Monday, 29 August 2016

CCFC Where Are They Now #2 - Marlon King

 Controversy, hat-tricks, prison sentences, goals and more. The career of Marlon King had it all, and it all started in Barnet in 1998. He stayed there in London for 2 years before transferring to Gillingham at the turn of the millennium, this was where his career really kicked off as well as him picking up his first conviction. In 101 appearances he got 40 goals, a very impressive feat at such a young age. But then in May 2002 he picked up an eighteen month sentence for receiving stolen goods in relation to a BMW he was driving however was found not guilty of assaulting a police officer in a related event.

 King got his ruling reduced to only 9 months thanks to the support of Gillingham, whom paid his salary throughout his his time in jail. After only serving 5 months he was released on license and returned to the Kent side within only 3 days. Back to the football and in 2003 Marlon was sold to Nottingham Forest for a fee close to £1 Million.

 The first match after the death of Brian Clough was obviously an emotional one for Forest, they faced West Ham at the County Ground. King was really struggling to win over the fans but when he scored a winner in injury time the deed was done. From this moment onwards he was treated like a god. He didn't win over the then manager Gary Megson so was loaned out to Leeds where he failed to impress. It was on return when Watford approached Forest with a loan to buy offer, his 6-month loan spell was when he really started to excel scoring 12 in 21.

 Watford excersised the clause so in January of 2006 he moved to Watford for a fee of half a million pounds. He went on to score 21 goals in the 05/06 season making him the Championship top goal scorer. They went on to finish 3rd but gained promotion to the Premier League via the play offs. He had a slow start with Watford in the top flight, getting injured for 6 months certainly didn't help the matter.

 Back in the Championship he really began to storm it with Watford, scoring 10 in less than half the season, but in January he had a transfer arranged with Fulham which he failed. After being convicted in 2009 Roy Hodgson said that they "really dodged a bullet" by not signing him. Instead he made the switch to Wigan Athletic for £3 million with the potential of it rising to £4 million. Things really didn't work out for him here, he only scored 1 goal before getting loan spells to both Hull and Middlesbrough where he improved slightly but was nothing compared to his days at Watford and Gillingham.

  Wigan cancelled King's contract after he was charged with sexual assault in October 2009 and ordered to serve 18 months in jail as well as being placed on the sex offenders register for 7 years. This was all because he allegedly punched a female university student in the face. Once again though he only served half because of good behaviour, meaning he was released in July 2010.

 This is where we come in, Aidy Boothroyd invited him to train with us to get his fitness back. He impressed during this spell so in September of 2010 signed a 1-year contract. This was met with a lot of disapproval from most football fans, including Coventry. I will always remember the chants whilst he was here such as "She said no Marlon" and things similar. Whether you liked him or not, he scored goals for us whilst here, in my opinion he kept us up.

  Reportedly he had verbally agreed a new deal with us in 2011 with his current contract about to expire. But on June 10th he signed a 3-year deal with Birmingham City leaving a lot of City fans hurt and angry with Marlon. As we had given him a chance and he had repaid us by leaving without telling Aidy Boothroyd. The following year you'll probably remember we got relegated. It's a case of what could have been if he had stayed, I'm confident we would have at the very least stated in the Championship for a couple more years.

 Annoyingly, at Birmingham he did quite well early on, scoring 18 and assisting 12 in his first season.  He got 9 in 9 in his second year but from here onwards he went on a huge downward spiral. Birmingham put him on the transfer list in January 2013 and cancelled his contract that August in an attempt to reduce the wage bill. Sheffield United was the last club he ever played for, he fell out of favour though when Nigel Clough took over. He scored just the 1 goal before being released in Decmber 2013. Throughout all of his career, he made 24 appearances for Jamaica scoring 12 goals.

 This is where his football career ends, but by no means the story of Marlon King. Because just before signing with the Blades, he was arrested in connection with a hit and run incident. He pleaded not guilty with his trial in March 2014. The verdict was the opposite however and 6 weeks later was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the third time.

As for where he is now, well that's a tricky question. That may sound silly because that's the point of this post, but I've looked far and wide and can't find anything after him being sentenced in May 2014. Assuming he served his full term, he should have been released last November. I assume that is the case and he is trying to keep a low profile after having an eventful career to say the least.

