The Necessity of Pace
The clear cut advantage enjoyed by the play off contenders, Forest, Cardiff, Swansea and Leicester is lending a grazing season feel to midtable as we go into April. One club whose future among us is secure for another campaign is Coventry City. Sides have gone down having amassed 52 points, but there are too many pavement dwellers below the Sky Blues for them to properly worry about being forcibly rehoused. Chris Coleman’s unnaturally lengthy half time cuppa told a story today though: it was an abysmal 45 from the Warwickshire club.
True, Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff were utterly rampant for their vanquishers Reading, but therein lies the main issue. City lined up across the midfield with as slow a quartet as you’ll see, a central section that seemed dazed and unable to cope with Reading’s first whistle reversion to a bog standard 4-4-2.
Chris Coleman could be seen in the dug out, in hurried conversation for most of the half, clearly unprepared for this simple tactical switch on Brian McDermott’s part. David Bell and Aron Gunnarsson are gutsy players but decidedly lacking in fleet footedness; Sammy Clingan and Gary Deegan are scrappers at best, unable to move up through the gears.
Behind them, James McPake is uncomplicated and Martin Cranie quietened Kebe considerably when he came on at left back but Stephen Wright would have needed a motorbike to catch up with McAnuff, and the wreckage of Leon Barnett’s career is still cast into painful relief. A reputation as the lower leagues’ Titus Bramble is beginning to stick: a man with all the equipment to be a good player but one so dreadfully error prone that the mistakes seem ever around the corner. It seemed harsh of Coleman to heap the blame on young Chris Hussey by hauling him off at half time, but this early graduate of the AFC Wimbledon academy was served up on toast by his Malian tormentor.
It’s not Cov’s fault that they lost Leon Best midseason, impressive as he was for Newcastle at Peterborough on Saturday, but pace will need to be a priority for Coleman moving through the Summer – and that doesn’t mean a reliance on the ageing legs of Clinton Morrison nor a Freddie Sears lacking in confidence. A topsy-turviness has marred the Sky Blue’s last twelve months and although their current position is vaguely encouraging given the talent at their disposal, they will need to strengthen – strengthen considerably.