Monday, 10 May 2010

JIM's End of Season review

Another disappointing season came to miserable end last Sunday with an embarrassing home defeat to Watford. The defeat was the final act of the Chris Coleman era and the likeable Welshman was summarily relieved of his duties on Tuesday morning. Strangely it was the biggest home defeat of his time in charge and the biggest since the game preceding his arrival in February 2008, a 0-5 FA Cup thumping from West Brom.

They say one week is a long time in politics but seven weeks is a very long time in football. On 16 March a win over Cardiff would have lifted Coleman’s men into the top six in the Championship with a reasonable chance of a play-off place if they could maintain their impressive post-Christmas run. Eleven games later and with only five points out of a possible 33 the club are, like Gary McAllister’s team in 2003, fortunate that the season didn’t go on to 48 games. Like 2003 City were never going to pull out of their dreadful slump which took them from 8th place to 19th.

Coleman’s record (a league win ratio of 28%) is worse than all his seven predecessors in this division, bar McAllister. The quality of the football was poor too but in my opinion he has left City a better legacy than his predecessor Iain Dowie and on the whole the quality of his signings was far superior. A new manager will have good players at this level such as Keiren Westwood, James McPake, Martin Cranie, Richard Wood and Carl Baker. Under Coleman however there have been far fewer highlights than in the Dowie era. Last season there were superb wins over the two promoted clubs Wolves and Birmingham plus a memorable Cup replay win over Blackburn and the visit of the mighty Chelsea. This season it is hard to come up with a real highlight other than the hard-fought victory over high-flying Nottm Forest.

Points: The team collected 54 points, exactly the same as last season’s total. 49 of those points came before 10 March in 35 games, the remaining five came from the 11 games since 10 March. This is almost a replica of last season.

Home Form: The home record was won 8, drew 9, lost 6, almost identical to last season. Goals scored were one more at 27 and 29 were conceded, three more than in 2008-09. Between the Newcastle defeat in December and the Cardiff game in early March the team went eight unbeaten at home and then failed to win any of the final six home games. In early March the home form was quite impressive and only Newcastle and Swansea had lost less home games, then the wheels fell off!

Wins: City won only thirteen league games, the same number as last season. Only the three relegated teams won less games. In December they did however win three in a row for the first time since October 2007.

Away Form: Five away games were won, the same number as last year. All five wins were against teams who finished in the bottom third (Plymouth, Peterborough, Crystal Palace, Barnsley & Watford). They failed to win at the seven grounds they have never won at (Leicester, Swansea, Cardiff, Preston, Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Middlesbrough).

Biggest win: The biggest victory was a 3-1 home win over Barnsley, only one of two occasions that the side won by two clear goals, the other was at Barnsley. For only the second time since the side were relegated from the Premiership they failed to score more than three goals in a game.

Biggest defeat: The 0-4 defeat to Watford last weekend was the heaviest defeat.

Goals: Once again goals were hard to come by with only 47 goals scored, only one more than in 2002-03, the worst season since relegation from the Premier League. Only three teams scored less (Plymouth, Peterborough and Swansea).

Final position: The final position of 19th means that the Sky Blues have finished in the top ten only once in eight years of second tier football. But for Crystal Palace’s ten point deduction City would have finished 20th. They are the only club, bar long-serving Premiership clubs and recent promotees from the Conference, not to have been promoted or reached the play-offs since the play-offs were introduced in 1987. City are now the second longest serving Championship club, after Preston. During the same period Preston have reached the play-offs on four occasions.

Leading scorers: Clinton Morrison was top scorer with 11 goals (all league). Leon Best netted 10 before his move to Newcastle in January and Freddy Eastwood scored eight.

Doubles: City did the double over two sides – Barnsley and Peterborough. Four clubs, Reading, Derby, Cardiff and Newcastle achieved the feat against City.

