Tuesday, 14 December 2010

JIM'S COLUMN 11.12.10

Another home win last Saturday over struggling Middlesbrough took Coventry City to 33 points, a rare feat in the wilderness years since the club were relegated from the Premier League. In fact that total has been bettered only once in that time, the first season down in 2001-02 when the management partnership of Roland Nilsson and Richard Money looked set to take City straight back or at least get into the top six for a crack at the play-offs. That dream was shattered with a disastrous run of six defeats out of seven in April 2002. At this stage (20 games gone) in 2001 City had reached 34 points and the table shows the record in subsequent years with the manager responsible.

2001-02 (Nilsson) 34 points
2002-03 (McAllister) 27
2003-04 (McAllister) 25
2004-05 (Reid) 25
2005-06 (Adams) 18
2006-07 (Adams) 29
2007-08 (Dowie ) 28
2008-09 (Coleman) 24
2009-10 (Coleman) 19

Strangely the season with the lowest points at this stage, 2005-06, saw City achieve their best finish in those nine seasons by virtue of the influence of Dennis Wise and Don Hutchison. Their introduction to the side, around this time of the year, saw the final 26 games yield 45 points. Now if Aidy Boothroyd’s team could get 45 points from here that would give them a final total of 78 and a virtual shoo-in to the play-offs. One can but dream!

Aron Gunnarsson, assuming he plays at Reading today will become only the seventh overseas player to reach the 100 league game milestone for the club. Aron, now in his third season with the Sky Blues has some illustrious names ahead of him:

1 Peter Ndlovu (Zimbabwe) 177
2 Dele Adebola (Nigeria) 163
3 Arthur Lightening (South Africa) 150
4 Mo Konjic (Bosnia) 138
5 Magnus Hedman (Sweden) 134
6 Youssef Chippo (Morocco) 122

(I have not included any naturalised overseas players e.g. Cyrille Regis)

Talking of overseas players, Geoff Moore who keeps immaculate records of who has played at the Ricoh since it was opened in 2005 tells me that 76 different nations have been represented at the stadium in five years. On Saturday Boro’s striker Tarmo Kink would have been the first Estonian but sadly stayed on the bench. Earlier this season we saw the first Uruguayan at the Ricoh; Barnsley’s Diego Arismendi who is on loan from Stoke. Until Geoff mentioned Arismendi to me I was unaware of him yet Stoke paid almost £3 million for him in 2009 and he has only played one half of a League Cup tie for them. He has apparently won two caps for his country but it does make you wonder how these people get work permits.

Since the move to the Ricoh in 2005 only four penalties have been missed by opponents and on Saturday Boro’s Leroy Lita became the first player to miss two. Westwood saved his spot-kick as did Stephen Bywater did in September 2005 when Lita played for Reading in a 1-1 draw. The other two misses were also both Westwood saves, from Wolves’ Ebanks-Blake in 2009 and Scunthorpe’s Gary Hooper last season. Over the same period four City players have missed spot-kicks: Michael Doyle, Elliott Ward, Sammy Clingan and Leon Best.

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