Boothroyd in bullish mood over Westwood, Lennon and more – Part 1

Coventry City boss Aidy Boothroyd spoke with the Press about defeating Derby County, disappointing the fans and disrespecting Neil Lennon.

On the eve of the new season, Aidy Boothroyd declared that it was time to get down to business, and his statement of intent is clearly reflected in today’s press conference. As the Coventry boss sits down with the Press, his more serious tone and deeper mood highlights just how focused he is on the Sky Blues’ Championship campaign.

Not that there is no sign of his usual jovial self. The Yorkshire man entered into a war-of-words with Celtic boss Neil Lennon earlier this week over the Bhoys attempt to sign goalkeeper Keiren Westwood. Boothroyd described the Scottish side’s £500 000 offer as equivalent to “£3.50 and a bag of haggis,” a statement which apparently offended a few across the border but Neil Lennon appeared to see the funny side and replied that he might add two bottles of Irn Bru to sweeten the deal. Talking about the potential move, Boothroyd jokes: “It’s just good banter so I’m glad that he’s firing one or two back, he might have suggested Yorkshire Puddings, that might swing it if he can do that,” before adding more seriously: “If there is anything to be done, then it will be done, and if there isn’t, then it won’t.

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the Ricoh Arena and whilst Boothroyd is keen for a good performance to commemorate this special day, saying: “We want to perform well and we want to win,” he also hints that he is looking at the bigger picture. Progression is a key aim for the 39-year-old and he implies that next year’s milestone may be even more important: “The club is five years older and it is progressing steadily to where everybody wants it to get to. I think this season is going to be a really interesting season, an exciting season, to see where we are going to be on the sixth anniversary.

Four points out of six so far is an impressive tally and the team’s comeback against Watford showed a steely attitude that could be crucial later in the season. Boothroyd admits that returning to his former club for the first time had been tougher than he had expected. With a strain on his face that suggests there is still some sadness about how his Hornets fairytale ended, he revealed: “It was an emotional thing for me. Although, I try to play it down as much as possible, it was a big thing for me but I got it out of the way. But to play not so well kind of quadruples the emotion of the occasion.

Many sides would be delighted after hauling themselves back from certain defeat in the last two minutes of the game, and especially doing so with only their fourth choice keeper in goal. Boothroyd, however, does not appear to share that same jubilance and he ponders over the 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road for a while, before admitting: “I guess I’m a little bit miserable really for being disappointed, I should be pleased. Having reflected, having calmed down a little bit and sort of picked the bones out of it, I think it was a good result, considering.” Perhaps this is a reflection of the high ambitions at the Ricoh these days. Having worked hard over the summer to increase the desire and hunger of his team, the manager has been encouraged by his players’ responses: “The training is fierce, it’s competitive and everybody knows that at any point, they’re either going to be in the team or they’re going to be out of the team but working hard to get back into it.

His decision to bring on Clive Platt and Aron Gunnarsson, in place of Gary McSheffrey and Freddy Eastwood, turned the game around on Saturday and their performances have given the manager a bit of a selection headache. A full strength team, with the exception of the longer term absentees, is available to choose from and Westwood will return after missing the Watford clash due to a family bereavement. “I think we’ve got a really nice balance and we’ve got a real competitive edge,” he continues, before stating that his selection dilemma is in fact something healthy: “We all want to win but to get the greatest game, or to get the best out of yourself, you have to have people competing with you every week, every day, otherwise it can get a little bit stale. It gets you in a mindset where every day you get up and you be the best you can be, otherwise somebody will take your place, and as a manager, that competition is exactly what you want.

Platt, in particular, is a player Boothroyd seems to hold in high esteem. Having told reporters last weekend that they would be raving about the beefy striker if his name was ‘Plattini,’ he is again quick to jump to the 30-year-old’s defence when someone suggests he is an ‘impact’ player. “No,” he responds defiantly before giving his longest and most passionate response of the day. “He is not an impact player, he played 40 games for me last year. I think that he is a great option to have in your squad and if you come up against two centre halves that do not necessarily fancy a rough and tumble, then he’s brilliant.

Boothroyd reiterates that he is not afraid to make big decisions and he seems rather proud of his match changing substitutions: “It was a big call,” he reminds the journalists present. “You take off two of your centre forwards, your goal scorers, and just looking at Clive, and probably Aron, you might not have thought that would work, but it did on this occasion. Sometimes I’ll do things and they won’t work but what I won’t ever be afraid to do is to make a decision.

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