Monday, 22 August 2016

Jim's column 20.8.2016

Coventry City's disappointing start to the league campaign has seen them glean only two points from their opening three games and also fail to find the net. It is the first time in the club's League history dating back to 1919 that the team has failed to score a single goal in its first three matches. There have been numerous occasions of the opening two games failing to yield a goal but not three. The last such instance was in 2011-12 (ominously the relegation season from the Championship) when Andy Thorn's team suffered single-goal defeats to Leicester (home) and Birmingham (away) before opening their account with a Lukas Jutkiewicz effort in a 1-2 defeat at Crystal Palace. The 1958-59 season offers some crumbs of comfort however – Billy Frith's side had a dreadful start to their first season in Division Four, drawing 0-0 at home to Darlington before defeats at Oldham (0-2) and Shrewsbury (1-4) left them 23rd in the table. The side recovered to have a remarkable season, scoring 84 goals and winning promotion at the end of the season. More recently, in 1999-2000, Gordon Strachan's team failed to net in two opening defeats (Southampton home and Leicester away) but the signing of Robbie Keane in time for the third game (Derby home) sparked a remarkable home season with the Sky Blues described by TV pundits as the Entertainers.

The start is, in some ways, hardly surprising, with the departure of last season's golden duo, Armstrong and Murphy, but the team did score 67 goals last season, the second highest haul in almost 40 years. Let's hope Tony Mowbray can pull a couple of deadly strikers out of the hat before the end of the month.

The last time City failed to score in three consecutive games was only last April (Colchester, Wigan & Gillingham) but I guess it feels so much worse because it is the first three of the season. The last time the team failed to score in more than three was in 2003 when Gary McAllister's team failed to net in any of the last five games of the 2002-03 campaign and then drew 0-0 with Walsall on the opening day of the next season, making it six without a goal. Michael Doyle ended the drought the following Saturday in a 1-1 draw at Ipswich. In total the team went 527 minutes without a league goal.

The worst ever run by the club was 1048 minutes over 11 games in that infamous first season in the league in 1919-20. After Tommy Lowes had scored in 1-2 home defeat to Leicester on 4th October the team went 11 whole games without scoring until Christmas Day when Billy Walker netted a penalty in the club's first ever league win (3-2) over Stoke. Somehow I don't think that record will be challenged this season.

Keith Ballantyne always comes up with interesting questions and this week he asked if Sam Allardyce is the first former City player to manage England or did Stuart Pearce hold the post for a short time. Sam, who played 32 games for the Sky Blues under Bobby Gould in the 1983-84 season, is the first former player to hold the permanent position, but Pearce was caretaker for one match in 2012 after Fabio Capello resigned in protest at John Terry being stripped of the captaincy. Pearce was in the post for just one match, a 3-2 Wembley defeat to Holland, before Roy Hodgson was appointed. It is just over four years ago but looking at England's starting line up that night makes interesting reading. Only four of the starters made Roy Hodgson's squad at this summer's Euros (Hart, Welbeck, Smalling and Cahill) whilst the likes of Scott Parker (captain that night), Micah Richards, Adam Johnson and Frazier Campbell have virtually disappeared from the scene.
                                                                 Stuart Pearce

Pearce was signed from non-league Wealdstone for the Sky Blues also by Bobby Gould (what an eye Gouldy had for talent) and was a virtual ever-present alongside Big Sam in City's defence in an exciting campaign.

It has been mentioned before but Sam's appointment means that all four home nations are currently managed by former players or managers of Coventry City with Gordon Strachan in charge of Scotland, Michael O'Neill (Northern Ireland) and Chris Coleman (Wales). Congratulations are due to the the latter two whose teams exceeded all expectations at the Euros.

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