On Saturday, second placed Barnsley take on ninth placed Coventry City in a League One clash at Oakwell. We asked Sky Blue fan, Laurence to give his thoughts on the game and all things Coventry, Barnsley and League One. Follow Laurence on twitter here: https://twitter.com/Thelonelyseason
Tell us about you and your support for Coventry City.
I suppose I’m an exiled Coventry City fan living in London, though I have no real connection to the city of Coventry, have never lived there, don’t really know much about it, just happen to be obsessed with the football team.
Back in August, what would have constituted a good season in your mind for the Sky Blues?
I think most fans were looking upwards. Of all the league divisions, the difference between League One and Two seems to be the least pronounced. A top half finish was very much in most fans thoughts with the more optimistic making eyes at the playoffs. (Bear in mind that we managed to get promoted last season by finishing 6th on goal difference, and spent large parts of the early season not scoring goals and losing lots of games to awful sides)
Your manager Mark Robins has managed Coventry before. What was the fan reaction to him returning after he had left to join Huddersfield last time?
We were in such a miserable situation that retribution was the last thing on anyone’s mind. I think the majority of fans were so relieved that a manger still retaining a decent slice of industry respect would consider returning to the walking shambles that was Coventry City of 2017. When your predecessors are Russel Slade and Mark Venus you’d do well to be a downgrade.
Is Robins the man to guide you out of League One, into the Championship and why?
Perhaps. He is slowly but (hopefully) surely establishing a system and a squad that does what he wants it to do. My only concern is that the core of our squad looks likely to be dismembered at the end of the season. Star loan players Luke Thomas and Dujon Sterling will head back to pastures richer, local stalwarts Jordan Willis and Lee Burge look set to run their contracts down, while midfield God Tom Bayliss surely won’t stick around in League One for another season. Most clubs in this league (and below) are used to rebuilding at the end of the season but it seems to afflict Coventry especially badly.Embed from Getty Images
How would you describe this season for City on the pitch?
A season of fine margins. We have marbled our season with colourful splurges of winning streaks and dour storms of multiple defeats. Just when it looked like we were flirting with the possibility of the gargantuan relegation battle that is raging a few places below us, the squad decided to go on an excellent run and now we are forced to entertain the possibility (and the concomitant nerve-jangling) of the playoffs. We rarely lose when we go ahead but rarely win when we go behind (excluding magical from-behind away wins at Southend and Charlton that now seem like something of a dream). We aren’t blowing teams away, but nor are we getting embarrassed. You can essentially guarantee that we will be in with a chance of getting something from the game at the 70 minute mark. No one leaves early – or at least they shouldn’t
City are currently on a good run with only two defeats since the start of February. In that time City have drawn at top of the table Luton Town and won at Peterborough as well. What is the main reason for this good form?
See above. To say that things have started to click implies that everything has fallen into place. It hasn’t. But those little battles, those moments in the game where we should make chances tell, have started falling for us. We just lost to Oxford at home, but the game was relatively similar to recent games that we won at home. Our team is less Jekyll and Hyde than, I dunno, Mark and Michael.
Who should Barnsley fans look out for in a City shirt when the two teams meet?
Tom Bayliss – central midfielder. The loping gazelle of a midfielder is as good as his haircut is bad. Think a slightly more slight version of Yaya Toure who glides past players like they don’t exist. Has an eye for incredible slide ruler through balls and is adding Lampard-esque goals to his game for good measure.
Dujon Sterling – gallivanting full back. Looks a bit tired of late but has been one of our best performers. Loves getting down the wing and getting crosses in that our strikers hate converting.
Luke Thomas – winger. Barnsley will be scared of him until they realise that none of his shots ever go in.Embed from Getty Images
Have you seen much of Barnsley this season? Is there anyone in the Reds side that has impressed you?
Afraid not. Unless they are on fire or a depressing fading Prem player, I tend to concentrate on my own team.
What is your score prediction for the game at Oakwell?
Mark Robins was born to eke out cheeky points where they aren’t quite deserved. I can’t see us scoring twice, so I’m going to go with 1-1, or perhaps a 2-1 defeat if we’re unlucky.
As we get to the business end of the season and City just outside the play off places, where do you predict Coventry will finish in the league?
7th, obviously. Just enough to force us to keep going to the games but not enough for it to actually mean anything.
Which team, other than City have impressed you the most in League One this season and why?
Luton. Just, ridiculous. They are just an extremely functional team that doesn’t rely on individual stars to get them through. The culture at that club must be something special to sustain that form despite losing their manager.
The top of League One is very tight with Luton, Barnsley, Sunderland and Portsmouth all chasing two automatic promotion spots. Who do you think will finish in the top two?
Luton and Barnsley.
Sadly there is currently more being written about Coventry City off the pitch than on it with big question marks over where City will be playing their football next season. What do you think the short term future holds for Coventry City Football Club?
In the short term we will continue to show up to games, kick the football, and then go home.If you’re interested in the long term – literally no idea. Anyone who says they do is either a liar or very high up.
Coventry can have a bearing on the top 2 places in League One having away fixtures at Barnsley, Sunderland and Portsmouth between now and the end of the season. How many points do you think Coventry will get from those 3 games?
I back us to win at least one. Please god please let it be at Sunderland. They hate us and it would be nice to fly to Newcastle and not get a hiding.
Thank you to Laurence for sharing his thoughts. Look out for our review of the game over the weekend.