Disappointing D-Day for Sky Blues fans

Deadline day is typically an agonising event as a Coventry City fan, mostly spent gnawing on fingernails and sweating profusely as rumours emerge linking our key assets with moves to other clubs. However, the summer window slammed shut on Wednesday night and the Sky Blues hadn’t lost any players on the final day – a strange feeling after the sale of James Maddison in the eleventh hour back in January. As far as incomings are concerned, it wasn’t a day to remember, with only two loanees signing on the dotted line. A brief overview on the new men can be found below before I share my opinion on the window.

Jamie Sterry

After the Newcastle United defender was spotted in the stands at the Ricoh Arena during Tuesday’s EFL Trophy fixture versus West Ham United U23’s, it looked very likely that a deal would happen. Expectedly, the 20-year old then put pen to paper and he was announced as a Coventy City player during the early hours of the following morning. Despite impressing supporters of the Magpies, Rafa Benitez elected to list the youngster on the loan market and he moves to the Midlands initially until January 2017.

Naturally a right-back by trade, Sterry progressed through the youth ranks in Tyneside before being offered a professional contract in July 2015. Since then, he has found first-team action incredibly limited, making a solitary appearance in the Premier League from the substitutes bench versus Tottenham Hotspur at the tail end of the 2015-16 campaign. However, he did feature for 90 minutes in the recent EFL Cup victory over Cheltenham Town at St James’ Park, but he will now ply his trade under Tony Mowbray as he looks to develop and prove his worth.

City fans are left worried after the lack of business on deadline day.
 

Andre Wright

After supposedly missing out on Aston Villa forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, the Sky Blues acted to add another attacker to their ranks as Andre Wright signed on loan until January from Premier League West Bromwich Albion. The 19-year old featured for the Baggies U23’s on Tuesday as they fell to defeat in the EFL Trophy at the hands of Millwall, but he is a relatively untried footballer looking to make his way in the game. 

During the 2015/16 season, he was handed an opportunity to gain some senior experience at Non-League outfits in Kidderminster Harriers and Torquay United respectively. In his spell at the latter club, Wright scored four goals in ten appearances to help the Gulls preserve their place in the Conference National. Way down the pecking order under Tony Pulis at the Hawthorns, the front man will now be looking to make an impact in the third tier of English football.

My Thoughts…

Undeniably, the final day of any transfer window is a nerve wracking experience for any football fan. Although we realise that we aren’t backed by billionaire investors who splash millions on transfer fees (if only we were), us Coventry fans twiddle our thumbs waiting for a few players to trickle into the building. Our expectations aren’t too high, believe me, but when your squad is incredibly lacking in number and experience, you would’ve thought a busy day would be in store. Nope, absolutely not. Just another disappointing day in the life of a Sky Blues fan, but what do we expect?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Sterry will prove to be a decent acquisition in the wing-back role, but it’s another player with minimal experience. In regards to Wright, I don’t know enough about him to fairly comment. Admittedly, most sides in this division struggle to lure players in, particularly proven ones at this level, but it’s deeply depressing that it seems like nobody wants to come here. Despite us being a sizeable name in League One and having a superb manager, we offer peanuts and fail to show any ambition. After last season’s signs of promise, this season should be the one where we kick on, but I can’t see it despite my usual unwavering optimism.

Some of the personnel we have acquired has been superb – Jodi Jones, Jordan Turnbull and a few more on long term deals – but that has been offset by the likes of Romain Vincelot departing. Whilst I think our strongest starting eleven is very talented, we lack any sort of depth and that makes it extremely difficult to compete over the course of a season. A few people have the disillusion that we will ‘do a Barnsley’, but the truth is, that was a fairytale story. They had a very capable group of players who just weren’t performing, it’s a completely different scenario here. We are privileged to have so many hot prospects at the club, but it’s not fair to rely on them so much. The average age of our squad is the lowest across the top four divisions in the country.

We need to start racking up points as soon as possible, but we are seemingly nowhere near good enough to challenge for promotion which was was the target set before pre-season. You could argue that we have been unlucky so far, not picking up results despite promising performances, but you make your own luck in football. We can’t sit here feeling sorry for ourselves after a loss, we need to step up and react next time out. Whilst I’m not going to suggest that a relegation fight is on the cards like some, the signs aren’t too bright right now. 

There’s a few decent free agents out there vying for clubs and I’m praying that we bring a couple of those in over the next few days, but it’s a lottery really. Just cast your mind back to Stephen Hunt and Darius Henderson, that’s enough to lead you to despair. We’ve had two months to build a group of players to mount a charge, but we’ve been continually hit with sucker punches as targets turn us away. I genuinely feel sorry for Tony Mowbray in all of this, his love for the game is infectious and he’s doing a job with both arms firmly tied behind his back. If the owners backed him, I’m almost certain he would lead us out of this league. Let’s just wait and see what happens I suppose. If we can avoid injuries and our forwards start firing we could surprise a few, but it’s a huge if.

I’m adamant that we have a technically sound squad, but it’s not just footballing ability that wins you games. A lack of experience and physicality just makes me wonder if we are streetwise enough. The saying that ‘you can’t win with kids’ is nonsense, but it’s certainly not easy, especially in the frantically paced third tier that demands so much. Here’s hoping for a few miracles – roll on Fleetwood. 

