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 

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