May 9, 2022

Total Cov Blog #48 - 2021/22 Season Review.

Total Cov Blog #48 - 2021/22 Season Review.

The 2021/22 season has come to an end for Coventry City, and what a season it’s been! Over the last 10 months we’ve seen plenty of drama, excitement and frustration, but for the most part it’s been a wonderful campaign for the Sky Blues. We’ve made real progress this year, having been scrapping against relegation for all of the 2020/21 season, and whilst our push for the Play Offs didn’t quite materialise in the end it’s been fun to dream. There’s a real sense of togetherness there now between the club, the players and the fans and the general vibe these days is a positive one, which speaks volumes about how well we’ve done and how far we’ve come in recent seasons. In this blog I’ll be giving my assessment of our season, and selecting my Player of the Season, Game of the Season and so on - I hope it’s an enjoyable read!

So, first of all - Player of the Season. This is an incredibly difficult category, as there are multiple players who could justifiably win this one! I’m going to go for Gustavo Hamer though - I love the energy that he brings to our midfield, he really puts himself about and I think it’s this that has endeared him to us fans so much. He has his flaws, like his fondness for bookings, but for the majority of this season he’s been absolutely superb and I think he’s clearly far too good to be playing at this level. His range of passing is brilliant, his set piece delivery is really effective as well and he’ll go box to box, which is what makes him such a good player for us. I’m not confident we’ll keep him over the summer, but if he does stay with us for another season then we can count ourselves lucky!

Next up is Worst Player of the Season, and for me there’s only one winner here. Bright Enobakhare, he could’ve done great things for us this season but wasted a brilliant opportunity to play in the Championship after he’d been plying his trade out in India for a spell before coming back to us. There was a lot of hype surrounding his return when it happened - he was great in his first spell with the club in 2019 and we all wanted him to do well, but we got one average performance in the Carabao Cup out of him and never saw him again! I’m sure there’s more than meets the eye there, but I can’t help but wonder what might’ve been - Bright would’ve been a great option to throw on in place of Callum O’Hare, a like for like change to bring some flair to the game. Disappointingly, it was a flop of a signing in the end.

Next up - Most Improved player. I think all Sky Blues fans will be unanimous in saying this category belongs to Ben Sheaf this season! Last season, I really hadn’t been convinced by him when he’d been on loan from Arsenal - he was slow, he often lost the ball simply by playing it without looking and I don’t think he looked ready to play at Championship level. When we signed him permanently in the summer I thought it was a bit of a poor signing, as he hadn’t added anything to our midfield other than depth prior to this, and I think a lot of fans shared my opinion as well. I guess that just goes to show that Mark Robins and his coaching staff know better than all of us! Ben Sheaf has been absolutely excellent all season, he’s looked a completely different player since last term - the speed of his game has improved, the way he breaks up play is brilliant and he’s got great feet. He looks so assured and composed its amazing to think that just last year he looked massively out of his depth! He’d be a huge loss to our team if he were to leave, which tells you all you need to know.

My next category is Surprise Package of the Season. I’m giving this to Jamie Allen, who’s gone from looking like he was out the door at the end of last season to being one of our key players this season! He struggled for form last season and as a result couldn’t really get in our side, and if I’m being brutally honest I would’ve been happy to see him leave in the summer. Mark Robins clearly felt he still had a part to play for us though, and he was given a chance for some minutes early on and seized it with both hands. It’s been much more like watching the Jamie Allen of our League 1 title winning season, he’s been energetic and again he’s one who can go box to box. I think he’s best in the box midfield with Callum O’Hare as the other attacking midfielder, but when he’s had to play deeper this season he’s looked comfortable next to either Hamer or Sheaf as well. I’d be gutted if we lost him now, and it’s a pleasant surprise to be thinking of him as one of our key players!

My last player related category is Signing of the Season, and there’s an obvious choice here - Simon Moore. He’s been a brilliant addition to the squad and he’s made such a difference in goal, he’s an excellent shot stopper and he’s excellent in one on one situations as well. I think his presence has improved the defence in front of him as well, which has been crucial to our success this year as we haven’t been throwing points away due to silly mistakes. Moore has been one of the best signings I can remember for a long time, a great bit of business done by the club there!

On to the games then. Firstly, my Game of the Season - this was a difficult one to decide on, with quite a few strong contenders! Both games against Fulham were fantastic, Peterborough away, Reading away, Bournemouth away, Bristol City at home. My choice is Sheffield United at home though, simply because it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a football match! I won a VIP match day experience through Sky Bet EFL rewards and was given the choice of Preston or Sheffield United at home, so I chose Sheffield United thinking it would probably be a better game and that would make the day more enjoyable. It was then announced that it would be Legends Day, so I got to meet some of my favourite City players from years gone by - Dele Adebola, Michael Doyle and Marcus Hall. I was taken down to the dug outs before the game, given a signed shirt and a 3 course meal in hospitality - and then to top it off, the lads went out and won 4-1 and were excellent from start to finish really! After the game I got a quick selfie with Man of the Match Callum O’Hare, and then we happened to be leaving the stadium at the same time as the players so stopped for pictures with them as well! I’m not ashamed to admit I was like an excited kid at Christmas for the whole day, so naturally I couldn’t look beyond it when picking my Game of the Season.

