Listen, I don’t know about you, but I’m not too big on all this “Keep calm and carry on” stuff you see everywhere these days. You know what I mean, I know you do; the posters, the mugs, the printed underpants?
Put simply, much like the overuse of the word banter and it’s derivatives in recent times (Bantz, Big Bantz Theory, Banter Summer Fruits, the Archbishop of Banterbury…) the revival and regurgitation of this design classic has gone to boundless and often excruciating extremes and we should all just stop it. Not convinced? Still an advocate? Your man Charlie Brooker called it right (keep calm and read the article) and that’s validation enough for me.
That said though, like Charles, I am prepared to make allowances, although they must adhere to the code and rule as defined in my strict T&C’s.
For a start, the sentiment of the poster’s original mantra has to ring loud, true and in crystalline clarity. It has to be a situation in which keeping calm and carrying on would be largely beneficial; where a course of measure and rationale is more desirable in surplus than deficit to out and out panic and mania.
So, and it’s a gimme, but it would certainly still apply in wartime, under the heat and duress of battle, under a quick retreat or when attempting to fillet a sleepy sniper. In a fire evacuation too you’d want a cool head, as you would when being watched by a twitcher at a lonely rural train station. Under these such terms it’d be fine to whack a poster up.
You don’t want headless chickens in such environs, but what’s this got to do with football? What’s it got to do with Coventry City?
Well, like uncomfortable railway rendezvous’, another environment in which you don’t want headless chickens (Chris Hussey, I’m looking at you) is in the Coventry City dressing room this season. It’s really, really boring now but we all know that the club’s in a mess. City are often in a mess but this time it’s personal and it’s a more substantiated, dirtier mess than usual. There has been a good news embargo in place for quite some time and to the majority of trained and observant eyes the club appears to be in a state of total free-fall, heading for the bottom at break neck speed and without a dead man’s handle.
Without even thinking about the actual sporting operation, a.k.a – “the way things are playing out on the pitch”, the financial situation at Coventry City is bleaker than a kitchen sink drama, translating into a force of miserablism and doom that wafts about the club, consuming it’s oxygen and is beginning to defy gravity.
Under such volatile conditions, it’d be far, far, far too easy for mass panic to descend over football following Coventrians and for the flash fires of protest we saw from City fans earlier in the year turn into burning infernos. That may well still happen – and more than likely will if the slide continues unabated – but if it does I urge City fans to remember that inferno’s do not discriminate, that wildfire is anything but calm and that everything is combustible. Innocent victims may be made of charred scapegoats; people like Andy Thorn, the club’s manager and a man again the target of misdirected mirth and ire from fans lacking a Guy Fawkes in the boardroom.
Keep Calm and Carry On (Don’t throw the baby out with the fireman’s water.)
Because if we look closely at the way things are going on the pitch, well for my money – despite the odds and the statistics and the unrepentant honesty of the league table – it’s still in the club’s own hands. Look really closely and you’ll see that rarely do Coventry City lose by gargantuan margins, rarely do Coventry City get out played and rarely is there any reason to question the dedication to the cause of Coventry City’s players. The club are not the worst footballing side in the league, that’s for sure.
No, Coventry City’s sole problem on the field, is that they get out-scored. It’s a fairly fundamental failure but it’s not as entrenched or as riddled with permanance as a genuine lack of quality or a lack of desire. Why has it happened? Well it’s simple really: 1) A lack of quality up front and 2) A dearth of mistakes from a young team under pressure.
Now, City may well have solved the first of those two quandaries by selling it’s top-scorer to Middlesbrough. Twisted logic that may be, but the sale of the charming but in my view over-rated Lukas Jutkiewicz to Tony Mowbray’s men has allowed Andy Thorn to bring in the highly rated Alex Nimely on loan from big-buccaneers Manchester City. Clearly this is a short term measure not designed for long term Championship stability, but short term measures will do for now if Nimely continues to perform as he did on his goalscoring and goal creating debut, a 3-1 victory against, ironically, the Juke’s new table topping employers. Couple the fresh and inventive Nimely with a resurgent Gary McSheffrey, playing up front (and scoring) again after an extended and largely ineffectual exile on City’s wing, and we may well just have unlocked a winning combination.
The rest is up to the boys at the back, and in the middle, and how calm they can keep. If it requires Andy Thorn to plaster the walls at Ryton and the Ricoh with these horrible cliched wall posters, if the City changing room has to look like a 15 year old girl’s bedroom wall, then so be it, I will make that allowance. Hell, why not mix your cliched wartime propaganda, and throw in a bit of “YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU” rhetoric, but rather than the ever brazen and moustachioed face of the Lord Kitchener, why not superimpose the Elvis impersonating chin of the Sky Blues’ new THIRTY-SEVEN year old stalwart and natural born leader Hermann Hriedarsson on there and really instill some gut to the City defenses.
Coventry City can avoid relegation this season, I know that and it’s players know that, but time is running out. The club can still do things that will make it’s fan proud to support them, and whilst the bleak realities at boardroom level may mean that we may not be able to avoid oblivion, we can avoid shame, we can avoid degradation.
So, once more, let’s all sing together, let’s grow in confidence, let’s grow in stature and let’s keep calm.
More than that though, let’s carry on.
Written by Paul Martin, We Are Going Up’s Coventry City Blogger