WITH THE Sky Blues flying high in League One following an impressive start to the 2015/16 season, fans have every right to be excited by the prospect of a return to the Championship next year.
Manager Tony Mowbray has deservedly took most of the plaudits for an attacking brand of football and his ability to attract many high profile players to the Ricoh Arena, which has brought fans back through the gates.
But one man who has also played a key role and been Mowbray’s second in command throughout his managerial career is Mark Venus.
Observer sports editor Steve Carpenter caught up with Venus to get the an insight into the work and man behind the club’s new technical director role.
WITH the new year fast approaching and with the future of several loan stars still in question, Sky Blues technical director Mark Venus has moved to ease fan worries by confirming he has several plans in place to maintain the club’s push for promotion to the Championship.
Tony Mowbray’s side currently has six players on loan, all of whom are very much considered first team regulars.
But with loans comes the option of a recall and in just over a week’s time the Sky Blues could be without Joe Cole, Ben Turner, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Kent and in-form striker Adam Armstrong with all of their current loan deals expiring in January.
Venus is confident the Sky Blues can reach new deals with parent clubs but he is working away on a ‘plan b’ to ensure the club remain at the top end of the table.
“You have to think of every scenario, you have to try and anticipate the scenarios before they come,” Venus told the Observer. “We want them all to stay to try and finish the job.
“Unfortunately we’ve got six loans in at the moment so we can only play five when they’re all fit. We’ve got a problem there which has to be resolved in January.
“We can’t go through the season with six loans – we need to do something about that.
“If they go back we have to replace them. If you lose your top goalscorer you have to find someone who scored goals.
“We might also bring one or two more in to help them to keep us moving.
“It’s gone quick and it’s gone well. We’re near the top of the league but I think they’ve all still some more improvement in them.
“Some have done a little but better than others. I think they’ve all had patches of really good form.”
One man who will be a huge miss should be return to Newcastle is striker Armstrong.
The England Under-19 international tops the League One goalscoring chart with 13 goals in just 19 appearances and Venus knows he will be difficult to replace.
“Adam Armstrong has proved that he can score lots of goals in League One and it would be great if he was top goalscorer in our league for his CV.
“For us to have the top goalscorer would be brilliant. Jacob Murphy I think has improved as a footballer a lot.
“His confidence has just got better and better. Ryan Kent is maturing daily. I still think he shows inexperience at times but again he’s brought speed and directness to the football team.
“We would like them all to stay. We have got Gael Bigirimana here, we’ve got Ben Turner and Joe Cole.
“Joe (Cole) has been absolutely brilliant for this football club. You try and put all of those things in and it’s going alright.
“Joe came to play and he wanted to play more games than he has, but unfortunately for him his fitness hasn’t been right.
“He’s had a few niggles and a few injuries but his all-round contribution to this club has been immense, as has Sam Ricketts and Romain Vincelot. They’ve done fantastic for the club. Put them all together and I think it’s a nice mix.”
Venus revealed that the plan was to bring in permanent players in the summer but their recruitment policy changed as the 2015/16 season approached.
“From my point of view I think we got here a little bit by default really.
“We tried to bring our own players in early on, but we found it really difficult to try and find the right ones.
“So we decided to go down the loan market because we couldn’t initially get the players that we wanted to come in permanently.
“I just thought we’d try and sign players who had assets and a high talent level that if we could improve them and mature them with the experiences, they would come and do well in the league and up until it’s been okay.”
The marker set at the start of the season my manager Mowbray was to reach the play-offs but so far the Sky Blues are exceeding those expectations by sitting just one point behind second-placed Gillingham.
And Venus admits his job as technical director has been helped by the success of Mowbray’s side on the pitch.
He added: “I think there’s a good feeling towards Coventry now and I think a lot of players would like to play for Coventry, not just for the salaries.
“I think they’d like to play for us because they think their career can improve. I think that want to join because they’ll enjoy the way they play.
“There’s never been a better time I would suggest for Coventry City to be able to bring the right players in.
“We’ve taken players in from the Premier League, from good Championship teams, players who’ve got lots of England caps, aspiring young footballers who play from their country from big clubs.
“So all of them things are only down to what the manager has done on the pitch. He’s put on a product that people like.
“We’ve got an air of professionalism about us. I think that’s another thing that we’ve definitely done.
“We try and build up relationships with other football clubs. We try and help them as much as we can. We try and work alongside them. We try and give them proper feedback on the players. It’s honest feedback and it’s fair feedback and I think clubs appreciate that.
“So I think all of those aspects has have given us a chance when a footballer becomes available I don’t sit here now and think ‘we can’t sign him’. I think we try and if we don’t succeed it’s not for not trying.”
Read more from Venus next week when he talks more about his short term and long term goals, as well as his relationship with Sky Blues owners Sisu.