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. i agree with most, and openly admit our squad isn’t full of experience, however i do think the squad we have acquired now could be potentially better than last years. I think we have more depth than last year, if we get a centre back in the building i would be happy. I think we now have the means to push on. I think our strikers have bedded in and will start scoring, as we now have a lot of options up front, and i really do think Marvin Sordell will be the man who will start to become the goalscorer with Agyei. The fact is i think we have started with a new squad pretty much, and a new formation, but we aren’t losing games astronomically we are playing well apart from Norwich. Theres lots of doom and gloom but i am relatively confident give it a few more games and we will have a few goals from the lads up top, and a few wins to give the team confidence and people will see we actually aren’t that bad. We arent going to score as many goals as last year but look a lot more sound at the back and the mid field look more in tune only thing is goals, and i am sure they are coming. Hope to see this happen in the up coming game PUSB!

    1. M_Roper says:

      I agree in a lot of aspects, we have a squad of technically very good footballers. However, it’s just the lack of experience that worries me greatly at the moment. I really hope we have a fantastic season, but it’s incredibly difficult to get out of this league and I fear we just aren’t quite good enough.

  2. Clive Black says:

    Dear Matty,

    thank you for taking the time to write this, your best assessment of matters to date in recent times I feel.

    The folly of off-loading Aaron Martin and the deception in the Vincelot disposal is crystal clear to all, as was the Maddison sale – I wonder what he feels about Aberdeen!

    Mowbray has no money and you are spot on, most players do not wish to join us; why did Jodi Jones? We have disingenuous owners, the Academy situation is a farce, as is the Stadium saga, fans get it and that’s why they are not turning up; indeed, they are protesting again.

    I have been despairing for some time. I do believe we are in a relegation battle and my biggest concern is that Mowbray is attracted somewhere else; one couldn’t fault him in truth.

    Like you, I hope I’m wrong. Like you, I hope there are two or three out of contract gems out there… Like your narrative, my already pessimistic mood is darkening. I hope that a tight-knit group can excel…, the injuries to Rose and Stokes are penal but flimsy hope is all we have in the face of untalented, dysfunctional and frankly pathetically poor owners – Fisher & Anderson are a dark joke more suited to expensive legal letters and public negotiation that proper stewardship of a great city’s football club.

    All the best.

    Clive.

    Sent from my BlackBerry — the most secure mobile device — via the EE Network

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks a lot Clive. Worrying times, but fingers crossed we can ‘punch above our weight’ as Mowbray stated.

  3. John Jackson says:

    This season will probably be the toughest season for the Sky Blue Faithful since Jimmy Hill arrived c1963. The owners have shown a complete lack of respect for the intelligence of the fans. Last season we had the second largest average home gate in the division. Clubs like Scunthorpe, Burton Albion, Fleetwood etc averaged considerably less than the Sky Blues but have not pleaded poverty. We all know that City are not paying wages that rival the other teams in our division, and we are all working on the assumption that the owners are continuing to take a monthly ‘management charge’ back to the Caymen Islands. No notable strikers have been signed, and I fear that we will not score any way near enough goals to survive this season. The owners are expecting the fans to stump up £22 per ticket for a league game, to watch the side fail to have a shot on target, and are expecting the fans to continue to put monies into the club, whilst they are taking monies out. I’m afraid the trap door for the fourth division is wide open.

  4. Martin Lynch says:

    Just cant believe we have a worse squad than last year after what we were told. I understand younger players going and players not coming if they were offered more money, but the two that mystify me are Vincelot and Aaron Martin not being kept. To me Martin was very good last year, a ball playing CH and last years slump coincided with when he was injured. As you say 1st eleven is good but when was the last time TM named an unchanged team

    1. M_Roper says:

      I agree mate, very questionable decisions!

  5. Alan omahoney says:

    It is all very disheartening. The squad is threadbare and TM is relying on young players to consistently perform. When loan players are brought in they’re all very inexperienced and have less first team experience than the players at the club. All the while the likes of Martin and Vincelot are allowed leave and not replaced. The Vincelot transfer in particular was baffling done as it was so close to the start of the season. One wonders whether TM will be able to take this much longer before he decides enough is enough because at the moment it’s looking like more of a relegation fight than a promotion surge.

  6. Ben says:

    “The saying that ‘you can’t win with kids’ is nonsense.”

    Very true. The unbeatable Man Utd of the mid-90s was built almost entirely on a strong youth team.

    “you make your own luck in football”

    Not true; Like ‘you can’t win with kids’, this really is just another cliche that is sheer nonsense, up there on a par with ‘it all evens itself out over the season’ and ‘the table doesn’t lie’. Football is a low-scoring, high-variance game and luck plays an absolutely massive part. That’s partly what makes it entertaining and dramatic – e.g. we dominate Northampton for half an hour then they score against the run of play – but you can’t blame the players, the manager or even SISU for suffering bad luck, or not making their own good fortune!

    Apart from that, great assessment! The squad is considerably weaker than last season and in no position to ‘push on’. A relegation fight is far more likely. We needed to go for it last time when we had the team capable of doing it and were in pole position, and for various reasons we blew it.

  7. Paul Hawkins says:

    It is more likely to be a relegation battle than a promotion push, for which you can blame the previous and current owners . I do not go anymore due to personal circumstances and massive involvement with a non-league club. but you ladies and gentlemen have my sympathy.

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