 Someone pointed it out to me that the career of Marlon King sounds very much like a soap opera, that's a very valid claim. I really think he could have been a very good consistent striker if he didn't have trouble with his knees. Another factor preventing him from excelling was his inability to stay out of trouble. He was a very clinical striker, there's no denying that, it's just a shame he couldn't go that little bit further. I'm not sure who the next former Sky Blue I will cover will be but look out that in the coming days, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My Eleventh 16/17 Game - Norwich City vs Coventry City

 Anyone believe in lucky numbers? Mine is 11, and for my 11th match of the season we lined up at Carrow Road for the second time in less than a month. Some people reading may remember I attended that game and despite the 3-0 defeat, I thought we played very well given the fact we had barely any players on that night. Now though we have made a few more additions, and Norwich had played a very important league game just 2 days previous against fierce rivals Ipswich, meaning they'd be resting a number of players. All of these factors meant that pre-match I had some hope that we would be able to cause an upset and potentially make it through to the third round.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Harries
Ricketts
Willis
Harries
Stevenson
Gadzhev
McCann
Dion Kelly-Evans
Page
Reid
Agyei

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Haynes
Finch
Tudgay
Devon Kelly-Evans
Spence
Lameiras

I've said it before, I'll say it again, the fact that that is our best squad is an absolute embarrassment to the club. Obviously you can't blame the players themselves, Mowbray is partly to blame for leaving it so late but everyone knows the main cause of our situation. SISU. Until they go we are going to be on a downward spiral which I can't see ending any time soon. But anyway, on to the game.

First Half:

 From the off it was obvious who were the dominant side, and they didn't play in Sky Blue. Early on Gadzhev fouled Thompson about 25-yards out, right in Maddison range. Hearts in our mouths, we were relieved to see the ball sail over the bar. The next 20 minutes snarled by, we were enduring a lot of pressure but not creating anything. It was good defending but we all knew what was coming, and it did in the form of Kyle Lafferty. Canos played him in after Willis mistakenly let the ball under his foot. 1-0 Canaries.

  On the stroke of half time, Sergi Canos opened up his body well and slotted past Charles-Cook from roughly 20 yards. Reice probably could have done better but the fact was that we went into half time 2 goals down and playing poorly. Rubén Lameiras was the half time substitute, he replaced a poorly playing Kyel Reid. Bradford fans told me on his day he's one of the best wingers in the league but is very inconsistent, I'm starting to see what they mean.

Second Half:

 5 minutes into the second half and our biggest fears were mesrly confirmed, James Maddison was played through by Jacob Murphy of all people so was 1-on-1 with Charles-Cook, the pressure must have got to his head because he stabbed it straight at Cookie. On 56 minutes we were handed a lifeline when Page whipped in the ball to Dion Kelly-Evans who was pushed to the ground by Russell Martin. In my opinion a definite sending off as he denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. No card was brandished however and Lamieras stepped up to smash past Jones making it 2-1. I heard "Istanbul" mentioned at this point. We were back in the game, or so we thought.

   It's funny I should say Martin should have had to walk as only a couple of minutes later he reinstated Norwich's lead at 3-1 when he poked in Maddison's corner. We had another rare chance on the hour mark when Lamieras got played through but got it all wrong and shot wide. It was back and fourth for this 5 minute period, one side took their chances. Guess which one? Yep, with a beautiful finish against his former club, Jacob Murphy made it 4-1. It was really starting to get very embarrassing for the travelling Coventry fans.

  We were unlucky to not get a consolation when Lameiras played a beauty in to Agyei from the byline, his quick fire actions could only fire on to the post from 6 yards. Sergi Canos added to his personal tally for the game when with 10 minutes remaining who with the outside of the foot made it 5-1. Murphy with the assist. I must say, at this point I was more focused on what was happening between the fans down the bottom. I'm still not sure but Norwich fans were very much enjoying he score line. But from what I could see, Godfrey scored a belter for the sixth and final goal. At this point we left as we couldn't stand it anymore. But 6-1 is how the match finished.

I'm still in shock really, we got well and truly tanked. My next game won't be for a couple of weeks, I am missing Northampton at home as well as the EFL Trophy match against West Ham u23's. This is because I'm off on holiday for a week to Cape Verde islands. Whilst there I will try and get some posts out about other football related things but obviously I can't do a match report if I didn't attend the match. There are other people who I'm sure will be doing reports for the match so I think you'll be able to cope for 2 games. When I return the next match report on 'A View From The Stands' will be our away trip to Fleetwood Town.

