After our chat about the stadium I wanted to get a better feel for how involved and interested Chris was in team affairs, and his knowledge of how the season is going as a whole.
Here’s what he had to say…
Chris Anderson on… the team:
Q: What are your thoughts on the team?
What I think is really exciting is just how they play. The young players and the old players. How nicely they fit together as a group. It’s not lovey-dovey all the time, but you can see the joy they have in playing together.
I think for anyone who loves football, that’s why we come. We don’t want to battle out a turgid 0-0 – nobody wants to see that. I think when you learn to play the game as a kid what draws you to it is that joy. The fun of it. I think players like James Maddison bring that back in us.
I go to the games now and think to myself “wow, this is really fun to watch, this is good football”. We might be down 2-0 to Peterborough, nothing is going right, it’s horrible. And then you kick off second half, and boom.
On any given day, you might find somebody you really enjoy that day. The other day Ruben Lameiras against Sheffield Utd had such a wonderful game, it was so fun to watch. He was being kicked left and right obviously but he was having a really terrific game.
Reice Charles-Cook has had a terrific season so far. He has done really well and he’s a different kind of goalkeeper and as a former goalkeeper myself I really enjoy watching him play because I think that’s how the position should be played. I feel really fortunate that we have someone like him in the team.
To me I feel like on any given day there’s something really cool and interesting to watch in our team.
Q: Who are your favourite players?
Anyone who’s starting on any given Sunday!
What I like is our versatility. What I like is that the manager puts the puzzle together differently sometimes. Sometimes I’m surprised by who he starts and who he plays where. What that tells me is that we have options and a group of options for him which is nice to have.
Favourite players? It’ll probably make his head bigger than it already is but Reice Charles-Cook might be my favourite!
If I put my Executive Vice Chairman hat on I’m going to say Sam Ricketts has been terrific this year. I think he’s been a really terrific person and player to have. For the kind of team we have this year it’s really important we have a top quality footballer as well as a top quality leader in this building.
I’ve had several conversations with Sam about the team and the club and his experiences at other clubs and how it compares. I think he’s very, very happy here and I just think he’s been a terrific contributor. I love him as a citizen of the football club and as a player.
Q: What are we aiming for this season?
I think what’s really important is that old football hands will remind you what matters is where you are after 46 games, not where you are today. If you’d asked me before the season where we should be I would have said if we finished in the top half, somewhere top 8, that would have been a really good improvement over last year. Because last year was really rough with lots of change.
I think realistically I looked at that team and thought if they finished somewhere above 8th or so, that would be really good. I have a lot of faith in Tony Mowbray and I assumed he would know how to put a reasonable team together. We know Coventry is on a reasonable budget, it’s not the biggest, but it’s not the smallest. I thought Tony Mowbray plus a reasonable budget plus Mark Venus – sort of a fresh start – that could be top eight, that would be alright.
Then you go along and you think to yourself “wow, this is actually a really good team they’ve put together”.
Then expectations change. I think everyone’s expectations have changed already. Then you get into a situation when the manager sits in your chair and says “I’ve been top of the league at Christmas before and that doesn’t mean you get promoted”, so you have to be careful not to get ahead of yourselves. You’re torn between your heart saying “but we’re so good, we’re having a great season”, and your head saying “hold on, there’s a lot of football to be played.”
Q: So promotion is a reasonable expectation?
I think there are a couple of things going on. When you look at the underlying data, we’re genuinely a good team on almost any performance metric you can look at. We’re are genuinely a top six team.
So my expectation is we will hang around somewhere in those places, and I think that should be a reasonable expectation for most people at this point in time. Now it puts a burden on the manager, on the players, on Mark Venus, to keep it going, but we want to be ambitious. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation at this point in time.
Guaranteeing promotion is unreasonable. I don’t think anyone would say its nailed on.
What’s interesting about this particular team this year is that they’ve gotten better. For example, look at Jacob Murphy. Think about how he played at the beginning of the year and how he plays today. I think he plays with much more confidence, he’s much more willing to really be in there and do the defensive work too.
You see an interesting progression in individuals but also as a team. They’re gelling. It’s an interesting mix between warriors and artists. And that seems to work.
I think the challenge going forward if you think about what we’ve done this year, teams have figured out that if they try to compete with us in open play, there’s not going to do well. But they have figured out if they sit back and try to park the bus, then they might have a chance.
So the challenge for us is to deal with that. Figure out a different way of attacking that kind of an approach.