Sunday May 4th 2008. Things were looking up for one particular Championship team. The stadium was full, they had just finished outside the play-offs but looked set for a deserved summer holiday and a charge for a return to the Premier League next season.
On that awful day, Chris Coleman’s Coventry side lost 4-1 to a team brimming with confidence and quality. A team that looked destined to make a return to the Premier League sooner rather than later. A team full of talent and hope. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Charlton Athletic currently lie bottom of the Coca Cola Championship having won just seven games and lost 22 with only six remaining. The club were playing against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League only two seasons ago, but are now destined to be hosting Walsall, Yeovil and Colchester in League one in just a couple of months.
It just goes to show what a difference a year makes and given the fact that Coventry City were on the receiving end of a thumping from the Addick’s on the final day of last season, I cant help but think what went wrong for them and what has gone so right for us?
The Sky Blues owe their Championship status to their local rivals Leicester City, which is a fact I hate to admit, but this season I have seen signs that the future is very bright and by future I mean long term, rather than short. I admire the work Chris Coleman has done both on and off the pitch and given the time and patience, he will improve the fortunes of this historic club.
This summer will be one of the most important in the clubs recent history. For years Coventry City has either bought or produced amazing talent, Robbie Keane, Chris Kirkland and Gary McSheffrey are to name just a few, but these players are immediately released for financial stability. The time has come for Ranson and Coleman to prove to the clubs loyal supporters (not just the ones who turned up for the Chelsea match, that it is no longer a selling club) that Coventry City are not a selling club and will in-fact keep hold of their potential stars.
Keiren Westwood will replace Shay Given as the Republic or Irelands number one goalkeeper in years to come. Danny Fox is a Premier League player in the making. Aron Gunnarsson is an experienced international who is attracting much interest at the tender age of nineteen. Scott Dann can captain the England under 21 team. These players must be kept and with the help of a little more investment and the patience of such a Coventry City will be capable of competing at the top end of the Championship table sooner rather than later.
In other news, I am sick of hearing Newcastle United supporters telling numerous media outlets that their club deserves to be in the greatest league in the world. If I had one question to ask to each and everyone of them, just one, I would ask…does it?
For the past five seasons the club has been spiralling out of control, both on the pitch and off. Many people to are to blame for its downfall, but fall it will and I fully expect to be booking a cheap hotel at some point in the near future for a weekend of football and drinking with the Sky Blue army in the North East. How can its fans say they don’t deserve to go down when they have been playing so poorly for the past four years?
Millions has been wasted on so called ‘world class’ players, including Jean-Alain Boumsong, who cost the club 8 million only to be sold a year later for just over a third of that value, Hugo Viana and an un-fit Michael Owen whose career came to premature end during the 2006 World Cup.
Newcastle are currently stuck in a relegation battle which could see the north east club removed from the top flight, but they are not the one to find themselves in this frustrating position. One team that really impressed me at the weekend is Blackburn. Though they have suffered some devastating results this season, including a shock defeat to Coventry City in the FA Cup, ‘Big Sam’s’ side pulled of the result of the season at the weekend.
Going one-nil down thanks to a Robbie Keane penalty must have been a cruel blow and a defeat would have left the club hovering dangerously above the relegation zone, but they somehow reversed the score to from behind and earn a priceless three points which moved them comfortably away from the drop-zone. A superb result which piled more misery on Newcastle’s survival hopes.
Speaking from experience, relegation hurts, especially when you have been in the top flight for numerous years, but the sooner you face up to it the better. I remember when Coventry City were relegated at Villa Park, I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t prepared, it hurt. The following game we played Bradford who had been relegated a couple of games before. The atmosphere between the sets of fans at Highfield Road on that final day of the season couldn’t have been more different. Bradford celebrated with a conga, Coventry booed their team until the final whistle.
Newcastle and Middlesbrough had better prepare themselves for windy away days in Plymouth, awful seating accomodation in Blackpool and disgraceful half-time pies at Doncaster as both clubs liven up to the harsh reality of relegation, leaving their supporter feeling a million miles away from their so called ‘home‘, the Premier League.