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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
04/05: Reports:

Football League Division Two, 18/12/04, 3.00pm
Coventry City
versus
Watford
 
A Fly in the Ointment
By Matt Rowson

It's been a f***er of a week.

The fun started last Friday. We were indulging in the standard Friday night pursuit of collapsing in front of the television when Tsega noticed some uninvited guests.

"There are a few flies in here, aren't there?"

Which there were. I left for the town centre and the game on Saturday morning with the vague intention of picking up some spray or something but matters progressed apace in my absence. By half time against Wolves I had received a Voicemail message.

"The number of flies is getting ridiculous. I'm going to stay with my sister..."

B&Q, Homebase, Sainsbury's and Boots were no use whatsoever in procuring said fly spray. You'd think that someone would still have some in stock, even in December; fortunately my Gran keeps a supply of useful stuff like this. Armed with her half-full can of spray my brother and I entered the containment area of our living room, performed the deed and dived for cover. After an hour's quarantine, 129 dead bluebottles were hoovered into oblivion.

Much soul-searching was conducted in the Rowson household in the wake of these events as flies continued to emerge from somewhere. Of particular concern was our domestic cleanliness, which we'd probably have considered something short of rigorous but a way clear of depravity and certainly beyond what might reasonably facilitate a flies' nest.

Transco Man put these concerns to bed on Monday when he discovered and helpfully removed the dead pigeon from behind our gas fire. Bloody stupid creature. The flies have, finally, subsided (body count now well clear of 150), the living room has been exhaustively rinsed and it will only (ha!) cost me 30 to have the chimney swept and 70 to have the gas fire reconnected. It's a while since I've had as great a need of a football match to bellow at.

And given that pestilential, parasitic scum have played such a prominent role in my week so far, it's appropriate enough that much of this bellowing will undoubtedly be directed at Coventry City midfielder Stephen Hughes. Peculiarly, with another ex-Hornet of an earlier vintage - Tim Sherwood - out injured, Hughes has stepped into the breach to captain the side in recent weeks and is regularly cited in messageboard discussion as the one class act in the City midfield. Which suggests that he's had an epiphany and got his finger out of his arse, although it will be entertaining to assess the treatment he gets from our own, rather less delicate central midfield pairing.

Off the pitch all is far from rosy; a drawn-out takeover bid by local businessman Jojar Dhinsa was finally abandoned this week amidst suggestions that the guy had far from the resources that he claimed to have. Today (Thursday) Jaguar have effectively pulled out of the deal that was to name the Sky Blues' new stadium, blaming their own financial concerns. Meanwhile, the incumbent chairman continues to curry favour by threatening legal action against a City messageboard a contribution to which had questioned his stewardship. This has prompted an entertaining change of tack by the editorial team concerned that's worth wasting five minutes on if you have it spare.

On the pitch, City are languishing in the nether reaches of the division some way short of the play-off place which the support still half-heartedly talks of as a target whilst not really sounding as if they believe it's about to happen. Whilst City have reportedly been playing decent football they lack potency in attack and have only three league wins in seventeen (the same as us, incidentally, although we've lost four to their eight and managed a cup run to boot).

Manchester United youngster Luke Steele will be in goal, having this week extended his loan spell for the season. He's clearly impressed the management staff although the support doesn't seem quite as won over, some championing Scottish reserve and longer-term prospect Scott Shearer.

The defence has plenty of experience, with the likely back four having over 1600 League starts between them. Louis Carey was signed in the summer from Bristol City and should play right-back in the absence of Andrew Whing who recently underwent a hernia operation. Steve Staunton, scorer on City's visit to the Vic last season, should play left back with Richard Shaw and Adrian Williams, already an opponent at Vicarage Road with Reading this season, in the centre. Williams limped out of Saturday's defeat at Stoke, however; if unavailable his place is likely to go to Frenchman Florent Laville, on-loan from Bolton in an attempt to recover fitness after a long injury absence.

In midfield, Stephen Hughes' regular partner of recent weeks has been the randomly energetic Mickey Doyle, but he sits out Saturday with a ban having picked up five bookings. Destroyer Isaac Osbourne, who comes firmly on the category of youngprospectswhoreallyoughttohavebrokenthroughbynow, seems to be favourite to replace him although there are alternatives; Bjarni Gudjonsson, more frequently a wide man and the subject of a rebuffed bid from Plymouth this week has his supporters. Andy Morrell is playing on the right; more conventionally a striker, he's getting some stick despite having scored seven goals. Another striker, Gary McSheffrey, is on the left. Other midfield options include former Arsenal reserve Graham Barrett, Frenchman Eric Deloumeaux, the left-sided Claus Jorgensen and Cameroonian Patrick Suffo. Peter Reid, however, has been criticised of late for not attending and paying little heed to reserve performances, with undertones suggesting the same excessive loyalty to "favourites" that blighted his final years at Sunderland.

Up front, another United loanee Eddie Johnson has been out of sorts and hasn't scored since October. Not so Dele Adebola, who seems to have had a second coming at Highfield Road of late. His wife was due to give birth last weekend, questioning his involvement in the Stoke game, but BSaD is unable to comment on latest developments in this respect. As well as the two men operating in midfield, one-time Watford target Stern John is an option and came off the bench last weekend.

It goes without saying that we could do with a win here before this season is blighted by a relegation struggle that the performances haven't really justified. This may turn out to be our fourth season running in the bottom half of mid-table but to my mind it's been by some distance the most enjoyable of the four to date - not least because of the honesty of the side we're watching. Something that a certain fly-by-night in the City side could learn something about.