Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Coventry City 15/16 Season Review - One Hell Of A Campaign


I find it hard to believe that it has been 9 months since that first ball was kicked against Wigan Athletic, it only feels like yesterday that Adam Armstrong knocked 2 in against the league favourites to leave us Coventry fans shocked to our foundations. In this season review I will be discussing the ups and downs of such an incredible season for the Sky Blues. Whether it be demolishing teams, getting demolished, being robbed or robbing teams, the 15/16 season for us had it all. So let's take a trip down memory lane to begin with...

August

      Coventry City 2-0 Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One - 8/8/15
Armstrong (15,62)

     Rochdale 1-1 Coventry City - Capital One Cup - 11/8/15

Mcdermott (45)    Tudgay (84)
(Rochdale win 5-3 on penalties)

      Millwall 0-4 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One 15/8/15
                             Armstrong (6,24)
                             Lameiras (19)
                             O'Brien (80)

      Coventry City 3-2 Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One 18/8/15
       Fleck (14)               Inman (31)
       Armstrong (51)       Haber (53)
        O'Brien (83)

        Walsall 2-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 22/8/15
      Forde (40)     Murphy (56)
 Bradshaw (52)

      Coventry City 2-2 Southend United - Sky Bet League One - 31/8/15
        Johnson (34)         Hunt (36)
        Ricketts (72)         Mooney (41' pen)

  August was a great month when you really think about it, 10 points out of a possible 15 is something I certainly wouldn't have expected at the start, although I was slightly disappointed we got knocked out of the League Cup in such a manner, as well as dropping 2 points against then relegation candidates Southend. But you can't not look at our wins against Wigan and especially Millwall, that 4-0 away win was potentially the best away day all season, Armstrong's 35-yard chip goal shall forever be in my memories. Our only loss came against the then top of the league team Walsall, as for us, we stood in fifth place after the first month, I certainly would have taken that at the start of August.

September

     Burton Albion 1-2 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 6/9/15
     Martin (11' OG)     Tudgay (20)
                                    Vincelot (56)

 Scunthorpe United 1-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 12/9/15
     Madden (79)

       Coventry City 1-0 Chesterfield - Sky Bet League One - 19/9/15
       Armstrong (50)

                      Bury 2-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 26/9/15
           Clarke (19,51)   Johnson (62)

  September wasn't as good of a month, for the first time we didn't score in a game, but 2 wins and 2 losses isn't too awful. The Bury result seemed like a slight kick in the teeth, Leon Clarke getting both goals was a tough pill to take, especially as he dived for the penalty. Scunthorpe also wasn't the best of results by any stretch of the imagination. Our home form was great, but our away form was still quite a concern. We had however moved into fourth place by the end of September thanks to other results, although I couldn't help feeling it could have been a lot better if we had have taken chances that were on a plate to us.

October 

     Coventry City 3-0 Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One - 3/10/15
     Armstrong (26, 65)
      Fortuné (45+1' pen)

     Yeovil Town 0-0 Coventry City - Johnstone's Paint Trophy - 6/10/15
      Yeovil win 4-3 on penalties.

      Fleetwood Town 0-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 10/10/15
                                          Wood (90' OG')

 Coventry City 0-0 Blackpool - Sky Bet League One - 17/10/15

   Rochdale 0-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 20/10/15

  Swindon Town 2-2 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 24/10/15
     Gladwin (85)         Vincelot (66)
  Ajose (90+2'pen)      Tudgay (81)

 Coventry City 3-2 Peterborough United - Sky Bet League One -31/10/15
Vincelot (56)           Anderson (15)
Armstrong (80, 87)  Oztumer (36)

 October was perhaps my favourite month of the entire season, many things happened to make this a great month. That last minute Richard Wood own goal to win at Fleetwood was incredible, the way George Thomas knocked it past the last defender, how Chris Maxwell fumbled the ball on to Wood and how he chested it into his own net will always be up there in my favourite moments of the season. The signing of ex-England international Joe Cole was also something to behold, his capture just proves we are still a big club, even if it was only on loan to begin with.

  Battering Shrewsbury was a great sight to see off the back of a bad loss at Bury, but if there was one thing that could top all of the events in October was on the very last day. Coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the Ricoh was insane for our first win in four, it seems to be something that always happens against Peterborough. We ended October in fourth place, four points off top of the league, but we had a very important game in hand to play yet. 