Appearances: For the second season running Keiren Westwood started the most games, missing just two league games and one League Cup game. Clinton Morrison however appeared in all 46 league games and all three Cup games, coming off the bench in eight league games. In his two seasons at the club Clinton has only missed one game out of 102 – an impressive record. Four players failed to start a league game but made substitute appearances (Gary Madine, Shaun Jeffers, Ashley Cain and Leon McKenzie) although Cain & Jeffers did start the League Cup game. Nathan Cameron and Callum Wilson appeared as subs in the League Cup but did not start a game.

Players used: Thirty one players were used in league games. In addition Adam Walker, Cameron & Wilson made one League Cup appearance. Of the 34, 17 players made their debuts during the season, six of them loan players. In addition to the 34 players used, five more, Danny Ireland, Curtis Wynter, Michael Quirke, Conor Grogan and Jacob Blackwell all sat on the bench as substitutes but were not used.

Records: At the end of his final season Marcus Hall reached 308 first team appearances for the club, leaving him in 15th place in the club’s all-time appearance chart. With Marcus leaving and Elliott Ward likely to follow shortly the leading appearance makers remaining at the club are Michael Doyle (278) and Isaac Osbourne (135). It remains to be seen whether Doyle will be with us next season.

Substitutes: Freddy Eastwood made the most substitute appearances (16). Loanee Gary Madine made nine appearances from the bench without starting a game, a club record. Three City substitutes scored goals: Morrison (twice) and David Bell.

Average attendance: Home 17,305 (2008-09 17,411). Away 17,426 (2008-09 17,592). The home average attendance fell by less than 1%.

Highest home attendance: The biggest league crowd was 22,207 for the visit of Leicester City in October.

Lowest home attendance: 14,326 v Sheffield United. (the lowest ever at the Ricoh was v Scunthorpe in 2007-08 – 14,036). The Barnsley ‘gate’ of 15,031 was the lowest for a Saturday home game since the stadium opened in 2005. The Hartlepool League Cup crowd of 6,055 was the lowest for any first team game at the Ricoh. The Portsmouth FA Cup crowd was the lowest at home in the competition since before City joined the Football League – you have to go back to 1909 when City were in the Southern League for a lower ‘gate’.

Highest away attendance: The biggest league crowd was 39,334 at Newcastle in February – the largest to watch City in a league game since 39,761 watched their final Premiership away game at Villa Park in 2001.

Lowest away attendance: 5,013 v Scunthorpe. The lowest to watch a City away league game since September 2002 when 2,077 watched them play Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

Won from behind: (1) Watford (a). 1-2 down and won 3-2. The best comeback however was from 0-2 down at home to Middlesbrough to draw 2-2, the first time they have achieved that at home in 14 years.

Lost from in front: (6) Preston (a), Derby (a), Ipswich (a), Newcastle (a), Cardiff (h) & Portsmouth FAC (h). Three of those defeats came from goals in added time. In a further five games City took the lead only to be pegged back for draws. Six defeats from in front equalled the worst season in the last 43 years.

Firsts: City won at Plymouth for the first time since 1965 and at Watford for the first time in six visits and beat Scunthorpe for the first time ever in a league game. There was still no win at Blackpool and Bloomfield Road is becoming a bogey ground. Preston’s Deepdale also remains a bogey ground – City have now played 14 league games there and failed to win.

Hat-tricks: (1) Freddy Eastwood notched City’s first league hat-trick since 2002 against Peterborough.

Opposing hat-tricks: (0) None. However Grzegorz Rasiak of Reading scored three goals in his sides two wins over City and has now scored seven goals in seven appearances against the Sky Blues including every game he has started. Ipswich’s Pablo Counago and Sheffield United’s Richard Cresswell scored their eighth goals against City this season.

Own goals: For City: (1) Baptiste (Blackpool)

Own goals: By City: (1) Wright (v Portsmouth FAC (h))

Penalties: For City: (1) Morrison (Doncaster h). Two were missed: Clingan (Swansea h) and Best (Doncaster h).

Penalties: Against City: (7) Adam (Blackpool a), Clarke (Sheff Wed a), Whittingham (Cardiff a), Lovenkrands (Newcastle a), Church (Reading a), Davidson (Preston h), Graham (Watford h). In addition Konstantapoulos saved Hulse of Derby’s penalty in the game at Pride Park and Westwood saved Gary Hooper’s against Scunthorpe at home.

