At 7.55 as I stood in a queue outside of the Ricoh, the thought did cross my mind whether this team was really worth all the excitement they’re generating at the moment. I mean, we’re only ten days into the season. Can you really get this excited about something so new?
Two hours later I left the ground fulfilled and jubilant, having watched another fantastic game of football that we’d not only deserved to win, but made sure we took what was ours as well.
The answer is yes. This team is worth the excitement.
It was way past my bed time when I started writing this last night so tactical analysis wasn’t really on the agenda. I just couldn’t bring myself to go to bed without acknowledging the wealth of positives displayed by the team.
Then I fell asleep.
So to pick up where my good intentions failed, here’s a brief overview of my perception of how things went during the game, and also how it made me feel. Because how this is making us feel is actually really important.
In a world where we make judgements on players after just a couple of touches, we’re getting to a place now where we’re gaining a stronger sense of what our new team is all about. It’s evolving all the time, but in the week and a half of football we’ve seen so far, we’ve been treated to high-quality in abundance, and that message was once again enforced last night. This was best demonstrated by a wholly dominant first half showing which saw James Maddison dictate the match in attacking areas, while John Fleck turned on the style from slightly deeper.
It wasn’t the most clinical of games, else we would have run out 5-0 winners, but the lads managed to conjure up more than enough chances to justify their three goal total. We’ve all been to games at the Ricoh over the years where the players simply look scared to take a shot. You can’t level that at this group – they just can’t get enough sighters of goal. We had 27 shots. That’s almost an attempt on goal every 3 minutes; unheard of behaviour by a Coventry City side of the recent era.
The win is clearly the most important element of any football game, but seeing the level this team is able to perform at is the most engaging part of the matches right now. I can’t take my eyes of the players. The pivots, the one-twos, the sturdy tackles, the endless pressing, the bursts of pace – it’s a team full of dynamism and full of belief. We all know how much better a Coventry City team is to watch when they’re spiked to the brim with confidence. It exudes from the pitch and emanates from the crowd in equal measure. We all believe in this group of players at the moment, and long may that continue.
I can’t lie, there was an element of frustration that we conceded two goals to a team that for the most part didn’t really earn them. Clearly the first goal was an insane finish, but it came at a point when we were in total control. While it didn’t feel like they had to work for the goals they scored, it was still a well balanced display by Crewe which contributed to a great game of football. They proved themselves to be team worthy of their “nuisance” tagline (one given to them by us, I should add). They committed to a controlled style of distribution throughout the match, remained resolute in their formation and contained us from set pieces very well. Haber and Inman also gave our defence a far tougher time that it had to endure in the previous home game against Wigan, winning a disproportionate amount of aerial battles in the second half.
That said – we were better than them, simple as that. A draw would have been a tough result to swallow because it was never a game that we should have allowed to come close to a draw. In many ways I’m still pleased that we put ourselves through such a test however, as we’ve once again added another psychological reference for the months to come. We were pegged back twice even though we were playing well and still managed to shake off the disappointment to grab the victory. That’s definitely something for the memory bank the next time things aren’t going our way.
They always say the sign of a good team is one that wins when it’s playing badly. That’s a fair comment, but last night we played really well and made sure that our performance got us the result we deserved. That’s not always as easy as it sounds and has been our downfall for many a year. Those games when you play good football and have to settle for a point at the end of it – those are always the most difficult ones to accept.
We need to continue making these statements, fighting for the three points rather than draws, and translating the quality we show into the points that it deserves. So far, Crewe was our biggest 90 minute challenge and we still found a way to come out the other end on top. That’s so encouraging.
This is New Coventry City, ladies and gentlemen. It’s still a work in progress and there will be many elements we adjust and tweak as we go along, but hopefully what we’re starting to realise is that when we play to our optimum level, teams are going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to snatch three points off us.
We overcame a really useful hurdle last night and I’m happy to keep exposing ourselves to difficulties as these experiences are only going to aid the development of our character, resilience, and focus throughout the course of the season. Character that is going to be vital if we have any plans to extend this winning run into realms that none of us have even entertained in years.
Well, nobody except me that is. I’m always peddling this win-seven-eight-nine-ten-games-in-a-row madness. Not because I’m a fantasist, but that goal will serve to measure the best of our energies and skills. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy.
We choose to believe in ourselves and set our targets high, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…
To paraphrase him a bit more.
Saturday can’t come quickly enough.