My Man Of The Match - For the first time ever, I'm not going to give anyone the award for man of the match. It was a shocking display, losing 6-1 like that will always leave a horrible memory in my mind so I don't think anyone deserves the award. Sorry to end in such a sour way but I hope you enjoyed this report.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

My Tenth 16/17 Game - Bradford City vs Coventry City

 Remarkably we are already 10 games into my football season as today we travelled for our second league away day, this time against Bradford. We have had a very frustrating start, with 2 draws and a loss. Still however pre-match we had not scored a goal, this worried everyone. With Turnbull and Agyei ready to make their debuts we had some hope for the game but personally I had a hunch that we would get absolutely tanked.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook

Willis
Ricketts
Turnbull

Dion Kelly-Evans
Stevenson
Gadzhev
McCann
Haynes

Agyei
Reid

Coventry City Substitutes

Burge
Finch
Harries
Haynes
Lameiras
Tudgay
G Thomas

 Kyel Reid came to Valley Parade for the first time since leaving Bradford whilst Mark Marshall and Romain Vincelot were the 2 ex-Sky Blues lining up on the side of the Bantams. I was really excited to see how our new look 3-5-2 formation with Agyei and Reid as strikers would do. Ruben Lameiras on the bench is always a good option should it be needed.

  Contrary to my predictions, we started well and looked promising throughout all of the first half, just 5 minutes in Agyei burst down the right-wing, he should have scored when he had the opportunity from 6 yards but decided to take his time and attempted to square the ball. Before he could do this though a Bradford defender steamed in with a tackle to take the ball as well as the chance away from us.

 We continued pressing however, Kyel Reid managed to steal the ball from the unsuspecting Bradford full-back. He was through on goal one on on but seemed to bottle it under the pressure of the Bradford Kop unable to stick one over his old club. 13 minutes had been played when we finally managed he break the deadlock, Agyei went down the wing for a second time, turned the last defender and stuck it past the keeper for our first goal of the season.

 For the rest of the first half we didn't seem to have many notable attacks but we kept the ball exceptionally to nullify Bradford's attempts as well as have chances of our own but like I say, not many were worth speaking about. Taking us into half time, I was very happy with our performance and was fairly confident we could secure the 3 points, this was a very weird feeling given our previous results.

 Even for the first 15-20 minutes of the second half, we were still dominant in the way we played Reid got played through but similarly to Agyei in the first 45 took too long to take a shot so the chance disappeared after some brilliant Bradford defending. There was one slight scare, from a corner Romain Vincelot had a free header which he butted into the ground and from the ground the ball nearly looped Charles-Cook but instead hit the top of the bar leaving it at 1-0.

 From here onwards it all began to go wrong, Tudgay replaced potentially our best player in Agyei, perhaps this was to add more experience to keep the lead. It seemed to be working until Jordan Turnbull gave away a last man penalty after Bradford had a striker go through. Turnbull was sent off for the tackle and the penalty was converted by McMahon. 1-1, down to 10 men, Reid off for Harries,  suddenly everything had changed.

 Former Sky Blue Mark Marshall completed the comeback 2 minutes after with to be fair a wonderful strike, we were well and truly crumbling. This was proved even more so when substitute Cian Harries  gave away a soft penalty once again to give McMahon another goal from 12 yards. From here on in Bradford had chance after chance, I'm shocked it was only 3-1 as the ball was cleared off the line twice. Either way, 3-1 was how it finished. What this result proves is that is really is a game of two halves, one mistake and we went from comfortable to being absolutely battered, I don't blame Turnbull, he's a young centre back who made an error. What he needs to do is pick himself up and go again (After his 3-match ban).

 For our next match we head to Norwich for our EFL Cup 2nd round tie. This will be the first competitive meeting of the teams since James Maddison left so it may be a heated occasion, I look forward to it on the next 'A View From The Stands'.

My Man Of The Match - Kyel Reid - Against his former club he absolutely tore their defence to pieces, Agyei is an honourable mention as he did very similar things from the other side along with the goal but Reid just edged it for me. This is his first award of the season, putting him in the chasing pack behind Ryan Haynes.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

My Ninth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Bury

 Rewind 6 months to the last time we played Bury, we won 6-0 and genuinely believed we could get promoted. Nowadays that feels like a distant memory as we're still in league 1 and haven't yet scored a goal all season. Unfortunately much like Shrewsbury, it was one of "those" games so I can't really give you a proper report.

