Coventry City 1 Blues 0 ... Ron's Report

Last updated : 21 February 2009 By Richard Barker

I have deliberately decided to write this as soon as I've got home so I can avoid hearing any other comments or reading what our manager or players have to say. I already know what they'll say. I can guess what the quotes will be already, and they'll be garbage and they'll be lies.

"We had a lot of the ball and a fair few chances", they'll say. "We were unlucky in front of goal", they'll reflect. "We had a perfectly good goal disallowed", they'll moan; "the officials need to have a long, hard look at themselves for getting that wrong."

"We showed character after conceding a sloppy early goal", they'll comment.

BOLLOCKS!!! It's all bollocks! (Excuse my language.)

Blues got exactly what they deserved here - nothing. Yes, Blues had a few half-decent chances, but for every half-decent chance Blues had, Coventry had two or three glaring chances. How Coventry didn't get four or five is beyond me. Blues were nothing short of pathetic.

There is a horrible, horrible trend of starting slowly in games that had developed this season, and it continued. Two games ago, Burnley could have been out of sight in the first ten minutes, and were 1-0 up. Last week, with Nathan Tyson, Notts Forest ripped Blues apart for ten minutes or so until Blues settled. Twice Swansea have gone at Blues from the off, etc, etc, etc. When will we learn? Will we ever learn??

Within seconds Coventry had knocked a long ball forward and 6'4" Martin Taylor was outmuscled and outjumped by 5'11" Leon Best. (I say outjumped, Taylor was so lead-footed that he didn't jump himself). Clinton Morrison latched onto the flick-on and should have scored, only to be denied by Maik Taylor. The ball went out for a corner and Blues' defending was embarrassing. Scott Dann is a big defender, but for him to have enough time to shin the ball along the ground into the bottom corner from a corner in the first minute is shocking. It's pathetic. It's embarrassing.

I don't care what the Goals Against column shows or what others say; Blues' defence is not good enough. Martin Taylor is a joke. Sorry to sound harsh, but he's a clown. Yes, we all feel sorry for him in light of what happened with Eduardo, but rather than turning him out for interviews all week Blues should have locked him in to the training ground and had him working on his footballing ability. He is awful.

He was at fault for the first goal by being outdone by Leon Best, and continued to be outmuscled by Best and Morrison, neither of whom are anywhere near his size. Coventry could have had three or four through genuinely good chances in the first half alone, culminating in Taylor tripping himself over as Leon McKenzie (Leon ******* McKenzie) ran at him before squaring the ball for David Bell to fire wide.

Now, I'll happily admit that Taylor makes Liam Ridgewell look good, but Ridgewell too is, in my mind, not good enough. He and Taylor were shocking today. At one point in the first half Ridgewell played a horrendous, stupid, stupid ball forward to Lee Bowyer who was facing his own goal and had two men at his back. The ball was nicked off him, Bowyer did all he could to prevent a goal in bringing Morrison down, was booked for it, and then couldn't make a tackle for the remaining hour.

Blues's best spell of the game (and in saying that, in no way am I implying that it was "good") came when Lee Carsley was taken off (for whatever reason) after half an hour and Hameur Bouazza came on to play on the left, with Keith Fahey going inside. For 15 minutes then, until half-time, they looked ok. No more than that, but they looked ok. Blues actually can look like a footballing side when you take Carsley out of the equation, but let's face it, we all know that's not going to happen for a sustained period of time.

As is standard these days, after a crap first-half, you expect Blues to come out firing in the second half, and they don't. Within seconds, David Murphy had been caught out and Ridgewell lumped a wasted ball forward. It set the tone for the second half. What on earth is said to the team in the dressing room, either before the game or at half-time? Whatever it is, it appears to have no impact.

The total embarrassment continued with Maik Taylor taking so much time with one kick (as he so often does, even when Blues are chasing the game) that Morrison nearly tackled him, and then the goalkeeper's kicking generally being shocking as he constantly found spaces in which there was no Blues player. Seriously, he's practiced goalkeeping every week for the past fifteen years - why not scrap handling for a week and just practice kicking for one whole week? Surely there'd be an improvement?

As Blues continued to be rubbish, Cameron Jerome was replaced by Carlos Costly. This was greeted with boos and chants of "you don't know what you're doing" by the travelling Blues fans, who clearly felt Marcus Bent was a better candidate to be taken off. Personally, I thought Bent had a much better game than Jerome. For those who call Bent lazy, they should have seen Jerome here - he was awful.

However, there has not been one sign that Costly is remotely good at all so far. It was a complete waste of time bringing him on at all. It would have been far better just to stick with Bent and Jerome. With Costly's first touch, he got past the defender and to the byline, but that looked like it was more by luck than judgement. After that, he was a waste of space. As rubbish as Jerome had been, you'd have still been better off with him on the pitch, rather than Costly. If Carlos Costly is all we have in reserve when it comes to strikers, well, I can't believe I'm saying this, but bring back Gary McSheffrey.

Scott Sinclair did have the ball in the net, and this was a big issue. A Coventry player clearly knocked the ball to him. Yes, he was in an offside position, but it was a Coventry player who knocked it to him. The linesman gave offside, the Blues players protested, the referee spoke to the linesman and after a few minutes the goal was still ruled out. It may have been the wrong decision, but if Alex McLeish makes a big issue out of it afterwards, well, all he's doing is papering over cracks.

