NOV 01] THE STUART LINNELL
Lee's Loan Could Boost Lee's Goals
When Lee Hughes signed for
Coventry City he was labelled as the man who would score the
goals to take us back to the Premiership.
reputation as a free-scoring striker with West Bromwich Albion
and his £5-million-plus price tag all added to the expectation
that he was the key to City bouncing straight back.
Anyone who has spent more than a
few seconds in his company will know that Lee is not the sort of
man who would let those pressures get to him. He is a
level-headed guy who enjoys the simple pleasures of life and
none of them rank higher than playing football.
He is desperate to prove himself
at the highest possible level and that means securing a place in
the Premiership as soon as possible. He clearly felt that the
Sky Blues offered him a more certain route to achieve that than
his beloved Baggies, but nothing is straightforward in this
world, and his time at Highfield Road so far has been a story of
disappointment, at least as far as scoring goals is concerned.
The price tag and the reputation
have not troubled him, but failing to score as consistently as
we all know he can has become an issue that threatens his
ambition of playing in the Premiership.
So what is the problem? Why has
the “ginger ninja” goal-scoring machine from the Hawthorns
suddenly, apparently lost the ability to find the back of the
Well, of course, the answer is
that he hasn’t. He has been unlucky, as all strikers are from
time to time, with shots mis-cued, mis-timed, just off target or
brilliantly saved. All strikers hit a patch like that and,
cruelly for Lee and Coventry City, his has come just as he
More than that, Lee has not been
provided with the service that he was used to at West Brom. For
all the great football they’ve played under Roland Nilsson,
Coventry City’s creativity has been lacking where it really
matters – in setting up chances for the strikers.
In addition, Hughes has been
required to play alongside a myriad of partners, including Jay
Bothroyd, Jairo Martinez and Laurent Delorge while we all wait
with great anticipation for the return to fitness of Julian
Recovered from his pre-season
ankle injury, Joachim is now short of match fitness, but should
be ready to play his part soon.
What will the Hughes-Joachim
partnership produce? What they both hope, as do we who support
them, is that it is at least half as good as the pairing of
Hughes and Bob Taylor at Albion.
However, I have a feeling that
Hughes-Joachim might not prove to be the answer.
The arrival of Lee Mills on loan
from Portsmouth could be the key. If the experience of 31-year
old Mills can be harnessed properly, he could be just the type
of player for Hughes to feed off and score goals on a regular
Scoring on his debut against
Crystal Palace has made Mills an instant hit with the fans, and
he is surely right when he says:
“If Lee (Hughes) keeps
plugging away and keeps having shots there is no doubt that he
will start scoring goals. I have had my problems at Portsmouth
with injuries and haven't really had a chance, but the manager
here has given me an opportunity.”
If Mills and Hughes turn out to
be the partnership that opens up opposition defences, that loan
spell could turn into a more permanent, long-term arrangement.