The pre-game ramble: Exeter City

The Sky Blues will be trying their ruddy hardest to waft some pressure on league leaders Exeter City in what is quite literally, football.

Welcome to one of 28 separate Coventry City match previews you have the choice of reading for this weekend’s game. Us lot what fink we’re brilliant at writing and talking about football are being so kind as to treat you to the absolute gold that flows from our brains. You lucky so-n-sos.

Truth be told, we’re all still scratching our heads about City this season. On the one hand, we’ve essentially been the dominant team in the majority of our matches. Teams struggle to create chances against us, and only occasionally do they convert them. And we’re still in 6th place. For a team that’s not really got going, things could be a lot worse.

Conversely, making a pig’s ear of settling into the league with sporadic results breeds an angsty attitude. Continue that inconsistency for too long and fan discontent grows, and before we know it, we start to make things difficult for the players and the season ultimately goes nowhere.

I’m all for pushing them to the highest possible standards. Let’s just be sensible about how we show it. Of course it’s going to be a fiddly balance because we’re in League fucking Two (once again – that’s its full title), but there are plenty of reasons to feel comfortable with what this team is capable of.

How are they getting on?

Exeter are currently enjoying the fruits of an impressive run of form and sit high and mighty at the top. Still unbeaten in the league with the best goal difference, we’re getting closer to that point in the season when you can actually treat table position as a smarter indicator of squad ability. Ten games has always been the nominal line in the sand we apply to these things. Sure, it can all still turn (we’re very familiar with that), but the broad rules suggest that if they can maintain the current performance levels and not let the occasional blip get them down, they’ll be pushing for glory come the back end of April.

Paul Tisdale is a bloke who has always prodded the (non-rude) intrigue switch in me. Initially it was purely superficial intrigue; he was a guy with a unique sartorial approach for the sideline, choosing to stand up against the football mainstays by wearing a cravat. He was quite the renegade and caught plenty of attention for it. But you can dress interestingly and still be a useless boss. Tisdale has done plenty to quash that doubt.

You may already know my thoughts on the subject of managers. I think the identifiable impact of the role can often be overstated – especially their influence on much of the arbitrary stuff that occurs during games – but the human element is one that I’m a keen champion of.

Like the rest of us, I don’t think footballers necessarily want to be dictated to, but they do want to be led. Motivated. Inspired. Tisdale is a guy who has proven himself to be an astute leader of a football club. Not to downplay his technical coaching abilities – I’ll admit I don’t know enough about him to comment on the intricacies of those – but teams don’t keep you in charge for eleven years simply for your exquisite cone-laying abilities.

Who could cause us trouble?

They have the league’s top scorer in their ranks. Reuben Reid – a man who rather pleasingly shares a name with both a disbanded post-hardcore band and a corned beef sandwich – is pestering the goal like a lunatic. It’s seven for the season so far. Of course this could be a fluke, but we know two things about Reid and football in general: he’s made a good habit of goals over the last few years, and regular swigs of confidence juice is the most potent tonic a striker can ingest.

Alongside him is Liam McAlinden. While Reid’s the one nabbing all the goals, the nippy McAlinden’s been behind plenty this season too.

Sky Blues team news

The injuries remain noticeable when you look at the bench, but the first team still feels strong.

McNulty’s damaged body has come through its latest ordeal and he’s potentially up for inclusion. This offers an extra option in attacking areas which is certainly welcomed. Being fair, Beavon wasn’t too bad against Cambridge, but we’re back at home against top of the league and can’t keep relying on “not too bad” if we want to build some genuine momentum.

McNulty may be a little off the pace and put in his share of naff performances this season, but the option of him alongside Duck feels a tad more dynamic than the Beavon alternative. Neither feels ideal, but if we’re having to make do – Marc’ll do me.

Elsewhere, the rest of the team is picking itself. Not because we’re in any way settled, but because there really aren’t any options which we can turn to as being obviously better.

I know some of you did a bit of scapegoating last weekend which left Vincenti feeling the grief, but just remember that he’s a man who’s been involved in our last three goals, including a gorgeous assist for Nazon.

That’s not to say I’m completely sold on him, but I do believe he is getting better. Options are so thin the last thing I want to do to one of our senior players is treat him in a way that could sabotage that improvement. I’m not sure treating him terribly is something that’ll have any positive outcome.

In other news, Duckens Nazon continues to be Duckens Nazon.

Prediction

Not this again.

We win when we’re good, we win when we’re bad. We lose when we’re shit, we lose when we’re mad.

That’s not the start of a dreadful poem. It’s what a lifetime of football has taught us. I guess we should just embrace it.

For the record, the feeling in my “romance” region tells me that we’re going to win.

Coventry 2 – 1 Exeter

Image by Amanda Slater (originally posted to Flickr as The Ricoh) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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