The pre-game ramble: Birmingham
It’s been an eventful few days for everyone involved with the Sky Blues, who now find themselves manager-less having lost patience with Andy Thorn. As the search begins to find a new boss, Richard Shaw and Lee Carsley have been tasked with taking the reins in the interim.
First up, a nuisance of a home tie to former Championship acquaintances Birmingham City.
How are they getting on?
It’s not been great for them, let’s put it that way. They opened the season with a dominant 5-1 thumping of Barnet in the first round, but since then, all has not gone to plan.
An underwhelming draw at home to Charlton was not the way they would have hoped to kick-off their league campaign, but they’ve only gone and followed that result with two away defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Zola’s intriguing project at Watford. All pretty naff, on the face of it.
Lee Clark is a man who knows all about winning, having moulded the Huddersfield Town team that was so impressive over the last couple of League One seasons. Like most managers, he would’ve hoped to be able to use the League Cup as a test bed for some of his younger players, but may well have to reconsider this approach in favour of gaining a much-needed confidence boost ahead of a home game to Peterborough on Saturday.
Who could cause us trouble?
Who’d you think? If Clark feels the need to play him, Marlon King is bound to cause us some grief.
Young Nathan Redmond is already an established first-teamer, and is exactly the sort of tricky winger who we at Coventry hate. Again, it’s difficult to know whether the manager will throw these sorts of names at us, but he’s one to watch if they do.
Darren Ambrose has also impressed immensely whenever I’ve seen him. He’ll have good memories of the League Cup following Crystal Palace’s storming run through the competition last year. The goal against Man Utd, at Old Trafford, from fully 700 yards, a particular highlight.
They’ve also got an England (and Team GB) goalkeeper in Jack Butland. The lucky swines.
Failing that, don’t be surprised if still-pretty-nippy Lovenkrands is given a chance against our cumbersome defence, having replaced Zigic pretty early on against Watford.
Sky Blues team news
We have no manager, and so this could mean big changes. We saw when Thorn himself first took charge as caretaker, these are the games to make an impression. The noises are that Shaw is in contention for the role, so don’t be totally surprised if he tries to place his own stamp on the starting line-up. However, the first half performance against Bury was one of the most impressive seen at the Ricoh in years (that’s right, I’ve said it), meaning he’s likely to find it tough to avoid keeping faith with a similar starting eleven.
One position where he will have a decision to make is at right back, with loanee Reece Brown appearing uncomfortable in the two games he played there last week. Jordan Clarke is getting closer to fitness, and may be available for a recall.
John Fleck is still a little way off being ready for a return. Perennial rotation man Carl Baker impressed once again and should keep his place. Gary McSheffrey has shown glimpses of desire in his recent substitute appearances, and could tempt Shaw into a recall against his former employers. You know what he’s like – he’d probably score, the sod.
With Thorn going, and the abysmal chucking away of 3 points in the previous game, the likelihood of a decent crowd turning up is minimal.
I was so cross after Bury, I found myself claiming quite recklessly that’d I’d be hugely pissed off if we then went and beat Birmingham. That was before Thorn’s departure however, so my mindset seems to have altered somewhat since. Don’t ask me to explain. It’s just how I feel (in my brain).
Unfortunately, Birmingham are better than us, so unless we pull out an Old Trafford circa 2007 performance out of the bag, I just can’t see us beating them anyway. A bit of excitement would be nice though.
Let’s say Coventry 1 – 2 Birmingham.