In the summer of 2016, MARVIN SORDELL was left without a club following Colchester United’s relegation to League Two. At that point, the former England youth international was searching for another opportunity in the game – step up Coventry City. However, after just six months with the Sky Blues, he left to join Championship Burton Albion in a deal that saw Stuart Beavon and Callum Reilly moving in the opposite direction.
Reflecting on how the transfer came about, Sordell said, “The move from Coventry did happen very quickly. Nigel Clough called me and asked me if I fancied doing it and it was pretty much as simple as that.
“I did a bit of research as every player does when they are about to make a move and the good thing was that Coventry were getting a couple of players from Burton in return. Having spoken to the gaffer there (Russell Slade) he was looking to bring players in and it made it easier for them so I think it benefited all parties.”
The 25-year-old managed to find the net on seven occasions in all competitions during his short stay at the Ricoh Arena, but he felt he could have done better. When asked if he was happy with his goal scoring return he said, “Not really no, I felt as if I should’ve scored a few more and I certainly would’ve liked to be involved in more goals and more wins.
“I’m glad I did score a few, but it’s disappointing that they didn’t do enough with regards to earning results.”
Despite Coventry languishing at the foot of the table in League One, Marvin is grateful to the club for reigniting his passion for the game. Looking back on his brief spell, he said, “I really enjoyed my time at the club. Being there made me enjoy football even more so than I had over the last few years I would say.
“It is just so frustrating that the circumstances at the club aren’t ideal at the moment because I loved it there. The staff and the players were great with me and the fans really seemed to take to me quite quickly too which is always great so I honestly have nothing negative to say about the place because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“It is such a shame that such a big club is being dragged down.”
With their team now eight points adrift of safety, Coventry City supporters are preparing for life in the fourth tier, but Sordell believes there is still hope. He insists, “I believe they just need something to give them a kick-start, there is so much ability and talent within the squad there but something just isn’t working.
“Even one good result, perhaps a win versus Wycombe in the Checkatrade Trophy and fortunes can change. Obviously it’s quite late into the campaign now but that bit of confidence could help to save the season.
“You say they are eight points from safety, but that deficit can be clawed back quite quickly with a run of results.
“There is definitely still hope and I think until your mathematically down you are always in with a chance, the lads just need to keep plugging away and believe in themselves. At the moment it looks as if there’s not as much belief as there should be and a little bit of confidence can go a hell of a long way and a break of luck could transform the side.”
The off-field problems and the turnover of managers at Coventry could be seen as a distraction for the players, but Sordell states that is not the case. He said, “There is always plenty of things going on off the pitch whether it’s negative or positive so there’s always something going on at a football club – I don’t think players can use it as a way out at all.
“With regards to the managerial changes, you have to just crack on and get on with things because regardless of who is in charge at the time, it’s your job. Different people may ask for different things from you but you have to adapt and football is a game that is constantly evolving so I wouldn’t say players had that on their mind.
“It can’t be used as an excuse at all. The circumstances weren’t great but things just didn’t work for whatever reasons. Everything that is going on isn’t good for the club really, it’s just crazy, but the players can’t change that.”
Now a month into his Burton Albion career, Sordell has been pleased with how he has settled in and he thinks the mixture of youth and experience within the squad assists with that. He said, “We have a good set of lads and the setup is very good so it has been easy to become part of it straight away and get involved. Playing obviously helps as well so it has been really easy coming into the group.
“The experience of the squad has helped, playing with a lot of players that have been in similar situations to me with regards to moving around. When you have similar kinds of footballing experiences as other people it gives you a common ground and it just makes getting on with everyone that little bit easier.”
Regular starts have been handed to him by Nigel Clough thus far and the striker is enjoying working with the boss, but he says, “I have played under plenty of managers now but I just try go out and play, work hard and that remains the same regardless to who is in charge.
“He demands hard work and when he asks something of you as a player he doesn’t have to ask two or three times – its not really different to playing under any other manager really in the sense that they all have their own way of playing and they want you to graft and express yourself on the pitch as well.”
Yet to get off the mark in terms of scoring, Sordell appreciates he may be judged on goals but he wants to bring more than that to the Albion team. “It would be nice to get that first one definitely. I have played a few games now and chances have been limited and I haven’t found the net yet which is certainly disappointing on a personal level, he said.
“However, I am here to provide more than just goals. As with any player, you just need to make sure you are working hard for the team and helping them to not lose games as well as trying to help the team win games.
“From my perspective, I would like to be scoring goals but the main thing is picking up points whether that’s by me scoring myself, creating chances or purely by working hard to help us stop conceding goals as well.”
At the time of writing, the Brewers sit just one place above the Championship relegation zone, but Sordell is confident that the team’s togetherness will stand them in good stead as they search for survival.
“Our team ethic is very strong and that is a massive advantage for us as we head into the latter stages of the season. The fan base also understands the achievements the club has made and they don’t put too much pressure on us.
“When things aren’t going so well there isn’t that negativity in the crowd which you might get at some of the bigger clubs who don’t really expect to be fighting relegation. The supporters recognise where we are and they just want the players to give their all and that can only help us.”
With Premier League experience under his belt and Bolton Wanderers once paying £3 million for his services, some would say there is pressure on Sordell to live up to that early potential. However, still aged just 25, he is just focused on being the best he can be.
Speaking of that transfer fee, he said, “I didn’t really pay much attention to the figure to be honest, I was just looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the Premier League. That was something I had always dreamed of doing since I was a kid so it was massive for me to be able to have the privilege of doing that.
“It was an experience of course but it proved to be a real eye-opener for me because the players I was up against made me realise that there was so much I needed to do to thrive at that level. It almost knocks you back, it’s a reality check that makes you think ‘woah, I am nowhere near there yet’ and that the kind of talent you are up against is phenomenal to tell the truth.”
That sense of awe was also present when Sordell had the ‘honour’ of representing Team GB during the London 2012 Olympics. “The experience was unbelievable, playing with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy along with facing some world class footballers was just incredible, he said.
“Again, it helped me learn just how dedicated you have to be to reach their level and seeing them up close inspired me really to do even more in the hope that I can even come close to what some of them have achieved.”
With regards to his future ambitions, Sordell encompasses a very humble ‘whatever happens happens’ approach. He said, “My aim is just to be the best I can be and improve as much as I can. I may not be good enough to play at that level again, but all I know is that I can give it my all by working hard every single day and pushing myself.
“I will see where that takes me because that way there is no end goal as such – it’s not a matter of getting to the Premier League again and that’s it. If I continue to work and give it my all then I can be proud of my achievements regardless what division that may be in, I will be able to feel proud of myself knowing I have given every ounce. That way I can have no regrets.”
You can follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinSordell