City need to break the habit of not playing for 90 minutes

Coventry City midfielder Carl Baker has spoken candidly about his side's inability to defend set pieces and to play for the entire game.

The 28 year old Baker told the CT that if Coventry City are to avoid relegation that they have a bad habit of playing well for 45 minutes and badly for the other 45 minutes.

He also highlighted City's inability to defend set pieces and conceding to many easily defendable goals as a reason for their parlous league position.

Baker told the CT: “It’s really disappointing. It just feels like Groundhog Day at the minute with us playing really well for one half and that’s not acceptable and not good enough. 

“We came out and had a really good go after the gaffer talked to us at half time but he shouldn’t have to do that to get us to perform like we can do, it’s a bit too little, too late to be honest.

“Obviously we need to work on set-pieces more because we keep conceding off them and it has cost us the game again so we need to tighten up and stop them happening.

“We are matching teams football-wise and probably having more possession and creating more than most but we are losing from set-pieces almost every week, so we need to sort it out.”

“We need to be a bit more ruthless and a bit more streetwise because every time the ball went in their box none of us could move because they were man handling us.

"Every time I was in there someone grabbed me and had his arms around me which must have been close to penalties but it is good play from them to be fair.

“And maybe we need to take a leaf out of their book and start getting our arms up and not letting players move because lads are getting runs on us and getting free headers and scoring goals so we need to be a bit more physical and tough with them and make sure they can’t move.

“When a ball goes in to Platty or Jukey they are struggling to get any power on it because they have got defenders all over them whereas in our box it just seems at the minute players are putting the ball where they want.”

When Coventry lost 2-1 to Brighton last weekend, the Seagull's first goal came early on from a mistake by captain Sammy Clingan. His poor back pass left goal keeper Joe Murphy making a rushed clearance that hit defender Richard Keogh and rebounded into the City goal, but Baker didn't lay the blame at Clingan's feet.

All too often when Coventry concede a goal, their heads drop and their confidence visibly ebbs away and this is what Baker though happened at Brighton.

He said, “Sammy has been brilliant all season and no-one can really have a pop at him because he rarely gives the ball away, but that killed us a bit because with that happening a lot of lads seemed a bit nervous and scared to get on the ball after that, so maybe a few lads went hiding in the first half and didn’t express themselves as much as they should.

“It took a bit of a rollicking at half time from the manager to make us all get on the ball. He said even if we get beat make sure we go out fighting and trying to make things happen.”

Baker, whose cross set up débutante Gary Gardner to score his first goal for Coventry since his loan move from Aston Villa, though Gardener had a good debut.

He said,“I thought he did really well. It was a good debut and he took his goal really well but even after their second goal we had a couple of chances but we gave them too easy goals and made it harder for ourselves.

"It would be nice to go one or two goals up for a change and then see what we can do. We have got to keep grinding away and hopefully we will get a bit of luck because we don’t seen to be getting anything at the moment.”

Thorn, once again played his preferred midfield diamond formation with McSheffrey at the tip which Baker approves of.

Baker said, “I felt I did OK although Brighton had two holding midfielders and there wasn’t a lot of space to get on the ball.

“We played more long balls in the first half which isn’t the style we play and if you are in the hole you just get by-passed when it’s played long. The previous couple of games I went on as a sub and caused a few problems.

"I like playing in that position and after 60 minutes when people start to get a bit tired I seem to get a bit more space and joy.”
 
Coventry have had a difficult November and have played most of the promotion chasing teams, including league leaders Southampton, West Ham, Cardiff and Brighton, earning a solitary point from the four games in the 1-1 draw with Cardiff.
 
City next game is away to Portsmouth and Coventry will be hoping for a repeat of last season when they did the double over the south coast side and won the corresponding fixture 3-0.

 Picture copyright of Covsupport News Service. Credit CNS/SB