It has not been a good season so far for Coventry City, currently sitting in 17th position and closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs. Added to that one of the worst defeats in the club’s history at home to Worcester in the FA Cup First Round, it is hardly surprising that attendances are rapidly decreasing each week.
Things have slightly improved recently with the club unbeaten in four League One matches, recording their first two away wins of the season. The squad looks more than capable of a promotion push on paper but with too many loans, injuries and a lot of youngsters coming through, things haven’t turned out well.
In fairness to manager Steven Pressley, since being appointed in 2013 he has had pretty much nothing to work with. Ten point deductions in the clubs first two seasons in League One ended any play-off aspirations, and then added to that a move to Northampton’s Sixfields stadium last campaign. But back in the Ricoh and no deductions, the fans had hoped for a much better season this time round, which simply hasn’t materialised at this point.
This of course wasn’t helped by the departure of five key players in the summer. Goalkeeper Joe Murphy, Frank Moussa, Cyrus Christie and top scorer Callum Wilson all left to join Championship clubs, whilst Captain Carl Baker went to MK Dons after being almost forced out of the club. Defenders Blair Adams and Danny Seaborne also left, leaving Pressley with a big re-building job to do.
Although he has limited resources, recruitment hasn’t been great in all honesty. This is mostly due to seven loan players being brought in who all return to their parent clubs in January. It is unknown at this stage if any of them will be able to stay on for the rest of the season but if not, then Pressley would have an even bigger re-building job to do in the middle of the season. All seven are used on a regular basis with goalkeeper Ryan Allsop and striker Gary Madine perhaps the most crucial of the loanees.
The players brought in over the summer on a permanent basis looked like good additions at the time. Strikers Marcus Tudgay and Simeon Jackson have plenty of experience and success at this level but both have disappointed thus far.
Former Sheffield Wednesday defender Reda Johnson has looked impressive at times but has been equally unreliable. He was originally made captain but was stripped of that just a few months in to the season. He has struggled with injuries but a needless sending off earlier in the season when things were going well rocked the stability of the back-line and the Sky Blues haven’t really recovered since. Johnson is however the club’s top scorer with five goals, which also tells you how the majority of the strikers have struggled this season.
Jim O’Brien was signed from Barnsley and has been the stand out performer this season. He took over the captaincy from Johnson and has led from the front with impressive displays. He possesses that added bit of quality that will be needed if any good is going to come out of this season.
The truth is that there is quality in the side that can compete in this league at the right end of the table. It might have been a poor season up until this point, but the fact is Coventry are only six points off the play-offs and some consistency and a run of good results. January will be a big month both on and off the pitch and could determine Coventry’s fate for this season. Players will have to be brought in if loans to certain players cannot be extended.
It has been a long time since Coventry City finished in the top six of any league – 44 years to be exact – but can this season possibly put an end to that damning statistic?