Fastest Goal scored: 3 minutes: Morrison (Ipswich a).

Fastest Goal conceded: 1 minute : Rasiak (Reading h).

Red cards: Coventry: (4) Jordan Clarke (Derby a), Stephen Wright (QPR a), Leon Barnett (Newcastle a) & (Scunthorpe h)

Red cards: Opponents: (2) Kozluk (Barnsley a), Ormerod (Blackpool h)

Television: City appeared on live television five times, three times on Sky, once on ITV4 (Portsmouth h) and once on BBC1 (Leicester a). Of the three Sky games City won one (Ipswich (h)) but lost at Derby and Scunthorpe.

Cup form: City were unable to beat Premiership opposition in the FA Cup for the third year running. Despite a good draw at Fratton Park Pompey, the eventual finalists, beat the Sky Blues in the replay with an extra-time goal. In the League Cup Chris Coleman gave little respect to the competition by playing eight reserves or youth players against League One side Hartlepool and the Sky Blues were beaten at home at the first hurdle by a lower division side for the first time since 1984 when Walsall defeated them.

Man of the Match awards: The leaders in Andy Turner’s man of the match awards were: Eastwood (6), Baker (6), Clingan (5), Westwood (4), Morrison (4), Wood (4), Best (4).

Finally a first: In the home game with Nottingham Forest Amy Hearn, the substitute referee, became the first female to referee a Football League game.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Another season comes to close tomorrow and after the euphoria of early March it has to be said the season has finished with a whimper, again. It is forty years ago this month that the Sky Blues last finished in a top six position, a record second to none in the Football League. In April 1970 Noel Cantwell’s side qualified for European football by finishing sixth – above, believe it or not, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham. The European place was clinched with a win at Molineux (the tenth away win of the season) on the Friday night before the FA Cup final between Leeds and Chelsea. An early Brian Joicey goal was enough to clinch the points and send a large Sky Blue following in the 23,000 crowd delirious. It was the second away win in four days – on the Tuesday night a John O’Rourke hat-trick earned a 4-1 win at Forest’s City Ground. In September the Former Players Association are planning to reunite the squad from 1970 at a City home game.

I am afraid the death of former City player Ken Watkins last November passed me by. Ken, who passed away on 26 November 2009, aged 86, lived on Hipswell Highway.

Ken was a right-half who played for Humber FC during World War 2 and was one of many promising young local players called in by City when the first teamers were away in the war. Ken never played in a peacetime game for the club, his 14 appearances coming in the wartime period 1943-1945, eight of them in the transitional 1945-46 season when City played in a Southern regional league with many First Division clubs. In August 1945 Ken played at right half in a 2-0 win over Arsenal (the first ever competitive game against the Gunners) in front of the biggest League crowd of the season, 20,943. Ken also made one guest appearance for Port Vale in 1946 and later played for Rugby Oakfield before coaching Humber after the war. He was also a talented cricketer and I believe he played the odd game for Warwickshire and was a top player for a number of years in the Coventry leagues.

Kieron Beaman emailed me recently. He is the Grandson of Joe Beaman, a City player and manager from before the First World War. Kieron read about Ken Satchwell’s appearance at the Legend’s Day and remembers ‘Satch the Snatch’ scoring four goals in a game for City – against Wrexham on Christmas Day 1959. He asked how many City players have scored four in a game.

The following have all scored four or more in a league game:

Clarrie Bourton (3 occasions)
George Lowrie (3)
Arthur Bacon (2)
Billy Lake (2)
Bill Paterson (1)
Jimmy Rogers (1)
George Stewart (1)
Ken Satchwell (1)
Mick Ferguson (1)

Two players achieved the feat in a League Cup game:
Cyrille Regis
Steve Livingstone

Lowrie had a golden period in 1947 scoring four goals on three separate occasions between April and November. In the same period he also netted three hat-tricks.

Mick Ferguson was the last City player to score four in a league game, in a 4-1 victory over Ipswich in December 1979.

Next week is my final column of the season when I will present my customary Review of the Season.