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So what's the verdict on City's return to the Championship so far? Bit late now for a half term report and a mite too early for an end of term round up. But with 90% of the season gone and four games to go we can probably make some 'to be confirmed' judgements - bearing in mind, of course, that, at the time of writing we are still not completely safe from relegation but also have shown quite excellent form in three out of the last four matches. So don't rule out a sunburst of a finish!


If we are asking how are we doing and how have we done, we need to decide what we expected, realistically, this season. While we all know that the Sky Blues are the best team in the land, expectations were dampened somewhat by a recognition that the Championship is indeed a tough place - tougher than the third tier, because there are ex-Premier League clubs in here and a much shorter tail of clubs that a team like the City could be supremely confident of beating.

Hopes may have sprung a bit less eternal also when the club made the divisional leap with, allegedly, the second lowest playing budget in the Championship, with the modest recruitment bill which that implies, plus the usual requirement - usual for the City, that is - that they break-even in cash terms over the season.

The club's primary playing objective of 'Avoid Relegation' as set for Mark Robins can also sound more like a cry for divine intervention than a clarion call for glory when into this we factor the thunderbolts of Covid and long term injuries that the Gods of Football have thrown at the team. Coventry City are not unique in this suffering, but we are doubly cursed by the thinness of the squad. So, pub talk of whether the really intriguing and quite exciting combination, in some form, of Godden and Walker would work soon evaporated because of no Godden, no Walker... and no pubs to talk in. Heated debate about whether, in their absence, City should play one or two up front always seemed rather vacuuos given that for much of the season we didn't have two strikers worthy of a Championship start to turn out in Matty and Tyler's absence - and I think Mark Robins' increasing irritation with questions along those lines showed that he knew that too - only too well!

Even recognising this, there were criticisms of the way that the one-up, often cautious approach employed from the outset in many games, and persevered with for most of those matches, made City look like they were playing not to lose against sides that they should have been quite capable of beating. For that reason, the games against Wycombe, at Luton and (horrendously) at QPR, for example, were much more depressing than the defeats at Brentford and Swansea or at home to Norwich.
In contrast, what City are capable of as a team when they are approaching full strength with Mark Robins embracing the tactics to match has been amply shown in the most recent matches against Bristol City and Rotherham and, particularly, against a strong and high-performing Barnsley side. These wins have been a real credit to MR , his staff and every one of the City's players.

So what now are our expectations for the Sky Blues? While we would, in principle, settle for 20th or even 21st this season, 'Upper Lower' would now be a more than acceptable position for our first year back in the Championship. We have experienced two promotions in three years while starting from a catastrophically low base that had seen us hit the fourth tier for the first time in 60 years, and finish the regular season in 2017-2018 in our lowest League position since 1958.


So if we believe current expectations will be fulfilled 2020-21, what of the future? That, as we know, is another day and another story! We'll be back at the Ricoh - which should be a tremendous boost - home at last! But what about the crowds, will we hang on to the most valuable members of our team and will MR be allowed to continue to develop and deepen the squad? One way or another it is going to be a particularly interesting summer.
 

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