I started playing Football Manager the other day. After a bit of stat fiddling (four hours worth), I’d brought things closer in-line with reality. Joe Cole was commandeered for the season, Ben Turner strong-armed from Cardiff into the centre of our defence, and James Maddison rendered into the exquisite demi-God we all know him to be. I was set.

I daren't show you my subs bench. Premier League loan players-a-go-go...
I daren’t show you the subs bench. Premier League loan players-a-go-go…

Clearly the players are doing plenty in real life to have us cooing, but Christ almighty – let binary code have its wicked way with them for a few games and it’ll hit you. This team is mental enough, but in League One? The others don’t stand a chance.

At this point I know some of you will hide behind your metaphorical sofas, scared stiff to acknowledge the actuality of the situation, lest we jinx it. But the game reflects what is going on. It’s happening.

Sure, we’ll hit bumps along the way, but there’s very little excuse for this group of players not to achieve promotion this season. They’ve got the skill, the dynamism, the confidence, and the momentum. For the first time in years, success is legitimately there for the taking.

Attempting to get in our way this week is Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Notoriously one of the toughest fixtures on the calendar, but they’re doing their best to make a pig’s ear of their season so far. Let’s take a look at what might be causing that.

How are they getting on?

The peaks and troughs of a League One campaign mean that you can never write off any team. Sheffield Utd will attest to this having stormed up the league a couple of years back, marching from the relegation places in February to 7th place come the end of the campaign.

They current sit in 12th, just a couple of wins away from the play-off places. There’s nothing terminal about that standing, even if the fans are starting to grumble. The catalyst in that famous revitalisation season was a change in management (naturally). While it was fully justified then, the sage opinion of most football people would suggest that telling Nigel Adkins to sling his hook at this point would be a bit hasty.

But you can’t deny ambition, and Sheffield Utd clearly harbor aspirations greater than League One mediocrity. The pressure’s on Nigel Adkins to turns things around. That can happen at any point, even with a team that’s not won in six games.

Who could cause us trouble?

Che Adams is the name that you’d all think, but he’s not available so we have to dig a little deeper.

I can pretend to know what I’m talking about, or I can just share with your the words of stalwart United blogger Ian Rands (@unitedite), who previewed the match for the Coventry Telegraph.

The returning John Brayford will add steel and organisation to the back four and provide attacking thrust from right back and much will depend on the full backs as wide options will be limited without Adams and Campbell-Ryce.

Matt Done will offer strong running and energy in forward areas dragging defenders around, but also creating opportunities for himself. But who else will benefit from this with Billy Sharp on a wretched goalscoring run?

Sky Blues team news

Aaron Phillips and Conor Thomas both join Jordan Willis and Réda Johnson on the injury list, but the squad remains relatively bountiful.

Swedish right-back Martin Lorentzson has joined the ranks and will be eyeing up an opportunity on the right side of the defence soon enough. How quickly he can force Tony’s hand remains to be seen.

But the exciting news is that Joe Cole and James Maddison are back in contention. After putting in the work on his fitness, Cole is flying by all accounts, while Maddison grabbed some useful game time for the under 21s last week and will be keen on returning to the matchday squad. My hunch is that they’ll both find their way into the 16, primed to change the game in the second half if required.

Predictions

These Lamptey prediction were made two weeks ago, long before a Maddison/Cole return seemed like a true possibility, and the Armstrong chip in training was little more than a wet dream of your most obsessive CCFC fantasist.

In short – we reckon we can win. But with the obligatory note of caution, only because this is football and football has shown itself, on the odd occasion, to not give a shiny shite about the “form book”.

Neil: Sheff Utd 1 – 1 Coventry

Joey: Sheff Utd 2 – 4 Coventry

Paul: Sheff Utd 0 – 2 Coventry

So, what are you thinking? Share your prediction below:

[statsfc-score-predictor key=”jwLfbovUFY4PyCDRgPz8zjsNB2nGAjTOLVQlXlAJ” date=”2015-12-13″ team=”coventry city” default_css=”true”]
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