Coventry City Starting XI: 

Charles-Cook

Willis
Harries
Ricketts

Rose
Gadzhev
McCann
Haynes

G Thomas
Tudgay
Lameiras

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Finch
Page
Dion Kelly-Evans
Ben Stevenson
Kyel Reid
Jodi Jones

 New signing for, wait for it, ACTUAL MONEY, Jordan Turnbull was not available for this match but should feature from Saturday onwards. Chris McCann made his début for the Sky Blues after coming back from the suspension he picked up whilst at Wigan. Sordell still hasn't recovered from his knock so Tudgay started with George Thomas on the wing.

 Like I say, nothing happened all game so I'm able to speak about all the match events in one paragraph, that's how bad it was. Andy Rose went off injured early on and was replaced by Kelly-Evans. Jones came on at half time for Lameiras despite him hitting the side netting idway through the first half (our only notable attack) and finally Reid replaced a very ineffectual George Thomas.

 See, I managed it, that's all that happened all game. We amounted nothing all game, I apologise for the second game in a row for pretty much wasting your time. My highlight of the match would be 'Kick It For A Ticket' at half time where yours truly took part, I got to the 35-yard mark and then missed. Gutted. Hopefully there will be some actual action at Bradford away on Saturday, but I have a horrible feeling we are going to get absolutely tanked.

My Man Of The Match - Cian Harries - It's very tempting to be arrogant and say me considering I'm the top league Ricoh goalscorer this season with 2 in 2 minutes, clinical. In all seriousness Harries had a decent run out but really there wasn't much going on in the side at all. Serious improvements need to be made for Saturday.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

My Eighth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Shrewsbury Town

 Through to the 2nd round of the EFL cup where we face Norwich City, the Sky Blues were now back focusing on the League campaign. Returning to the Ricoh today would be Jim O'Brien and Gary Deegan on the side of Salop. Gary Deegan certainly didn't get the warmest of welcomes, one reason for this would be his sending off against City during his spell at Southend United. We all remember O'Brien throwing his toys out of the pram due to his limited game time last year. His welcoming was quite underwhelming compared to what I was expecting.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook

Willis
Ricketts
Harries

Rose
Gadzhev
Stevenson
Page

Jones
Reid
Lameiras

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Finch
Haynes
Kelly-Evans
Spence
Tudgay
K Thomas

 It is a very brave decision to not start at recognised striker on the pitch, having pacy wingers who will tear up the defence is all well and good but you need someone there who will convert your chances. Unless we either get Sordell scoring or a new great striker in there then we will struggle to get the goals we need.

  I'm someone who usually says it how it is, and this game was dull. There were few chances for either side, so unfortunately this isn't going to be the longest and most in depth of reports. I will try my best however. Gadzhev played a cheeky ball into the box for Reid who blasted over the bar. Lameiras had a half chance from the right-wing but could only stab straight at the keeper after some very good work to beat 2 defenders.

 The best chance of the half came when Andy Rose headed agonisingly wide of the goal. The second half substitutions saw, Jones, Lameiras and Reid being replaced by Tudgay, Spence and Kwame Thomas. Thomas came off injured only 10 minutes after coming on leaving us to player 13 minutes plus 7 minutes of injury time with only 10 men.

 During this back against wall spell Shrewsbury hit the bar and missed a sitter from a couple of yards out so in the end we were lucky to only keep it to 0-0. Like I say, I apologise for the length of the report but it's a very dull game to write on as well as me having commitments tonight. However I will be back raring to go for our home clash against Bury on Tuesday night.

My Man Of The Match - Ben Stevenson - The young midfielder has really shown he deserves a spot in the first team with his performances first on Tuesday against Portsmouth and now against Shrewsbury. We could have the ideal playmaker right under our nose, let's hope he keeps up these performances throughout the season. This takes him to one award.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

My Seventh 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Portsmouth

 After the disappointment of Swindon Town away on the first day of the season we turned our attention to the EFL Cup as we faced Portsmouth in the first round. If City were to go on to win tonight it would be the first time we made the second round of the League Cup for 4 years. It would be no easy task however as in my opinion Portsmouth have easily the strongest team in League 2 with the likes of Noel Hunt, Carl Baker whom I was gutted we didn't re-sign, and Adam Barton.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook

Willis
Harries
Ricketts

Rose
Stevenson
Gadzhev
Haynes

Lameiras
Tudgay
G Thomas

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Finch
Page
Kelly-Evans
Jones
Reid
K Thomas

The team we started was a lot stronger than I originally thought it would be, there were obviously going to be some rotation due to it only being 3 days since the previous match. But to see the likes of Harries, Willis, Ricketts, Charles-Cook, Rose and Gadzhev starting encouraged me. Lewis Page, the signing me made just hours before the game only managed to make the bench for today. He will need a settling in period but hopefully might make his debut against Shrewsbury on Saturday. Interestingly Marvin Sordell was nowhere to be seen in the match squad, I'm not sure what the reasoning for this was but he didn't feature at all.

