Away wins against teams we never beat, fightbacks to snatch points we’d usually surrender without a fight, wins when we’re playing bloody awful, and now the latest hoodoo defied; not bottling a game to move ourselves into the top 6.
Hugely premature, but something different seems to be happening with the Sky Blues this season. I can’t put my finger on it just yet, because in all honesty, we’re still playing some really sloppy football. Confusing, but nevertheless, we’ve already won some games that in previous seasons, we’d have been punished badly for. Luck, or can we attribute it to something else?
Influenced in no small part by Roy Keane’s autobiography, you probably recall I spent the majority of my time last season ranting on about the importance of attitude and ambition. After each game we heard Christopher tell us that we’re not a good team and the aim was to improve on the previous year’s nonsense. And game after game I went mental because it appeared obvious to me that there was no pressure on the players to achieve above mid-table, resulting in us not achieving above mid-table. Pretty simple Coventry City logic, there.
At the beginning of last week however, I looked at the fixtures and for the first time in ages, managed to predict how things might pan out. In my mind, Cardiff are the best team in the league. So when you play the best team in the league, it’s always going to be difficult. I looked at the table, looked at the 2 home games we had coming up, and after all that looking, realised that 3 points from the 2 home games would see us into the top 6. That’d do us.
Don’t get me wrong, I still thought we could beat Cardiff, and as it transpires, we missed a real opportunity to get one over on them. While they have the attacking players and the strength in depth, they don’t seem particularly organised at the back and allowed things to open up for us right loads. If we had more confidence and purpose about our play when going forward, we’d have beaten them that night.
Instead, we were sloppy in attacking positions, and let them off every time they messed up. Cardiff didn’t deserve the win, but the positive for me was that the best team in the league was shown to be more than beatable. Shame we couldn’t manage that, but looking at the bigger picture, and the attitude going into that game, it showed how far we’ve come in such a short period. .
By not beating Cardiff, this heaped the pressure on us to beat Barnsley and finally enter the top 6. Too often we’ve had these opportunities, and thrown them away. Our form this season would suggest that we may not be able to assume as much about these ‘predictable’ fixtures any more, though. We’re still nowhere near playing to our potential, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting the results we’re getting. This intrigues/excites me.
Barnsley was relatively straight-forward, in that I always felt we’d win the game. In seasons gone by, 80 minutes of missing chances would have resulted in us eventually getting punished (mainly because we’d be lining up on our own line and refusing to do anything other than hold on).
This year, yet again, things went differently (you may notice a pattern emerging). Our manager wasn’t scared to make changes, and our players weren’t scared to move beyond the half-way line and kill the game off. We left it late, but Baker and Clarke’s goals were worth it.
I know, we’ve been here before, but what I think’s different this year is that when we have lost a game, we’ve had the toughness to make sure we don’t lose the one after that. That’s a massive step forward in our book and gives me genuine hope.
It also helps when you’ve got a manager who is demanding of his team, and not content with second best. (#justsaying… to pinch an annoying hashtag from Twitter.)
So, Sheffield Utd next, who are having a right poor time of it under Speed. Only one thing we need to concern ourselves with – let’s go there and do ’em.