Tuesday, 16 December 2014

May 2000 ~ Coventry City vs Sheffield Wednesday

"And what of Sheffield Wednesday?”
The first words spoken by a surprisingly modern-looking Gary Lineker, and how many great philosphers have posed the same question over the years when wondering what to write about on a morning off work. 
Its testament to his perceived ‘aged well’ reputation that its mildly unexpected that he looks younger 14 years ago than he does now – perhaps his incredibly husky voice as displayed on Sports Personality Of The Year was less a season affliction and the first point on a tick-list to enshrine himself as a full HWF.

“None of them have got any personality!”

Less unanticipated however is the perilous plight of The Owls – as Gary intones “surely they need to win their three remaining games” to have any chance of staying up. After finishes of 3rd, 7th & 7th between 1992-94, the next six seasons (with an outlier in 97, 7th again) had seen a remorseless and steady descent – as if small iron girders had been patiently applied to both feet, then two two wings and their flight had been slowly impinged: 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th..... as Lineker says, maybe not in so many words, “it looks like that sadistic torturer may finally have decided to weight down the beak and finally send this bird crashing into the ground face first in a ball of feathers and shrieking”.

Unless! Unless they can see off Coventry City at Highfield Road.
 Here are those stellar line-ups. Coventry looks a very care-free, attacking set-up to me: probably a kind of 4-1-3-2 with McAllister sitting behind a very fluid and interchangeable front five. Peter Shreeves, we are informed, keeps the same side that played Leeds last time (I think Harry Kewell scored a peach in that), and I interpret that as a very of-the-era 3-5-2 approach, with Hinchcliffe and Alexandersson supplying the width. Alan Quinn will need to get about a fair bit in midfield as Horne and Jonk at this stage of their careers promise to be as mobile as a rusted Communist era battleship abandoned in Siberia – and a lot less evocative.
The first action, on a gorgeous spring day, looks like it could set the tone: wandering play by Noel Whelan on the left ends with some nice interplay between Zuniga & Hadji, with the latter firing in a shot which Kevin Pressman beats away.
GOAL!! 1-0 Coventry McAllister
Terrible defending by Wednesday and already Coventry look to be a different level here. This is McAllister’s 12th of the season, so no excuse for Wednesday to not be aware of his forward runs even if he was nominally the furthest back of this flowing midfield unit. Robbie Keane opens the gap with a clever dummy, Zuniga’s involved again, laying the ball off to his captain who storms forward and slots past Pressman to give the home side a 38th minute lead.
HALF-TIME. Wow, must have been some action there..... or is it one of those where the 2nd period so incident packed they back-load the highlights? Only one way to find out....
It’s a promising start. Hinchliffe clips a neat ball down the line where Giles de Bilde holds it up well, then slips in a really clever back-heel, which Quinn, as we said he needed to do, gallops forward to run on to, hitting  first-time shot which goes not far wide of 42-year old Steve Ogrizovic’s post.
Substitution – Haslam for Walker for Wednesday. Is that an attacking move? You’d have to assume so, not many players could be less forward-inclined than a player who scored 1 goal in over 700 professional games.
what is this wall even supposed to block/stop??
And no sooner had that change been made than Wednesday nearly found themselves two down. Paul Gerrard sadly obviously never saw this fantastic effort by McAllister, as from 35 yards or so out, with “everyone” expecting a cross, a shot is unleashed which Pressman has to get back across to, tipping the ball onto the bar and perilously close to being over the line as it bounces down. Commentator John Champion doesn’t acknowledge the keeper’s touch either live or on the replay but I’m sure he saves it.
GOAL!! 2-0 Coventry Zuniga
Fantastic stuff by McAllister again, after Keane runs the left hand channel intelligently and cuts inside, no-one gets near the veteran Scot, allowing him to outside-of-foot an arching effort fromm the edge of the box which, again, hits the bar and bounces down, only this time the little Peruvian Zuniga reacts well to dive in and head the ball into the net. On the replay, Champers this time does me a favour, by confirming I was right about that Kewell strike. The tense this is being written in is more all over the place at this point than Shreeves' Stoppers
GOAL!! 3-0 Coventry McAllister
This is shocking by Wednesday, Coventry rampant and McAllister utterly running the show. Hadji gets free in exactly the same space Keane did on the previous goal, does very similarly in turning back inside and laying the ball off for McAllister running onto the ball. No need for anyone else to follow up this time as the finish gives the keeper no chance and is drilled into the bottom corner. Champion misses the point somewhat, putting it down to “being in the right place at the right time” which doesn’t really cover any of the excellent play we’ve seen.
And Woody Allen loves what he’s seeing out there.
GOAL!! 4-0 Coventry Hadji
Mind-numbingly inept play by Haslam as Wednesday for a moment got into the other half, but he dallies and has the ball pinched off him, the Sky Blues speed forward again...look at this position, it 4 attackers against 1 defender
In a way they end up ‘not scoring as easily as they possibly might have done’ – a microscopically  small a glimmer of hope for Wednesday I suppose: “at least we got back” – Hadji plays in Zungia, the beleaguered Pressman repels the first shot but Hadji follows up and slices neatly into the far corner with outside of his left-foot.
Exposed at the back
GOAL!! 4-1 de Bilde for Wednesday
Is there hope yet?! Wim Jonk slides a ball through a defence which seems to be enjoying the carnival atmosphere a bit prematurely and de Bilde skirts past Ogrizovic nicely and tucks home. Its refereed to, in that slightly odd tone often struck by pundits/experts where it implies some far greater shame or malice than the crowd simply being pissed off, on commentary that the travelling supporters were booing their team in the build up to the goal. After what we’ve seen, getting ragged by Israel Zuniga and outpaced by a 36 year old AOTS, they were entitled to be a bit grumpy.
And, no, there was no hope yet as that’s the end of a fairly brief highlights package. Well, I’ve been screwed over there: 6 minutes into the billed 14:38 running time and it’s all over, 4-1 Coventry.
Ah, okay, is one of those ones where it’s intercutting between different Relegation-haunted strugglers. Possibly should have done some very basic research before embarking on this – how often do you get interviews with both Terry Burton & Peter Shreeves in the same package?? I wouldn’t recommend massively sticking it out to the end of the analysis, but as it goes Trevor Brooking seems breezily confident Wimbledon will stay up whereas Mark Lawrenson implies he thinks Bradford could beat Liverpool actually – which ended up being right as it goes. Wednesday alas, went down with Watford & Wimbledon.

I wonder if Steven Gerrard learned a lot from McAllister? If you look at everything the latter does in this game, you could picture the former doing in a very similar way and style...
Woody Allen Coventry films:
~ Marcus Hall
~ Everything You Wanted To Know About Jess (But Were Afraid To Ask)
~ Another Hedman
~ Deconstructing Huckerby
~ The Purple Rose Of Chippo
~ Everyone Says Ndlovu 

1 comment:

  1. The last day of that season is up on the channel if you want to review it