 On this day a year ago Jayden Parsons was unfortunately taken from us at the age of just 15 so to commemorate him there was a minutes applause on the 15th minute which was beautifully served by both sets of fans. During this applause there was a chance for City to score but unfortunately the shot didn't materialise. 3 minutes later and in a very silly fashion Cian Harries gave away a penalty by pretty much just going through the back of the player. Curtis Main stepped up to send Charles-Cook the wrong way and put Pompey a goal to the good.

 We were as close as possible to equalising after 25 minutes when Tudgay found the keeper with a header from point-blank range and somehow jumped over the ball on the rebound. Ryan Haynes certainly wasn't having the best game of his career in the first half to say the least. Something at half time needed to change, in my opinion Jones for George Thomas and Page for Haynes. The first was made but Haynes stayed out for the second half.

 Jones really was beginning to tear the game up after being subbed on. It was Andy Rose however that made the attack which lead to the goal. The Portsmouth defence failed to deal with the high cross and was only able to tee up Haynes at the back post. He volleyed it on his weaker foot into the far corner to equalise.

 As it stood we would be going into extra time and potentially penalties if it came to it with half an hour remaining. Kyel Reid came on in place of Tudgay shortly after the goal so we had 3 wingers up top with Reid in the unnatural striker position. Willis was the next man to leave the field, Finch came on for the last 15 minutes and potentially beyond, I wasn't too sure on this as he's been out of the competitive game for a long time but if we were to lose in the cup it's not the end of the world.

10 minutes left on the clock, both sides were looking for a winner, it was Gadzhev whom got the late goal in favour of the Sky Blues as he slotted past the keeper after a great ball through from Lameiras. Some fans thought this was it, but then from a free kick abut 25 yards out with just 3 minutes left on the clock Naismith smashed one in the top corner for Pompey. Meaning the game had to go to extra time after all.

 I'm going to keep extra time short and sweet because it feels like I have now been writing for about 3 weeks. There was one talking point and one talking point only. Ryan Haynes burst down the wing in the second 15 minute period. Had a shot on his right after cutting in, the keeper was only able to parry as far as Andy Rose. Rose stuck it past the keeper to put us into the lead for the second time today. This was the last moment of the match, city had to do it the hard way, but rewarded Jayden with a 3-2 victory on the 1 year anniversary.

  Looking forward the draw will be placed tomorrow night which means we could potentially be headed to any Premier League team not in Europe, leaving us with possible ties against Eveton, Chelsea or Liverpool. One match City fans will be hoping for however is Aston Villa. (Should they beat Luton Town tomorrow.) As for the next match, we face Shrewsbury Town in the first home league game of the season. The Eighth instalment of 'A View From The Stands'.

 My Man Of The Match - Ryan Haynes - I was very close to giving this award to Jones. Haynes' first half was shocking but to take the small amount of abuse he was getting on the chin and hit back for the remainder I think is definitely worthy of an award. This adds to his first one against Nuneaton leaving him one ahead of 5 others.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

My Sixth 16/17 Game - Swindon Town vs Coventry City

 So this is it, the first match. For the next 9 months we will be going through all the emotions, pain, joy, anger and jubilation. It all begins here, Swindon Town are the opposition, they are currently in a similar situation to ourselves due to the fact they also have to start youth players all over the place as well as fans crying out for signings. In that sense pre-match my thoughts were that it was going to be a tough battle and ultimately whoever was best on the day would come out as winners.

 I assume we all vividly remember last years trip to the County Ground? Pushing really hard to go 2-0 up only to then sit back and let them back into the game by conceding twice in the dying minutes. I don't know if I speak for myself here but Aaron Phillips giving that penalty away like that still gives me nightmares.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Willis
Harries
Ricketts
Dion Kelly-Evans
Haynes
Rose
Gadzhev
Jones
Sordell
G Thomas

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Finch
Stevenson
Lameiras
Tudgay
Reid
K Thomas

  Still no defensive recruitment really gives me heartache, 2 recognised centre backs in a 3 back formation. 1 of those is still only 19! We still need 2 or 3 defenders before we can honestly say we have a solid squad. Haynes isn't particularly the best wing-back, he can't put a cross in the box most of the time. Anyway, enough grilling of the squad and on to the match.

