Sometimes it is very difficult to choose a Man of The Match. When Bolton Wanderers play horribly, there is just no one to pick from for the award. This happened a lot more under Dougie Freedman than it has under Neil Lennon. Usually you end up going with the goalkeeper, who made a few good saves, or the goal scorer, if there was one.
Other times there are three or four players who did well, but no one who really rose above the rest. Once in a while, there is an outstanding performance, and so many player stand out that you can barely decide. But Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday, none of these applied. Saturday in Yorkshire we had one player who stood above all others. That player was Josh Vela.
When Neil Lennon's team sheet came out Saturday there were a lot of questions about the formation. Was it 3-5-2? Or maybe 5-3-1-1? Or just an old-fashioned 4-4-2? But under the uncertainty there was an air of excitement. Whatever the formation was, we all knew one thing for certain. Josh Vela was returning to his natural position. The 21-year-old was forced to step in at right back when injuries decimated the squad this past fall, but he did a job right from the start, and held on to his spot in the first eleven. That reflected well on the Salford-born youngster, but it is one thing to hold your own at an unfamiliar position. It is altogether another to dominate a match from midfield.
Vela was involved in every aspect of the match at Hillsborough. He defended extremely well, he linked play between the backline and the attackers, he passed beautifully, and he made several dangerous runs into Sheffield Wednesday's penalty box. Liam Feeney scored a very good first goal, and Darren Pratley scored an even better second goal, but neither ran the game like Vela did. Awarding him the Lion of Vienna Suite Man of the Match was a no-brainer.
There is another thought that come sot my mind though, a better thought. In a few weeks time, as injuries heal, we could have a midfield four of Darren Pratley, Josh Vela, Chung-Yong Lee, and Zach Clough. That, my friends, will be brilliant to see.