A convincing first pick in central midfield with 54.4% of the vote, John Fleck makes his way into the Coventry Team of the Decade.
Joining the club in the summer of 2012 following the liquidation of Rangers, John Fleck arrived with a big reputation, having been billed as the ‘Scottish Wayne Rooney’ at an early age. While his career hadn’t quite hit lift-off after that early promise, he was young enough that a fresh start in a less pressurised environment than Rangers could be just what he needed to kick-start his career.
In that regard, Fleck’s first season at the Sky Blues can be considered a disappointment. Seen as an attacking midfielder, Fleck’s lack of mobility and goal threat didn’t seem to suit the role. Once Mark Robins arrived at the club and brought in the quicker Franck Moussa to play behind the centre-forward, Fleck was left low down in the pecking order.
Looking set to become another tale of faded youthful promise, the appointment of Steven Pressley as manager proved to be a key turning point in Fleck’s career. Moved into a deeper-lying central midfield role where he could dictate the play, Fleck became the fulcrum of an enterprising Coventry City side in his second season at the club.
Fatigue seemed to set in towards the end of that season, it took some time for Fleck to recover from playing a full season of football as a first-choice player. It was only until the appointment of Tony Mowbray as manager that Fleck regained momentum, being freed from defensive responsibilities by being paired in midfield with Romain Vincelot.
Consistently controlling games at League One level, if there was one deficiency in Fleck’s game it was a lack of goals and assists. While Fleck’s game wasn’t necessarily about making runs into the penalty area, it belied at times a lack of self-belief when presented with opportunities to shoot.
Fleck seemed to have plateaued towards the end of his Coventry City career, not in a bad way, and needed to take a step up if he was to progress his career further. At the time, a move to fellow League One side Sheffield United didn’t represent that step-up, but it has proven to be just the move Fleck needed, both in terms of career progression and adding a missing element of assertiveness to his game.
Only Jordan Willis made more appearances for Coventry City than John Fleck over the past decade. Much like the club, there have been highs and lows for Fleck over this time period, having needed to take a step back or two to move forward and with one or two false dawns along the way.