Coventry City secured their first top-half finish in the Championship last season since the 2005/2006 campaign and will be desperate to go one better next season, having spent the first half of the season in the play-off places.
The Sky Blues have already announced their retained/release list which saw defender Josh Pask, midfielders Jonny Ngandu and Aaron Evans-Harriett as well as winger Jodi Jones depart. Similarly, Jordan Shipley was retained but has since been sold to League One side Shrewsbury Town. Likewise, Blaine Rowe, Aidan Finnegan and Jay McGrath have all been retained but will remain with the clubs U23's.
Squad depth was arguably the biggest reason why the Sky Blues ultimately ran themselves short in the second-half of the season. After a very promising start, especially at home, they slipped down the table and finished the season with one of the worst points totals in the league during the second-half of the season.
So let’s dive into four areas in the squad that could do with some improvement during the upcoming transfer window.
The Sky Blues currently have three first team central defenders going into pre-season. Those are Dominic Hyam, Michael Rose and Kyle McFadzean. Firstly, Hyam and Rose are still relatively young and have enjoyed strong performances last season. McFadzean might be 35-years-old but his performances last season were outstanding at times.
The big issue however is that the Sky Blues play with three centre-backs. This means that at this present moment, following Jake Clarke-Salter’s return to Chelsea, Coventry don’t have a spare centre-back. In fact, their only option is Jake Bidwell to cover but he is unable as we will discuss shortly.
So at least two centre-backs are needed ahead of next season that’s for sure, they don't want to be taking players away from their natural position to cover somewhere else, something Coventry did three times last season with Ben Sheaf, Jake Bidwell and Fankaty Dabo. Certainly, one of those has to be a ball-playing left-footed centre-back to replace Clarke-Salter if he doesn’t re-sign. The other should be someone with a bit of pace as that’s something that defensively Coventry struggle with.
Coventry City only have one first team left-back going into this summer’s transfer window. That man is Jake Bidwell, who joined back in January. Therefore, this will be a position ranked highly on Mark Robins' priority list.
With Bidwell naturally more of a left-back than a wing-back, Coventry desperately need someone who loves to get forward. A typical Sky Blues left wing-back is someone with pace, an eye for goal and a good ball-player. In the last few seasons, Coventry have relied on loanees like Sam McCallum, Ryan Giles and Ian Maatsen but now are in need of a more permanent option.
Coventry’s transfer budget means that the signing would most likely have to be a free transfer, which again limits the player list for the Sky Blues. Ian Maatsen was one of Coventry’s better players last season, therefore whoever signs has a huge task on their hands to replace him.
Coventry City’s biggest issue last season, aside from squad depth, was a goalscoring midfielder. Coventry’s number ten Callum O’Hare had a much improved season in terms of goal contributions but it could still have been better. Also, with the formation they play, Coventry need two attacking midfield options and they in truth only have one.
The players that tried to partner O’Hare last season was Jordan Shipley, Jodi Jones, Ian Maatsen and Jamie Allen. Three of those four have now departed and despite Allen doing a very good job, he is more of a box to box midfielder. His goal scoring wasn’t enough.
The issue with Coventry is that they rely too much on their strikers to score the goals. This has seen them lose matches or be in matches where they’ve created plenty but have failed to see matches out. This is certainly an area of the pitch in which Coventry have to improve on going into next season. You could argue that two of these could be required, or three if Callum O’Hare leaves.
Coventry City had two players hitting double figures last season in Viktor Gyokeres and Matt Godden. However, the latter is known to suffer with injuries meaning a lot of pressure is constantly on Gyokeres. Fortunately, there’s an argument to say the Swedish international is the best lone striker in the division but that needs addressing this summer.
Coventry had one of the divisions lowest conversion rates last season. It seems as though they need to have upwards of six to seven opportunities before they finally find the back of the net. The club do have three other strikers at their disposal but at least one of them is likely to depart. These are Tyler Walker, Martyn Waghorn and Fabio Tavares. Walker had a failed spell at Portsmouth on loan, scoring just once in 16 matches and he is more then likely on the transfer list. Waghorn scored just one league goal all season so could have a very interesting summer on his hands. Tavares finished as the PDL’s top goalscorer last season and grabbed his first league goal for Coventry but he is likely to be the fourth choice striker.
This presents an opportunity for the Sky Blues to bring in a new striker to freshen things up in that area of the pitch. They need to be prolific if they are going to launch a proper play-off push and a new striker could certain allow that to happen.