A pre-season to forget for Coventry City
This has been the gloomiest pre-season I can remember. Gone is the usual blind optimism that bubbles from the lips of even the most hardened Sky Blues fans. In its place, a stoic mumbling of some promising youth team lads.
Why is there an impending sense of doom that sits just below the surface of Andy Thorn's cheery review of the past few weeks? Thorn maybe pleased with his players, but his public-facing crowing masks one of the most problematic pre-seasons since we ended up in this league.
The most revealing symptom is that City haven't signed any players (goalkeepers don't count, they're boring - I bought a sandwich yesterday, I haven't told anyone about it), despite losing three of their best since last season.
In previous years it's been a debated point, but this season no one can argue that we have a better squad than last year. And why is that? That much is simple: We have no money.
In fact we have so little money, that last week the club's official website ran a news story that essentially said that the club was probably going to survive, financially, for... well, that much was unclear.
Let me repeat, that was a news story. What they were essentially saying was: Please, come to the Leicester game next Saturday, we'll all still be here...
Meanwhile, Leicester were making plans to show off their 10 new signings to their home fans... against Real Madrid. Looking forward to Saturday everyone?
I don't feel I can say too much about what's going on in the whole club ownership saga, frankly, because I haven't the foggiest. I know the common conjecture is that it's a case of goodies (Gary Hoffman & co.) versus baddies (Sisu), but I'm afraid I don't think it's that simple.
Since watching that excellent Channel 4 Dispatches programme about the shady world of club ownership (particularly in the Championship), I don't trust anyone who says they and their 'investors' want to buy a football club.
And let's not kid ourselves, anyone who buys a football club these days isn't doing it for the love of the game, or the City the club represents; they're doing it because they think (foolishly in most cases) they can make money out of it.
I'm so sceptical that I even doubt the motivation behind Richard Keys' endorsement of Hoffman's takeover when he said of the investors involved, "I know how serious these people are because I put them in touch with Gary".
Time was when I would've cooed over Keys' recommendation. Now I just wonder how much his finder's fee would be.