This lunchtime brought the news of the Huddersfield Town midfielder Anton Robinson penning a loan contract for the rest of the campaign. In a week that could prove decisive for the club’s survival in the division it is a clear sign of the dissatisfaction that Steven Pressley has from his current playing squad. It seems unlikely that Robinson will be the final loan signing of the season with Pressley surely looking for the reaction he got from the team when Chris Maguire, Chris Dagnall and Danny Seaborne all signed on one day back in November.
Saturday’s defeat at Brentford seemed to open some wounds that Pressley had been battling with for much of the campaign. First of all were the individual and cohesive defensive efforts that were found wanting by a powerful Brentford side who recovered from Callum Wilson’s early opener to win with relative comfort. Then there were the more recent issues that have been bubbling under with the squad, the performances of both the players who are out of contract in the summer and of our two loan strikers. Whilst Pressley once again refrained from naming names during his post-match interview it was easy to deduce that Franck Moussa and Cyrus Christie, as well as possibly Carl Baker, were the targets of Pressley’s ire from the permanent members of the squad and that Nathan Delfouneso and Chuba Akpom were the other two problem players.
The concern is that whilst calling out individual players in post-match press conferences is rarely a good idea for a manager, and can be interpreted as refusing to accept responsibility for results. Especially in Pressley’s situation where he has neither the squad depth to drop the 4 or 5 players that he wishes to or the financial resources to bring in replacements. Ahead of three massive fixtures for Coventry’s season it’s hardly ideal for the squad to apparently be in a state of disharmony.
The signing of Anton Robinson seems to be a clear indication that Conor Thomas will be rested for one or two of the impending fixtures. Robinson’s career has stalled since securing a big move from Bournemouth to Huddersfield a few seasons ago. At his best Robinson was a box-to-box midfielder who led Bournemouth’s first resurgence up the leagues under Eddie Howe. Since struggling with Huddersfield, Robinson was let out on loan to Gillingham where he played an important role in securing the Gills League Two title. After that he suffered a knee injury last April and has been unable to get in to the Huddersfield first-team since then.
With Pressley’s clear mistrust in loan players it seems to me that the situation concerning Conor Thomas’s form must be quite bad. It also tells us that Adam Barton isn’t trusted to make a positive impact at this crucial stage of the season, which must surely mean that Barton is heading for an exit this summer. It seems contradictory of Pressley to criticise the level of desire of loan players and then to bring one in a few days later but we simply have no other choice than to take the risk.
Anton Robinson seems unlikely to be the last loan player for this season with the rumour circulating that Chuba Akpom has ended his loan spell early. Some loan players have better attitudes than others, or it can simply be the case of identifying the wrong player at the wrong time for the club. The club has one final chance this week to put things back in order before the final run-in of fixtures. You can’t help feel though that we’ll remember this week as the one which decided our season.