It was a terrible summer as a Coventry City fan. There have been plenty similar bouts of turbulence, but this was spectacular in it’s desolation. The exit door was worn to the core, with both players and even the actual Football Club exiting stage left out of the Ricoh.
The man who was far too often dismissed at the back end of a up and down 2012/13 season as ‘not Mark Robins’ stood tall in his waistcoat and maintained that the players left standing were firstly enough to mount a bid to get out of a 10-point hole and secondly good enough to give the City faithful something to latch onto for this and future seasons.
Now, last season I wrote that this was the year to judge Pressley on. When he came in he had his top scorer on the operating table and a first ten point deduction kill all excitement and spirit that had built up before his arrival. He had square pegs in round holes to limp to the line.
Over the summer whilst a storm whipped up all around Steven Pressley maintained that he had a group that would produce. All the time whilst being able to instil a belief, a way of playing that some couldn’t see working.
Fifteen league games in to the season, it is and then some.
30 points from 15 games, just one defeat at ‘home’ and two of the three joint-top scorers in the division. It’s working just fine.
With the news on Tuesday that Conor Thomas had signed a new deal to stay at the club until at least 2016 following the similar signatures from Callum Wilson, Jordan Willis and Jordan Clarke then Pressley has the core of a squad together for building his ‘Coventry Way’.
Thomas is playing the best football of his young career. Wilson, finally fit, just oozes confidence and looks likely to score every time he touches the ball and has pace to scare not seen since Mr Darren Huckerby. Willis is England youth-capped and started the season at the heart of the defence before man-marking Bakary Sako out of the game at Molineux, no mean feat. Then there’s Jordan Clarke; part of the ‘Bomb Squad’ at the beginning of pre-season before being re-integrated straight into central defence for Crawley on opening day. Since then, fans would be hard pushed to not put Clarke as the most consistent performer so far this season.
Cyrus Christie stands in the way of a un-City like full house of securing the best young talent at the club for the years ahead. When Christie was ruled out for a few weeks in the middle of a particular purple patch in form, the panic button- never far away for most City fans- was being tickled at the prospect of a Cyrus-less City. Christie is now back to fitness and rampaging down the right wing this weekend at Bradford. But in the time he missed, we didn’t lose. An anomaly? No, just how things are with Steven Pressley
In no way am I belittling the impact Cyrus has on this side. From the first glimpse of him, he has been fantastic despite the results not matching his performances. It’s more a testament to the ‘way’ that Pressley is instilling incredibly quickly. Fresh blood is stepping up and not only ‘getting by’ but thriving. Not many who were there will easily forget when Aaron Phillips appeared in the Wolves’ penalty box at Molineux in the dying embers of that game. Or even earlier, when Billy Daniels, stepping in for a suspended Carl Baker and nabbing three goals in that spell.
On Friday night we saw a bench made completely up of Academy products, (11 of the 18-man squad in fact) some unknown to most City fans. There was a time where that would scare the living Villa out of a City fan. Now, there’s that part of us where we hear Pressley talk them up, we believe him and want them to be leading the line, or caressing the ball around the pitch with consummate ease. We now believe it will happen and look forward to being there when it does.
The job Pressley is doing can’t be under-stated nor can just how much of a bloody hoot watching it is becoming.
Written by Stuart Court, We Are Going Up’s Coventry City Blogger
Stuart tweets at @Stu_Court