Lack of urgency. Poor decision making. Hiding from the ball. No cutting edge. Lacking in quality.
Just a few sentences to describe the performance in the Reading game. All very similar to previous games this season.
Sometimes when things go wrong in football, it’s all too easy to blame the manager. You lose a couple of games on the spin, and as a fan you lose all perspective of what that manager actually brings to your team.
That happens at Arsenal when they go 2 or 3 games without winning. Carlo Ancelotti was under pressure after he lost his first game at Chelsea. I know plenty of Villa fans who are straight on Martin O’Neill’s back whenever they lose. Even last season when Alex McLeish was leading Birmingham to promotion, there were question marks about his job every time they lost a game.
The thing about each of those scenarios however is that each manager has a strong case as to why they are in actual fact “achieving” what they set out to do in their jobs. A couple of defeats, while bloody annoying, shouldn’t detract from that. Eventually after the dust has settled, everyone realises this.
Now, let’s look at Coventry’s situation after the match yesterday.
- We have just lost at home to a team who have the worst recent form in the Championship. (Their fans are overseeing arguably one of the most rapid falls from grace in the English Leagues over the last few years).
- Longer term, we’ve won 5 matches since 28th February. (8 months)
- 18000 is now considered a high attendance.
- We’re currently 16th in the league.
- Last year we finished with 54 points (17th).
- Season before that, 53 points (21st).
- Season before that, 56 points (17th).
Those are the facts and figures – we’re not doing very well at the moment and haven’t been for a very long time.
I came away and listened to the phone-in and the usual discontent could be heard, whilst Clive Eakin tried his level best to defend the indefensible.
What intrigued me most was hearing the phone calls from fans who thought it was absolutely ludicrous to be calling for Coleman’s head.
“You’ve got to give him time” proclaimed one.
“He’s building something” cried another.
This argument got me thinking. Exactly what should it take for a manager to be sacked? Is there a benchmark which you can measure against, and if so, when should you apply it? Surely you have to take other factors into consideration too – how much money that manager had to spend; the application of the team; are their signs that things could change?
With all this going around in my head, I started looking a bit more at the stats and how the current team compares against it’s previous incarnation (Dowie’s tenure).
The following figures really jumped out at me :
Coleman (last 29 matches)
Dowie (final 29 matches)
29 games is an odd figure. But it’s a long, long time. And it was apparently more than long enough for the board to look at Dowie’s record and relieve him of his duties. You’d be entitled to ask yourself exactly where the real improvement on the Dowie team actually is.
If you felt those figures didn’t do things justice and Coleman has been managing under tough circumstances, you may then wish to ponder over which manager had the best players to work with, and the most money to spend?
Coleman wins on both counts don’t you think?
Funny thing is, I couldn’t give a monkeys about all these stats providing there was real proof coming from the club that they were making efforts to improve and bring success to the footballing side of things. I don’t want to see managers sacked all the time – tis bullshine.
But there are no signs that they are trying to improve the footballing side of things. And if there are, then they’re trying in ways which are cryptic to me.
What winds me up the most is how there is such a lack of pressure at the club to actually succeed. I understand the need to protect the players, but all we hear after every match is more and more strange explanations as to why we played so badly. Coleman has even gone as far now to basically encourage it when we play poor football, because he believes that’s the way to succeed in this league.
Let me tell you this, that is simply not possible.
No team in the Championship will get promoted on running around and passion alone. Agreed, not all of them will play “pretty football” like West Brom, but any successful team will be able to balance hard work and graft with an ability to win games by playing well.
They’re not mutually exclusive elements. The formula is pretty simple: effort + quality = success. You won’t get anywhere with just one of them, and I firmly believe that.
I assume when Coleman dreams of this as a route to success, he is imaging us playing in a similar fashion to Cardiff and Sheffield Utd who came to the Ricoh and absolutely battered us physically last year. I fear what he’s neglected to acknowledge is that while those teams did destroy us and blitzed us with some no-nonsense tackles and defending, they were also very effective footballing teams, with real cutting edge.
The Reading game was the most stark indication so far of the team that Coleman is fast turning us into.
I don’t want us to sack the manager. My first choice is for that manager to do things to turn things around. I just want one that is hard on the players, strives for quality, and isn’t content to work towards what many of our fans are happy to deem “improvements”.
Over 2 years, incremental improvements of a point a season are not acceptable. He’s really got to up his game and realise that what he’s currently doing just isn’t enough. For any Championship team.
And he can’t blame injuries or the quality of the players – we’ve seen enough of each of the players he has available to him in the squad to know what they’re capable of producing. Even the kids. They can still play to a good enough standard to beat Reading at home.
It’s Coleman’s job to a) pick the right players and b) develop a style of play that is capable of winning games regularly. Until he does that, he’s no different to any of our previous managers. And it’s not unrealistic to expect that. You only have to look at some of the other clubs that are in the top 10 and some of the players they have playing for them.
He really needs to start giving us real footballing improvements.. and pronto.