Here we are then. After such promise, yet another season is crumbling to its pitiful, gut-busting end. The temptation to drift into the summer without a cursory glance back is a strong one, but even with our abominable start and tame finish spoiling the memories as a whole – you have to admit the middle part was bloody fantastic, wasn’t it?
So let’s offer some recognition to the players who dragged us back to a place where we could feel a little bit proud of our team, even if it was eventually annihilated by politics, arguments and financial regulation.
Of course they’ve got plenty to answer for as well, especially with those 30-odd lost points from winning positions, or allowing a horrid home record to cast a looming shadow over the majority of the campaign. But this is the player of the season award – we don’t talk about that. We be nice.
And before you get all confused, by ‘award’, I mean the one I’ve fashioned in my mind for the player with the most concerted influence over the team this season. It’s not just about goals, playing loads of games or being William Edjenguele. It’s about positive impact on the team and this season’s performance.
So having thought long and hard about this, I’ve chosen the following five as those players I believe have best matched the criteria this season. See what you think, then vote for your favourite (or have a go at me in the comments for missing out someone you think is more deserving).
I’ll announce the winner at the end of the season.
We’ve let in plenty of daft goals this year, but in the main those goals have been down to outfield sloppiness, rash behaviour in our defensive line, or Richard Wood.
Murphy on the other hand has played every second of every league game, and provided an experienced and potty-mouthed backbone. The saves are often regulation, but having seen so many League One keepers struggle to save a bloody thing all season long, having Murphy at the back don’t half make you feel that little bit safer.
I was a harsh critic last year, but I’m not too proud to admit he’s converted me.
Carl’s scored 15 goals from the right of midfield, saved us in countless games, and become the most potent free-kick taker in the league. There are very few fans who will have felt that sort of return possible after such a rotten campaign last year.
There’s no denying the man’s got something. For 80 minutes he’ll storm around the pitch with those gangly legs, giving away ball-after-ball, sending the fans barmy with frustration. Then he’ll go on a wonder-run or blast home a game-saving free-kick, and you suddenly remember why the manager keeps him on the pitch so relentlessly.
I’m not going to sit here and claim I’ve believed in him all campaign. That’d be a blatant fib. Birmingham aside, his form in those opening months was preposterous. But during October he starting to get a grip, and November was the month he really came alive and started to prove his worth to the team.
Some of his goals have been absolutely stunning, especially that left-footer against Morecambe. A fair number have also been little tricklers along the ground which the keepers at this level are just far too useless to deal with. However ugly they look, he’s done it time-and-time again. You can complain about his all-round game all you like, but when it comes to pure impact and the stats that matter, Captain Baker has had a season to be proud of.
24 starts – 18 goals. That level of goalscoring is unheard of in the modern era at Coventry City. The bloke was only here for 3 months, and still he sits 5th in the League One top scorers table. Lord only knows what he could have achieved if he’d just stayed with us.
It wasn’t just the volume or regularity of the goals that had us cooing; it was the sheer sexiness of his finishes. He created a huge proportion of chances himself, and made floating the ball into the top corner look positively relaxing. The Forest fans led us to believe we’d picked up a sauntering bastard with very little substance. But it was that swagger and nonchalance that really set him apart from the rest.
What a brilliant, brilliant contribution.
Possibly the most controversial inclusion, seeing as he’s only played in the first team for a couple of months. But if we’re looking at contribution to the cause and points gained through his influence, Leon Clarke is right up there.
He had the unenviable task of filling McGoldrick’s boots (and impressing our know-it-all fans), but in a strangely similar way to Carl Baker, he let the stats do the talking by firing in 10 goals in just 16 starts. We have a very specific view of what sort of Coventry City striker will cut it for us; they’ve either got to be wildly classly, supremely speedy, or a manic moron who’ll run all week long, just for the sake of it. Leon’s not really any of those – but he scores goals, and he scares defences at our level (as we found out ourselves earlier in the season).
Plus, by stealing that last-second winner in the JPT against Preston, he has written himself not only into the epilogue of this season, but into my sky blue beating heart for eternity. To outsiders it’ll seem peculiar for such a low-key moment to be held with such affection. But as City fans, it’s been drab for so long, moments of sheer exhilaration don’t come about very often at all. We have to take what we can get.
So thanks for that, Leon. Slightly embarrassing to admit, but it was the best.
Choosing the final candidate was tricky, as there have been plenty of first teamers who’ve gone through really positive periods at some point during the season. But for me, I wanted to recognise progression and improvement, and someone who has maintained a solid level of form throughout.
Cyrus has established himself now as the number one right back at the club. It’s been quite a battle between him and Jordan Clarke for a long time, but what he’s shown this season is a growing belief in his standing amongst the other players in the league. He’s played plenty of games, and he’s not scared of the opposition anymore.
Sure, some players still give him the runaround, but it’s the grief he causes them which has really landed him on this list. He’s grabbed his first few goals, plenty of important assists, and overall has developed into a sturdy and trustworthy member of our first team.