  The first chance of not only the match, but the season, came to Coventry City. Marvin Sordell found himself running through on goal from the right-wing, his deflected shot hit the post. Good early signs. But I couldn't get the feeling out of my head this might be one of those days where we just don't take our chances. George Thomas then had a half-chance due to Jodi Jones' misfired shot, all he could manage to do however was stab wide.

  Kelly-Evans forced a save out of Lawrence Vigouroux whom tipped over the bar, all city for most of the first half. Sordell put in a rash challenge on the half hour mark and went into the book. The match remained goalless as we entered half time. Due to his hot-headed first half, Sordell was substituted off to make way for Kyel Reid.

 The first chance of the second half came to the Sky Blues when Jodi Jones cleverly skilled past the Swindon left back (Conor Thomas), cut on to his left and forced Vigouroux into an unexpected save with his legs. Either side of him and it's 1-0 to Coventry, frustrating times. Due to a small knock Jones had to leave the field on 66 minutes for fans favourite Ruben Lameiras. This substitution made us really let our guard down, Swindon really started to turn on the style.

 Kwame Thomas made his Coventry debut when he replaced namesake George Thomas with 20 minutes to go. In my opinion he contributed literally nothing in his time on the pitch, Tudgay would have been a much more suited change. With the pacy wingers supplying him. But Kwame offered nothing, jogging when we needed someone to try their absolute hardest. At the moment it all went wrong, Conor Thomas had a chance skied over the bar. Swindon hit the bar from another chance 35 yards out. We all knew what was coming.

 With a low strike Yaser Kasim gave the Robins the lead, the goal annoyed me, but what angered me even more was Lawrence Vigouroux's avid celebrations in front of the City fans. Getting down on his knees and just laughing in our faces, my take on the situation is, you have the best job in the world, don't be disrespectful to the type of people who pay your wages. He repeated his actions when the full time whistle blew to leave the score at 1-0.

 A poor result to kick off the season, it may sound cliché but all we can do is pick ourselves back up again and go into our next league game looking for a win. It's very important to get that first win, Shrewsbury could be ideal opposition to face but before that we face Porstmouth in the EFL cup, I'd love a cup run so will be reporting it on 'A View From The Stands'.

My Man Of The Match - Jodi Jones - In his hour on the pitch Jodi was easily our best player, providing all our presence going forward. If I had to choose a second place I would go with Sam "Go On Sam" Ricketts. His defensive efforts were a silver lining on a poor match.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Coventry City 16/17 Season Preview - Here We Go Again

 Pre-season is over, and we're only two days from kick off against Swindon Town. In this preview I will looking back on last year as well as seeing what's in store for us from this weekend all the way through to Scunthorpe United away next May. From the squad situation on to whether we can beat last season, I'll be covering every basis before giving my ultimate verdict on our final position for the 16/17 season.

Last Time Out:

For an in depth look on last season, see my season review which I did in May:

http://aviewfromthestandss.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/coventry-city-1516-season-review-one.html

However, in short, it was a roller-coaster of emotions. Thanks to the likes of Adam Armstrong, John Fleck and Jacob Murphy, we saw the dizzy heights of top of the league. We also occupied a top 6 position for the first 33 of the 46 gameweeks. From that point it all went wrong, from about January onwards we began the steep slope to bottling the league. Our outstanding first few months was all that was keeping us afloat after our 2-0 loss to Burton. In my opinion that was where it started, there were glimmers of hope from then on but March killed us. We finished strongly however and finished in 8th position, which would have been a great season it it weren't for our collapse marring the entire campaign.

Transfers:

Outs:

Reda Johnson - Even now there are rumours that we will retain him, at the time it was the right decision due to his injury proneness but now we are desperate for centre backs so I would welcome him back with open arms. He is above this level going on ability but it all comes down to his injuries. But right now I'd rather injury prone Reda than nothing. Currently it looks as if it'll be Ricketts, Harries and Leahy in defence. That certainly doesn't fill me with confidence.

Conor Thomas - It's always sad seeing a cov lad leave the club but from what I hear he was on too much money compared to what the club could afford. The midfielder however landed himself a 3-year contract at league rivals Swindon Town. It's a big gamble for Swindon to give someone who was injured for most of last season a 3-year deal but I wish him good luck and look forward to seeing him play at the County Ground on the opening day.

Aaron Martin - Most Sky Blues fans were shocked that Martin was let go, in my opinion he was the "unsung hero" of last year and named him such in my season review. I certainly think his development since joining from Yeovil Town is enough to get at least another year if not 2 on his contract. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors however and Mowbray let the centre back go, he's stayed in this division however in a move to new boys Oxford United.

