That awkward, error-prone first season at Coventry City for Ben Sheaf seems a long time ago now. The midfielder has backed up an impressive campaign last year with yet more confident and consistent performances this time around. Sheaf is now firmly established as one of the team’s most reliable and talented performers and it is a boon for the club that he has recently chosen to commit his future to the Sky Blues. Without perhaps hitting the heights of some of the team’s absolute stand-out performers, Sheaf is one of the players who has helped turned Coventry City from relegation contenders in their first year back in the Championship into bona fide play-off candidates nowadays.
Initially billed as the kind of deep-lying midfield player whose first, and perhaps only, focus was on retaining possession, Mark Robins has successfully converted Ben Sheaf into a more well-rounded, and aggressive, central midfielder as part of the manager’s preference for players who can rotate between roles in the centre of the park. While Ben Sheaf continues to be smart and sensible with possession, and occasionally even capable of passes that can completely open teams up, his development over the past couple of the seasons has come in pushing further up the pitch, hassling opponents off the ball and getting into scoring positions at least once or twice a game. While it is unlikely that Sheaf will develop into a genuine match-winner, developing more strings to his bow has added an intensity to his game, making him less likely to commit the sloppy errors in front of his own goal that he had been guilty of in his first year at the club.
With Ben Sheaf’s long-term future at Coventry City having been secured at a time when other key players might be leaving, the next step is to develop into a leadership figure for this team. While that doesn’t seem to quite fit the calm, relaxed persona he projects on the pitch, there are different styles of leadership and if Sheaf can impart cool, calculating qualities to his team-mates in a prospective new era for the club, that could have its own merits. Ben Sheaf is not only a key player for Coventry City in the present, but he is going to be a tentpole for the future.