We've crossed the halfway point of the advent calendar, meaning that only 12 days remain until Christmas Day. After yesterday's slightly older instalment I thought I'd come back with another modern addition to the collection, and another grossly underrated player, this time by various managers instead of fans, Ryan Haynes. His left back rival Chris Stokes has already made an appearance, just showing the quality and depth we have in that position.
After coming through our academy, he made his debut in 2013 against Brentford due to a full back crisis and was so nervous he was sick on the pitch, that's passion right there. Over the course of the 13/14 season he made sporadic appearances which I can't say I remember too fondly. It was only at the start of the 14/15 season he really started to kick on, I remember being at one of only two Sixfields fixtures I attended, a League Cup tie against Cardiff and thinking "Wow, we have some player here". It's rare you can say that about someone when they score an own goal in the same match.
At the return to the Ricoh he went on one of his trademark blistering runs down the left to feed the ball into Frank Nouble, who slotted the only goal of the match into the bottom corner and collected man of the match on the night. What a night that was by the way. Some people have criticised his defending since his berth into the first team which obviously you need as a left back, but it's come on leaps and bounds ever since. People forget his age because he's been on the scene since he was 17.
It was unlucky for Ryan that Chris Stokes was brought in and played so well as an out and out full back throughout the remainder of the 14/15 season as well as the following campaign. His appearances weren't coming as often as he would have liked so it wasn't a surprise to many when he was loaned out to Cambrudge United in February 2016. Their fans loved his determination and all round quality, and with Stokes' injury, it was a no brainer who should have played in that spot of defence at the start of last season.
However he was the only fully fit, relatively experienced left back we had, so a back up needed to be acquired, and was in the form of Lewis Page on loan from West Ham. Now I'm sure Page is a really nice guy and all, but never have I had so much hatred towards a player wearing a Coventry City shirt. It wasn't just the fact he was bad at football, or that he sarcastically clapped fans and laughed in their faces, or even that he took away valuable games from Ryan Haynes. It was that neither Tony Mowbray, nor Mark Venus could see this.
It was only under Russell Slade that he got his spot in the first team back, and even with the change to Mark Robins he stayed as an important member. I couldn't see him wanting to stick around after relegation to League Two as he could have walked into most League One clubs. Somehow though, he agreed to a new two year deal, for which I am shocked by and give him the utmost respect. In what continued his bad luck, he got injured for three months in our very first pre-season friendly, but since return has shown the wing prowess we all know and love. For Christ sake though, why can't we play him on the wing?