THIS week’s Observer Fan’s View column has been sent in by Steve Phelps, the author of multiple Coventry City books including his latest title ‘Sky Blue Heroes: The Inside Story of Coventry City’s 1987 FA Cup Win’.
“After the drama of the final day at Crawley Town in early May I would never have envisaged in early September having witnessed some of the best football I’ve seen from a City side in over 15 years.
“We’ve had a quiet pre-season with astute acquisitions in key areas dovetailed with the retention of players we needed to keep and the result has seen a small squad, finally blessed with some pace, take us into second place half-a-dozen games into the season.
“So what’s changed? With the exception of far too many long balls against Southend and early on at Burton, we’ve learnt the art of ball retention and patience which enables us to pick the right pass, the telling pass.
“What we’re also picking is the pass we, the supporters, can see from the sidelines. All concerned are displaying intelligence with or without the ball, the Fleck/Stokes/Murphy triumvirate is routine and we finally have a pattern of play fitted around the personnel Tony Mowbray has patiently waited to welcome onboard.
“I feared it was all going too well after three straight league wins and so it proved with that other revered triumvirate Maddison/Armstrong/Lameiras.
“I could see Armstrong’s explosive pace taking his hamstring with it but what I didn’t expect was Maddison to be crocked in a 50/50 and out for the foreseeable. These three have given us, and will continue to give us, options for the man on the ball.
“Jim O’Brien has improved immeasurably on last season while Romain Vincelot quietly gets on with his business breaking up the play.
“The above combinations have catapulted Armstrong to the SkyBet League 1 Player of the Month award for August, O’Brien’s through ball for the opener against Wigan the catalyst for his spree.
“It’s been great to watch so far and this has been reflected in the atmosphere generated with the closure of the North stand.
“For many years I’ve sat with vacant seats around us, now, all the rows around us in Block 18 are full and there’s no spare seats to be seen.
“It’s how it should be, ‘Singers Corner’ launch into anthem after anthem and the 12” version of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ has become a cry that lifts fans and players alike.
“My new book, ‘Sky Blue Heroes: The Inside Story of Coventry City’s 1987 FA Cup Win’ includes the line ‘In 1986/87 we all sang together’.
“So far this campaign players and fans are as one, it’s early days but could this just be the year we taste success and that coveted top six finish elusive since 1969/70?
“We just don’t do second placing, it’s very un-City like but, so far so good, we never for one moment thought we’d be in this position, lets enjoy the current, it’s a great time to be a City fan…as it was in ‘86/87…Play up Sky Blues!”