By Mike Peter
For some clubs, the reasons for getting a new stadium are evident.
Southampton, for example, whose attendances have doubled since they moved
from The Dell. Derby, Bolton, Sunderland - all the same. Another example are
Brighton, who desperately need a new stadium to survive.
Coventry, however, are a different kettle of fish. With a struggling team
that is desperately under-funded and attendances dropping, the last thing
Coventry need is an expensive new stadium. But plans for the stupidly named
Ricoh Arena have been about for a long time - since the Premiership days -
wheels have been turning and now Coventry have a spanking new stadium that
they didn't really need.
It wasn't even finished on time - Coventry had to apply to play their first
three games away from home. When that first home game did come they opened
in style, with a 3-0 spanking of QPR. But since then have been two home
draws and, on Saturday, a loss to Hull, leaving them nineteenth in the table.
Stephen Bywater will be in goal for Coventry. Number One at West Ham last
season until March, Bywater may consider himself quite unfortunate to be
"sent to Coventry." Now third choice at Upton Park following the arrival of
Roy Carroll, Bywater seems to have solved Coventry's long-term keeping
troubles, at least for the moment. Deputy Clayton Ince, another recent
arrival, was in and out of Crewe's team last season.
At right-back Andrew Impey is regarded as completely inept by fans of former
clubs Leicester and Forest, but found himself in for the Hull game after
regular starter Andrew Whing picked up a hamstring injury. At left-back Paul
Watson has singed for Coventry on non-contract terms after being released by
Brighton and, like Impey, has found himself in the team due to injuries.
This mini-crisis has forced Richard Duffy, on loan from Portsmouth - in from
the left, where has been impressive for both Coventry and Wales, to cover
for Richard Shaw and Matt Heath, both of whom are crocked. The same goes for
Marcus Hall, who usually covers at left-back. The other centre half will be
a familiar face - Robert Page, signed in January after a disastrous spell at
Cardiff, he seems to have done a good job so far.
In midfield Stephen Hughes has decided he can be bothered to play for
Coventry and had an impressive first season with them, he was named as their
most important player in various pre-season surveys. Alongside him will be
Mickey Doyle, who works hard but to variable effect. Hard-man Issac Osbourne
provides the cover in a midfield which is short on depth. On the left, Gary
McSheffrey is City's most dangerous weapon, he was the top-scorer last
season although he has only scored one so far this term. On the right Claus
Jørgensen plugs away, with loanee "Willo" Flood providing cover. Academy
product Liam Davis made his debut on Saturday and is likely to pop up at
Up front Dele Adebola is finally showing some form in a Coventry shirt -
City turned down a bid from Sheffield United on deadline day - although how
long that will last is anyone's guess. If he hasn't turned into the more
typical immovable wreck by Wednesday he may cause problems. James Scowcroft
re-joined Adams this summer, having played under him at Leicester, and
should take the other striker spot. Back-up is provided by Andy Morrell,
who's never re-captured what made him a success at Wrexham, and youngster
Neil Wood. Stern John, meanwhile, has been sent on loan to Derby with a view
to a permanent transfer.
Coventry are struggling and with a side clearly full of sporadic performers
and players distinctly past their best they could be a good team to re-start
our winning streak. Here's hoping.