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Interview With An Away Fan: Coventry City

After Saturday's defeat to Brighton Neil Redfearn will be looking for an improved performance against bottom of the league Coventry City. To find out what is going on at Coventry I spoke to Neil Allison editor of Coventry blog Sky Blues Blog.

Let’s get the hardest question out of the way first. Bottom of the league and looking pretty doomed, can you stay up?

Last week I said no. Then we went and lost to Reading, and I'd given up all realistic hope. News coming out today is that Portsmouth are looking set to enter administration, which in turn will knock ten points of their tally and drag them to within three points of us. Now, on the face of it, that should actually give us some hope - the problem we have is that we still need to start winning some bloody games. It's only three points, so you have to say we CAN stay up, but unfortunately, there's no form or momentum at the minute to suggest that we will.

It sounds a stupid question when you're bottom of the table. But are you playing poorly week in week out, or have you being unlucky at times?

Define 'unlucky', I guess. After every match we hear the same spiel about how we've bossed the match for large periods and looked good in possession. We've lost so many points from winning/drawing positions, and our record in the final ten minutes makes me weep with anguish. Is being unable to convert possession into goals bad luck? Is losing in the last minute week-after-week bad luck? Or does it come down to weak minds and incompetence? Unsurprisingly, I think it's been a bit of both. Certainly, we shouldn't have lost as many as we have done.

If you are to survive does Andy Thorn need to go?

Of all the questions surrounding the club right now, this is the biggest divider of opinion. For months, Thorn's been pretty sheltered in his position given the lack of resource being made available from the suits. We're still desperately in need of players, but when you analyse certain results and the way in which we've thrown points away, you have to attribute some blame to him. There's often been a refusal to change or adapt during matches when it's clear that parts of our team are looking vulnerable, and this usually ends up costing us. My own personal suspicions actually rest heavily on the coaching team as a whole, and the impact they're having. Our assistant Steve Harrison has been with us through different managers and overseen a shocking decline in quality and fundamental technique throughout the team. A new boss might give us a burst of impetus for a few games, but if he receives no backing either, employs the same staff, and is forced into playing players who seem out of their depth at Championship level, I'm not sure if he'd be able to do much better.

You sold Lukas Jutkiewicz to Boro in the window, how big of a loss will he be?

We don't score that many, you may have noticed. Lukas was our talisman, and while often playing like a bit of a bumbling fool, he was the only bleeder to put the ball in the back of the net. There are signs that loanee Alex Nimely could fill those boots - so a lot will depend on his form as to whether Lukas is seen as a loss.

Are you happy the Sammy Clinigan to Leeds rumours can once again disappear?

The problem we now have is that Sammy Clingan is essentially a free agent. His contract is up at the end of the season, so the window just gone was our final chance to get any money for him. It's well documented that we've become superbly adept at letting all our good players leave us for free. I don't want Sammy to leave - but at the same time, I didn't want him to run down his contract and disappear for bugger all. He might sign a new deal, but it's looking likely that you may well get your man in the summer. If you still want him, that is.

Most Leeds fans don't like McSheffrey and will be hoping he's been playing badly. How has he been this season?

Don't worry; a lot of Coventry fans don't like him either. I kid, of course. He's alright really, is Old Gary. I wouldn't take what he said too personally. He's just been a bit fed up since he realised he wasn't quite good enough for the Premiership, and gone off a bit of a good-form hiatus over the last couple of years in protest. The thing about McSheffrey is that he's either terrific or terrible. For the majority of this season, he's been the latter, but you can't ever write him off, because he's always likely to pull his socks up and have a blinder.

How do you see Coventry lining up on Tuesday?

We're really struggling with injuries at the moment so it's going to be a bit of a makeshift line-up. You won't be able to get a closer look at Sammy Clingan because he's out for a bit. As is Richard Wood who has been filling in at left back, you ought to remember him scoring the last-gasp equaliser against you earlier in the campaign. In his place will be a young lad called Jordan Clarke who is really a right-back, and has been thrown in at the deep as he desperately tries to recover fitness after a lengthy injury. We've a couple of loanees on our books at the moment in Oliver Norwood from Manchester Utd, who'll be drifting about the midfield, and a real live wire up top from Manchester City called Alex Nimely. He's a class above.

As usual Leeds will be bringing plenty of fans, but how are the crowds at the Ricoh Arena this season?

They're as you'd image for a team that's rooted to the foot of the table. Averaging around 13,000, which isn’t great - it's the sort of attendance that'd make you groan back at Highfield Road, let alone at the brand spanking new Ricoh. There will still be a clap of acknowledgement when it's read out though, then you'll all laugh at us, and then I'll recoil back into my seat in embarrassment at the wallies amongst me.

Who will be the main threat to the Leeds defence?

I've already mentioned him, but Alex Nimely really is looking about the only likely candidate to cause our opposition grief at the moment. His strike partner Clive Platt will no doubt cause you grief too, but that's more likely to be from falling on top of Darren O'Dea, or something equally off-putting.

Any Leeds player you're desperate to have at Coventry?

I seem to remember you asking this before the reverse fixture, and I essentially asked for all of them. I don't think much has changed, as we're so lacking in numbers, I look through your squad and am sure anyone would be of use. In terms of individuals I like however, Becchio's always a handful against us, while Snodgrass is also a name that stands out in the games I watch. That Nunez fella is a funny one though - I don't think I've ever seen him make a pass, but I assume that's just an unfortunate coincidence and he's actually quite good? (Nope, no coincidence he isn’t very good and you’re correct he can’t pass.)

Prediction for the match?

You've just had a bad result, we've just had a bad result, so I'm hoping this'll at least give scope for us to both go out and try and rectify things. We've won three out of our last four home league games, but I think a draw's a more likely result for us. Let's say 2-2.