Making up the other attacking midfield/winger position in the Coventry City Team of the Decade is Carl Baker.
The first signing of this decade, Carl Baker made an initial positive impression but soon found himself flitting in and out of the side, usually rotating with David Bell, as we slowly sank out of the Championship.
Heading into our time in League One, Baker was seen as an irredeemable part of the cast of mediocrity that had been culpable for our relegation. Not aided by some incredibly inconsistent showings – even across 90 minutes – Baker’s wastefulness with the ball was a key source of frustration as the team started the season poorly.
Baker’s ability to keep plugging away was eventually rewarded once Mark Robins had taken charge of the club. Scoring eight goals in 13 appearances between November and December of that year, all of a sudden, Baker had made himself a key player through sheer persistence.
After demonstrating during our time at Sixfields that the form he had found under Mark Robins had been no flash in the pan – reaching double-figures for goals once again – Baker found himself, somewhat mystifyingly, frozen out of the squad by Steven Pressley the following pre-season.
Perhaps it was a move driven more by budgetary issues rather than Baker’s performances on the field, but it was a spectacularly misjudged one from the then manager. Baker was allowed to leave on a free, bolstering an MK Dons side who went on to win promotion from League One, while Steven Pressley was out of a job by February of that season and the club needed a result on the final day to avoid relegation.
Having made himself a firm fans’ favourite for both his on-pitch performances and willingness to engage with supporters off-the-pitch, Carl Baker’s shadow hung over the club for a long time. Whenever he became available, there was a preoccupation with bringing him back. When we eventually did, it was too late and Baker wasn’t fit enough to get on the pitch during the final months of our promotion-winning campaign.
The top-joint scorer for the club over the past decade, Carl Baker was one of the players and personalities that has defined the club over this period of time. From starting off brightly, losing confidence as we sank out of the Championship, then reforming his status at the club entirely via his perseverance, Baker was a key figure as the club reinvented itself post-Championship relegation.
While there may have been more individually talented players in the positions Carl Baker played for the club, few made as big an impact both on and off the pitch, which is why he makes his way into the Team of the Decade.