November

              Coventry City 4-3 Barnsley - Sky Bet League One - 3/11/15
            Kent (3)                   Mawson (48)
  Armstrong (18, 52)            Scowen (54, 90+6 pen)
            Cole (60)

   Coventry City 1-2 Northampton Town - FA Cup - 7/11/15 
     Murphy (10)         Diamond (5)
                                   Richards (18)
  
   Colchester United 1-3 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 14/11/15
           Bonne (17)         Murphy (32,40)
                                      Fortune (49)

   Coventry City 4-1 Gillingham - Sky Bet League One - 21/11/15
Murphy (34,41,44)   Dack (63)

 Bradford City 0-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 24/11/15

 Coventry City 2-2 Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One - 28/11/15
 Armstrong (30)        Tyson (52,72)
         Fleck (59) 

Well the one huge talking point of November was the 4-1 win over Gillingham to take us top of the league, this was when I first thought "My god, we could actually be doing this" as we went unbeaten in the league once again. One thing that was annoying me however was how we were dropping points in games we should really be winning, Doncaster was yet another example of this. Unfortunately we made it 3/3 in the game of being knocked out in the first round of every single cup competition thanks to our 2-1 loss against Northampton. If I had to pick a moment of the month other than the Gillingham match it would probably have to be Joe Cole's free kick on his home début. At the end of November we proudly stood top of the pile for the first time since the start of the season.

December 

Sheffield United 1-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 13/12/15
         Sharp (79)

Coventry City 1-1 Oldham Athletic - Sky Bet League One -19/12/15
    Martin (49)        Philliskirk (90+3)

Coventry City 1-0 Port Vale - Sky Bet League One - 26/12/15
Maddison (80)

Chesterfield 1-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 28/12/15
 Novak (38)       Maddison (89)

Not as many games this month, but 1 win, 2 draws, 1 loss isn't the best of records when you're trying to mount a promotion bid. At Sheffield United however, we were completely, absolutely, unequivocally robbed. It was the biggest smash and grab I have ever seen in all my years of watching Coventry. December did have some good moments however, both of Maddison's goals, especially the one at Chesterfield caused pandemonium in the stands. But we didn't show enough concentration when we conceded the last minute goal through Danny Philliskirk. So a lot of points dropped in December and we came out in fourth place, still a very respectable position but not as good as when we came in.

January

 Crewe Alexandra 0-5 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 2/1/16
                                     Armstrong (11, 30 pen, 45)
                                     Murphy (27, 85)

Coventry City 1-1 Walsall - Sky Bet League One - 12/1/16
    Stokes (34)       Bradshaw (81)

Coventry City 0-2 Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One - 16/1/16
                              Butcher (49)
                              Beavon (72)

   Southend United 3-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 23/1/16
      Payne (24)
Barnett (31, 68 pen)

       Coventry City 1-2 Scunthorpe United - Sky Bet League One - 30/1/16
 Armstrong (85 pen)     Hopper (9)
                                      Wallace (62)

 A month that started so perfectly by beating Crewe 5-0 turned so sour so quickly, we drew 1-1 with Walsall in a huge promotion match which we probably should have won. This put lots of pressure on us to beat Burton, Southend and Scunthorpe. We failed to beat all 3 of them, gaining only four points from January out of a possible fifteen. In a month that we could have gone top, we finished it in 5th, a whole 9 points off of Burton Albion in first. Seventh was becoming increasingly scary as the gap had closed to only 6 points. We needed to pick up results in February.

February

Port Vale 1-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 7/2/16
Kelly (84)       Murphy (42)

     Coventry City 6-0 Bury - Sky Bet League One - 13/2/16
            Stokes (4)
          Cargill (12)
     Maddison (16)
            Fleck (43)
Armstrong (68,70)

   Coventry City 1-2 Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One - 27/2/16
        Tudgay (75)      Burns (56)
                                  Ball (83)

  I really thought we had turned a corner when we got a hard fought draw at Vale park, one of the hardest places to go to and get points in the league, and when we absolutely obliterated Bury at home 6-0. That was potentially one of the best matches all season. But then to come out in the very next match and lose to Fleetwood, and of all people Steven Pressley, my high hopes came crashing down to earth once more, this upcoming March would make or break our season, but by the end of February we were down to 6th, just one point clear of Bradford.

    Barnsley 2-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 1/3/16
Roberts (10)
Fletcher (60)

   Coventry City 0-1 Rochdale - Sky Bet League One - 5/3/16 
                                 Henderson (89' pen)

  Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 8/3/16
   Kaikai (9)                    Martin (4)
   Whalley (39)

  Blackpool 0-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 12/3/16
                           Fortune (26)

  Coventry City 0-0 Swindon Town - Sky Bet League One - 19/3/16

 Peterborough United 3-1 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 25/3/16
 Bostwick (45)                  Cole (65)
Angol (61)
Beautyman (69)

Coventry City 0-1 Colchester United - Sky Bet League One - 29/3/16
                               Massey (18)

 In short, March broke our season, once again I thought we had turned a corner when we beat Blackpool and very unluckily drew 0-0 with Swindon, but Coventry City ceased to disappoint me once more with the consecutive losses against Peterborough and Colchester which crushed any hope of a top 6 finish. We were now a whole 8 points off of 6th placed Bradford, all we could do now was just hope for a top half finish.

