Leon’s Lack of Loyalty
The main lesson that we learned from January was that Leon Clarke wasn’t as committed to the cause as we were led to believe. Yet again we find out that our best player is willing to leave the club at the first available opportunity. There were two elements of the transfer saga that made his defection particularly galling. First of all was the fact that Leon Clarke deliberately missed games to try and force through a transfer, yet showed up for the Arsenal match in front of a nationwide audience. This just felt like an act of selfishness towards both his team-mates and also an attempt to reduce the transfer fee that the club was holding out for. The second frustrating element was that Leon Clarke was so clearly despised by Wolves fans, if you are going to sell your best player you at least want it to get the fans of the buying club excited. The whole affair just felt like being mugged and then having your muggers laugh at your model of phone.
Our Thin Squad Bites Again
Leon Clarke’s absence from the Crawley and Leyton Orient fixtures felt doubly worse due to the players that had to play in his stead. For Crawley our right-back-come-centre-back Jordan Clarke was played as a makeshift centre-forward and played okay for a right-back-come-centre-back playing as a centre-forward. For Leyton Orient we were left to play the 16-year-old George Thomas in attack, who was then substituted for the aforementioned Jordan Clarke in a dire 2-0 defeat. Once again we were provided with clear evidence that we’re a team that only functions with its 11 best players playing in their correct positions. The now permanent loss of Leon Clarke leaves us in a precarious position for the rest of the season.
Arsenal Are Pretty Good
Confirmation, if it was needed, came that Arsenal are significantly better at football than Coventry City. Largely playing in first gear, the Gunners scored 2 goals in both halves to end our hopes of an extended FA Cup run for another season. Despite fashioning a couple of decent opportunities in the second half we seemed to lack the belief that we could pull off an upset against Premier League opposition. The only consolation was that we pretty much knew that already.
Moussa’s Always Capable of a Wondergoal
Against Preston North End we were a goal down once again due to an inability to defend crosses. Thanks to a Kevin Davies sending off we found ourselves in the ascendancy against a physical Preston side, however we were lacking penetration and creativity in the final third. Yet it wasn’t in the least bit surprising to hear via various sources of Franck Moussa’s wondergoal at the very death. If ever there was a player to try and pull off the impossible it’s Franck Moussa. He can be a deeply frustrating player to watch week-in-week-out but those moments of magic are so far beyond what we’re used to seeing as Coventry fans that it makes up for all those faults.
More Loan Signings
On the 30th January we moved to sign three players on loan, Nathan Delfouneso from Vile, Dylan McGeouch from Celtic and Rory Donnelly from Swansea. Whilst loan signings allow the club to reduce the risk of having another Kevin Malaga or Mathieu Manset on their books it also reduces the potential rewards. Take Nathan Delfouneso for example, if he plays well and find his form then he’ll probably end up at a Championship club when his contract expires in the summer and we’re back at square one. If he plays badly then our season flags, we part ways and we’re back at square one. The reward is that we’re potentially getting players to reinvigorate our season at a fraction of the cost. However none of these 3 signings will go anywhere near to replacing Leon Clarke on a long-term basis, our play-off hopes are now in the territory of having to go on a long winning streak, even if they all come good, the chances are that they won’t be here next season and we’re left to try and scramble a squad together with a limited budget.