Finally, competitive football is back. It’s been a long wait but at long last, the Sky Blues kick off their League One campaign with a home fixture versus recently relegated, Wigan Athletic. In terms of the third tier, this is a game comprising of two big clubs – who can come out on top?
After City’s horrendous 2014/15 campaign, supporters will be praying for a better season this time around. Although the first game doesn’t give too many pointers, everyone connected with Coventry City will be thriving towards a positive start.
As for the away side, Gary Caldwell will undoubtedly demand highly of his players as an immediate return to the Championship will be expected – especially with the sizeable budget they have at their disposal.
Although pre-season isn’t too brilliant when looking it form, it’s all we can really look at at the moment…
Coventry City didn’t have the greatest of times in pre-season and a lot of fans were left frustrated. Five friendlies were played against Nuneaton Town, Portsmouth, Luton, Cambridge United and Oxford United – no wins were picked up however. Mowbray’s side picked up 3 draws and 2 losses, scoring only 2 goals in the process, conceding 4.
Wigan Athletic saw a tough pre-season come their way also, playing five games and only winning one. The victory came against Southport, however only draws were managed against Altrincham and Partick Thistle whilst the Latics were defeated by Dundee and Blackburn Rovers. Caldwell’s side scored 4 goals and shipped 6 in an unconvincing schedule.
The Sky Blues have a relatively strong squad to choose from for the season’s opener but three players will not feature. New signing, Bryn Morris won’t be in the side as Tony Mowbray insists he’s not match fit yet and he will be in contention shortly. After suffering concussion in the club’s first friendly versus Nuneaton, Conor Thomas also remains sidelined whilst Danny Swanson joins him due to a muscle strain.
Wigan travel to the Ricoh Arena with a mostly-fit group of players also as they look for three points. A few absentees will be missing though as Tim Chow and Don Cowie are ruled out in the midfield. Grant Holt and Emyr Huws also miss out as the well-known striker has currently got a serious knee problem, whilst the latter is still suffering from an ankle injury sustained in January.
One to watch… Will Grigg
In a summer of mass change at the DW stadium, Gary Caldwell lured Will Grigg in a deal reported to be worth around £1million and the striker signed a contract with the League One favourites.
After a very productive season last time around with MK Dons, the striker attracted interest from various clubs. Whilst on loan at Stadium MK he scored 20 goals in 44 league appearances and he’ll be hoping to better that tally with his new club. With an abundance of pace and technical ability, he has the potential to enjoy another successful campaign in the third tier.
View from the dugout…
Tony Mowbray spoke to the Coventry Telegraph:
“It’s probably a good time to play them because once they get into their real rhythm I don’t think many teams in this division will see much of the ball.
“Having studied them and watched the dvds this week they are a very, very good football team. I watched the game against Blackburn and they lost 3-0 but I’m not sure how they lost by that many to be honest. “They were all late goals; one was a 35-yarder into the top corner, one was a goalkeeper’s mistake and one was from a set play from a corner but they played exceptionally well against a very decent Championship side.
“Hopefully we can find the answers and find a way to win the match against a team with some good, well-coached footballers. We have to be patient to get the result because at the end of the day all that matters in this game is to try to get the points.
“We’ll try to make it an even football match where we put them under lots of pressure at times and ask lots of questions; make sure every free-kick goes in their box, every corner is on the button and that Reda Johnson and Sam Ricketts and everyone is piling in to make it as uncomfortable as possible for them.”
There is no doubting that we couldn’t have asked for a tougher start, but at least we can get the game out of the way early on. As Mowbray stated, this could be the best time to play the Latics as they wouldn’t have had the time to get in to their full rhythm.
On paper you’d have to say that Wigan are the undoubted favourites, but in my opinion we have a competitive group of players and the opening day is known to spring surprises. We all know that our squad is a couple of pieces away from the complete jigsaw, but I believe we have enough to gain a positive result. We expect to be under the cosh at some point during the game but defensively we look strong enough to restrict them.
I’m not going to get ahead of myself as I know it won’t be easy, but if the home supporters get behind Mowbray and the boys, who’s to say we can’t grab three points? Our home form was a major worry last season – it has to change. We need to make the Ricoh a fortress this season and getting a result against one of the ‘big boys’ on the opening day will send out a strong message. We’d all love a win on Saturday, but I think a draw seems more realistic.
My prediction… Coventry City 1-1 Wigan Athletic