Black calls for improvement

COVENTRY City's new boss Eric Black is looking for a dramatic improvement in his side's display, from last weekend's stalemate against Colchester United, when promotion-chasing Ipswich Town visit this afternoon.

COVENTRY City's new boss Eric Black is looking for a dramatic improvement in his side's display, from last weekend's stalemate against Colchester United, when promotion-chasing Ipswich Town visit this afternoon.

The Sky Blues were second fiddle to Second Division Colchester during the first half of their FA Cup fourth round tie at Highfield Road.

City escaped with a 1-1 draw, and will be at Layer Road for a replay on Tuesday night. But Black wants his side to have learned their lesson before then, by pushing fifth-paced Town on the back foot from the first whistle.

"I can't remember us starting as badly as last weekend. Colchester came out all guns blazing, as you would expect," said Black.


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"We didn't match that. They were encouraged to play and all of a sudden they thought they were in with a shout.

"Everybody holds their hands up and says that they didn't perform as well as they could have.

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"However, we're still in the FA Cup, and statistics show we have performed better against the top six or seven teams this season.

"I've yet to put my finger on why, but hopefully we can do the same against Ipswich.

"Ipswich are a remarkably good team, and we did well at their place to get a 1-1 draw. It's vital for us that after last week's first half we show the supporters that that's not the real Coventry.

"It's vital we start well and give the supporters something to be confident about for the future," added Black.

Scotsman Black was handed the managerial reins following Gary McAllister's departure to look after his seriously ill wife. He masterminded a superb 6-1 victory at Walsall a fortnight ago, before seeing his side struggle against Colchester.

Black effectively operated with four strikers against the U's. He played ex-Wrexham hot shot Andy Morrell and the classy Gary McSheffrey out on the wings, with the experienced duo of Dele Adebola and Julian Joachim in attack.

These tactics backfired. Colchester were dominant in midfield until Black decided to introduce a couple of changes in the second half.

New signing Bjarni Gudjonsson, on loan from German side VfL Bochum 1848, appeared as a substitute for target man Adebola, and impressed with his performance in midfield. The former Stoke man could make his first start for the Sky Blues against Town.

Liverpool loanee Stephen Warnock replaced Morrell, and hit the bar with a long range shot during the final few minutes.

Two familiar names, Steve Staunton and Graham Barrett, are also added to the squad. The club has no major injuries at present.

Front-runner Barrett, who enjoyed a spell on loan with Colchester in 2001-02, has played a couple of reserve games on his comeback from an ankle ligament injury. He watched his current club take on his old club from the stands last Saturday.

Republic of Ireland international Barrett, who was on Arsenal's books during his loan stint at Layer Road, might force his way into the squad today.

Experienced defender Staunton, meanwhile, is available again after a fractured cheekbone. The former Liverpool and Aston Villa 35-year-old has returned to training this week, but he might need a reserve outing before he returns to Division One action. Dean Gordon has taken his place at left-back.

Coventry drew 1-1 at Portman Road on August 23, when Marcus Bent was on target with his last goal for Town before his move to Leicester City. The Sky Blues hit back with a leveller from midfielder Micky Doyle.

In last season's corresponding fixture at Highfield Road, Ipswich came from 2-0 down to chalk up a superb 4-2 victory, thanks to a brace each from Marcus Bent and Pablo Counago in the second half.

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