It has been another year of disappointment despite signs of promise throughout, a year which ultimately has been defined by off the field issues. Focusing on the football side of things though and it has been a drama filled season.
We started the season with last year’s caretaker boss Andy Thorn in charge of first team affairs. His inexperience in the job was clear for everyone to see from the off but we felt as a club that we at least owed him a shot at getting this club back to the championship.
After relegation last season it was inevitable that we were going to lose our better players and the exodus began with the likes of Richard Keogh, Martin Cranie, Oliver Norwood and Gael Bigirimana all leaving for bigger and better things. Brought into replace them were relative unknowns which on a shoestring budget you could understand.
It was a squad which looked capable and a potential for a promotion push looked on. However a win in the cup and 3 draws in the league later and Thorn was relieved of his duties. This seemed a ridiculous decision at the time with the side unbeaten but after surrendering a two goal lead to bury the owners saw fit to end Thorns reign despite the fact they had just allowed him to build his own squad over the summer.
Richard Shaw was put in temporary charge and in his first game knocked out Birmingham from the capital one cup in dramatic style. Unfortunately this was a one off performance and the rest of his short tenure in charge was pretty appalling to say the least. Four league games and a cup match later and the Skyblues were looking like a side that could get relegated twice in two seasons.
One positive to take from the early stages is that we clearly had a striker who knew where the goal was. Despite our often lacklustre and woeful performances David McGoldrick kept getting himself on the scoresheet.
We then saw the one really good decision that Coventry City FC made all season in the appointment of Mark Robins. He came in and although progress was slow at first it was clear to see we were becoming a good side. One of the biggest things Robins did was to bring James Bailey to the club. He was in essence the replacement for Oliver Norwood which his predecessors at the club had failed to get. Bailey was undoubtedly a game changer for us, his intelligence and passing ability allowed him to command a game from the middle of the park and helped other people’s game’s especially Carl Baker.
Carl Baker under Robins was a revelation. Given the responsibility of the captains armband he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and quickly became a vital part of the team. Form continued to improve and come the end of the year Coventry were on a ten game unbeaten run and sitting in 9th just two points off of a play off place.
We were looking like a side that could beat anyone in the league and with goals coming from McGoldrick and Baker it seemed the only way was up. However the news then broke of McGoldrick’s inevitable return to forest. His form was 2nd to none and a lot of clubs had been keeping tabs on the front man. Surprisingly forest didn’t really seem to want him back but other championship clubs were after his signature. In the end he chose to go on loan to Ipswich town which to this day I still cannot understand and it was the Marlon King situation all over again.
This was a huge blow to the squad as where now would the goals come from. We did have a player on trial at the club by the name of Leon Clarke. He had spent the early part of the season on loan at Scunthorpe and had proved to be a real asset for them in front of goal. Everyone was hoping he and McGoldrick would have been a partnership but instead the burden of main goalscorer now fell to Clarke.
He was a very different type of player and it was hard for the team and the fans to adapt to not having that skilful often classy centre forward to look to when things weren’t going their way. Leon Clarke though settled in rather well and went on to score 10 goals for the club despite missing a large part of the end of the season due to injury.
An aspect of the season that is definitely worth celebrating is our drama filled cup run in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. It was running nicely alongside our league form and we were a two legged semi final away from a trip to Wembley. Unfortunately the first leg of this tie was the begging of the end to our season.
A 3-0 home loss to Crewe which to this day I still don’t know how it happened followed by Mark Robins decision to leave the club to join championship strugglers Huddersfield ultimately left us shell shocked. With One Wembley dream gone the other looked like it was disappearing fast. Carsley was in as Caretaker boss and things began to tail off. Even Carsley himself admitted he wasn’t ready for the job and effectively ruled himself out of the running.
With the playoffs looking like a longshot the club went to Scotland for the next appointment with the man they call ‘Elvis’ being brought in. Steven Pressley seemed to have little experience on the face of it and I think it was obvious from the start that he had different ideas to previous manager Robins.
City’s form became intermittent at best and with playoff hopes just about surviving the threat of administration emerged over the club. The club said they would fight it and well we all know the debacle that has followed but the club ultimately were deducted 10 points and the season was officially over. City’s form understandably dive bombed and in the end it was a disappointing 15th place finish to end a season which had shown so much promise.