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.
RAY RANSON today said that Aston Villa have not made a bid for Coventry City left-back Danny Fox.
The Sky Blues chairman is keen to scotch rumours linking the former Everton player with a move away from the club.
Although it is understood that there has been some interest in a couple of City's higher profile players, Aston Villa have not made a bid for Fox.
"There is not going to be a mass exodus of players, " said Ranson.
"We are trying to build something here and want to keep our best players."
CLINTON Morrison set Coventry on their way to a first home win in eight attempts as they overcame Coca-Cola Championship rivals Sheffield Wednesday at the Ricoh Arena this afternoon.
Morrison, who has now netted eight goals in the league this season, converted Guillaume Beuzelin's centre as Coventry demonstrated their desire to record a victory after three defeats and four draws at home.
Despite a sound display from Wednesday goalkeeper Lee Grant, Coventry wrapped up the win with a late goal from Robbie Simpson.
After drawing a blank at Swansea on Boxing Day, Coventry manager Chris Coleman bolstered his forward line with Leon Best and Leon McKenzie coming in alongside Morrison.
Best, who had a loan spell with the Owls during the 2005/06 campaign, impressed enough in a 13-minute cameo against the Swans to earn his first start in over a month while McKenzie made the starting XI having only recently recovered from a torn thigh muscle.
For Sheffield Wednesday Sean McAllister was recalled while Steve Watson and Wade Small retained their places after the 1-1 draw with Blackpool.
Marcus Tudgay had the first sight of goal after two minutes, but the Sheffield Wednesday forward fired wide from 12 yards out.
Coventry then took the lead in the 11th minute through Morrison.
SWANSEA CITY were unfortunate not to take all three points from their Coca-Cola Championship clash with Coventry after dominating the goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium.
The hosts had the majority of the chances but could not make a breakthrough and have now drawn seven league games in a row.
Swansea named an unchanged line-up from the side which drew with Blackpool last weekend, while Sky Blues boss Chris Coleman called up Marcus Hall and Michael Doyle in place of Daniel Fox and Jay Tabb.
The home side had the first chance of the match, Tom Butler cutting in from the left-hand side and curling a shot into the hands of Coventry goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
The Swans forward Jason Scotland then created a chance from nothing, jinking his way past two defenders but his shot was blocked by Ben Turner.
Butler had his second chance of the game after 17 minutes when he ran at the defence at pace and curled a shot towards the top corner, but Westwood was equal to it and tipped the ball over the bar.
The game failed to pick up any pace with both sides failing to stamp their authority on the game and a poor effort from long range from Joe Allen for the Swans was easily collected by Westwood.
Weddings aren't supposed to happen in December.
Thus, I reckon I can be forgiven for my absent-mindedness in forgetting I'd been invited to this one, only to be reminded the week before.
A hectic dash to the nearest fixture list ensued, and then came the inevitable crushing blow: Covenry were playing that day. And worse: it was at home, hence I'm effectively throwing away twenty quid by missing it.
A quick peak at the score (I say quick - anyone who's tried to WAP anything knows that 'quick' it is not), before the meal told me it was 1-1. By the time the speeches had finished, we'd drawn 2-2.
Two Ipswich equalisers. More frustration. Although, I didn't feel too bad about missing the game now.
As soon as I returned home I got straight online to see if Chris Coleman's Christmas wish had come true.
"Mid-table by Christmas."
It's been a mantra we've all heard more times than Noddy Holder reminding us that it is indeed Christmas time. Thanks Noddy, but with seasonal paraphernalia spilling from every shop, home, and TV channel, the last thing we need is a crazed Brummy screaming it in our faces.
Now, a mathematician would argue that mid-table in the Championship is somewhere between 12th and 13th place. A football fan, however, would tell you that mid-table in the Championship is anything from 10th to 15th.
So, sitting in 14th, the Sky Blues are just about where Coleman wants them to be.
Now there's a new mantra, for a new goal. And it is simply this:
A word that's been on the lips of every City fan, and often on the manager too. This season's holy grail, or panacea is perhaps more accurate. Just the mere mention of the word soothes the nerves and calms the mind.
It's of course the transfer window. An opening into new possibilities and dreams. Our stuttering, patched up squad can be transformed into to a fully fledged Championship force, capable of producing the free-flowing, attacking, faultless football that we've all been waiting for!
Never mind that managers are all reluctant to let go of their talent so early in to the season but for hugely over-inflated transfer fees, the likes of which you might as well forget about unless your club's owner's surname is Al-something-or-other. Or unless they can have your star player in return (and he WILL score against us next time we play them).
Forget about all that!
January, your sweet solace is almost upon us...
CHRIS BIRCHALL will not play for Coventry City again, Chris Coleman has confirmed.
The Trinidad & Tobago midfielder, who used to play for Port Vale, has signed a season-long loan deal with League One Carlisle United.
The switch has seen Birchall make one substitute appearance so far, although Carlisle have already agreed to take him for the rest of the season, effectively ending his disappointing career at the Ricoh Arena.
"Birchy is not coming back to us," said Coleman.
"He has gone to Carlisle until the end of the season and it is up to them whether they do anything.
"He has got to play so many games for them before a contract kicks in for him there, but he is done and dusted with Coventry."
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.