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04/05: Preview: Coventry City
Opposition opinion
by Ben Nunn of The Sky Blue Superplex

What happened last season?
It's a tired old phrase, but City have been 'a club in transition' for some years now, and the continued lack of direction on and off the pitch saw nothing really changing despite a lot of things changing, if that makes any sense at all. Which it probably doesn't, because very little makes sense at CCFC these days.

For the first time ever, we played under three different managers, who could hardly have been less similar. The high-profile (yet resultally-challenged) Gary McAllister handed the reins over to his low-key (but rather good) assistant Eric Black who things improved immediately and could indeed have transitioned us back into the Premiership force we used to be given a full season. But, inexplicably, he was sacked at the end of the season after just four months at the helm and Peter Reid became the latest sucker to try and bring success to the Sky Blues on a budget that makes shoestrings look extravagent.

Rumours still persist about a consortium backed by Russian oil money taking over the club (a transition that we would all welcome) but it would seem an unlikely scenario. Local millionaire businessman Jojar Dhinsar has been talking the talk but didn't, for example, put up the cash to prevent two of our best players (Julian Joachim and Mo Konjic) leaving the club because we couldn't afford to renew their existing contracts.

We should have been a few places higher but City managed a reasonable 12th place finish last season and were hard to beat. The football was entertaining, especially under Eric Black, and striker Gary McSheffrey, veteran defender Steve Staunton and midfielder Stephen Warnock (sadly only on loan from Liverpool, and probably not coming back) were the standout players.

But it's probably all going to 'transition' into something very different under Reid!

What's going to happen next season?
Reidy has inherited the basis of a decent team, and if he can get the best out of them we'll be challenging for promotion. Some players have moved on, but the Summer signings have looked promising with new captain Tim Sherwood leading the way, although it was disappointing to miss out on his oft-teammate Teddy Sheringham.

Hornets fans will be familiar with Stephen Hughes - the injury-fraught midfielder might not be as impressive a name as he was several years ago, but if he can remain fit, he could be a useful signing, as I'm sure will Louis Carey, signed from Bristol City and regarded as the best defender in Division Two last season. Man Utd youngsters Neil Wood and Eddie Johnson are also with us, and Icelandic winger Bjarni Gudjonsson has joined us permanently after an impressive loan spell last season.

So there is some degree of optimism among the Sky Blues fans, but then we have underachieved for several years and while we could realistically challenge for at least a play-off place there are a lot of other teams in this very competitive division who will also believe that they can do it.

Whatever happens, the season will be memorable for one reason - it is set to be the final campaign at Highfield Road after 106 seasons. 'Arena 2000' is taking shape, albeit several years late and several million over budget, and so we will have bade a tearful farewell to our current home by this time next year.

This should ensure good atmosphere throughout the season, and I'd urge all visiting fans who have not yet been to HR to seize the opportunity this season. See you there!

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"i hate watford and hope you go bust and into liquidation" (gee, thanks mate)

"You never liked me did you you bunch of bastards"

"Hillman Hunters are still made in Iran"

"Apparently Peter Reid peels bananas with his feet"

"Anyone want to buy a clapped out Dyson?"

"I have ants in my kitchen - what am I going to do?"

"I quite fancy this girl who's quite keen. But she's only 19. I'm 27, that's 8 years difference. Would it be terribly immoral to give it a go?"