April/May 

Gillingham 0-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 2/4/16

Wigan Athletic 1-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 9/4/16
  Grigg (57)

 Coventry City 2-1 Millwall - Sky Bet League One - 16/4/16
    Fleck (61)          Webster (19)
 Tudgay (70)

 Coventry City 1-0 Bradford City - Sky Bet League One - 19/4/16
  Rose (59)              

Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 23/4/16
             Rowe (21)
        Williams (32)

Coventry City 3-1 Sheffield United - Sky Bet League One - 30/4/16
       Fortune (4)      Sharp (58' pen)
           Rose (8)
  Lameiras (87)

Oldham Athletic 0-2 Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - 8/5/16
                                    Vincelot (74)
                                    Armstrong (81)

 If we discount the Doncaster result as a one off shocker, April and May helped us restore some pride to guide us to a solid 8th place. Wins against Millwall and Bradford were highly unexpected but were welcomed with opening arms. A couple of incredible goals came out in April, which leads me on to the highly anticipated 'A View From The Stands' awards ceremony for the 2015/2016 season. 

Player Of The Season - Nominees:

Adam Armstrong

20 goals from the on-loan Newcastle man is obviously going to catch the eye of anyone who looks at our squad. For me personally, he has accumulated four MOTM awards:

Wigan Athletic (Home)
Millwall (Away)
Shrewsbury Town (Home)
Crewe Alexandra (Away)

I was probably being harsh giving Arma only the four awards, early on, I thought I may have to limit him to stop him running away with it. In terms of individual performances, Adam would win it hands down, but this award looks for consistency across the full season, which he lacks due to just 4 goals since January. Will this be enough to get him the award?

Reice Charles-Cook

 Remember back in October when Cook got his chance in the squad due to Burge's illness? Well he took that chance with two massive goalkeeping hands and never looked back, he also managed to accumulate 4 awards:

Fleetwood Town (Away)
Port Vale (Home)
Port Vale (Away)
Bradford City (Home)

 That away match against Port Vale was just a prime example of Cook's abilities, he played out of his skin that match. 'That' save from the deflected free kick will always go down in my memories. He has come along way since that 'flappy' keeper some people saw back in December time. After signing a new contract I will hope to see him at the Sky Blues for a number of years, but the question right now is will he get the award for this season.

Chris Stokes

 Up until his injury against Blackpool, Stokesy started every single match we played, and didn't look like slowing down. Since signing from Forest Green of all teams he's managed to burst into the squad, also picking up four awards.

Swindon Town (Away)
Walsall (Home)
Scunthorpe United (Home)
Fleetwood Town (Home)

 If there's one thing that Stokes has so far that the other two do not, it is consistency across the season. In all of our downfall since Christmas, Stokes' improvement has been a silver lining, sometimes he could be accused of going missing on some occasions. I would disagree with this personally, but due to his injury, does this put Chris out of contention for player of the season?

Player Of The Season - Winner:

Chris Stokes!

That's right, all season it has come down to this, that left back Pressley brought in from the non-league has done it! I am glad he's had his contract extended by another year as we get another whole season of this wisdom. Who knows, he may even be the next Jamie Vardy and might break into the England squad in a couple of years time! That may be going a bit far, but you can't deny he deserves it, long live the king, long live the Stokes!

Signing Of The Season - Nominees:

Adam Armstrong

Once again it comes back to the 20 goals he scored, I will always look out for Armstrong in the coming years to see how one of the best prospects in the country does in his career. But this loan deal from Newcastle may go down as a stroke of genius from boss Tony Mowbray, lets just hope he can pull another signing like this out of the bag for next year.

 Jacob Murphy

Another loanee, this time from Norwich, I will also have fond memories thanks to Jacob, especially his hat trick against Gillingham to send us top of the league back in November, ah how times have changed since then. He also contributed a lot to the team, 10 goals from midfield is nothing to turn your nose up at, as well as a hatful of assists alongside that.

Joe Cole

 First as a loan and then on a free transfer, what a signing this was. He didn't produce the fireworks everyone was expecting, but he certainly did a job on and off the field. If we're talking about fond memories of the season, then you need to look no further than his free kick against Barnsley on his home debut. What a strike, and what a signing he was, I really do hope he does come back in October like he says he might. He still provides vital experience for the evergrowing list of young players we are adding to the books.

