With just a matter of weeks to wait until the 2020/21 Championship campaign kicks off, it has been interesting to see the names linked with a move to the Sky Blues. Mark Robins has wasted no time in bolstering his squad that lifted the League One title last term, drafting in no less than six new signings. Gustavo Hamer, Julien Dacosta, Callum O’Hare, Marcel Hilßner, Jay McGrath and Ryan Giles are the new faces, while Zain Westbrooke departed to join Bristol Rovers.
This sparked speculation that Ben Sheaf is being lined up as his replacement, and Arsenal could be willing to offload him for a six-figure fee. The 22-year-old spent last season on loan at League One Doncaster Rovers, and he was a key member of Darren Moore’s squad. It remains to be seen whether or not any deal can be done, but he would be a solid acquisition nonetheless. City’s midfield is already littered with talent, but the defensive midfielder would offer another option, potentially providing competition for Liam Kelly.
However, it is in the final third where most fans are seeking for reinforcements, so I thought it would be a good idea to look at the strikers we already have in our ranks. Could any of those step up to the plate and prove themselves in the second tier, or do we need a complete overhaul? Here are my views…
Matty GoddenEmbed from Getty Images
Our top goal scorer last season, Godden will be determined to impress once again in a division where he has some unfinished business. The 29-year-old has got to this stage in his career by working tirelessly, and he definitely deserves a chance to be City’s leading forward after he rattled in an impressive 15 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions in his debut season with the Sky Blues.
He also struck 18 in League One for Peterborough United in 2018/19, and he has found the net on a regular basis since graduating from Scunthorpe United’s youth system. Persistent injuries did hamper his development during his teenage years, but his exploits in front of goal for the likes of Ebbsfleet United and Stevenage allowed him to climb the footballing pyramid, helping Coventry into the second tier.
Godden’s back-to-back hat-tricks against Wycombe Wanderers and Tranmere Rovers were standout moments, but you can’t overlook the striker’s form before Coronavirus brought an abrupt end to the 2019/20 campaign. He had netted five times in the last six games at that point, and his winner away to Ipswich Town ended up being the final goal of a quite unique season.
I am firmly of the belief that natural goal scorers can prosper at any level, and with plenty of creative teammates around him, Godden has the ability to be a menace to opposition defences. While he may not be the quickest striker, his movement, technical ability and finishing prowess are there for all to see. Nobody knows what’s in store come the new season, but I can see ‘Super Matt’ popping up with a few important strikes.
Amadou BakayokoEmbed from Getty Images
Despite it taking a little while for the City faithful to warm to the former Walsall man, Bakayoko’s tenacity and evident pride of playing for the club has ensured that he has endeared himself to supporters. When he joined the club back in the summer of 2018, Mark Robins earmarked his pace and power as key credentials, but the manager was aware that certain aspects of the striker’s game needed to improve.
Over the past two seasons I think we have witnessed that development, and although there appears to be a lot more still to come from the Sierra Leone international, he is another who deserves to have a crack at the Championship. Of course, there will still be some question marks as to whether or not he can cut it at that level, but his performances against Birmingham City in the FA Cup last term may have been evidence that he is proficient enough.
His physical attributes offer the Sky Blues a different dimension should they need it, but he could also act as a decent partner for Godden. I certainly think we should keep hold of him; he is a player who is hungry for success. Although the 24-year-old may not be prolific, he pops up with some important strikes, with the late equaliser against an in-form Doncaster Rovers from back in September springing to mind. Hopefully he continues to flourish under the guidance of Robins, Adi Viveash and the rest of the staff.
Maxime BiamouEmbed from Getty Images
An absolute fans’ favourite, Max Biamou is another who will be determined to continue his rise through the leagues by representing the Sky Blues in the second tier next season. Since his arrival from non-league Sutton United back in 2017, the Frenchman has more than provided value for money. His bicycle kick that put City on their way to a memorable 4-1 Play-Off Semi-Final victory away at Notts County will always live long in the memory. In what was an incredible night at Meadow Lane, that goal sparked sheer pandemonium and we knew something special was happening.
