Return of the Yak

With his Coventry City side slumped at the bottom of League One and ten points from safety, Russell Slade drafted in experienced striker Yakubu on Monday afternoon. The 34-year old arrives at the Ricoh Arena with a wealth of Premier League experience, but the former Nigeria international is certainly lacking in match fitness. Following a one-year stay at Turkish outfit Kayserispor that came to an end in the summer of 2016, he has been without a club. Is he a worthwhile signing?

Due to the Sky Blues failing to perform, this capture undoubtedly comes with less anticipation than the Joe Cole signing of last season. I am a huge admirer of Yakubu and I look forward to see him donning a City shirt, but it’s just a shame we couldn’t have acquired his services earlier. With just 16 league games left to be played, we realistically need to amass 30 points to have a chance of staying up and I simply can’t see us achieving that total. Therefore, I’m not too optimistic, although I do feel he can be the target man we need to hold the ball up. He is worth the risk.

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Since Slade was appointed, there is no doubting that the football we have played has been less than appealing. However, I would have understood the direct style if we had a physical presence in the final third. Now we have one – albeit one carrying a certain amount of rust – it will be interesting to see how it affects results. It’s not just the attacking sense of the game that he could improve, it’s the defensive side too. When we clear the ball up to the likes of George Thomas and Stuart Beavon it just comes straight back. Yakubu’s ability to bring the ball down should mean it can stick up front more frequently, thus taking some pressure away from the back line.

Scoring goals has been a major pitfall of our season thus far. Only Oldham have found the net on less occasions than us in this division and that illustrates why we are glued to the bottom, but the fact they put three past us recently draws better conclusions for me. Yes, we’ve only scored 25 goals in 30 games, but we’ve conceded far too many as well, often from lapses in concentration. Do I think the Yakubu signing is a good one given our situation? Yes. Can he save our season? I would have to say no.

There are far too many problems within this squad that one man alone can’t fix. Slade eluded to a mental weakness in his last post-match press conference and I agree entirely. He has brought in some more experienced heads, but they have failed to steady the ship so to speak, and confidence is at an all-time low. A trip to Wembley has been booked and that’s a nice distraction, but it doesn’t cover up how poor we actually are. The recruitment in the summer was lacklustre to say the least and we are suffering as a result.

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We are now 14 games without a win in the league and that for me etches the writing into the wall. I just can’t envision us going on some crazy unbeaten run and scraping survival – that would genuinely be a miracle of some kind. Despite that, I am still praying that somehow we win the next few games and the tide turns, but that’s me just being optimistic. Realistically we are as good as down already, but if we do drop, I want us to do it fighting.

This season has just been one of nightmares, especially after the promise of 2015/16, and I just simply want it to end. I will always love Coventry City, but the enthusiasm is seeping out of me slowly and it kills me inside. As I said, signing such a highly respected player is a coup at this level, but it’s all too little too late. The club is always up against it when the off-field situations hinder progress, but there are far too many issues to save us from the inevitable. I hope Yakubu does well here, but I suspect he will be leaving in the summer with the Sky Blues no longer a third tier outfit.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Simon Franklin says:

    Have to agree entirely

  2. Philip V says:

    A well articulated and insightful article with which I have to agree pretty much whole heartedly. And sadly. The optimist in me says that a goal scorer never loses that knack and therefore I’m hopeful that however rusty, Yakubu is able to hit the ground running with a couple of quick goals. Then, you never know, perhaps we could go on a run. But aside from the two new year games we have not looked good (in the league) and we have a mountain to climb. There’s not a lot of quality around us, and never say never, but like you Matty, optimism and enthusiasm is seeing away. Thankfully we do have a day out at Wembley which I’m determined to enjoy. Could be a last hurrah.

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks for the kind words Phillip! Fingers crossed we can win under the arch.

  3. Clive Black says:

    A very well composed piece sir, particularly your heartfelt hurt and dismay at the football club’s plight and how it saps… the club is in the chaos and frankly doomed under talentless owners. It is all very sad, fatalistic but unnecessary. Clive.

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

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks for the kind words Clive.

  4. pompeynev says:

    We’ve experienced so many of the agonies you are going through – and now it turns almost full circle with the arrival at your club of Yakubu. I haven’t seen him in recent years, but even at his peak (which he was when Pompey brought him to English football) he was an enigma. Interestingly, you regard his ball-holding, target-man abilities as a key asset. That was not his strength with us – it was his pace, power and ability to turn defenders – plus an uncanny knack of scoring, regardless of how he was playing.
    But the most noticeable thing, which recurred when he went to Middlesbrough, Everton, etc, was his explosive starts followed by a lengthy period of anonymity (usually when it appeared he felt he’d done enough at that club). If you can get an explosive start out of him, he might get you a few goals.
    But as you say, he’ll probably be rusty (I’m not sure periods at the likes of Reading and Turkey will be much help to you), so I share your scepticism as to his overall impact. In fact, I’m probably a little more sceptical than you! Good luck with the future – and keep the faith… like Pompey, you’ll need it!

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