OPPOSITION PREVIEW: Coventry City back on the rise under former Canaries striker Mark Robins
- Credit: PA
Ahead of Norwich City's Championship fixture against Mark Robins' Coventry City - we caught up with Sky Blues Extra podcast contributor and Coventry City fan Tom Ward to get the lowdown on the opposition this weekend.
Q: Talk us through your season so far, you sit three points outside the relegation zone. How do you assess your start?
A: We had a fantastic season last year, getting promoted as champions and obviously the season got cut short but I think that everyone agreed that we would have gone onto won it. We were absolutely flying at the start of 2020.
Coming into this season, I think we've had a pretty tough start. We've had to play Bournemouth, Bristol City and a lot of the teams we expect to finish in the top half if not the top six. It has been tough and we have only won three games.
I think what Coventry fans are feeling pretty positive about is that we're playing well. In the games that we've lost, we've been able to take a lot from our performances. We're gathering a bit of momentum and I think we need to be a bit more streetwise.
What you will notice on Saturday is that we play some good football, we have a nice shape to us and we have a togetherness.
Q: How do you look at this game against Norwich as a newly-promoted side?
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A: We're looking at this season in three-game blocks. We got a great result in the week but that means nothing unless you back it up. Norwich is going to be a really tough one and Mark Robins doesn't like saying it but it feels like a bit of a free hit.
We can go there and play with a bit of freedom and it doesn't really matter what happens because it's the games running up to Christmas that you really have to put a run together I think.
Q: As a Coventry fan, is it positive that even though the league position isn't the best at the moment, that Mark Robins kept the same style that brought you so much success in League One?
A: Robins has changed things slightly. Against Cardiff, we played with four at the back. We usually play with three and wing-backs. He's adapting to the opposition. The Championship is a weird one because there are so many different types of opposition, in League One you can set up in the same way.
Everyone plays a slightly different style and he's changing the system when he needs to. That makes us hard to predict. Going back to Saturday, I wouldn't be surprised if he changed back to the three.
Q: How has Norwich City loanee Sam McCallum been getting on?
A: It was a bit of a strange one when he came back. We weren't quite sure why but now it has become really clear why. Fankaty Dabo, who usually plays at right wing-back, was struggling with injuries and had surgery in the summer so we needed someone to fill in.
That means McCallum has been playing on the right. It's been quite funny because it seems that teams don't know he has a left-foot. That goal against Reading shows that, they gave him so much space.
He's been brilliant for us. I think a full season of McCallum playing for us means he'll be an excellent player for Norwich next season.
Q: Mark Robins is obviously a man who has strong connections with Norwich. He's done a remarkable job on paper, how popular a man is he amongst fans?
A: He's done a remarkable job. He had a spell with us in 2012 where he wasn't with us for long but did a good job and then went off to Huddersfield. Fans weren't too impressed by that because a few weeks before he left he said that he had 'Sky Blue blood running through his veins'.
It was a blessing in disguise because I think he felt a little bit guilty at that. He felt he had to come back and make a difference. Fair play to him, he took a club that was about to get relegated to League One and he's completely restructured the club.
He's incredible. People are putting him up there with the likes of Jimmy Hill and I think if he can get us back to the Premier League, then he'll be our greatest ever manager. He's that good.
Q: Finally, let's have your score prediction and tell us how you see this game panning out.
A: I think it will be quite tight. I've been following Norwich's results a bit and they don't seem to batter teams. It's been narrow victories and doing enough to just about win matches. I'm going to be positive and go for a 1-1 draw. We'd be quite happy with that.