December 2008 Archives
For those of you yet to be aquainted with the above term, think yourselves lucky. Those for whom the words 'Championship' and 'Manager' conjour images of dark, sleepless nights in front of a glowing screen, knuckles white and eyes wide know just what I'm on about.
Championship Manager, or Football Manager as it's now known (long story), is, on the face of it, a football management simulation game for the PC. In reality, it's an addictive, relationship-wrecking, insomia-inducing, social life-shredding, dream-making, time-bending, beautiful yet deadly drug of a passtime.
You pick your team, buy and sell players, choose tactics, set training schedules, talk to the media, and then send out your boys to battle whilst you sit back and tremble with excitement. Crikey, I haven't even mentioned the bottom-clenching thrill of the cup draws yet! It may all sound a little geekish, but if you haven't ever played it then hush. Try it.
It's around about this time of year when a small, granular seed of excitement begins to swell within me, and the urge returns. With the transfer window about to open, the opportunities of players joining or leaving seem boundless. Picking up the morning paper takes on a new significance. And all this could be in my own hands! I could be the manager... I could be buying the next super-star... I could be making the news!!!
In goes the disc, and I am flown to a far away land where I am the boss, and my name is on the cheques...
Now, if I'm honest, I rarely play the game as manager of Coventry. I think it's just the added weight of responsibilty that I place on myself that's too much to bear. But what I do is start a game as Coventry each time I buy the new version of the game (released annually, just about), just to test the water, so to speak.
Even then, it's not like I play the game properly. Oh no, instead of using my freedom to buy any player I want, I restrict myself to buying only the players that City have bought in real-life. Essentially, I just want to be in the manager's shoes at that very point in time. Hence, my goes as Coventry are generally pretty pallid affairs.
I usually start by editing the players to be as life-like as I can (the CM researchers often get it wrong when it comes to Coventry players' preferred positions), and maybe making a small cash injection into the bank just for emergencies.
Coventry City, in Championship Manager terms, is never an easy ship to sail. So heartbreaking it is to ever see my beloved club relegated with me at the helm that, should at any time in the game relegation ever become a mathematical certainty, I will 'accidently' turn off my computer and declare the misfortune of a powercut to be the culprit. Nevertheless, during these times of toil, there have emerged some golden nuggets of footballing ability.
So, without further (Freddy) ado, here are my top five Coventry City players from Championship Managers, past and present:
5. Ellery Cairo
He was the answer to our prayers when the young, lightning-quick, Dutch wing-wizzard joined from Hertha Berlin. At a time when we needed wingers (hang, on, we still do!), Cairo impressed in a pre-season friendly, but did very little else and drifted away again. In CM, however, he was the business, and one to definitely hang on to.
4. Eoin Jess
Horrendously over-valued in the game. So much so that on one go I became embarrassed for the poor man, went into the game editor and lowered his value to something we'd all believe. A player who wasn't really a striker, nor a midfielder, but play him as a trequartista (in the hole) and he shone like Clinton Morrison's boots.
3. Steve Ogrizovic
As dependable as an Ikea shopping bag, he was as much guaranteed his number 1 jersey in my games as he was in real-life. The only worry with Oggy was getting to that point with a few months to go in the season, praying that he wasn't going to announce his retirement. Just one more year, Steve! Please!!!
2. Ysrael Zuniga
One could be forgiven for forgetting this guy ever donned a Sky Blue shirt. And why? Because, my friends, he was rubbish. Managing a measly three goals in two seasons, the Peruvian was shipped over to Argentina where he continued not to score many goals. Apparently he's now a dentist. Still, in the CM world this guy was a winner, and regularly scored more times in a weekend than Russell Brand.
1. Stuart Giddings
My heart still sinks when I think of what this guy could/should have become. Perhaps his prowess in CM clouded my mind, but Giddings at one stage looked like he was the new Stuart Pearce. A knee injury later and he became... well, he now plays for Hinckley United. Always highly valued in the game, always a consistant performer, Giddings was to my Coventry goes what Bourbons creams are to the biscuit world.
