Years ago, when I was playing for Stoke City, I met someone called Jamil Qureshi. He was with us as a sports psychologist, but he was so much more. I was extremely influenced by what he had to say and became friends with him for a time.

Part of Jamil’s mantra was that inspiration is all around us, but it is often missed by people that have their eyes wide shut. That is to say, something is only inspiring if, first, your brain is wired to see past its own prejudices.

To me, Coventry City have always been the team that beat Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup final, upsetting seven year old me enormously and, in the process, condemning them to my list of teams that I hope will fail for all eternity.

But as one grows up, it’s possible to see past those formulaic biases and to once again respect clubs for who they are, where they’ve come from, and where they’re going.

So, with Reading’s final game of this strangest of seasons approaching this weekend, and with no intention to patronise or condescend, here is Reasons to be cheerful, part 1: Coventry City FC.

Unless you’re the most casual of casual football fans, you will have watched the game of the season at Wembley last Sunday between Manchester United and Coventry City.

While the demise of Manchester United from champions of England to Champions League hopefuls and the plight of one of the biggest clubs in the world makes headlines, the performance of Coventry City was all the more remarkable when one takes a little bit of time to understand what real football adversity looks like.

Here is the briefest of snapshots as to what Coventry City has been through since their relegation from the Premier League in 2001:

- 14 managers

- Administration and liquidation

- Multiple points deductions

- Two further relegations down the pyramid to the fourth tier

- Three ground shares


Entire books have been written on the recent history of Coventry City Football Club, but you get the idea.

In spite of all that, the Sky Blues were a penalty shoot out away from returning to the Premier League last season, and on Sunday they came within an inch of returning to Wembley for what would have been only the second FA Cup final appearance in their history (at least they have spared me from having to relive the highlights of the 1987 final!)

The point is, here is a club that is very much moving forward on and off the pitch. Having struggled to put one foot in front of the other for so many years, the club now feels confident breaking into a bit of a canter when the mood takes it.

And it’s not just Coventry.

Examples of clubs turning around their fortunes are everywhere. Leeds United are a club once again on the march as they flirt with promotion to the promised land. After years of mismanagement, Portsmouth have been promoted back to the Championship, and the same ownership shenanigans that have swirled around Derby County for so many years are also expected to give way to a promotion party this weekend.

Unlike Reading, it’s worth remembering that each of the aforementioned clubs has previously entered administration. Leeds in 2007, Portsmouth in 2010 and again in 2012, and Derby in 2021.

Over the mid to long term and with the right structure and management in place, clubs can be surprisingly resilient to the financial travails of professional football. It’s true that some rebuilds take longer than others but, as Jamil would say, inspiration is open to anybody… anybody with an open mind that is.


I can’t quite believe that The Dave Kitson Academy is about to pass six months since it launched!

I didn’t really know what to expect when I decided to start the academy back in October, or when I coached my first one-to-one session at the beginning of November.

It’s fair to say that a lot has happened in the last six months. Here I am, writing this as the first ever manager of a country’s football team, and the coach of a school team that has recently won its first ever national cup final, after 378 years of trying. Oh, and there’s the small matter of being persuaded to come out of retirement to make my first competitive appearance for 10 years.

I’m proud of what The Dave Kitson Academy has achieved in such a short space of time. From the many one to one and small group sessions to team coaching sessions, it has been brilliant to see the boys and girls I have been coaching grow as players and as individuals.

The biggest reward for me is the feedback I get from parents, with stories of increased self confidence on and off the pitch, and much more.

I’m delighted to announce that we are about to launch a series of open group sessions in May. If you are interested, please send an email to for more information.