Next up - Worst Game of the Season. I think we can all agree that it’s Luton away, no need for me to say any more on that one!

Anyway, on a more positive note, my next category is Best Moment of the Season. We’ve had some incredible moments this year, with no end of late drama and it’s been great to see us on the right end of last minute winners for a change. My best moment has to be Todd Kane’s dramatic equaliser at Bournemouth away - I don’t believe for a second that he meant it, but seeing that ball hit the net was a brilliant feeling, and it genuinely felt like we’d just scored the winner even though we’d only made it 2-2. It was pandemonium in the away end, especially as we’d barely deserved anything from the game but the players kept fighting, and Kane’s goal was pretty much the last kick of the game. Glorious!

Next up, my favourite away ground of the season. I’ve been to a decent amount of away games this season, in my quest to do all of the 92 grounds at some point (I’m now on 45, so almost bang on halfway there!). I always enjoy visiting other team’s grounds and there’s been a few new grounds I’ve ticked off this year - Millwall, Hull, Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Reading, Cardiff, Swansea, Fulham and West Brom to be precise! I much prefer the old school style grounds to the newer, bowl like stadiums that a lot of teams (including us) have now, I think older grounds just have a lot more character and history about them and that’s what football is all about for me. So Bramall Lane is probably my favourite new ground I’ve visited this season, it’s deceptively big and every stand is close to the pitch, there’s bags of personality about it and I loved it. Craven Cottage was a close second though!

Next up is Best Opposition fans I’ve seen this season. I don’t really pay much attention to the away fans when we’re at home, I’m not sure why! I guess I’m more focused on the Sky Blues. Away from home though, I do notice the home fans a lot more and whether they generate any sort of atmosphere. The plastic clappers of Reading and Fulham therefore definitely haven’t won this one - instead I think Middlesbrough were the best fans I’ve seen this season. Their section behind the goal never stopped singing all game, and one of their chants was incredibly catchy as well so fair play to them!

Lastly, Goal of the Season. Some strong contenders here too, notably Matty Godden away at Derby, Fabio Tavares at home to Preston, Todd Kane away at Bournemouth, Gustavo Hamer at Peterborough away and Ian Maatsen at home to Fulham. For me though, the winner has to be Jordan Shipley’s half volley at home to QPR. The technique involved was simply brilliant, he connected with the ball so sweetly it was only ever going in the top corner - what a goal!

I think this season has been brilliant overall, we’ve got a team full of cult heroes  who I feel like I’ve barely touched on at all so far. Honourable mentions to Fankaty Dabo, Michael Rose, Dom Hyam, Jake Clarke-Salter, Ian Maatsen, Kyle McFadzean, Callum O’Hare, Viktor Gyokeres and Matty Godden. Mark Robins must surely be recognised as one of the clubs greatest ever managers now as well! I absolutely love this team and it pains me that it probably won’t stay together over the summer. By the time next season rolls around we could have lost any number of players, and it wouldn’t surprise me! I like to think a lot will want to stay though and keep building towards our obvious end goal now, which is reaching the Premier League. Maybe next year will be the year, providing we can put the ball in the net! It seems ironic saying that when we have a centre forward who finished the season on 17 goals, but lack of prowess in front of goal has really been our only continuous problem all season. Get that right next year, and we’ll be laughing. We’ve genuinely outclassed a lot of teams in this league this season, there’s no reason why we can’t do that and beyond next season but we’ve got an important summer transfer window ahead of us!

This season has been my first as a blogger, and I hope my blogs have been well received. I’ve certainly had a great time writing them, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! I owe some people some thanks for everything they’ve done this season - I’m really grateful for the lads at the Total Screamers Podcast for allowing me to use our website to post my blogs, and for the support they’ve given the blog throughout the season. BBC CWR invited me on at the beginning of the season to plug the blog and the podcast, many thanks to them as well! I’m also incredibly grateful for the support that Sky Blue Fans TV have given the blog as well - they’ve invited me on to their podcast a couple of times which is always a pleasure, and them sharing my blogs when they’re posted really makes a difference to me. Thank you guys! Lastly, many thanks to my family and friends for their company at various different games this season, and their support of the blogs as well - in particular my brother Joe, who not only has driven me to many away games this season but also has provided photos for the blog when I’ve not been able to get to some of our midweek games myself. You’re an absolute legend!

Until next season - Play Up Sky Blues!