• James Fleming

ARE COVENTRY CITY GENUINE PLAY-OFF CANDIDATES?

Updated: Oct 19


Coventry City have enjoyed a fantastic start to their 2021/22 campaign. After a solid season on the back of promotion from League One last year, they were looking to build on it and push on to higher up the division and so far, they have done exactly that. In this article I’ll explore the logistics of Coventry City and whether they are genuinely candidates for a place fighting for promotion to the Premier League this season.


The Squad


So as we know, to chase promotion to the Premier League you will need one of the best squads in the division. Coventry are not one of the richest clubs in the league by any means but, they know how to invest the money they do have well.


One player who has stood out to have had an excellent start to the campaign is Viktor Gyokeres. Gyokeres spent half of the 2020/21 campaign at Swansea City on loan from Brighton before switching over to Coventry for the second half of the campaign due to very restricted game time for the Swedish international striker. He had a tough time at Swansea and despite a goal in his second game to spark a 2-0 home win against Sheffield Wednesday, the striker continued to struggle at Coventry. This resulted in him quickly returning to the substitutes bench. However, the striker managed to work his way back into the team and started to show his true talents and boosted the squad to crucial wins, in particular the 3-2 relegation ‘six pointer’ win against Stoke City. This spurred Coventry to sign the striker permanently for around £1 million. He now has started the season with 9 goals and 2 assists in 11 matches for Coventry and was included in the Sky Bet player of the month award for September.


They have also seen massive improvements defensively, with a three at the back system seeming to be bringing great success to the Midlands club. A trio of Dominic Hyam, Kyle McFadzean and new loan signing Jake Clarke-Salter from Chelsea has been reaping massive rewards for Coventry. Letting in only 9 goals so far and keeping 4 clean sheets, it has been a key factor as to why Coventry currently sit 3rd in the Championship.


Special praise also has to go to pivotal midfielder Gustavo Hamer who has been vital to the success of Coventry so far. The midfielder has also seemed to improve every year with the club and has been crucial to keeping their midfield steady. Fighting off interest from other Championship clubs to stay at Coventry and his decision looks to have rewarded him so far.


The Manager


A great manager is vital to the success of a football team. Current manager Mark Robins has been active as Coventry manager since 2017 and was a key factor in Coventry’s return to the second division. Robins also managed to keep Coventry in the Championship last season with a very respectable 18th place finish on their return to the second tier. Also being the only team out of the three newly promoted teams to remain in the division. Robins had a spell previously at the club also between 2011-2013. Robins is known to have done very well with a very low budget with Coventry. Players this season like Gustavo Hamer and Viktor Gyokeres performing so well under him demonstrates his ability to work incredibly well on a shoestring budget perfectly. I believe keeping Robins and increasing his budget come January will be vital to any success Coventry could have this campaign.


Is it Viable?


As we know, certain teams can start a season very well and then end up falling down the league table as the season progresses. So the question lies: Are Coventry genuine playoff candidates?


Their squad is certainly on paper nowhere near the value and on paper quality as the top teams in the division like Bournemouth, West Brom and Fulham. However, it is not all about individual quality, it’s about how well they perform as a team. With Valerin Ismael’s Barnsley achieving the playoffs last season with a team on market value costing less than £10 million being a perfect example of what great teamwork can do for a squad.


Coventry’s bond as a team helps with many players being long time servants of the club, also including the manager Robins who has been active for nearly 5 years. If Coventry can keep this perfect teamwork going all season, there is no reason as to why they cannot be in the playoff picture. However, I believe they could struggle as quality and high budgets usually always reign supreme in the current football climate we live in. So only time will tell what’s ahead for Coventry, but the start they have had so far is a great sign as to what’s to come for the future of the football club.