On just another Saturday night in front of the TV, just another can of something cold is opened. As the monotonous routine of Ant and Dec mildly entertaining millions unfolds in front of me, one thought dominates: one hundred thousand pounds. How on earth? Just one hundred thousand pounds.
I am of course talking about the fee that Wanderers paid Rochdale for central midfielder Aaron Morley.
Has any transfer in the history of anything ever been more one sided in favour of the buyer? The United States bought Alaska for just $7.2m in 1867. Nike bought the “swoosh” logo for $35 in the 1980s.
But can the state of Alaska ping a crossfield pass to feet? Can the Nike swoosh effortlessly caress a football into the top corner of the Gillingham goal?
Aaron Morley is the biggest bargain buy in the history of everything, and he proved it with his excellent display at the Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
Last week, he was rightly replaced at half time by Ian Evatt. Morley hadn’t necessarily played poorly, but the MK Dons midfield harassed our playmaker mercilessly. They knew that, if they could rush Morley into submission, we wouldn’t be able to get our passing game going. Evatt was right to see the tactical disadvantage and make the change.
But when teams like Gillingham sit back (or if you want to sound clever “employ a low block”) Aaron Morley will pass you to death.
In the first half, he pitched a ball across the field to Declan John during yet another Bolton build up. It was perfectly weighted above the defender’s head, arcing down onto John’s left foot. It wasn’t a decisive move that directly created an opportunity, but it was a beautiful thing to watch. When teams let Morley play, he’ll do just that.
And of course, we have to talk about the goal. Wanderers fans knew from Morley’s highlights at Rochdale that he was capable of special hits, and they finally got to see one in Bolton colours. Some neat work between MJ Williams and Marlon Fossey drew three defenders to the right touchline. Space opened up on the edge of the box, and Morley was the first to capitalise. Fossey found his man in space, and what came next was a thing of brilliance.
When a goal is technically so well done, we often fall back on clichés to describe them in case our own words can’t do them justice. This was one of those strikes that was in from the moment the ball left his boot. In a frustrating but dominant first half, Morley’s strike broke the deadlock in style to hand Bolton the lead.
In the second half, Bolton’s dominance increased further. Morley was at the centre of everything The Wanderers did going forward. He switched the play from left to right, defence to attack with accurate and perfectly weighted passes. He is becoming so important in Ian Evatt’s team. When Morley plays well, Bolton play well.
We must of course tip our cap to MJ Williams here, who quite literally does all the thankless tasks. This allows his sexy brethren, be it Sexy Kieran, Sexy Josh or Sexy Aaron, to do their thing. Williams’ willingness to sit and protect from counter attacks gives Morley the freedom on the field to roam and make things happen.
One hundred thousand pounds. I like the way you move, Aaron Morley.