His partnership with Marc McNulty was excellent, particularly during a crucial run of games towards the back end of the 2017/18 campaign. However, an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury ended his next season rather prematurely, but that would not deter the 29-year-old’s steely focus. He bounced back in great style, registering 11 goals in all competitions in 2019/20, once again demonstrating that he warrants a place in City’s squad.
While he may not be a regular starter in the Championship, Biamou is another player that I would like to see Robins keep faith with, providing the forward is happy to fight for a place and potentially be utilised more sparingly. His character is the type that any dressing room would want and you can never have enough members of the squad with his outlook on football. The fan base loves him, and he quite clearly shares that feeling with us and the club.
On the fringes…
Behind those three more established strikers, we have the likes of David Bremang, Will Bapaga and Jordan Ponticelli. While the latter may be at a make or break stage of his career with the club, others will be itching to make a breakthrough and clock up some minutes in the first-team setup. Jonny Ngandu is another player who is tipped to be a gem from our youth system that has produced the likes of James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Premier League new boy, Cyrus Christie.
It will be interesting to see if any of the youngsters can catch the eye of the manager this season, especially with the step up from League One football to that of the Championship. Regardless of the division, their eagerness to impress will not change and we could see a new star being born once again. Loan moves could also be the best avenue for a few so that they can get some Football League minutes under their belts, but it seems as if we are in a decent place.
Do we need to recruit another striker?
Ultimately that is up to the manager and whether or not he is able to bring in the right sort of fit with the resources at our disposal, but I think everybody would like to see at least one more forward come through the door. That is no disrespect to any of our current strike force, but if we could pull in another body or two, it will only increase competition and allow us to shake things up and go a different way if necessary.
There is absolutely no chance we will have the budget to acquire a proven 20-goal-a-season striker that has regularly done it in the Championship, and there were only three who scored more than that last season, all which will be valued at around £10,000,000 in today’s market you would suspect. We will have to be very savvy in our hunt for a goal scorer, but the recruitment team have highlighted that they are able to sniff out the odd bargain here and there.Embed from Getty Images
Lawrence Shankland (pictured above) is a name that keeps being banded about since Michael Rose revealed the Sky Blues were keeping tabs on the striker, but the Scotland international seems to be attracting interest from elsewhere too with his phenomenal scoring record. During Dundee United’s promotion-winning 2019/20 campaign in the Scottish Championship, he fired home 29 goals in all competitions. The 25-year-old would be an exciting signing for sure, but we would do very well to obtain him.
Kayden Jackson is another we have been linked with, and that could be a more realistic option, but reports suggest Stoke City and Birmingham City are also interested in his services. The Ipswich Town striker is still under contract at Portman Road so a fee would be required, but he could be the type of man Robins would back himself to mould into shape. The 26-year-old gained mixed reviews from supporters of the Tractor Boys, but there is talent there. Confidence could be his issue, but we have a manager who has a track record of instilling that into players.
Then there are the Mario Balotelli rumours which started from a Twitter account with 27 followers, so it is pretty safe to say that one is a non-runner. In fairness, I don’t think I would want him anyway and I highly doubt Robins would want to bring in someone who could potentially disrupt things more than binding them together. All I can say is that whatever happens in the remainder of the transfer window, I trust the manager to get it right. We may well delve into the loan market and take a chance on someone, and if that is the way we have to go about business, so be it.
Nobody is going into the new season expecting us to pull up any trees and I would take survival right now if you offered it to me, but there is enough promise in our squad to suggest that we can create chances, score goals and cause issues for opposition defences. Jodi Jones and Wesley Jobello will be like new signings following their respective spells on the sidelines, plus O’Hare and co. will be desperate to chip in with their fair share of goals. It promises to be an interesting month or so leading up to the opening day, but hopefully we will be in an even stronger position than the one we are in now.