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Little And Large

Two men, with significantly contrasting physical attributes, have already put themselves in the line for the title of Coventry City’s 'Player of the Year' award.

Mo KonjicBoth are fine footballers and both have played key roles in taking Coventry City into serious promotion contention as joint leaders of the First Division.

Official stats put Mo Konjic’s height at 6’3”, but stand next to him and you would be forgiven for thinking that the tape measure was a good 3 or 4 inches out.

In contrast, David Thompson is 5’7” and is often shorter than the schoolboy autograph hunters who regularly seek his signature.

Konjic’s sheer physical presence and Thompson’s work rate and determination have been critical to the great Sky Blues’ revival, but make no mistake, both “can play a bit” as Bill Shankly is supposed to have once said about Ian St John.

For any opposing forward, the very sight of Konjic, with muscle seeming to have grown on muscle and that endearing, disarming smile, must signal that you are in for a torrid 90 minutes. Only the foolhardy or extremely brave would be ready to challenge him physically and anyone thinking that a man so huge must also be slow and clumsy is guilty of a massive mistake.

If there is one thing the Highfield Road faithful have come to enjoy more than a full-blooded Konjic challenge, it is the sight of the Bosnia captain dribbling the ball forward to link up an attack or even, as I have no doubt he believes he could, cutting right through the opposition to score himself.

That he can score has already been proved with his goal in the 4-3 win against Manchester City, and it would surprise no-one who saw it if they were told that the West End cross bar is still shuddering after the thumping impact of Konjic’s far post header against Crewe.

Mo Konjic’s arrival and growing reputation in English football has been a long time coming and follows great difficulties encountered by Mo and his family when they first arrived from Monaco. It does, however, justify the faith of former manager Gordon Strachan and Chairman Bryan Richardson in signing him in the first place.

David ThompsonDavid Thompson is a cheeky, cracker-jack of a player. A Scouse imp who can, and often does, run his heart out and then emerge from the dressing room with a twinkle in his eye and a ready quip at the expense of anyone who happens to be nearby.

Those who think they know often look at Thompson, shake their heads and say “if he was any good, Liverpool would never have let him go”, and it is clearly true that had he been a first team regular at Anfield he would not have moved to Coventry.

But that is to deny Thommo’s basic skill, huge enthusiasm, and great appetite for football. His belief that he can probably score from anywhere on the park if he wants to, and his consequent willingness to shoot on sight has paid off with Thompson goals fired in from 25-yards winning the matches at Walsall and Wimbledon.

That same resolve also means he tries – quite deliberately – to score direct from corner kicks. He has succeeded in doing so once this season, and usually creates panic in the opposing ‘keeper’s mind every time he attempts it.

If there is a weakness to the Thompson portfolio it is that he is prone to collect yellow cards. He has already been booked enough times this season to warrant a one-match suspension.

Gordon Strachan once told me that he could see a lot of himself, as a young player, in David Thompson. The wee man would also lose his cool, get himself booked, and all too often see yellow become red as a result of trying to seek personal retribution for the injustice of the original caution.

Thommo has, at least, learnt how to keep himself in check and not rage round the pitch covered in red mist and get himself sent off for two bookable offences.

His gutsy, all-action performances, however, mean that he is more likely than most to leave the pitch having incurred the wrath of the officials.

He is by no means the first player of diminutive stature to endear himself to Coventry City fans. Terry Gibson and ’87 Cup hero Michael Gynn are two others.

Shorter players often excel when the playing surface is slippy and difficult. Their low centre of gravity enables them to keep their feet when others around them have no chance.

Thompson proved that against Crewe, when heavy rain had left the surface greasy and treacherous. He revelled in it, giving what I regard as his best performance in a Sky Blue shirt, deservedly resulting in him collecting Man Of The Match awards in all parts of the ground.

Mo Konjic also played well that day. In his case, the conditions matter not. He ploughs through any obstacle daft enough to get in his way and his partnership with Gary Breen at the heart of the City defence looks more impressive with every match they play together.

All successful teams produce heroes. In ’87 we had at least eleven. Now we are discovering new ones as Roland Nilsson’s tenure as manager continues to bring success and the promise of promotion.

Konjic and Thompson are already high on the list of the heroes of 2001/2002 and both men - both Little and Large - are walking tall.

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / Stuart Linnell / 26 Oct 01
©1995-2001 Coventry Internet Developments Ltd This page updated 27 May 2010