Sky Blues' supporters spent the summer of 2008 eagerly anticipating the signing of Wolves’ striker Freddy Eastwood. Prior to a lean spell at the Black Country club, he had scored a goal every two games for Southend United during his three seasons at Roots Hall and famously scored the winner against Manchester United in the League Cup with a fantastic free-kick (see clip below). His league debut saw him score after seven seconds and go on to complete a hat-trick in their win over Swansea. Chris Coleman’s eventual capture raised fans’ expectations after the near final day relegation at Charlton Athletic three months prior and we hoped we had finally landed that elusive 20 goal marksman, a rare breed at Coventry City.
Freddy Eastwood's finest moment (sadly not in sky blue)
Eastwood became the first player to score a hat-trick at the Ricoh Arena and the only Sky Blues player to score a home league treble since relegation. Peterborough were the visitors in December 2009 as Coleman's men won 3-2 and Craig Mackail-Smith scored twice for the ‘Posh’before subsequently transferring to newly promoted Brighton last summer. In April 2012 the ‘Seagulls’ are on the verge of a play-off position while City's number ten has returned on loan to Southend as the ‘Shrimpers’aim for a play-off spot in League Two. So why has Mackail-Smith progressed his career as Eastwood looks back on four underachieving seasons in sky blue?
With a great first touch, vision and passing ability, my first impression of Eastwood was 'well worth the entrance money'. On the minus side I noticed a lack of willing to harry opposition defenders and work for the team, a criticism I still levy to this day. While strike partner Clinton Morrison never stopped pressurising defenders, his fellow front man laboured, Stern John-esque, which used to infuriate the former Palace and Birmingham frontman during matches. Compare this with Mackail-Smith, a striker with a prodigious work-rate whose career has flourished by improving all aspects of his game. It is 118 games since a City player took home the match ball and what disappoints is the sheer weight of anticipation lauded upon his arrival which has been extinguished this season due to poor fitness levels. As with Kevin Thornton, when his name was read out over the PA system it brought cheers as City fans knew what he was capable of producing. The current side work tremendously hard for each other and each player puts in a shift, Eastwood would simply not fit in with this mantra. Craig Mackail-Smith stands on the verge of the Premiership while Freddy Eastwood will soon be on the PFA available list at the end of June. What a waste of a footballing talent.
Cody McDonald's goal at Hull was a magical moment, the away win finally secured and the relegation zone finally evaded, hopefully for good. Andy Thorn's side has improved immeasurably since the new year. When Peterborough beat us 1-0 on the 17th December we were eight points adrift and with our form in the second half of the season traditionally our downfall there was not too much to look forward to as a City supporter. Moving on from the Bristol City victory on Boxing Day we are in a position where our destiny is in our own hands. Coventry City never do things the straightforward way, yet two wins over the Easter period will simplify matters somewhat. We will be very much on our way to one of the greatest escapes of all time.