They say that home is where the heart is, but Coventry City has certainly lacked home comforts over the last several seasons. With various campaigns spent away from the Ricoh Arena due to disputes with owners Wasps RFC, Coventry has found themselves playing home matches at Northampton’s Sixfields and Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s — a bitter situation which has clearly affected the team’s on-field fortunes.
Now though, Coventry City is entering their second successive season in the Championship, and they are also back at the Ricoh. There were jubilant scenes as supporters filed into the stadium for their opening home game against Nottingham Forest, and the feel-good factor created by their return home could well stand them in good stead this season.
Indeed, it’s so far so good in terms of results. Three wins from four matches represent a solid start to Coventry’s second season in the Championship after an eight-year absence. With the club sitting pretty in fourth place in the league table at the time of writing, fans are starting to dream that a return to the Premier League could be on the cards.
If Coventry is to mount an unlikely promotion push that defies the Championship betting odds, their home form will be paramount, and being back at the Ricoh Arena should make that significantly easier. As much as the Sky Blues’ home record was good last season, there was an inescapable sense that their supporters were missing out by being forced to make a 40-mile round trip to St Andrew’s every time. Now, they have their own base and a chance to make a unique atmosphere that intimidates opposition players.
It’s been a difficult time in the club’s history. Having spent nine successive seasons in the Premier League after its inception, Coventry is yet to return to the top flight, and there is a hunger among their fanbase for the glory days to return. That kind of top-level football has felt a world away during the last ten years or so when Coventry has at times looked stranded in League One, even dropping down into League Two at their lowest ebb.
There was a vibrancy and optimism among supporters at the Nottingham Forest match, something that has been sorely lacking in recent times. It was a feel-good atmosphere, and the players clearly fed off that to deliver the win. If that kind of positivity can be maintained for the duration of the season, who’s to say Coventry can’t challenge for a playoff position?
Mark Robins is the second-longest serving coach in the Championship, having been in charge for four and a half years, and it’s clear that the club’s hierarchy trusts him. He has repaid that trust already by leading them back to the Championship, and you can bet that he’ll be desperate to make history by guiding them into the promised land that is the Premier League.
Judging by Coventry’s early-season form, the players are desperate for success too, and with vociferous home support cheering them on in their own patch, don’t be surprised if the Sky Blues turn a few heads this season.
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