one for me…another defeat on our travels would be a real concern, even if it’s an improved performance. At times we’ve seen glimpses of just how good this squad really is but I can’t help feeling it has underperformed overall away from home. We can’t keep relying on our form at the BPA – some day that bubble will burst. Anyway, happy Christmas and here’s to a great New Year, too. Tim

  8. Thanks Tim, have a great Christmas and a really good New Year. Kindest Regards, Ian.
    P.S. see you on one of your many laps of the pitch.

    1. Thank you, Ian and likewise to you and yours, too. I’ll be putting in a good few laps post-Christmas – more a case of necessity than just being virtuous! All the very best…Tim

  9. Thanks for keeping us informed and entertained Tim. Like others have said before, your take on all things Cov rugby will be missed.

    Anyone who’s head isn’t in the sand must share your concerns around away form this season even if they don’t voice them. We recruited a fair amount of Championship-experienced players ready for this year’s campaign but there appears to be something missing from the equation.

    I sincerely hope we can find some better form in the new year and cement our place in this division, whatever happens I get the feeling that the squad and, dare I say it, the coaching team may have a different look to it next season.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family and your readers.

    1. Hi Rob – many, many thanks for your support, it has really been appreciated! You were there in those early days pre-RW when promotion into the Championship was no more than a pipe dream. In fairness, the club has come a long way since then, but at the moment we don’t appear to have progressed a great deal over the last few months and even at home now I think we’d struggle to replicate those early wins against Jersey and Bedford, especially given how much they seem to have improved. I, too, share thoughts about the changing of the guard next season – there will undoubtedly be some old favourites moved on. Sad, but probably necessary. Happy Christmas, Rob and a healthy and prosperous new year, too. Tim

  10. Tim. Thanks for all you have written. I will miss your blog immensely. It has been informative and fair. Today’s post poses questions of the type that any journalism should periodically ask. It is very disappointing that we (note the we, we are all in this together) keep losing away from home and the second half of the season could be very tricky if this continues. You are correct to raise the question. Having said that, Sir Alex Ferguson was very protective of his team and perhaps the head coach is following this approach. I assume there will be a bit of a clear out at the season end, hopefully while planning for another season in the Championship. Anyway, thank you for entertaining me and have a great Christmas and New Year.

    1. Kevin – you’ve been an absolute star and I’ve really welcomed your thoughtful and insightful comments…your contribution is something that’s made writing the blog far easier than it might otherwise have been. I’m sure you’re right about the clear out – in the past two seasons RW has known who he’s wanted to bring in well before the New Year and I rather imagine there will be a number of the squad playing for contracts over the next couple of months. I guess the Ferguson approach is better than the Mourinho one…

      Have a fabulous Christmas and hopefully the new year will be a good one for all Cov supporters!

      Tim

  11. I totally agree with the away form problems. More than ever we now get to hear a different take on affairs, with statements slanted in a defensive mode. Sometimes slanted towards the players hearing it. As for the prodigal Jake Sharp, my brother and I were saying on Friday he had vanished. With no mention of injury or return from injury or loaned out or even on the bench prior to return to the league…all very strange.As for the spin on yesterday’s game, strange..

    1. Interesting that there’s no video of RW’s (or NW’s) post-match summary this week and there was no Cov Twitter feed either – for a game that determined whether Cov would get the home draw in the quarter-finals of the cup that was a bit disappointing. Jake Sharp is definitely dead-man walking, I reckon, if not dead-man walked. On a different note, many, many thanks for your support re: the blog – one of the real benefits for me is that since writing the blog I’ve got to know many people whom otherwise would have just remained faces in the Cov crowd and getting to know you has been a great pleasure. have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. Tim

  12. Tim, thank you.
    It does not feel like I have lost a fellow supporter, it feels like I have lost a very good book and can’t recall where I have left it.
    Regards Phil

    1. Hi Phil, it’s been a blast these three and a half years and I’ve been hugely grateful and appreciative of your support during that time. I’m looking forward to plenty more away days and especially to listening to you and Steve H offering your rendition of Wizard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ from the stand at Nottingham on Sunday..!

      Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

      Tim

  13. Tim thank you.
    It does not feel like I have lost a fellow supporter, it feels like I have lost a very good book ànd for the life of me I can’t recall where I have left it.
    Regards Phil

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