Twice in the second half Coventry missed clearcut chances. Once they had a two on one break and cocked it up, whilst the second time one of their players trod on the ball with an open goal about a yard out. These facts should not be ignored, but no doubt they will be. "We had a perfectly good goal ruled out", they'll bleat. So what?? It should have been 4-0 by then anyway.

At the end, yes, Blues threw bodies forward and lumped balls forward during five minutes of stoppage time, but any team does that if they're only 1-0 down. Rochdale would have a bit of a go at Old Trafford in the last few minutes if they were only 1-0 down - it's just what happens. It means nothing.

Blues were useless. Against Nottingham Forest last week, on the back of a decent enough performance, they were cut a little slack by supporters. It wasn't stunning last week, but it was acceptable and what should really be expected. That's been a rarity though, and this was back to as bad as it's been for most of the season. Myself and a mate who've been to the majority of games over the last twenty years or so commented on the way out that this has been the worst, most depressing season that we've seen. It has. It's been awful.

I've said many, many times this season that Blues are clueless. I don't say that in a way to just throw the phrase around - I genuinely mean it. They don't appear to have any clue or any ideas at how to break teams down or create anything. Today it was back to "launch the ball at Bent and hope". At free-kicks and corners there is not even a hint of creativity or invention.

In the pub before the game I was talking to mates about the Wayne Rooney/Ryan Giggs corner than Manchester United took at home recently leading to a Cristiano Ronaldo headed goal. The officials disallowed the goal, which was a travesty in my mind, as it was a piece of brilliance, just through a little bit of invention. I was also talking about a free-kick Stoke City (Stoke bloody City) recently took at home to Manchester United that led to two or three first time passes and Rory Delap being through on goal. Its genius was its simplicity. It can be done. Stoke can do it. Why, oh why, oh why, oh why does it have to be the case that a lumped ball into the area with a 50/50 chance of winning a flick-on and then a 50/50 chance of latching onto the ball after that, only to then be surrounded by defenders is the only option available to us?? Why on earth is that all we can do?

The examples I just gave, well, I bet that they take no more than 20 minutes to work out on the training ground, with a few test runs. That's it. Why the hell can't we try and work on something, ANYTHING, that is just a little clever or inventive? We're more predictable than nightfall.

You may have noticed, but I'm as all over the place as a Blues performance here. My thoughts are just flowing through my fingers, and once again I'm seething at what I've seen. I apologise if it is all over the place.

As I said above, I have not seen any of the comments from anyone involved yet, but I bet I'm not far off in the examples I guessed at. I can already foresee another one too; "Wolves and Reading are both struggling too, so we're still right in there". Personally, that's the one that makes me want to punch heads the most. Surely that's the worst bloody thing????? Surely the fact that they've been so crap lately should be all the more reason for us to say, "for God's sake, let's buck our ideas up - we could be fifteen points clear by now". Surely that just makes things worse?? How on earth is the fact that our main rivals are dropping points meant to make us feel better?? That's worse.

I've barely mentioned the manager so far, but now it's time to. I've steered clear of nailing my colours to the mast so far, but I will do now. Alex McLeish is no good. Honestly, if he's still coming out and saying, "we're still up there and doing ok", that just highlights that. If he says, "we showed character to stick in there and have a go", well, he needs to have a long, hard look at himself. This is nowhere near acceptable given the players that Blues have got. Nowhere near. Not even close. I watch the side regularly, and sorry, it's nowhere near good enough, and one man has to shoulder the blame for that. If he genuinely believes that what is going on is "satisfactory" or "ok", then he's deluded.

I heard on the radio on the way back that Roy Keane has announced he wants to get back into management and fancies another crack at the Championship. If I was David Sullivan and I'd heard that, I'd be sending McLeish his P45 instantly and getting on the phone to Keane's people. There's no chance in hell of it happening for a whole host of reasons, and I couldn't see Keane working with/for our board, but at least there'd be a little bit of fire about Blues and some passion in their play. It's all too easy to say, "the players aren't playing for the manager", but it would appear that they're not now, and if they are, the manager should be ashamed.

I felt that the time was right for Steve Bruce to go, and still maintain that. I was excited by McLeish initially and have stood by him since. He says the right things. As I've said before though, the proof is in the pudding. The fact is that Blues' performances and results continue to get worse. I DON'T CARE ABOUT WOLVES, READING OR ANYONE ELSE!!!! Blues are getting worse and continue to do so. It's all only going to end one way, and it's not going to be a happy way. McLeish is not good enough.

People who know me know that (sadly) I live for following football - mainly Blues, but England too. I went nearly six years recently without missing a game, home or away, league or cup. I'm going on holiday soon and miss the next four games, and people who know me will realise what a big thing this is for me to say, but I'm glad. I'm glad I'll miss four games. I'm sick to the back teeth of watching this garbage every week. This is the worst I have ever seen. Yes, the expectation is part of that, but given the squad, wages, etc, are we wrong to have expectations this season? I wouldn't say so.

For me to turn around and say that I'm glad to be missing a series of games, well, I'm afraid that that's a reflection on how sour the whole thing has become. It has gone seriously, seriously sour, and is in danger of going rotten. Things have to change, and fast. If you think I'm being over-dramatic, fair enough. I am writing this two hours after the game finished and haven't had chance to fully reflect, but I'm pretty sure that in two days time I shall feel the same.

Right, that's it. I'm signing off for a few weeks. I'm hoping that the next time I write one of these (after Doncaster away) that everything will be rosy again. In truth though, the way things are going, the season could have drifted away even more.