Sunday, 13 February 2011

JIM'S COLUMN 12.2.11

Some readers criticise me for ‘putting the mockers’ on good form when Coventry City are in a good run, rare though it may be. Last December I wrote about City’s strong run and their successive clean sheets, but that day they lost for the first time in a long time and haven’t won a league game since. Last March, I seem to remember, I waxed lyrically about City’s four straight wins under Chris Coleman that pushed City into the top eight and speculated about their play-off chances, only for the Sky Blues to collapse with a run of 11 games without a victory.

So today I thought I would write about the dreadful run without a win that Aidy Boothroyd’s are having right now, put it into a historical context and hopefully help end the run!

After 10 games without a win we are getting close to the club’s worst run for eight years. The worst league sequences since City fell out of the Premier League are:

2003 16 games over two seasons under Gary McAllister.
2009-10 11 games at the end of the season under Chris Coleman.
2010-11 10 games under Aidy Bothroyd.
2009-10 10 games in mid-season under Coleman.
2004-05 9 games in early season 2004-05 under Peter Reid.
2008-09 8 games at the end of the season under Coleman.
2003-04 8 games pre-Christmas under McAllister (incl 7 draws).
2002-03 8 games in Jan & Feb 2003 under McAllister.
2006-07 7 games prior to Micky Adams’ departure.
2001-02 7 games at the end of the season under Nilsson which cost a play-off place.

The club’ worst ever series of results was back in 1919 when, after joining the Football League they failed to win any of their first 19 games and finally broke their duck with a 3-2 win over Stoke City on Christmas Day. The current sequence is beginning to look similar to the dreadful times in Division 1 in 1983 and 1984 when in both seasons City collapsed after Christmas after being in top six positions early in the New Year. In February 1983 Dave Sexton’s young team were fifth in the league after beating Manchester City 4-0. Garry Thompson was sold over the head of Sexton and the team’s form imploded. They went 13 games without a win and only a face-saving 3-0 win at Stoke pulled City out of their seemingly suicidal plummet towards Division Two. The following season, under Bobby Gould’s inexperienced management, another 13-game slump saw City fall from sixth to sixteenth before Gould pulled them out of their freefall and avoid relegation on the last day of the season.

The above list is a terrible indictment on the Sky Blues recent history and it is no surprise that we are the only club (apart from seemingly doomed Preston) of being in this division consistently for the last ten years. At least Preston have reached the play-offs three times and before this season had an enviable home record stretching back a number of years. City regrettably have never beaten Preston at Deepdale in that time.

Another bogey side Crystal Palace are in town today, supported by a large following which may help their team to continue their amazing five-game unbeaten league run at the Ricoh but will at least boost City’s depleted coffers by £100,000 or more. Let us hope that the recent FA Cup victory over Palace has banished this particular bogey.

Manchester City fans paid tribute to the late Neil Young last week. Young, who died after a long fight against cancer, was one of the classiest players I ever saw at Highfield Road and had a remarkable record against the Sky Blues. Between 1964 (when City came up from Division Three) and 1971 (when Young was prematurely losing his touch following the sudden death of his younger brother) he played 10 games for the Manchester Blues against City, was never on the losing side, consistently tormented Mick Kearns and other City defenders with his classy left foot and scored six goals. The only time he was on the losing side was in a League Cup game at Maine Road in 1965 which Coventry won 3-2. Young was somewhat overshadowed by the bigger names in Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison’s team of the time, namely Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Francis Lee, but the record books show he was the top scorer in both the Second Division (1966) and First Division (1968) Championship sides as well as scoring the winning goal in the 1969 FA Cup final and in the Cup Winners Cup final a year later – not bad for a player considered to be a midfield player. When you look at the mediocre players selected for England in the modern era it is a travesty that Neil Young never played for his country.

Make a note in your diaries for Thursday 24 February. That night the Coventry Transport Museum, supported by Dean Nelson and the Former Players Association are hosting a film night especially dedicated to displaying archive film material covering some past games of the Sky Blues (culled from his extensive archive). Dean will be showing Coventry City highlights from TV and celluloid coverage of old games from across the years. The event is timed to last from 7pm – 9pm. Tickets will cost £1 each and can be booked by telephoning Coventry Transport Museum – Tel: 024 7623 4270
Neil Young

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