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Away fan view: Coventry looking to establish themselves in League One under Mark Robins

Mark Robins is manager at the Ricoh

Coventry City fan Dominic Jerams (@SideSammy), gives us his thoughts on the Sky Blues ahead of Saturday’s League One opener against Mark Robins’ men at the Ricoh Arena.

How will you do this season following promotion from League Two?

I think we’ll establish ourselves at this level somewhere in mid-table. If we can find a goalscorer and keep hold of our talented young midfielder Tom Bayliss, I don’t see why we can’t aspire to make the play-offs.

Mark Robins seems to be getting a little frustrated with the club’s transfer dealings this window and is finding it difficult to bring in a striker to replace Marc McNulty. How would you rate your summer transfer dealings so far?

The core of a promotion-winning squad is still in place, so it was only really about finding the one or two extra players to upgrade where necessary. Luring Junior Brown and Abu Ogogo away from Shrewsbury look to be coups for us, we’ve taken a few punts on younger players or those from non-league with Reise Allassani out wide and Brandon Mason at left-back looking useful in pre-season.

Obviously, losing McNulty has changed affected how the transfer business is being viewed, however, I’m quite relaxed about replacing him like-for-like with a goalscorer.

With Jodi Jones and Tony Andreu creative midfielders who are returning to fitness after long-term injuries last year, the dynamic of the squad has altered and we look set to switch from a strike pairing to one up top, which could allow Maxime Biamou or Jonson Clarke-Harris, from our current options, to excel.

What else do you need before the window shuts next week?

Aside from adding an extra striker to the squad, there is possibly a case from bringing in a centre-back who can improve our current options.

With the size of the squad as it stands, there isn’t a dire need to bring any further players in and it will only be a case of offloading someone already in the squad to bring in someone new.

Mark Robins labelled the weekends 5-2 defeat to West Brom an “absolute joke”, but how has pre season gone on the whole?

Robins has looked to experiment with a few different systems, while we’ve had a few key players unavailable due to injury or – in the case of Dujon Sterling and Tom Bayliss – international involvement, which hasn’t led to fluent performances.

The second-half against West Brom was closest to our strongest XI and was highly encouraging. Hopefully we can pick up from there, although it looks like our defensive play is going to be an issue for us.

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Robins masterminded promotion from League Two

How is Mark Robins doing as manager?

After doing an excellent job in his first spell with us, he came back and won the Checkatrade Trophy for us in a miserable relegation season otherwise before putting together a side that won the club’s first promotion in 51 years. On those terms, he is the best Coventry City manager in a long, long time.

Nonetheless, Robins probably made harder work of promotion than he needed to. He seemed to struggle to establish his strongest XI and formation, with his tweaking costing the team momentum.

However, he generally got his tactics right for the big games and he seems to have built a level of infrastructure at the club that few other managers have had the vision to be able to.

Who should we keep an eye out for?

Tom Bayliss in midfield looks set for a big season for us. He came in from the youth team last December just after a season-ending injury to Jodi Jones and completely transformed the nature of the team.

A creative box-to-box midfielder with excellent technique, he’s someone who constantly looks to drive the team forward – whether that’s in central midfield or if played out wide.

Other than Bayliss, Tony Andreu looks to be another key creative player for us this season, having missed most of last year due to injury. The pace of Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling and Reise Allassani in wide positions could also cause you problems.

Who is your most underrated player?

Probably Lee Burge in goal. He came into the team as a youngster a few seasons ago and made some high profile errors, which many Coventry City fans haven’t forgiven him for. Last season was his most consistent for us and he was given very little credit for his performances.

His kicking can be a bit ropey and he still has the odd error in his game – as most keepers at this level do – but he put in some match-winning performances towards the end of last season and is much better at claiming crosses than most Coventry City fans presume him to be.

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Josh Morris

Which Scunthorpe player would you sign if you were given the opportunity?

I’ll have Josh Morris please! When I last saw him playing for Scunthorpe – back in November 2016, when both Morris and Scunny were flying under Graham Alexander – he looked incredible. Fast, strong, energetic, purposeful, good set-piece delivery, he’s everything I would want in a wide player and would improve any team at this level.

Have you got a score prediction for us?

2-1 Coventry

You can check out Sideways Sammy’s comprehensive League One preview on his excellent blog.


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Written by Will Montag

Will Montag is an English Literature graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an avid reader of fiction, and a lifelong Iron fan. Will enjoys various outdoor pursuits in his spare time.

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