The Opposition View: Coventry

The games keep coming thick and fast! Dominic Jerams, the brains behind Coventry City blog Sideways Sammy, shares his thoughts on the Sky Blues’ season so far and what to expect at Adams Park on Sunday.

Halfway through 2019/20 (ish), what have you made of Coventry’s campaign so far? How does it stack up compared to pre-season expectations?

Heading into the season, I was anticipating this team being around mid-table, occasionally threatening the play-offs. With quite a big squad turnover from last season and having to ground-share – once again – I wasn’t feeling overly optimistic, with the squad overall looking to lack a spark about it to make me believe that it was genuinely capable of being one of the best.

Through that prism, that we have been in the play-offs for much of the campaign thus far has been above my expectations. However, the amount of draws and the failure to win an away league match with almost half the season gone has made it difficult to get overly excited about this side.

What are your hopes and/or expectations for the rest of the season?

Having been pretty solid for much of the season while we’ve had a fair few injuries to contend with, we should be a better team for the rest of the campaign with a fully-fit [striker] Maxime Biamou, [midfielder] Jamie Allen and (hopefully) [winger] Jodi Jones to bring into the mix. With the January transfer window to come, if we can find another attacking player or two to add goals to the team, that will hopefully turn us from a decent side into a genuinely good one.

There is a concern that suddenly being presented with so many options may take Mark Robins time to figure out how they all fit together. The team hasn’t been in great form recently with Robins chopping and changing the side. If it continues much longer then we’ll lose the advantage of having had a fairly strong start.

Who have been the standout performers for you so far and why?

We are a side made up of a number of good players without anyone particularly outstanding. Our most reliable performers have been Dominic Hyam in central defence and Liam Kelly in midfield, although they are not the kind of players I imagine Wycombe will be worried about hurting them.

On their day, [right wing-back] Fankaty Dabo, [attacking midfielder] Calum O’Hare and [on-loan Bristol City midfielder] Liam Walsh have produced standout performances but just not quite on a consistent basis. Allen and Biamou, meanwhile, have returned from injury in good form and may just be our biggest attacking threats.

How would you describe your style of play, broadly speaking, and how might you adapt to the challenge posed by Wycombe?

There has been a definite move towards a possession-based style of football, which has seemingly benefitted us in being able to break down the kind of defensively organised sides that have been a thorn in our sides in recent years, but has come at the cost of the kind of big away performances that used to be Mark Robins’ forte.

While it has been commendable to an extent that we have stuck to a style of play, regardless of the opposition, all season, a little more pragmatism may have been the difference between getting some wins on the board away from home and our current winless away record.

Given how long our away struggles have gone on for, Robins may be considering changing things up for this game, but I don’t think he’s quite reached that point yet.

Finally, how do you see the game going?

Considering it’s an away game, I can see us taking the lead but then being unable to hold onto it, probably conceding a goal in the last ten minutes. Maybe our lack of a Boxing Day fixture (we were due to play Bury) could give us an advantage as the game wears on, but we look to have developed a mental block on the road and I don’t think a fixture against the league leaders will ease that.

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