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.
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.
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.
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.