The bomb squad has lost yet another member, now down to 3 with the anouncement of the departure of William Edjenguele. With the Frenchman seemingly set to complete a switch to Bury, to play alongside another ex-Sky Blue Nathan Cameron, it’s now time to reminisce over his one year stay at the club.
Billy Edge was signed in early July last summer as Andy Thorn looked to replace the hole in the squad left by the departures of Richard Keogh and Martin Cranie. He joined just a few days after fellow French centre-back Kevin Malaga but appeared at first to be secondary in Thorn’s thoughts to his fellow countryman. He started the season out of the side, both due to managerial preference and also apparantly down to his lack of English.
His debut came at the end of August 2012 against Birmingham City in the League Cup where he partnered Jordan Willis in the first game after Andy Thorn’s sacking. In that match we saw his aerial presence and marking ability nulify our ex-striker Marlon King in an impressive 3-2 victory. This performance was enough for the caretaker manager Richard Shaw to place in him the side for the league game against Crewe immediately afterwards. Edjenguele played in every single match of Richard Shaw’s ill-fated caretaker spell in charge which saw us lose every single league match.
However it was clear already that Billy Edge had won a place in the hearts of the Coventry fans, especially those on Twitter. His social media profile made him come across as a well-humoured and kind man who was enjoying the status of being a professional sportsman. Furthermore his relationship with his new-found followers and Coventry City fans seemed to be warm and well-mannered, despite the team performing so poorly during his first few games at the club.
As soon as Mark Robins was appointed his role in the first-team was given to the higher rated Reece Brown who struggled to cope with the physicality of the league and also with his concentration. Robins however soon spotted both Brown’s weaknesses and Edjenguele’s strengths despite meaning having to accomodate two left-footed centre-backs into the back 4 (Richard Wood being the other). Over Robin’s first couple of months Edjenguele soon became a mainstay of the first-team.
His best run of form in a Sky Blue shirt came during the team’s successful November-December period of last season where he and Richard Wood soon formed a reliable central defensive partnership. During this period Edjenguele scored his only goal for the club in an away fixture against Colchester United. His partnership with Wood arguably became the basis for the side’s success as it allowed City to rely on the counter-attack with a solid platform to defend from.
As we reached that fateful night in February against Crewe the cracks in the Edjenguele-Wood defensive partnership began to show. As sides sat back on Coventry it became clear that their lack of pace left the team vulnerable to counter-attacks. Furthermore his limited passing ability restricted our ability to build from the back to offer variety to our attacking play. By the time Crewe were bursting past our defence after yet another attempt to break down opponents happy to soak up pressure the script was one that Coventry fans were already familiar with.
Nonetheless Edjenguele remained well loved by City fans, mainly for being a really nice guy on twitter. As the season wore on and the club fell short of the play-offs, Robins left, Pressley arrived and points were deducted the same frailties that the defence were showing went unsolved. It soon became clear that Edjenguele didn’t fit into Pressley’s vision for Coventry City and with finances tight it became difficult to countenance paying him as a back-up player. Even with our thin defensive ranks it didn’t appear that Edjenguele would improve the squad greatly and it perhaps is better for all parties that he now moves on.
For Billy Edge his imminent arrival at Bury sees him take a step down and may not even guarantee him first-team football with Richard Hinds and Nathan Cameron both starting the season as first-choice in central defence. However the quality he displayed at times last season suggests that he has the ability to become a dominant defender in League Two who shouldn’t have problems replacing either of Bury’s current first-choice. As a left-footed centre-back he also improves his attractiveness to Kevin Blackwell’s side, offering the preferrably option of playing two centre-backs in their most comfortable side of defence. It’s a shame to see him leave as he was close to becoming somewhat of a cult hero at the club but that shouldn’t hide the fact that his weaknesses perhaps cost us goals in several key matches last season.
What this does mean is that Pressley now has the option of bringing in another player. After Dunn’s departure it gives us greater room to maneuver in the transfer market but it will be interesting to see where its decided we strengthen. There’s the case of bringing in another attacking midfield player or perhaps a defensive midfielder but perhaps the greatest concern is still central-defensive cover despite the form of Webster and Jordan Clarke. It seems as if Pressley will take his time over his next move and with the team currently in form and without any major injury concerns there is little need to be too hasty.
The current news with the ‘bomb squad’ or ‘expendables’ (as some people (me) are calling them) is that Kevin Malaga is on trial at an unnamed French club and that Gary McSheffrey is apparantly in talks with Chesterfield. This would leave Steve Jennings as the last unwanted player but from the sounds of it Pressley remains uncompromising in his decision to exclude the initial 8 players so the likeliest scenario would be another mutual termination before the end of the transfer window.