It has been an incredible transformation from Ben Sheaf this season, from a player who struggled to impose himself at Championship level to someone who may well have a case for being in the upper echelon of players in his position in the division. It was a transformation that was hard to see coming, it wasn’t just that Ben Sheaf made several high-profile errors that cost the team goals last year but that he so rarely made his presence known in games. The Ben Sheaf of 2021/22 is the kind of confident, dominating presence in the centre of the pitch who would have steamrollered the Ben Sheaf of 2020/21. It is almost like watching a different footballer.
Even in a difficult first season for the club last year, it was apparent that Ben Sheaf was a tidy, technical footballer. The key to Sheaf making himself one of this Coventry City side’s most important players has been allying that technical ability to a drive and determination to stamp his mark on games. While some of Ben Sheaf’s difficulties last season lay in playing in a team that were struggling and thus forced him to play deeper, he looks a physically stronger and more aggressive player who is much less likely to be caught on the ball in dangerous areas. Instead, Sheaf is someone who can not only influence games with his range of passing but can protect the defence by reading the game well and snapping at the heels of opposing players.
This season has been a significant step forward for Ben Sheaf, particularly the past month or so where he looks to have made another surge in his development. Just how much better Sheaf can get is the exciting part now. For much of the past 18 months, this has been a Coventry City side defined by the stand-out quality of Callum O’Hare and Gustavo Hamer, who have also been tipped for bigger and better things, Ben Sheaf is now very much a part of that key hub of quality and there really should be similar utterances made about his potential. Last summer, he would have been someone most Coventry City fans wouldn’t have minded seeing leave the club, a year later, Ben Sheaf may be someone whose potential departure would be feared.