Martin Lorentszon - In my opinion he was a very solid right back but didn't feature enough to warrant a new deal, especially as he wouldn't fit in to the new wing-back system being an out and out full back. The former Swedish international looked like an odd but good acquisition with his Champions League experience but unfortunately it was not to be, he has not yet found a club and is currently still a free agent. My bet is he will go back to his homeland in search for a new team.

Jim O'Brien - If you ever needed a player that gave 110% in ever match he played in then Jim O'Brien would be your man. He instigated our 3-goal comeback against Peterborough last October, O'Brien could walk into any team at this level, maybe even higher, and be instant captain material. This is why I think he will really excel at Shrewsbury, last season we had a lot of attacking midfielders in Maddison, Cole and Murphy just to name a few and due to this Super Jim couldn't get any game time. It's a shame he had to go because we could have done with him this year but once again I wish him luck with his future endeavours.

Aaron Phillips - Another academy player whom we had to say goodbye to during the summer, personally I think he would have fit in perfectly as the right sided wing-back but one of his main issues is just quality. Jordan Willis does very much the same thing and is perhaps a better player. Phillips didn't move far though, next season he will still be in League One at recently promoted and "local rivals" Northampton Town.

Peter Ramage - We're now getting to the stage of players where I'm not sure why we got them in. I can see some reasoning for Ramage joining, we had severe defensive injury problems and he seemed like a quick fix to the issue. It didn't work out as planned however and after only 4 appearances he was loaned out to League 2 side Leyton Orient. Upon release however Ramage made the switch over to America to play for Arizona United.

Stephen Hunt - "We'll never forget, we'll never forget, oh Stephen Hunt, we'll never forget." This was the sarcastic chant City fans sung to Hunt as he left the pitch on the final day at Oldham Athletic, a fitting goodbye for such a pointless signing. It may sound harsh but we honestly didn't need another attacking midfielder when we brought him in.

Darius Henderson - I will always have a grudge against Darius for one reason. Picture the scene, we're 2-0 down at Peterborough United, a win takes us back into the plays offs. We've come back from 2-0 down at Peterborough before so it's doable, Jacob Murphy bolts down the wing on the hour mark and plays in Joe Cole, 2-1. Less than a minute later, Henderson is through on goal, if he scores its 2-2 with 25 minutes to play. He doesn't score, he falls over and we lose 3-1. We didn't get close to the play offs after that point. To this day I still make the point that we would have been promoted had Darius scored. So on that basis it was good thing he was released and has moved down a division to Mansfield Town.

Marc-Antoine Fortune - The new "club legend" only scored 4 goals in his time at Coventry, a penalty, a tap in, one where he fouled the keeper and almost missed from 2 yards and finally one where it came off his backside. It's staggering how many games he played but we will always remember his 'heroics'. Thank you, Marc-Antoine Fortune.

Joe Cole - The 'Big Signing' of the 2015/16 season, he was a great player for our division, we got him back to full fitness and I think he would have done well here in the next 12 months. Unfortunately though he was most likely on way too much money, and he wanted a move abroad to Tampa Bay Rowdies. He got that move but thoroughly thanked Coventry City for reigniting his love for football. He also hinted that he may come back on loan when the American season finishes in October. We can all hope.

John Fleck - We tried as hard as we could to get Fleck to extend his contract but it was no secret that Fleck wanted to try his luck in a higher division. I don't blame him for that, especially as they probably would have offered double or maybe even triple the wage he was on here. There is only one part of the Player Of The Season Winner's saga that annoys me, the fact that he didn't move to the Championship, but to Sheffield United. It doesn't annoy me too much, but we do have to face him twice and I can almost guarantee he will score.

Romain Vincelot - In my report of the Newport match I showed how annoyed I was about his sale, but after a talk with Mowbray I was filled with some hope as he said he would reinvest the money. However with 2 days to go, there is nothing done. So to put it lightly, I'm worried. But I don't blame Romain and wish him luck at Bradford in the next season.

Ins:

Kwame Thomas - Coming from Derby County, he won their Young Player of the Season award back in the 13/14 season. People have slated him for not having scored a professional goal in his career, but when all you get is the last 10 minutes every other match on loan at a side which eventually got relegated s he wasn't getting the right service. What I'm trying to say is, give the lad a chance before you have a go at him.

