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I Really Like Jose Manuel Casado

There might be a new love in my life...

David Ramos/Getty Images

I watched my first Bolton Wanderers game in what felt like an age on Saturday, as the Whites held on for a 1-1 draw against Leeds United.

For a game with such few goals and not a lot in the way of goalmouth action, there were still quite a few talking points to take away from the tie, such as Prince's ridiculous red card, Shola Ameobi actually not being bad, Josh Vela returning to the side and injuries to both Gary Madine and Mark Davies.

There is, however, one aspect of the game that I want to discuss in a bit more detail than that - that being the fantastic perfjoamcne of Jose Manuel Casado.

It was the first time I'd seen the little Spaniard in action, and I was impressed with everything that I saw.

Defensively he made our left hand side as secure as it has been in some years now. Whilst everyone knows my love for Tim Ream, he was even more solid than him. Don't get me wrong, I think Dean Moxey has been a revelation this season too, however, Moxey seems to be a defender who reacts to the danger as it is happening, rather than cutting it out before it even begins like Casado did on Saturday.

Maybe there is an argument to suggest that Casado wasn't really tested against Leeds, but I would say that he came up against very tricky opponents in the brilliant Stuart Dallas and highly-rated youngster Lewis Cook, and neither of them got any joy at all down his flank.

That was because, as I earlier eluded to, Casado's reading of the game was sublime, he was forever at the right place in the right time to either intercept passes or immediately tackle a player as they received one. According to Squawka, he made a total of eight interceptions and five blocks against Leeds, which is a hell of a lot.

With the ball at his feet and going forward his Barcelona upbringing is clear to see. He never once panicked whilst on the ball and always looked to pass out from the back and move us forward, linking up well in little triangles with Darren Pratley and Josh Vela especially.

His assuredness on the ball seemed to send a calming relief throughout most of the team, and everyone at least looked to try and get the ball down and pass it out. Well, in the first half.

He's handy going forward on the wing too. He isn't the fastest of players, but he was constantly getting up in support and swung some dangerous balls into the area. No doubt his ability from set pieces will come in handy as the season goes on too. His corner which led up to the goal may have seemed like the worst one you've ever seen, but I actually think it was a clever set play, his lot to the near post for someone to flick on and someone else to fire home.

Or am I giving too much credit now?

Finally, and easily my favourite aspect of Casado's performance, was the fire he had in him. He wasn't afraid in the absolute slightest of having a go at the lanky Chris Wood, who stands a good nine inches taller than him, and told him where to stick it in no pleasant terms. That along with constantly mouthing off at the officials.

I loved to see it, it's been a while since we've had a player with some real fight about him who isn't afraid to really have a go at the opposition. Whatever you thought of his ability, it's why Paul Robinson was liked by so many during his time at the club.

His good early form poses a serious selection head ache for Neil Lennon once Moxey, who's hardly put a foot wrong all season, returns to full fitness but it's definitely a nice dilemma to have.

Now, I know I'm saying all this off just one appearance and it could all go tits up yet, but I can't help but say I was genuinely very impressed with what I saw of Casado.

You know what? All of the above, along with his glorious beard, may mean he is my next love after the heart break Tim Ream left me in.

Don't let me down Jose.