It has been quite the downward spiral for Coventry City ever since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2001. After over a decade of mediocrity in the Championship, the Sky Blues were finally relegated to League One in 2012. Despite this being the club’s third season in League One, it is the first they have started on an even footing.
The last two saw a ten point deduction for administration and even part liquidation. If that was not bad enough, they left the Ricoh Arena to play at Northampton’s Sixfields where they spent over 500 days. They may now be back in Coventry but that has not stopped the rot.
Key players were sold and let go of in the summer. Top scorer Callum Wilson moved to Bournemouth for a reported £3 million. Key men such as Frank Moussa, Cyrus Christie and Joe Murphy also went to play in the Championship after they ran down their contracts with Coventry.
Countless other players left in the summer which has made it a hard job for manager Steven Pressley. Experience was brought in with the likes of Marcus Tudgay, Danny Pugh, Reda Johnson and Simeon Jackson, who were all plying their trade in the Championship last season.
The trouble is for Pressley with no money to spend he has to give a chance to youth. While bringing through two or three at a time might work, six or seven simply cannot. Players such as Ryan Haynes and James Maddinson are playing their first full season of professional football and while they need time, Coventry simply do not have any.
It is almost an impossible situation for Pressley but when fit the squad should be good enough to compete in this league. The truth is, injuries have forced his hand a little in terms of blooding through so many youngsters but tactically Pressley has not got it right so far this season. He has insisted in playing 3-5-2 throughout most the season so far even with injuries. A formation should only be implemented with the players that are available to suit them but it seems a few players are not suited to this tactics.
Jim O’Brien and Danny Swanson were brought in to predominantly play as wingers- their natural position. But this tactics has not allowed them to play to the best of their abilities when they are playing a more central role.
Jordan Clarke is a natural centre-back who has been playing as a right wing-back. To play in this role you need to have good attacking qualities whilst able to play on the right side of defence. Unfortunately Clarke has looked out of his depth and it is obvious to see that he is way out of position. It would be unfair to blame him considering he is playing in a new position but in all honesty manager Pressley should change the formation to suit the players available to him.
Results on the field prove that the formation clearly is not working. Coventry have not won for seven league matches, six of which were defeats. This leaves them languishing dangerously in 20th position after 14 matches, one place and just three goals above the relegation zone.
The long suffering Coventry fans have had absolutely nothing of note to cheer for a very long time. It is hard to think of a club more starved of success than the Sky Blues in recent years. The Sky Blue Army have not seen the side finish in the top ten of any league since 2006. Stretching that stat further, Coventry have only finished in the top ten of any league once in the past 25 years.
This just proves to you the sort of backward step the club has been taking which seems to get worse every year. Since the inevitable relegation from the Premier League in 2001, they have got nowhere near the play-offs in either the Championship or League One. It looks like this will be another season which continues that trend but relegation is a serious possibility.
With owners not funding any transfers and still eager to move away from the Ricoh Arena, the future as well as the present is looking extremely bleak indeed. No money available means it is likely Pressley will have to stick with what he has but if recent form is anything to go by it is hard to see the situation getting any better and the once famous Sky Blues could be playing League Two football by this time next year.