Jodi Jones - We saw what Jodi could do towards the end of last season when we took him on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge with a view to a permanent deal. Well that deal has now been made and we have this exceptional prospect on a four year deal, let's hope this season is the one which he really kicks on and in 12 months time we have one of the best young players in England with teams ready to pay £20 Million for him. It's a long shot but let's hope.

Marvin Sordell - Once a £3 Million player, Marvin Sordell has been through a tough couple of seasons, from being released by Burnley to having a tough year with relegated Colchester United. The 25-year old will certainly be looking to get his career back on track with Coventry, he's shown glimpses of quality throughout pre-season but hasn't put the ball in the back of the net. He's been close on a number of occasions, I would take this with a pinch of salt however, judge him on his league goal scoring form when it comes to it.

Chris McCann - Banned for the first 3 matches, but we have McCann on loan until December 31st from Atlanta United. He made 40 appearances in Wigan's title winning campaign last year so it is a big sock that he made the move to the MLS at the age of just 29. Hopefully he can play a big part in our team however if this is the case then we will have a big job on our hands to replace him when he leaves especially now that Vincelot has left.

The Squad

Goalkeepers 

Reice Charles-Cook
Lee Burge
Corey Addai

If anything, we are fine with goalkeepers, Charles-Cook is a good first choice with Burge as a solid back up. Both need work but have outstanding games on their day, such as Charles-Cook against Port Vale or Burge against Millwall. If needs be then our third choice of Corey Addai is there, a good young keeper who's come through the youth ranks.

Defenders

Chris Stokes
Sam Ricketts
Jordan Willis
Cian Harries
Dion Kelly-Evans
Devon Kelly-Evans
Ryan Haynes
Darragh Leahy

It's no secret that the weakest part of the squad is our defence, we are seriously lacking in the centre back position. Now that Stokes is out for at least another 3 months and the rumour that Scott Wootton was signing has been deemed a hoax, we are in serious trouble. Reda Johnson like I have said previously needs to be given a new deal, Harries and Leahy have now been put into the position which they have to step up to the plate. It feels like I'm saying that about our entire squad currently. The wing-back situation is a bit better however, they're young and good prospects, but unproven. Haynes had one good season the year before last but hasn't pressed on since and both the Kelly-Evans' could be a forced to be reckoned with on each side. Willis needs a bit more training in the RWB position but potentially is captain material for us in the coming year having been here for quite a few years.

Midfielders/Wingers:

Vladimir Gadzhev
Ivor Lawton
Bilal Sayoud
Ben Stevenson
Jack Finch
Chris McCann
Andy Rose

Jodi Jones
Kyel Reid
Kyle Spence
Ruben Lameiras

 The absence of Fleck and Vincelot hurts me a lot but in spite of this we still boast a strong midfield, Rose, McCann and Gadzhev are all well travelled midfielders with a ton of experience yet are not past it. We have some young back ups if needs be with the likes of Sayoud, hopefully Ivor Lawton will kick on this year when he gets back from his injury in September. He has assured fans that he will come back better than ever. Judging by his social media I would have to agree, he looks like a machine.


Strikers: 

Marcus Tudgay
Marvin Sordell
George Thomas
Kwame Thomas

 We have a good range of strikers, with experienced in Tudgay, young prospects in both the Thomas' and a powerhouse in Marvin Sordell. But one thing I don't see, is a 20 goal a season striker like your Armstrong or McGoldrick. Yep, slightly old school City reference there. Although we do have 2 or 3 10-15 goal a season strikers, if we can squeeze all of the goals possible then they could do well in the 16/17 year.

Overall thoughts for the year:

 We have a fairly strong squad but there's a massive hole in our defence. Unless we can patch that up then I can see us being leakier than a sieve in the coming season, but it can't be a snap decision like with Peter Ramage, thorough research needs to be done before hand. If I had a couple of suggestions then they would be GIVE REDA A NEW DEAL, Jack Stephens on loan again from Southampton, Baily Cargill on loan again from Bournemouth. If we are going to dip into the loan market then we could try and get a young up and coming striker similar to Armstrong. One player we are rumoured with is Dan Agyei from Burnley, I like the sound of him being honest, but after recent events, I will only believe transfers when they are completely done and I see them on the pitch (So I'm still not sure on Kwame Thomas or Chris McCann.) But like I said, the defensive situation is a real issue, however, we're probably 2 strong central defenders away from a strong promotion pushing side. For now though, we're in trouble.

Predicted Finish Without Defenders - 17th

Predicted Finish With Defenders - 5th