Romain Vincelot

Our first cash buy for a couple of years, and a solid buy at that, his partnership with official player of the season John Fleck proved to be crucial in the centre of midfield. We were certainly a better team when the Frenchman was playing, even if he did go under the radar at times, I only gave him one award all season, he definitely deserves some recognition for all his work!

Signing Of The Season - Winner:

Adam Armstrong!

Can you really compete with this? I would be being harsh if I didn't give him an award for his (I'm going to say it again) 20 goals. It's just a shame he'll be returning to Newcastle, good luck in the future Adam, one day you'll be banging goals in for England!

Goal Of The Season - Nominees

I'm not going to go in to detail about each individual goal because let's face it, you've probably seen them all on repeat, well I certainly have anyway!

Adam Armstrong vs Millwall - 35 Yard Chip

Jacob Murphy vs Walsall - Two Touch Top Corner

Adam Armstrong vs Peterborough - Chop Turn Far Post

Joe Cole vs Barnsley - Debut Free Kick

John Fleck vs Bury - 30 Yard Bottom Corner

John Fleck vs Millwall - 30 Yard Top Corner 

Andy Rose vs Barnsley - 25 Yard Volley Bar And In

Goal Of The Season - Winner

John Fleck vs Millwall - 30 Yard Top Corner 


There were many contenders, Fleck is known for his screamers, so I suppose it is only fitting that one of them wins the goal of the season. This one wasn't like the rest however, normally he smashes it with his laces but on this occasion he side footed it perfectly in to the top corner, way out of the goalkeepers reach. A worthy winner of a not so prestigious award.  

Unsung Hero - Winner:

Aaron Martin - I will go into more detail in a minute, but why oh why did we not offer him a new contract? He's been very solid all season, especially since he's had to put up with many different centre back partners. The reason I'm giving him unsung hero is because he rarely gets any recognition for his work in defence, I even saw him as potential captain material one day. But obviously that is not to be, I would also put Romain Vincelot in as a close second place.

Overall Verdict - Is 8th good enough?

 I saw something very interesting the other day, it was the idea that season expectations can be changed. My expectations in August were mid-table, so I would have taken eighth at the start of the season. However, if you had asked me what my season expectations were on November 22nd I would have said automatic promotion, or at the very least play offs. So going by that I am disappointed with how we threw what we had away like that. 

 I'm trying to look into this in as positive a light as possible, if you compare the final days from the end of the 14/15 season to the 15/16 season then it will make it look slightly better. This time last year we had to go to Crawley on the final day and win to stay in the third tier of English football. Compare that to this season and we went to Oldham, playing for pride and won 2-0 with ease. Personally I would call that progress. 

 Next season I shall return to what I said here to see if we improve yet again, hopefully this time it leads us into a top 6 spot for the first time in 47 years. 

Contract Decisions - Did Mowbray make the right choices?

I like how Tony has shifted all of the unneeded deadwood such as Thomas, Henderson, Hunt, Ramage and Fortune, those I can get behind. One player I am surprised to see offered a new contract is Sam Ricketts, towards the end of the season he showed clear signs of deterioration. He didn't even look like he wanted to be on the pitch. But it is looking quite likely the captain will see out his career with the Sky Blues.

 I would have liked to have seen more of Martin Lorentszon but Mowbray must have thought he didn't adapt well enough to the English game to deserve a new deal, so I can also agree with this decision. Jim O'Brien I would have loved to have stayed but if he doesn't want to stay then he doesn't want to stay. There's nothing we can do to change that. Marcus Tudgay I am glad we have offered a new deal to, he scores goals when given a chance, so the obvious thing to do is give him that chance.

 Younger players like Ivor Lawton and both Kelly-Evans' being given contracts is a no brainer, we have good prospects so why not utilise them. I am wary about Lawton's leg break but he has assured everyone he will be back better than ever when he returns around September time. Finally, the two players I am not sure on the decisions have been made are Reda Johnson and Aaron Martin. Reda being released I can almost understand why, but apparently he's allowed to train with us to see if he gets a new contract, fingers crossed he pulls through. As for Aaron Martin, I am shocked as to why he's not been given a new deal, he has made brilliant progress this season, forcing himself into the starting line up. 

 So in conclusion, the 15/16 season has given us Coventry fans a mixture of feelings, from delight and elation, to anger and fury. One thing I can say is that this has easily been my best and favourite year supporting the Sky Blues. From kicking things across a room in anger after losing to Sheffield United to getting back at 22:30 after Blackpool away, I am glad that this is how I've spent my year and I wouldn't swap it for anything. I look forward to doing exactly the same thing again next year!






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