In a couple of months the 2010s will be over. What would the ICT Team of the Decade be?
I think it's obvious that the 14-15 team would be the basis of the XI. I'll play a 4-2-3-1 as that's probably been the most heavily used formation during the decade.
Goalkeeper for me is pretty obviously Ryan Esson. He was a solid keeper for the start of the decade and although he lost his place to Dean Brill around the time the team really took off, I think Esson is the best option ahead of Brill. The other regular keepers have been Mark Ridgers (regular since 2017), Tony Reguero (regular for a season in 2012) and Owain Fon Williams (2015-2017) - I'd rank them in that order.
Defenders, I think you have to go with the cup winning season's back four. Left back, Shinnie is clearly the best player we've had at that position, Tremarco is a good player in the second tier and has been a great servant but he's clearly behind Shinnie. Right back, Raven is again clearly the best player for the longest period during the decade, regular from 2012 until 2017 and being a top player during that period.
Central defenders, for me Warren and Meekings were our best partnership. Both were excellent bread and butter defenders but Warren was an underrated ball player and his ability to take the ball out and pass was important for the development of that Butcher/Hughes side. I remember when we beat Celtic at Parkhead, he was so composed and controlled on the ball it really helped us withstand the pressure we did face. Meekings was really athletic and quick, from what I've seen of him since leaving injuries have piled up with is sad as he was a really top quality defender. The other options are club legends like Grant Munro and Ross Tokely, both of whom played early in the decade. I just think Warren and Meekings are higher quality and did it for a sustained period of time. Coll Donaldson is perhaps the only player from the current squad who could get anywhere near this XI but I don't think there's a case for him to be in there just yet.
The '2' sitting midfielders, I can't see past the cup winners Ross Draper and Greg Tansey. Obviously, Draper has left and signed for our local rivals but that's really our own fault for bollocksing up in 2016/17. From the moment he came in he was a destroyer with massive phsycial presence and was able to dominate teams in the top flight. He was man of the match in our first ever cup final and scored the opener in the first ever top flight Highland derby. Tansey showed glimplses in his first season with us what he could do but in his second spell he really showed it, blossoming with a better team and being able to really impose himself on the league. A threat from set pieces and from range is so valuable as well.
The '3' attacking midfielders begins to get a bit more interesting. The middle player was a problem for us for a long time, with guys like Eric Odhiambo and Dani Sanchez playing there but never making it their own. However, for me it's a straight up fight between Andy Shinnie and Ryan Christie. Shinnie basically played a season and a half for us, played 55 games, scored 19 goals, received a Scotland call-up and a nomination for Player of the Season. Christie was also pretty fleeting, breaking into the side in 2014, then becoming integral in 2014/15 before leaving in 2015, loan cut short through injury. For the central position I'd give it to Shinnie, I don't think Christie was as good in 14/15 as Shinnie was in 12/13. If it were a real team you'd obviously play them both but for the sake of argument and having to choose I'd put Christie on the bench.
For the wide attackers, you've got a lot of excellent players over the decade. Early on Richie Foran was a dominate player playgin on the left of a '3' and was a huge factor in our promotion. He dropped back to play deeper in midfield as his career progressed but he was a great weapon from 2010 until about 2014 , after which the injuries just piled up. You also have Jonny Hayes, who was dynamite for us in the promotion winning season and then in the top flight. He's developed into a more defensive player as he's got older but he was a huge threat and carried most of our attacking threat in season 11/12, without him then we'd have faced being dragged into relegation discussions. Aaron Doran has to be in the chat as well, for a few years he was one of the leading assist providers in the top flight, a really dangerous player. Marley Watkins also deserves it for his heroic 14/15 showing where he played all across the three and up front as well for a confusing period when we basically had no strikers (remember that? We sold Mckay and then waited two months to sign Ofere and in the meantime just played with a winger up front and still won the cup and finished 3rd). He was probably a better athlete than Hayes or Doran and was a threat with his pace, aerial ability and superb technique. I loved him but both Hayes and Doran did it longer.
I'd probably redo this every time I try but now I'd probably go with a '3' of Foran on the left, Shinnie in the middle and Watkins on the right. In a real team you'd play Christie somewhere but in terms of the best players and biggest contributors I'd put those three.
Up front, it's really a two horse race between Adam Rooney and Billy Mckay. Rooney played a season and a half in the time frame and scored 37 goals in 61 games. Mckay played for a lot longer period and scored 66 goals in 145 games. Mckay had a deadly run though with 23, 18 and 10 goals in his last two and a half seasons. I'd say Mckay was probably a better all round player and was a better team player than Rooney but Rooney was deadly. It's a tough one but I'd shade with Mckay as he did for a longer time period. The only other strikers we've had who've scored significantly are Miles Storye with 11 goals in 15/16, Gregory Tade with 9 in 11/12, Ofere scoring 5 in 7 in 2015 and Jordan White and George Oakely both scoring 7 and 8 since we got relegated. I don't think anyone would seriously put those guys in a decade team. Special mention goes to Alex Fisher though, who scored 6 goals in the last 7 games in the relegation season after not getting a chance for months despite being fully fit. Thanks Obama Foran.
So there you have it, my ICT team of the decade.
Fisher (just to stare at Foran shaking his head whenever he meets his gaze).
What would your 2010s XI be?