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02/03: Preview: Coventry City
Opposition opinion
by Ben Nunn of The Sky Blue Superplex

What happened last season?
What indeed happened to us last season? And more to the point, Why?

Following relegation from the top-flight for the first time ever, we were in a totally unfamiliar position, but saw an opportunity for a new start. Unfortunately what we got was the same old inexplicable failure: A poor opening run saw Gordon Strachan sacked after nearly five years in charge of the club, and Roland Nilsson's Sky Blue Army embarked on a long unbeaten stretch which saw us climb all the way to the top of Division One, and become clear favourites for the title.

Of course, the dream then fell to pieces around us, as consistently inconsistent results saw us slip out of the automatic promotion frame. The world-beaters turned into panel-beaters, while Strachan, Bellamy, Williams and Co - for whom many fans had blamed our relegation - all did really well at their new clubs. And then there was Lee Hughes: signed from West Brom as one of the best strikers in the Division, he had a very low-scoring season by his previous standards, while the Baggies won promotion for the first time in ages without him. There just isn't any logic in football.

The few remaining folks who *didn't* believe in the curse/conspiracy against Coventry finally ran out of people to blame when the Chairman was sacked. But did our luck improve? Did it shite.

Towards the end of the season, we finally broke one of our many hoodoos, coming from behind to win for the first time in over three years. So, with seven games left, and looking good for the play-offs, we think the tide has turned. WRONG. We go on to take only one point from our run-in and by the end of the season, we've slumped to an embarassing and unsatisfying 11th place - our worst finish for about 40 years.

What's going to happen next season?
If the pundits were correct, then we could play pants every single week, and win the Champions League - after all, they do say that luck evens itself out over time.

The reality is that it doesn't. CCFC have been on a downward slope for the last six or seven years, and no player or manager is good enough to prevent further decline, if that's the way things are going to be.

With Gary Mac back on board, and a squad that still looks strong on paper, we are among the favourites once more, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if we were all-but-relegated by Christmas.

To paraphrase John Cleese in 'Clockwise': "It's not the despair that I can't stand... it's the HOPE!"

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
Pubs in the immediate vicinity are not friendly, don't like away colours, and you wouldn't want to visit them anyway. Best tip for away fans is the White Friars on Gosford Street, the road from the City Centre to the ground. This is welcoming to all supporters, and unusually for the area has an excellent range of real ales. The Sky Blue Tavern opposite the ground does have an 'away' bar, but it's nothing to write home about and there has been 'trouble' in here in the past.

What's the nearest railway station?
Coventry BR is the nearest and it is a fairly lengthy and complicated walk from there to the ground. Directions can be found on the Sky Blue Superplex guide to Highfield Road.

Where is the best place to park?
There's a couple of multi-stories on the East End of the City Centre which are within walking distance. Nearer the ground there is very limited street parking and a couple of school car parks etc. but you'll need to snap up the spaces 2-3 hours before kickoff.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"Sealey gets the vote in goal for deliberately conceding goals against West Ham, the team he supported. Not many tears were shed in Coventry on his demise"

"Shit on the Villa...Shit on the Villa tonight!"

"Loads more crap players - these were the first that came into my head though (might have the positions a bit messed up too - I'm a bird what do you expect - can't tell left from right!!)"

"Cov will storm Division One this season, with Gary Mac and Big Dion, it will be just like the old days."