There has been excitement among many Coventry City supporters over the past few weeks with plenty of new signings arriving at the club.
Fans were beginning to believe that we could actually have a successful season but a 1-0 defeat to local rivals Nuneaton has caused a bit of a reality check for many including myself.
I know many people will say you can’t read too much into pre season matches and to some extent I agree but the performance as well as the result against Nuneaton was unacceptable. We should be beating a side of Nuneaton’s quality with ease no matter whether it’s a pre season friendly or not and it has brought about question marks over the squad’s capabilities for the new season.
One thing from last season that everyone can agree on is that we did not have a big enough squad. So far we have brought seven players in which on the face of it sounds great but we have also allowed eight to leave, one more than those that have arrived at the club. Our squad therefore has not increased in size which would suggest that like last season youngsters are going to brought in from the academy to fill the gaps when needed. We also have to be realistic about the abilities of the new arrivals at the club who have all so far either been free transfers or have arrived on loan.
All three of the defenders who have arrived at the club are unknown quantities. The first Malaga is almost unheard of in the world of football, the second Edjenguele whose peak of his career has been to have a brief spell in the Greek top division and then finally Brown on loan from Manchester United who is still very young and will still be learning his trade.
Compare these to the outgoing players of Keogh, Cranie and McPake and, well, there is not going to be any real comparison. Cranie was always going to be irreplaceable in terms of his quality along with Keogh whose commitment to the cause was second to none. These new arrivals are not going to be ready made replacements and its going to take time to get them anywhere near the standard of the likes of Keogh and Cranie.
The two midfielders who have arrived at the club however are far more promising. We all know of Kevin Kilbane’s quality and along with his vast experience he really could be a great addition to the squad. Fleck is a different kind of prospect, he is young, exciting and has real potential to be the star of the team in the coming season.
These seem good replacements for the outgoing midfielders with Kilbane’s experience replacing Clingan’s and Fleck’s youth and exuberance replacing Bigirimana’s but one player we were never going to be able to replace was that of Oliver Norwood. He will have definitely left a hole in that midfield but hopefully it is a chance for someone else to step up and try to fill that gap.
As for the two strikers I wouldn’t be expecting either of them to become prolific goal scorers. Elliot has had an extremely up and down career so far and is a bit of a gamble almost like O’Donovan was last season and we all know how that worked out. Ball on the other hand does have promise about him not so much for his goal scoring talents but having the ability to bring others into play could be a real asset to us.
As for the outgoing strikers well we didn’t really have much to replace. Clive Platt was always a solid performer but there was always a lack of quality with him and as for Nimley we didn’t get to see a great deal from him and whilst he did have a hatful of tricks neither him nor Platt were natural goal scorers.
Looking positively and our potential first eleven could be a great first eleven. There is clear potential with the likes of Wood marshalling our back four, Kilbane, Mcsheffery and Fleck pulling the strings in midfield and McDonald getting the goals up front. This is the scenario we would all want but the likelihood is that we will get injuries and once you look beyond those first eleven players, that is when we will start to have problems.
Any promotion or championship winning team needs strength and depth and we just don’t have that. My two major concerns are getting goals and staying solid at the back. McDonald for me is the only real goal scoring striker in the team and I think if we were to lose him to injury we would have real problems upfront in terms of goals. Defensively we could have real issues as well especially if we we’re to be without Richard Wood. The two Frenchman are new to English football and it can often take time to adjust even for the very best players, then there is Cameron who can be a liability at times and then Brown who has very little first team experience meaning this is going to be very much a learning exercise for him.
We as fans always want to believe that new arrivals is a chance for a fresh start and a potential formula for success but looking at Coventry’s current dealings in the transfer window I am remaining skeptical about our chances for the new season. I want to trust in Thorn but with no money in the transfer kitty to bring in new players I am finding it difficult to believe that we are going to be able to compete with the likes of Sheffield United for a promotion place.
Promotion has been achieved in the past by teams on a shoestring budget such as Blackpool but even they spent a little money on transfers, spending in the region of £500,000 on Charlie Adam. This sort of money seems like a pipe dream for us Coventry fans and we just have to hope that Thorn has been able to work some magic and find some real gems for next to nothing.