It has been another great week for Coventry City Football Club with two wins to take them to 7th in the League One table. We have witnessed two performances which have really shown what the squad as a whole is all about, as well as the individuals within it and the manager’s capabilities when it comes to managing that squad.
The squad as a whole has now gone past the point of showing promise to actually delivering it on the pitch. There seems to be a unity within it which has always eluded us in the past. Players are fighting for the team, fighting for their manager and fighting for us fans.
The squad has had to endure a busy holiday period and I think tiredness and fatigue have been there for us all to see in the last few games. What has been good to see though is how the players have been able to manage this with the way that they play. They may frustrate us fans as they fail to close down the opposition but that 5-10 minute spell which they have seemed to handle quite well defensively allows for that extra push come the final few minutes of the match. This was clearly evident on Saturday as we turned it on for the final few seconds to find that all important winning goal having been pegged back only moments before.
This goal was scored by the outstanding individual in the side. James Bailey has been the best player in this squad for the majority of his time with us. His performance against Oldham epitomised what he is all about. He controlled the midfield for almost the whole of the 90 minutes and that off the back of picking up a knock which kept him out of City’s previous match.
He has shown that he has everything that u want in a midfielder and is very much in the mould of ex city player Oliver Norwood. He can pass and tackle, is intelligent and reads the game well, can attack and defend and is what most people would call and all-rounder of a midfielder. Now many often say including myself that being good at all things prevents you from excelling in one. This is completely untrue in the case of Bailey though and I would go as far as saying he may be the best footballer currently playing in League one.
The biggest shame is that he is not our player and like David McGoldrick I can’t see him sticking around here at Coventry come the end of the season. I once again hope I am wrong and maybe if we are successful then maybe, just maybe he will stay.
Since the departure of McGoldrick and the arrival of Leon Clarke there has been debate amongst city supports as to what formation we should be playing. McGoldrick was the perfect fit for Robin’s favoured formation of 4-5-1 but Clarke is a very different player. I personally don’t feel he has the natural ability to play that lone striker role and needs someone up alongside him.
We have however become accustomed to the 4-5-1 formation and it has shown that it can bring us success. For me its biggest advantage is that it allows us to control that all important midfield area however having a player like James Bailey in the side I am actually leaning towards the 4-4-2 formation.
Now I never thought I would say this as I think the only natural winger that we have who would fit that system is our captain Carl Baker. Wingers play a vital role in the 4-4-2 formation and McSheffery is the only other player who could play on the opposite side. He has a tendency to roam and in turn we could lack width down that left hand side. He also lacks in ability defensively where he often leaves his left back with no protection. In 4-5-1 there is usually a spare midfielder to cover that hole that McSheffery leaves but this won’t be the case in 4-4-2.
This is the only negative I can think of though as with Bailey’s abilities I think we could still control the midfield against most if not all of these teams in league one. I also think that Leon Clarke will be much better suited to it and allow him to be what he is a target man and a goal scorer. It would also allow for Stephen Elliot to come more into the fold. He has impressed with his performances in recent weeks getting important goals for the side against MK Dons and Oldham. His work rate is his biggest asset and he is a nuisance to opposition defences.
The formation choice is a decision that Mark Robins is going to have to make and it is an important one. His decision making up to now has been almost perfect. From his signings to his team selection to his analysis of the matches.
His signings have clearly been a success with Bailey and Adams being the two that stand out. They have helped to bring quality and confidence to a team who needed freshening up. His team selection has at times surprised us fans but he has used his squad brilliantly and chose the right players for the right matches. He has no fear to change things mid match if things aren’t working and this is something that was probably Andy Thorns biggest downfall.
So far Robins has done something that no other manager has managed to do in the last 10 years or so and that is to start to win on a consistent basis. He is bringing a winning mentality to a club which has only known a losing one in my time as a city fan. This is a great achievement and long may it continue.