Can Coventry City's Star Boy Decide The Championship Play-Off Final?

Gustavo Hamer has been Coventry City's key player in recent weeks
11:00, 26 May 2023

Finals are decided by fine margins. By every conceivable measure, Saturday’s Championship play-off final between Coventry and Luton Town is going to be incredibly tight. The Sky Blues kept free-scoring Middlesbrough out over two legs in the semi-final, while Luton’s organisation, aerial dominance and threat from set pieces makes them so difficult to beat. 

All the talk heading into the game will be on the two star forwards and whether they can make the decisive impact at Wembley. It’s the biggest stage both Carlton Morris and Viktor Gyokeres have played on, and having scored 41 league goals between them, they’ll be dreaming of stealing the limelight with a match-winning goal. 

But the man who is even more likely to decide Coventry’s fate is Gustavo Hamer. He’s everything to Mark Robins' outfit. The beating heart of a team that is defensively sound, and now has two threats that can win games for them. Although Gyokeres is a one-man attack at times, based on Coventry’s rapid counter-attacking philosophy, Hamer has proven himself to be the key cog in midfield.


There’s a few contenders, but Hamer might just be Coventry’s best player since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2001. James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Gyokeres himself are three prime candidates, but nobody has been as influential as Hamer has, especially towards the back end of this season.  

In his last seven matches, when Coventry needed him to drag them into the top six and beyond, he has scored four goals, got four assists and five man of the match awards, including the key goal in that semi-final win at Middlesbrough. He’s scored more goals than Gyokeres in that time span, and is one of only three players in the league (along with Gyokeres and Ndiaye) to do the double-double, hitting ten in both the goals and assists column. 

Gustavo Hamer’s recent match ratings:

9.1 vs. QPR (MOTM)

8.2 vs. Blackburn (MOTM)

8.9 vs. Reading (MOTM)

6.7 vs. Birmingham

8.2 vs. Middlesbrough (MOTM)

7.4 vs. Middlesbrough

8.8 vs. Middlesbrough (MOTM)

It’s no surprise that Coventry’s resurgence after their dismal start has been sparked by the Brazilian born midfielder. His disciplinary issues saw him get two red cards in his first six appearances of the season as the Sky Blues were rooted to the bottom of the table. But once again, Mark Robins has worked his magic to get the best out of this squad, and the best out of his two star men. 

In losing attacking midfielders Callum O’Hare and Kasey Palmer for the second half of the season, Robins has had to adapt his midfield. Hamer, normally City’s deep-lying playmaker and ball-winning midfielder all in one, has been pushed further forward out of necessity. Captain Liam Kelly, who won the League Two play-off final in 2018 with the club has come back into the team and provided a screen for the back three, which has allowed Hamer to wreak havoc in midfield. 

This time, instead of clattering players left, right and centre, he’s put his relentless energy to good use. Either behind the front two or as one of two supporting players for Gyokeres, his true qualities have been unleashed. He’s one of the most technically gifted players in the entire Football League, and the fact Coventry fans voted him as their Player of the Season ahead of Gyokeres speaks volumes about his class.

His passing range is outstanding, while his ability to take players on often puts Gyokeres into goalscoring situations. Meanwhile, his delivery from dead balls is excellent, even if Coventry don't make the most of it. Having stuck a ball in the top corner at the Riverside, he followed it up by fizzing a free-kick onto the crossbar. 

Intriguingly, Luton have the perfect player to stop him. Marvellous Nakamba has lived up to his name this term on loan from Aston Villa and is the man who holds the Hatters’ midfield together. The battle between him and Hamer will be pivotal in deciding which of these clubs is playing in the Premier League next term, but with or without Coventry, surely it is Hamer’s final destination.

*18+ | Be Gamble Aware

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.