It is only mid-November the season is still shaping up and yet I want to make a pitch to you that the most dramatic story of the sporting year isn’t going to be found n the premier league or the NFL or La Liga or even when England thrash Brazil 5-0 to win the World Cup. The sporting story of the year is Coventry City Football Club. Before the season began there was a one surefire certainty in League One. Coventry City Football Club would be relegated. Coventry began the season with a series of handicaps against them that would stop a stampeding Rhino.
Firstly, they began the season on -15 points as a penalty for being in administration. Minus 15 points that’s five wins before you even get to zero! When other teams such as Leeds, Portsmouth, Rotherham have points penalties imposed they were relegated. Making things worse for Coventry however, was that they were and are not playing in their home stadium (Subaru Stadium). A key reason for Coventry’s financial difficulties is a rent dispute with their stadium owners. Unable to resolve the dispute the club owners decided to play home games some sixty miles away in Northampton. Understandably peeved at this the Coventry fans decided to boycott all home games instead organising exhibition matches at Subaru stadium. So If your keeping count Coventry began the season in administration unable to play in their stadium necessitating at temporary move to sixty miles away leading to a fan boycott of home games. I don’t think a campaign has started on such unfavourable terms since the ill fated charge of the light brigade.
Still you might be thinking Coventry could have a squad made up of Pele’s, Maradona’s and Maldini’s maybe they are so good that they were just lulling the other teams into a false sense of security. Well I would direct you towards the fact that Coventry were under transfer embargo for much of the window brought in only one player the forward Mathieu Manset on a free whose career had hardly set the world alight. Whilst at the same time 14 players were released or transferred out on a free to cut the wage budget. These fourteen players included key experienced pros like David Bell, Richard Wood and Stephen Elliott. All told the 14 players lost had played a over 230 games for the club. The squad that was left had an average age of 21.
Come the weekend of the 23rd of November the smart money would have placed Coventry mired in relegation difficulties probably just about up to zero points. Instead they sit mid-table five points off a playoff place. If they had managed to start the season without the 15 point penalty they would be third with 36 points battling for the title. How has this come about? Manager Steven Pressley must take the accolades for knitting together such a successful team, but the stat that really leaps out at you is goals. Journey man striker Leon Clarke has found 12 league goals a tally matched by the youngster Callum Wilson. They jointly lead the division goal scoring charts and as a team Coventry have scored more goals than any other team in the division.
If they keep up this sort of form it might be a memorable season for Coventry for on the pitch reasons as well as off the pitch struggles and what a story that would be!