HAVING not finished inside the top six in any league since 1970 and having won just one major cup in its history, Sky Blues technical director Mark Venus is determined to provide the club’s fans with some long overdue success.
After languishing back in the third tier for the past four years and having survived relegation on the final day of last season, City fans can be forgiven for becoming uninterested following the heartbreaking downfall of their club.
But the arrival of Tony Mowbray has sparked a much-needed revival, transforming the Sky Blues into promotion contenders and Venus is pleased to see more fans buying into their plan.
“It’s a club that has gone through a lot – more bad than good. It was a First Division/Premier League club for a lot of years but it just hasn’t been able to get back there for whatever reason.
“It is a big club, it plays in a fantastic stadium and it’s just one of these clubs that has fell on hard times, which we need to try and turn round.
“It’s got a big supporter base which has been disillusioned and frustrated so we’ve got to try and bring everyone together and see if we can move forward.
“The fans obviously get disillusioned with some of the stuff that goes on around the club but they’re proper supporters who care about their club passionately.
“When they feel that people are doing the right things and trying hard to do the right things, they back their club and they have with us.
“I’m sure that the support will grow as the season goes on because they’ll understand that we know what we’re doing.
“I’m really pleased that the fans have come back and supported us. One of our ambitions is to see the stadium full. I think it’ll be an amazing stadium once it’s full, that’s one of my ambitions it would be great if we could fill it.”
The club’s on-field success this season has got supporters back on side and some sections of the support have been willing to forgive owners Sisu for the way the club has been run since their arrival back in 2007.
Others however remain sceptical that they will back Mowbray in the second tier, but Venus was quick to defend their aspirations and attitude since his arrival in the summer.
“I think it’s important for us to talk about my opinion of the owners.
“They’ve been fine, they’ve been good to us. They’ve let me do exactly what I want to do.
“I’ve got boundaries that I’ve got to work within just like every other club but so has everyone in terms of financial boundaries. We’ve got our financial boundaries.
“They’ve given us that financial balance but they’ve never tried taking anything away from us or tried to influence us. So I have to say they’ve been great.
“You read all of the things about how other people feel about the owners of the football club but I don’t think that helps the club to be honest.
“The fans are the fans. We want everyone to come back and enjoy being a fan. I have to say the owners have been fine with us. They want a winning team and so do we.
“They’ve tried to give us what we can in terms of a business plan. I understand the business plan that I can relate to the manager so at least they’re putting all of that into the hands of the football people in terms of the boundaries and where we are.”
Promotion to the Championship and the challenge of preparing a team that can hold their own in the second tier is something that excites Venus, having helped Mowbray guide West Brom to the top flight in 2008.
But Venus feels the bigger picture for the club long term has to be targeting a return to the Premier League just as he did at the Hawthorns.
“I think you have to want to test yourself. Obviously the Championship, with the greatest of respect to League One, is a different financial animal.
“So the difference between the spend of the clubs, the highest to the lowest, is massive whereas in League One isn’t as great a gap.
“But we want to get to the Premier League, we have to deal with the Championship so lets try to get there and deal with it.
“You can only give it your best shot with what you’ve got, that’s all we’ve done and that’s what we’ll continue to do.
“The Premier League and the First Division was a lot of years but the markers over the last ten years or so haven’t been very good. It has to learn to get better and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“Everyone has ambition. The fans have ambition, the manager has ambition, the players have ambition, me and the owners, the staff, they all want to get this club to the Premier League eventually.
“Whether we’ll ever get there I don’t know but I’d absolutely relish the challenge of the Championship. It has to be where you get to.
“There’s some good players in the Championship. People pay them a lot of money.
“But it’s another test for us. Can we adapt to it, can we work around what we’ve got to get the best of what we’ve got? We’ll wait and see.”
Alongside Mowbray, Venus has helped attract the likes of Adam Armstrong, Ryan Kent and Jacob Murphy by developing key relationships with Premier League clubs.
And having been successful at both West Brom and Middlesborough, Venus is confident he can help bring in the right sort of player to develop and improve the Sky Blues going forward.
“First of all we’ve identified that they can improve with their talent levels and then on the training ground improving them. So that’s been the marker for us.
“As everybody knows you can’t get all of them right in football – it’s impossible. If you get 50 per cent of them right you’re doing okay.
“We’ve been fortunate as well that some of the lads due to their appetite, hard work and endeavour have really moved their careers on, which is really pleasing for us.
“James Morrison has played in the Premier League now for six years or so, Chris Brunt is the same and Olsen who we brought in from Holland who’s still playing.
“I don’t know whether we’ve got an eye for a good player, but I think we’ve done well over the jobs that we’ve had trying to recruit players and improve them.”