David Hitch is the next Coventry City fan to choose his best XI.
David grew up in Bulkington, but is now living and working as a Primary School Teacher in Kent. He is a Level2 football coach, who Managed in the Coventry City Ladies Football Club Academy for 2 years (2007 and 2008).
David says, "I was recruited to the Sky Blue family from birth (my Dad wouldn’t have had it any other way!) and first went to a match during the 1988-89 season.
"I had a season ticket in the West Stand for many years after, but I don’t get to as many games as I used to, due to family commitments.
"I still love being part of the Sky Blue Army and take my son, Josh, to matches nowadays, so we have 3 generations of Hitch’s cheering on the lads - it’s a home away from home!
"I was only realistically old enough to have enough understanding of football to judge players since the beginning of the Premier League era, so that is where the window of my options for this team begins."
David added, "My XI will be lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation (an old favourite of my chosen Manager) with advancing full-backs and a fluid forward line."
Now David talks us through his team...
GK: Chris Kirkland
Probably a surprise choice for many, as he wasn’t in the first team for very long before moving to Liverpool. He was agile and controlled his area with great composure for someone so young. Such a shame that injuries ruined his career as he could have been England’s number 1 for many years.
RB: Roland Nilsson
This position was probably the easiest selection for my team. ‘Legend’ had everything you wanted from a full-back. A classy defender, who was composed in possession and a real calming influence on the rest of the team. To use the old football cliché - he was real Rolls-Royce of a player.
LB: Steve Froggatt
From the easiest to the hardest selection! Not a left-back by any means, but a very good winger who could defend and had an engine on him. In a formation that requires the full-backs to provide width going forward, I genuinely think Froggatt would have probed more than up to the job.
CB: Phil Babb
A solid defender, who could read the game like a chess-master, but could also battle when needed. He was ahead of his time as a centre-half and had a lot of attributes that managers look for in a modern day defender.
CB: Gary Breen
“We all dream of a team of Gary Breen’s” came about for a reason. A real leader of the team who oozed class and snuffed out attacks with anticipation and desire. Never really hit the heights that he seemed capable of achieving - but still had a solid career after he left us.
CM: Gary McAllister
What can be said about ‘The Enforcer’ that isn’t already etched into football’s folklore? His range of of passing was sublime and his decision-making was slicker than your average, but his ability to break up the oppositions play was often overlooked. Not the fastest over distance, but had an extra yard in his head that gave him an advantage over opponents and allowed him to dictate the game like he was playing an exhibition match.
CM: George Boateng
A team player with the versatility to play in defence or midfield. In my opinion, he was most useful when utilised to protect the defence by stopping balls coming through to their strikers. Combining tenacity with quality on the ball, he is the type of player who is invaluable for an attack-minded team. He had great mobility and allowed the more creative players to go forward, with the security of knowing that he would be behind them to cover any counter-attacks.
AM: Peter Ndlovu
My favourite player growing up. ‘Nuddy’ was one of those players who always got you on the edge of your seat and no-one could predict what he would do next with the ball (possibly even himself a lot of the time!). Would slip perfectly into a fluid forward line and cause opposition defenders a nightmare with his pace and direct running.
AM: Darren Huckerby
Similar to ‘Nuddy’ in that his main attributes are his dribbling and running at defenders. A better footballer than he was given credit for (particularly when talking to opposition fans who often talk of him as a one-trick pony). Playing him slightly deeper may help to overcome his craving for standing offside and keep him facing in the direction that makes him dangerous - towards the opposition goal!
AM: Noel Whelan
Less pace than the other 2 players behind the main forward, but one of the most naturally gifted players that I have witnessed in a City shirt. With technical ability and a real footballers brain, he should have been performing at the top-level for much longer than he actually did. I would keep him more central, letting Ndlovu and Huckerby buzz around him.
CF: Robbie Keane
I was distraught when we sold Huckerby and replaced him with Robbie Keane - until I saw him play! Such a clever footballer, who wasn’t blessed with blistering pace but made up for it by great instincts and a brain that was way ahead of anyone else’s. He could link-up play, had the anticipation to get in front of opponents and then the ability to make things out of nothing. It was such a shame that we only managed to keep him for 1 season....but what a year it was!!!
Manager: Mark Robins
He had shown that he was a good man-manager in his first tenure by getting the best out of players, before moving to a club that had more ambition. He then came back and took over at the clubs lowest point in my lifetime. We were on a downward spiral, with a squad that was sub-standard (at best) and a real disconnect between owners and the fans.
He has performed a complete rebuild of confidence and personnel in a magical and unassuming way; instilling his playing philosophy and signing players who fit the profile to work within his system. For the first time in over a decade, he has assembled a balanced squad - with players who want to play for the club and have something to prove.
There is a feeling of hope and excitement amongst fans that had been lost. We are now looking up rather than down - and that will do for me!