Another game, another shellacking, this time it was to Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day, which now sends us into part two of Russell Slade’s pre-transfer window reconnaissance mission crossing our fingers that this somehow isn’t going to be yet another heavy defeat.
I would imagine that most Coventry City fans assumed that the appointment of a ‘proper’ manager to step into the breach wouldn’t be a silver bullet solution, and the 4-1 loss on Monday has proven that assumption to be true. There doesn’t seem to be a combination of our current set of players that could conceivably go on to beat the drop this season. It’s not just going to take a few decent signings and a confidence boost to save us this season, a complete re-think in every area of the pitch is the absolute minimum.
For this upcoming game against Peterborough, Russell Slade can either choose to take a look at some of those players that were left out against Bristol Rovers, just in case there’s anything there worth working with, or he can stick with a similar formula as he looks to put in place the building blocks of our survival push. If we can’t take points from this game, something that can help Slade form a team unit as quickly as possible has to come out of this game.
As for the team selection, without any new injuries or suspensions, Slade is free to pick whatever team he feels is appropriate. This may be a chance to play the likes of Dion Kelly-Evans and Ryan Haynes instead of the soon-to-be departing loan players, but Slade doesn’t seem like a risk-taker to me and I can see most of the loan players who were involved on Boxing Day starting again here.
Last Time We Met
It was prior to our last meeting with Peterborough United that we were given the signal by Tony Mowbray that he had given up on any hope of making the play-offs. The signings of Jodi Jones and Vladimir Gadzhev were clearly with the following season, in League One, in mind, so we entered our Good Friday trip to London Road knowing pretty much that the jig was up for what was once such a promising campaign.
Despite dominating that first-half, with Gael Bigirimana and Marc-Antoine Fortuné both playing particularly well, Graham Westley’s Peterborough benefited from some woeful set-piece defending to take the lead before the stroke of half-time. We then went to pieces as Peterborough discovered an extra gear in the second-half and scored a second goal. Joe Cole pulled a goal back after a piercing counter-attack from a corner-kick. Darius Henderson could have levelled matters, before he realised he was Darius Henderson and gravity got in his way. Peterborough punished Henderson’s air-kick by scoring a third and final goal pretty much straight afterwards.
How Are They Doing?
Peterborough probably endured a worse collapse last season than we did. From playing some of the best football in the division and looking set to surge into automatic promotion contention, the sale of star striker Conor Washington and some bizarre tactical decisions from Graham Westley saw them completely lose momentum and slump down towards mid-table obscurity.
However, Peterborough chairman decided to entrust the managerial rookie Grant McCann, who had enjoyed a brief but entertaining caretaker spell before Westley’s arrival last season, with the full-time manager’s role this season. As it as ever thus at London Road, Peterborough have scored lots of goals this season but have struggled for consistency, only, they’ve been slightly less inconsistent this time around then the past few seasons.
Peterborough possess an impressive array of attacking talents, with the rangy winger/number 10 Marcus Maddison playing the role of conductor, with eight assists to his name and maintaining a lethal shot from set-pieces. The performances of striker Tom Nichols and winger Gwion Edwards have caught the eye too. Nichols is starting to live up to his promise, having been signed as Conor Washington’s replacement last season and struggling for form. Welsh winger Edwards is Peterborough’s leading scorer with seven goals and is a bundle of energy and skill, with the occasional eye for the spectacular.
The troubled but mercurial talent of forward Paul Taylor returned to Peterborough this summer and is playing more like the man sold to Ipswich for £1.5m than the one who spent the entirety of last season without a football club. The returns to fitness of last season’s top-scorer Lee Angol and former Crewe midfielder Brad Inman have further bolstered Peterborough’s ranks with goalscorers.
Others to watch out for include the metronomic Chris Forrester in midfield, a lanky Irishman with a wonderful range of passing whose playing style is reminiscent of Ben Stevenson. Leo da Silva Lopes on the left of midfield has been watched by Premier League clubs for much of the season and is a ludicrously gifted dribbler of the ball who also possesses great energy and can get stuck-in defensively on occasion.
Interestingly, despite their struggles for consistency with so many talented attacking players, their defence has been one of the better units in the division. Spurs loanee Luke McGee in goal has been remarkably solid for someone signed in a relative panic on transfer deadline day when Ben Alnwick unexpectedly announced his intention to leave the club. Jack Baldwin and Ryan Tafazolli are two very promising up-and-coming young centre-backs. While there’s always Michael Bostwick who provides some presence to the defensive unit, either as a defender or defensive midfielder.
Given that we’ve been thrashed over the past month by teams that aren’t particularly free-scoring, it’s hard to see how we’re going to do any better against a side with goalscorers all over the pitch. Having had more time to work with the squad than he did for the Bristol Rovers game, hopefully Russell Slade will have instilled a modicum of defensive solidity, but he’s still working with a back four of inexperienced full-backs and the two Jordans, there’s only so much he can do.
So to sum up this 1000-word preview more concisely, we’re going to lose 4-0.
May 2017 bring in change on as many fronts as possible.