WHEN Coventry City were beaten at home 7-2 by Benfica in a pre-season friendly last week, manager Ron Atkinson quipped: 'As long as we score eight goals a game, we should be okay.' They say you need a sense of humour to support the Sky Blues. Actually, you tend to when you come from Coventry. But having let Benfica off the hook, what of the coming season? New seasons always begin with the same old thoughts that this year could be our year. Apart from the glorious FA Cup victory in 1987, its our year if our team avoids the drop. Mind you, what's the fun in being mid-table come the last few games of the season? Couched in those terms, this year could just be our year. Oh sure, we were never in the running for Alan Shearer, whose GBP15 million fee represents GBP3 million short of the entire sum 'Big Ron' has spent on players since taking charge at Highfield Road in February last year. But I hear of a renewed buzz at the club this summer - well a buzz at least - mainly due to the purchase of Scottish captain Gary McAllister from Leeds which apparently has sent reverberations through the City of Coventry the likes of which have not been felt since Lady Godiva did her thing. Midfielder McAllister spells ambition, promise, anticipation; expectation even. He may not be Vialli, Branco or Ravanelli, but unlike them, he has proven himself in the Premiership and was the key to Leeds' league title in 1992. McAllister's reunion with Coventry coach and former Leeds' teammate Gordon Strachan, due to take over from Big Ron next year, shows the club is looking to the future, with the prospect of a Strachan-McAllister driving force in years to come. This was the reason given by young Belgian attacking defender Reggie Genaux, reportedly the target of bigger clubs, on moving to Coventry from Standard Liege for GBP1 million last week. That was before the Benfica game of course, after which Atkinson said they had to hide Genaux's contract from him. But the 13 players Atkinson has quietly brought in over the past 18 months, the likes of striker Noel Whelan from Leeds, Ireland international defender Liam Daish from Birmingham and Scottish midfielder Eoin Jess from Aberdeen, coupled with the genius of Zimbabwe winger Peter Ndlovu and the experience of John Salako and David Burrows, means at the very least, Manchester City manager Alan Ball may be forced to eat his words. After suffering relegation last season, pipped by the Sky Blues on goal difference, Ball tipped Coventry as relegation favourites for the coming campaign, Bitter? Not a jot. Last season, the Highfield Road faithful voted Brian Richardson player of the season. The fact that he's the club chairman didn't seem to bother them. Richardson has finally brought investment to the club and with four private backers each guaranteed returns on players they buy and who later move on for profit, there's yet more money in the pot. More cash still might come from the higher average attendance, up to 18,000 last season, the first with the new East Stand. Season ticket sales are up and the brand new blue away kit is selling like hot cakes. Blue? Well, apparently its a different shade. Realistically, we should be aiming for the top 10 and a good cup run this year. Much of it depends of McAllister. After the Euro 96 England-Scotland match, I just hope he doesn't take the penalties.