Tony Mowbray is worried about the FA Cup getting in the way of his team's pursuit of a place in the Premier League. He should not be; much more of this and they could go on and win the old pot.
West Bromwich's manager had said he would not cry in his tea if they lost yesterday, only for his players to produce a display more worthy of champagne to ease into the quarter-finals. Leading through a Chris Brunt goal at half-time, Albion were merciless after Coventry had had their captain, Michael Doyle, sent off four minutes into the second period, adding four more goals.
Chris Coleman is the hot tip to take over as Coventry's manager from the sacked Iain Dowie this week and he will have his work cut out keeping them in the Championship on this evidence. They were awful, and the majority of this stadium's record attendance of 28,163 had left long before Mark Halsey brought an end to proceedings.
Albion may have suffered a blip in the League, but the Cup is surely becoming a more attractive proposition. "There is the potential for someone to find themselves in the semi-finals with a favourable draw," Mowbray conceded. "If we got another Championship team at home we would have to fancy ourselves, but it would be no good judging our season on reaching the semi-finals and missing out on promotion."
Some 10 goals and two sendings-off had characterised the teams' two League games this season, on both occasions the away side winning after netting four times. True to form, the Baggies were rewarded for their dominance when they took the lead after 11 minutes. Zoltan Gera's throw found Roman Bednar unmarked on Albion's right and, with Coventry's defence all over the place, Brunt headed emphatically past Andy Marshall from close range.
The caretaker manager John Harbin said after Coventry's 0-0 draw last Tuesday against Cardiff, for which he and Frankie Bunn had taken charge, that "you probably age five years standing in the technical area". He was looking grey by the finish. Coventry improved briefly, with Michael Mifsud's pace recalling his Carling Cup heroics at Old Trafford in September and his team's physical threat requiring some solid defending from the visitors, but Dean Kiely had an easy, if chilly, day in Albion's goal.
The Sky Blues' hopes faded with Doyle's dismissal four minutes after the break and died when Bednar scored his 13th goal of the season before the hour was up. Paul Robinson and Mifsud had been sent off in the teams' previous meetings and Doyle joined that list when given a straight red card for a foulon Gera.
"It might be a cliché but that changed the game," Bunn said. "Michael said he didn't do anything untoward and neither myself nor Tony Mowbray saw anything."
Coventry's plight was soon desperate, as Arjan de Zeeuw's back-pass was played straight back to Bednar by Marshall and the Czech striker rounded his hapless opponent – a finalist with Millwall in 2004 – and stroked the ball into an empty net.
Bednar added to his growing reputation by both winning and finishing a penalty to make it 3-0, courtesy of De Zeeuw's handball. Ishmael Miller, a substitute for Bednar, added a fourth with a left-foot finish frominside the area after 76 minutes and Gera finished the rout a minute later, after sidesteps took out two defenders and the keeper. He completed the neat footwork with a celebratory jig.
"It would be devastating to go out on a note like that," said Bunn, when asked if this could be his last waltz.Reuse content