Carsley: More Wise than Sherwood
Coventry City managers have taken the odd punt over the past decade on an ageing midfield maestro, hoping that their new signing would prove to be the elusive missing piece of a promotion jigsaw that has proved fiendishly difficult to solve over the past 10 years.
Micky Adams' squad of 2005/06 had shown signs of promise throughout the first half of the season but it was the controversial arrival of Dennis Wise that transformed the side into a more consistent unit capable of finishing the campaign in 8th place.
Looking back on the stats from that season it is surprising to see that Wise actually made only 13 appearances for the club but, aside from his very handy haul of 6 goals, he added a ruthless streak to the side, knowing perfectly how to chirp away at referees, when to commit a foul or take a yellow card for the team and also show the class that made him a key part of the Chelsea side for so many years.
A season earlier, Peter Reid had attempted to make Tim Sherwood the fulcrum of a side capable of challenging for promotion. His 11 appearances however were painful to watch as a patently unfit player spent the majority of matches stuck in the centre circle as the game passed him by.
Aidy Boothroyd's ageing ace in the pack is Lee Carsley and the 36-year-old has more than justified the manager's faith in him. Now 36 and in his second spell with the club, Carsley has played in all 21 league games to date (he made 41 starts for Birmingham in their promotion season of 2008/09).
His influence is sometimes hard to spot from the stands but, like many such players his worth may only be apparent when he is not on the park. For the first time this season that will happen on Saturday when suspension keeps him out of the Norwich game and places an extra onus on the midfield pairing that Boothroyd chooses.