The pre-game ramble: Blackburn Rovers

It’s a Ricoh Arena return for Tony in the <insert the latest name here> Cup*.

Well, I hope you’re all still feeling a little bit giddy after our win this weekend. It certainly had me hitting the dancefloor with extra vigour on Saturday night as I showcased my very best Duckens Nazon footwork.

It’s slightly frustrating that the league games have to be punctuated immediately with a cup match, and against higher-level opposition no less. But let’s see if we can identify the positives: it’s against a recently-relegated, opening game-losing Blackburn Rovers, with Tony Mowbray at the helm. Given how he finished his tenture with us, many of you will view that last one as a definite reason to look forward to this.

Being realistic, if they play properly it should be very tricky to come out with a win. Their squad has retained some impressive names for the upcoming campaign, but it’s a football match against players with flaws and self-doubt like everyone else. All manner of nonsensical things can happen, especially in this cup (as we well know), meaning I’m choosing to view this game as an opportunity to generate some further fluidity and confidence in what we’ve built over the summer.

*It’s the Carabao Cup and will be for the next three seasons so get used to it. But what a great joke.

How are they getting on?

Absolutely terribly, broadly speaking. A Premier League mainstay for many years, things have gone somewhat awry in recent times, culminating in relegation to League One last season. Much like our own stint in the Championship, they spent the majority of their time piddling around with their squad/managers searching for the solution, with little more than an 8th place finish in 2014 to show for their troubles.

Last year was a season too far and the relegation places eventually gobbled them up.

All that said, they’re still favourites to make a swift return this season if they can quickly shake off the losing culture that had started to embed itself. I know I’ve also slagged off Tony Mowbrary (for a laugh), but the man is actually a pretty capable boss. He came in during February and has only lost four games since, coming pretty close to dragging them to safety. Three of those four defeats came during an eight day period in April which ultimately cost them.

Things didn’t quite kick off as expected at the weekend as they lost 2-1 away to Southend, but we all know how quickly the dynamic can shift in cup games. Expect a toughy.

Who could cause us trouble?

Where to start? Their squad, while a tad imbalanced, is riddled with quality and star names. Players like Danny Graham, Dominic Samuel, Bradley Dack and Peter Whittingham jump out as those who should have no issues with asserting themselves in the third tier, and by extension, against us on Tuesday night.

That’s if they play. We have our experience of Tone’s approach to cup games, and he’s no stranger to trying out other options where possible. If that’s the case, I can see him giving loanee Harry Chapman a go on the wing. The England youngster came off the bench at the weekend and showed a few glimpses of what he can do. At 19, the cup competitions are the perfect opportunity for him to continue building his confidence when it comes to influencing things in the first team. All this is based on the assumption that he’s allowed to play cup games, of course.

Sky Blues team news

An opening day victory always throws up the same dilemma in the subsequent cup game: stick with the team to build familiarity and cohesion, or try out some alternatives? Especially for a club like Coventry which has historically been so incapable of developing a team that can win streaks of matches.

I think we’re looking at a slightly altered line up. McNulty took a whack to the gob over the weekend so I can see us allowing that to calm down, while Beavon always seems to be given a rest whenever the opportunity allows. This potentially opens up the front line for Duckens Nazon (if he’s available for cup games) and/or Maxime Biamou. They both grabbed assists on Saturday and will be keen to build on that initial impact.

I sense that Robins will fancy developing the midfield partnership of Doyle and Kelly. This probably means Ben Stevenson misses out again, although he should get some game time.

Beyond that – it all depends on just how Robins is viewing this game: as an aside which will invite him to change it up quite a bit, or as an opportunity to tighten up the first team unit that won against Notts County.

Prediction

If I’m basing this prediction on the team playing with the same level of tenacity that was shown on Saturday, then we should be in for a combative and decent battle, even against a higher level team.

But if Rovers turn up with any form of swagger about them they could give us a bit of a seeing-to, regardless of our own work-rate. Especially if Tony goes into the game with his ultra-attacking hat on (which tends to be hat of choice).

Even with a very cursory viewing of our team, I think winning against a League One club is more than within our capabilities, but default football logic suggests they’ll do the business. I hate suggesting we’re going to lose any game (and don’t really feel that a victory is that far-fetched) but I’ll only get the piss taken out of me if I dare suggest otherwise.

Here’s hoping for a fluid performance, either way.

Coventry 2 – 3 Blackburn

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