COVENTRY CITY'S abysmal home form has been the elephant in the Sky Blues dressing room this week.
Manager Chris Coleman admits he must break through the psychological block that has seen his side collect just three points from the last 18 on offer at the Ricoh Arena.
But as he prepared for tomorrow's showdown with Ipswich Town he revealed: "I haven't mentioned it to the lads once this week.
"There's no point in me saying 'go out and enjoy yourself' because you know that's just not realistic
"They are desperate to do well at the Ricoh but my biggest criticism of them at the moment is that they get too anxious at home.
"They're too tense - they can't produce the flowing football that they can in away matches.
"At home they feel we have to excite, to be creative and attack. They want the three points so much that there's always the danger of losing their shape.
"If the opposition string four or five passes together we sometimes panic and start rushing around because we want to get the ball back.
JOHN-Joe O'Toole grabbed the winner for Watford as Brendon Rodgers' revolution gained momentum with victory over Coventry City.
The 2-1 success meant successive wins for the new boss after his first victory in charge against Norwich in midweek.
After a cautious first half largely due to the atrocious conditions the goals returned to Vicarage Road midway through the second period with three goals in a five-minute spell.
Watford fans have now witnessed 41 goals in 12 Coca-Cola Championship games.
Tommy Smith gave the hosts the lead from a penalty won by O'Toole only for Coventry to hit back immediately through Clinton Morrison.
O'Toole, on his return to the side, secured the three points with a late winner.
The sodden pitch caused chaos and the home supporters were on their feet minutes after kick-off as Elliott Ward misjudged a sliding challenge and fouled Smith in the area.
But referee Jon Moss rejected the convincing penalty claims.
PATIENCE is something Coventry City forward Robbie Simpson has in abundance.
Having made only four Championship starts this season, the 23-year-old is desperate to stamp his mark at the club and show that he also has plenty of goals in him to help the Sky Blues kick-start their season.
Currently sitting midway, City's campaign could go either way, but after scoring his first Championship goal in 14 months to help the team to a 2-1 win over bottom club Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, Simpson hopes he can stay in the side and repay the manager for finally giving him an opportunity to shine.
"I want to take my chance now," said the striker, who is being deployed out of position wide on the right.
"I just want to stay in the team. I always give 110 per cent and, luckily, a lot of things went for me on Tuesday night. Hopefully I can keep that form going and get a few more goals because the midfielders have got to be scoring as well as the strikers and I feel I can provide a goal threat from that side.
"I have had to be very patient, a bit too patient in my eyes because I wanted to get in a lot sooner, but I am in now and it is my job to stay in."
Simpson was signed by Iain Dowie 18 months ago, plucked from non-league Cambridge United for a fee of ÃÂ£40,000 set at a tribunal after he had made a name for himself at the Abbey Stadium with an impressive 17 goals in 28 league games.
COVENTRY CITY defender Marcus Hall hates playing at right-back.
Fast becoming the Sky Blues' utility man, the veteran left-back expressed his relief that the club had finally got two fit and able defenders to fill the berth that has been an on-going problem at the club for the last three seasons.
But with summer signing Stephen Wright back from a three-month lay off with an Achilles problem, and understudy Isaac Osbourne on the bench, Hall felt safe that he wouldn't be called upon as emergency cover any more.
And with first choice left-back Danny Fox a yellow card away from suspension, he had been biding his time to get his chance in his preferred position.
That was on Monday when the player was looking ahead to City's match against Swansea at the Ricoh Arena.
But little more than 24 hours later and the 32-year-old got the call from the bench after Wright limped off with a knee injury and then his replacement, Osbourne, hobbled off with an ankle injury in the space of the first 10 minutes against the Swans.
"I can't believe it to be honest," said Hall, who is in his testimonial season with the Sky Blues.
"I was only saying the day before that we have got two players who can play at right-back now and I was pretty relieved about it.
"Then they both go and get injured in the same game.
"It is obviously bad luck for them, but I just can't believe it.