Coventry hit ground running with three wins from four - Interview
Thursday, 26th Aug 2021 14:26 by Clive Whittingham
Coventry, like Luton and Barnsley before them, appear to be making the most of a narror survival in year one by kicking on in year two. We spoke to Dominic Jerams about a three win from four start to 2021/22.
Happy with last season? Looked like mission accomplished?
All’s well that ends well. It was a pretty grim struggle for periods of last season, but the team finally seemed to figure out at the end of it what was required to compete in the Championship. That 3-0 defeat at Loftus Road back in April proved to be the kick up the backside that this team needed to become more assertive and competitive in their approach. A move towards a front two, pressing teams higher up the pitch, and making the best of Sam McCallum’s long throws was the formula that kept Coventry City in the Championship.
What summer transfer business has been done and how is the squad shaping up?
Having been accustomed to being proactive in the transfer market under Mark Robins, this has been quite a difficult summer of, seemingly, missing out on almost all of the club’s preferred targets and having to settle for second, third, or possibly even lower, choices. An improvement in goal was desperately needed, but Simon Moore – who has played two games in three years – doesn’t exactly promise that. Elsewhere, Ben Sheaf was signed because we had to, and Martyn Waghorn and Viktor Gyokeres represent marginal improvements in attack. Bright Enobakhare is potentially a very exciting signing, he can dance through defences and should help take the attention away from Callum O’Hare. However, there are more than a few question marks surrounding his professionalism, which more of a gamble than was hoped for in the team’s summer recruitment.
Ins: >>> Viktor Gyokeres, 23, CF, Brighton, Undisclosed >>> Ben Sheaf, 23, CM, Arsenal, Undisclosed >>> Martyn Waghorn, 31, CF, Derby, Free >>> Simon Moore, 31, Sheff Utd, GK, Free >>> Bright Enobakhare, 23, CF, East Bengal, Free >>> Danny Cashman, 20, CF, Brighton, Free >>> Ian Maatsen, 19, LB, Chelsea, Loan >>> Jake Clarke Salter, 23, CB, Chelsea, Loan
Outs: >>> Marko Marosi, 27, GK, Shrewsbury, Undisclosed >>> Amadou Bakayoko, 25, CF, Bolton, Free >>> Gervane Kastaneer, 25, LW, Zwolle (Netherlands), Free >>> Morgan Williams, 21, CB, Yeovil, Free >>> Maxime Biamou, 30, CF, Released >>> Jordan Thompson, 22, CB, Released >>> Will Bapaga, 18, RW, Grimsby, Loan >>> Danny Cashman, 20, CF, Rochdale, Loan
What improvements need to be made to progress?
The first challenge for this Coventry City side will be in maintaining that formula that was stumbled upon towards the end of last season. Matty James, Leo Ostigard and Sam McCallum were key in that run and have gone without being replaced, thus far. Beyond O’Hare and Gustavo Hamer – along with Enobakhare, potentially – there is a shortage of standout quality in this side and we’re going to need to see players such as Michael Rose, Fankaty Dabo, Ben Sheaf and Tyler Walker, who flattered to deceive a little last season, to step up. Whether Simon Moore is an improvement on Marko Marosi and Ben Wilson remains to be seen, it would make a big difference if he was. Finding a leader in central defence who isn’t as slow as Kyle McFadzean also be nice. The creative and goalscoring side of the team should be okay, without being spectacular.
How do you think this season will go?
I’m expecting a repeat of last season. There will be periods where this side really struggles, Mark Robins will make the adjustments he is always capable of finding, the team will pull away from danger but never be quite enough clear of it to be comfortable. I would hope that there is enough about this Coventry City side to stay up, but it could be a close-run thing.
How have you started the season? Saw your hilarious Forest win, how's it gone so far?
Pretty well. The performance against Forest was probably the worst of the season. This is a team that has shown it can really control and dominate games. Hamer, Sheaf and O’Hare is a lovely midfield trio, with two great attacking wing-backs in Dabo and Maatsen. The last three performance - away at Barnsley and Blackpool, before Reading at home last weekend - were pretty dominant. A lack of a killer touch in the penalty area is a concern, along with a slow back-line, but it is early enough in the season that you can hope those things can be improved upon in the weeks and months to come.
Coventry league results so far…
How have the new signings done, what's still needed, any hope of further additions?
Gyokeres and Sheaf, who were on loan last season have returned better players, Sheaf especially. Simon Moore in goal has been a huge surprise, he’s been a very calm, competent presence in the net despite having barely played football for the past three years. Ian Maatsen at left wing-back has added the attacking threat that was missing from Sam McCallum last year. Martyn Waghorn has been underwhelming, but hasn’t really had a fair go to get up to speed. The other new signings simply haven’t played enough football to judge them fairly. Aside from a back-up wing-back - Todd Kane is a current rumour - there isn’t any capacity to add the defensive midfielder and pace in defence that is currently missing from this Coventry City side.
Changed your expectations at all having seen the team?
I thought it would be another pretty grim battle against the drop this year but this team has started off looking like it wants to do more than that. I would hope that mid-table is attainable for this squad but they have perhaps been fortunate to have come up against the teams they have faced thus far at good times, in slight disarray. This looks like a team that could go on to be quite entertaining, at both ends of the pitch. A lot rests on the better players sticking around and staying fit as the squad is rather thin in terms of quality. There may be times where the fun element of this team may have to be shelved.
Any notable changes from last season?
The team looks a lot more comfortable and confident as a Championship team this time around. Last year, the best form came when the possession game was ditched in favour of something more direct. This year, the team looks more capable and composed with the ball. Whether that can be sustained against the better teams remains to be seen. This game will provide a good test of how this Coventry City stacks up against the upper echelons of the Championship.
Links >>> Coventry City – Official Website >>> Coventry Telegraph – Local Press >>> Sky Blues Talk – Forum >>> Sky Blues Blog – Blog >>> Sideways Sammy – Blog >>> The Lonely Season – Blog >>> Sky Blues TV - Clasic Match Highlights
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords, @SideSammy
Pictures – Action Images
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