From financial troubles to transfer embargoes to yet another managerial change. For now though, let’s take a look at Coventry City’s three best players, all of which are out of contract in June. Caretaker manager Andy Thorn was recently given the job full time and made it his first job to personally offer all three players new contracts.
Goalkeeper. A lot of pundits are in agreeance that our number 1 is the best goalkeeper outside the Premiership (in English football of course). At one point this season, we were sitting 7 points above the relegation zone, 7 points that Westwood had undoubtedly saved the side with his performances between the posts. An excellent shot stopper, with superb reflexes have recently caught the eye of Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trampattoni, making him national number two behind Shay Given. In recent seasons his kicking has been a little suspect, often going wayward or straight to the opposing forwards, but he seems to have worked on it well and has improved greatly this season.
A lot has been reported over the contract offer. I have to ask though, why leave it until the very last minute to tie down one of the best goalkeepers in the league? Well, if you believe the club, they never did. They told us a while back that they offered Westwood a new deal before a ball was kicked this season, with the player telling the club he would not be signing. Although the goalkeepers side tells a different story. Westwood insists that there was no offer on the table, despite asking the club for an extension to his current deal. So who to believe then?
One thing is certain in my mind, Kieren Westwood will not be a Coventry City player next season. At the end of the last home game of the season against Reading, the players did their annual routine of completing a “lap of appreciation.” Once that had finished, Westwood went round again, this time on his own, waving to the fans. In my eyes, that was his final goodbye. I say good luck to him though, not once has his commitment to the club dropped in this final season, and if it means improving the standard of football he will be playing and at a higher level, I wish him the best of luck.
Teams said to be interested – Leicester, Ipswich, Norwich, Sunderland, Celtic, Everton
Midfield general. Signed from AZ Alkmaar in 2008, the [now] Icelandic international is a real fans favourite at the Ricoh Arena. A stunning first season in English football saw Premiership sides such as Blackburn sniffing around, with reports of a £3m bid having been rejected. In that first season, he won the club’s Player of the Season award. His second season wasn’t so good, rarely finding the form that impressed the Championship the previous year. However, glimpses of a return to that form this season has seen Andy Thorn’s intention to keep him. Never prolific, he has only scored 7 goals in his 3 years as a Coventry City player, but it’s his determination and tireless work rate that has seen him win over the fans and coaching staff alike. A dog in midfield, he also has the ability to turn creator, taking up the position of the point in Thorn’s recent midfield diamond. A perfect box-to-box midfielder that the club needs to keep if we are to move forward.
Nothing has been made of any contract offers throughout the season, at least publicly. The first the fans have known anything about the situation was recently, when Thorn announced that he had offered the 22 year old a new deal. Listening to a recent interview, he comes across as if his time at Coventry has come to an end: “I have obviously enjoyed my time here. It has been three years and I am used to it and if we don’t get anything sorted then I will have to take it as a learning experience.” But then in another sentence, he hints at his desire to stay: “I am still young with a long time to go in my career so I don’t see any harm in staying here because I am still learning and I feel I can learn a lot of things under Andy Thorn.” Make your own mind up there.
Out of the three, I would say that Gunnarsson is the one we have the biggest chance of keeping, although I’m still not sure he will agree to the new deal. As with Westwood, I would wish him the best of luck should he decide to move on, however I believe it would be more to do with the money if he did.
Teams said to be interested – none as yet
Everyone knows who Marlon King is. The Joey Barton of the Championship, everybody hates him aside from the fans of the club he plays for. All season he has been getting stick from opposing fans, and I have to admit that if I was on the other side I would be doing the same. Should a player who has been to jail get another chance at playing football? That’s a debate for another day, the fact being that then manager Aidy Boothroyd gave him his chance with a one season contract shortly after the August kick off.
Starting off slowly, King finally started to show what he could do in the second half of the season, finishing the campaign top goal scorer with 13 in all competitions. Such a good player, you could tell he was a class above everyone else in a City shirt this term. His control of the ball is instant, and his finishing ability is there for everyone to see, it doesn’t take long to find out why Wigan paid £5m for his services not that many years ago. The one aspect of his game that has really impressed me this season though, is his determination to never give up. Chasing the ball across the opposing back four, putting them under pressure and often drawing mistakes from the inexperienced or tired legs. King has undoubtedly given nothing less than 100% for the club and it will be a sad day should he decide to move on.
Out of the three, King is the one that I would most like to keep. A goalkeeper, a dogged midfielder, positions that you can replace, but an out and out goal scorer is hard to find, especially at Championship level. He himself has admitted that it’s a question of whether he should listen to his heart or his head, his heart wishing to stay at the Ricoh, to repay the faith we have shown in him and the open arms that the fans have welcomed him with. His head however, asks if he will get another chance at the big time, the Premiership. Now 31, his playing days are numbered, with another season at Coventry only decreasing his chances of that higher calling. I, along with Coventry fans everywhere, will be hoping he goes with his heart.
Teams said to be interested – Leicester
The deadline that Andy Thorn set the players for making a decision on their new deals was up over a week ago now, although the players officially have until their current deals run out to decide. Either way, Thorn needs to know sooner rather than later so he can plan who he needs to bring in before next season kicks off.
Any of these three destined for Premier League football next season?
By Paul Price – Coventry City fan – @Pricep87