It has thus far been a fantastic season for Bolton Wanderers. Currently sitting 2nd with a game in hand and a 4 point cushion on 3rd. We have had one of the best defences in the Football League, conceding only 34 goals as well as some sublime performances to boot. David Wheater, Mark Beevers and Andrew Taylor were all in my mind when deciding. After much deliberation and whittling down it came down to Andrew Taylor and Adam Le Fondre, here's why ALF shaves it.
Remember the last day of the January transfer window? The feeling had been building for weeks to the fever pitch of ALF-mania on that day. Even hours before people refused to believe we could pull off such a coup. This feeling was brutally cut short by the sale of the clubs best academy prospect in years, Zach Clough. Herein lies the importance ALF has played this year. We lost our talisman and most skillful member of our attacking line-up.
ALF was brought in to plug this gap (and the cynic in me says to also placate fans in light of Clouxit). In the immediate it looked as if this gamble was not going to pay off. ALF was noticeable rusty having barely played for Wigan; far from the player we had seen grace the white shirt previously. Yet game by game we saw more and more. As the fitness came back we saw more than the ALF of old. Mercilessly closing down, competing for every header and offering an outlet to Gary Madine's flick on's.
With his fitness returning, goals were not long to follow. Despite taking 7 games to find the net, ALF hit a brace against Fleetwood Town that would see a change in fortunes for our season. The poor form since the loss of Sammy and Clough seems to have been banished at exactly the time ALF (and Morias) reached their peak levels. He has since scored 5 goals, propelling us to 2nd in the league. An interesting side stat to show how lethal he is that ALF hits his shots on target 85% of the time. Compare that with Zach Clough - 65% or Gary Madine - 51%.
Finally and perhaps the reason why he gets the nod for POTY for me is the impact his arrival has had on the fans. Losing the best player the academy has produced in years knocked a lot out of us. The dip in form knocked even more out. Yet after that first Le Fondre goal there was an instant welling up of good feeling. Seeing our cult hero succeed and do what we love him for. We had the chants, the cheers and the joy of seeing a player on the pitch who loves playing for our club. We all knew that there would be more after that first brace as well. There was no question as to whether he could fire us to Promotion, we all knew it. That confidence has spilled out on to the pitch and we now go in to every game as favourites, safe in the knowledge that if ALF gets one chance, he'll probably take it.