Blades can rule Ricoh
Most fans reckon they’ve had it worst – endured the most heartache, near-misses and collapses. While Coventry supporters are, like most others, wrong in that assumption, they do have plenty of justification to moan. The Sky Blues may have been long-serving members of the top flight but they haven’t finished in the top six of any division since 1970. And after their years of stagnation in the Championship, we don’t envisage that run coming to an end this season.
The mood in this corner of the West Midlands has been gloomy for some time, and while a number of relegated sides have gone on to make an immediate impression a level below (Leicester, Norwich, Charlton), the culture of underachievement at the Ricoh will not be easy to shake off.
City have finished 17th, 21st, 17th, 19th, 18th and 23rd in the past six years and while Andy Thorn’s side look to be capable of comfortable survival in League One, they are likely to need time to adapt to the change of scenery. They managed a point at Yeovil on the opening day, losing a lead given to them by Cody McDonald’s first-half effort and we don’t fancy their chances when Sheffield United visit on Tuesday night.
The Blades were relegated from the second tier a year earlier, having finished eighth in the Championship in 2009/10, and it was no surprise to see them challenging for a swift return last term. Ultimately their promotion bid was kyboshed by circumstances beyond Danny Wilson’s control, with leading scorer Ched Evans sent to prison in April. And only a dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat against Huddersfield – with goalkeeper Steve Simonsen missing the crucial kick – denied them in the play-offs.
Simonsen’s errant swish proved costly, and not just that afternoon, as United were forced to cut their financial cloth ahead of another year in League One. It was a disrupted summer at Bramall Lane as the budget was trimmed but this should not be a cause for panic, particularly with the players still at Wilson’s disposal. He may have to rely on youth a touch more this term but the likes of Michael Doyle, Neill Collins and impressive winger Stephen Quinn remain.
They ground out a victory over newly-promoted Shrewsbury on Saturday and pragmatism is likely to be the order of the day this term. Indeed, Wilson’s men were not often flashy last season but then, they had the considerable goalscoring talents of Evans to dig them out of holes.
And we reckon those focussed Blades’ minds can help them to secure back-to-back successes as City find their feet. Their away record in 2010/11 was not unblemished, with 11 victories and seven defeats but they should hold few fears ahead of their midweek trip to the Ricoh. The ground is ringed with bad memories for the hosts – it was there, in April, that their relegation was confirmed after successive defeats to nil against Millwall and Doncaster.
And with the visitors second favourites with most bookmakers on Tuesday, we’re happy to back them to add to the Sky Blues’ gloom.
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