Legend, a word bandied about an awful lot, but one which often lacks the meaning it should have. Anyone gets labelled a legend these days, I’m of the opinion it is something bestowed on your once you’ve left the club.
Therefore, Alex Woodyard will have to wait before being crowned a legend, but the events of the last 24 hours have cemented his status as a proper Imps hero. I’ll confess, news of Luton interest has reached me long before the transfer window opened, Danny said last week they were ‘expecting a bid’ with many ‘in the know’ fans bring different details of the deal to social media forums. The truth is only Alex, his agent and a handful of other people truly know what happened, which is how it should be.
We all know that he’s not going anywhere, an early morning email from the club distracted me yesterday morning. Whenever correspondence arrives with ’embargo’ written in the subject line, my heart takes a little leap. When the club issue a press release it means only one thing: big news. Sunday morning seemed an odd time for big news, but it certainly brightened up a blank weekend for the Imps.
Alex Woodyard remaining at the club is massive for us, despite what many say. I’ve heard from some they consider him to have dipped in form recently, I disagree to an extent. Everyone dipped against Barnet, but over Christmas Alex was integral to our good run. He was clearly missed against Peterborough, although the result went our way I thought we often struggled in the deeper midfield areas. Elliott Whitehouse is a good squad player, but his tackling and distribution is not on Alex’s level. Those who have seen a dip in form have perhaps been looking too closely at one player. We’ve lost to Luton and drawn with Notts County and Barnet so far in January league action, it hasn’t exactly been a great period for the entire squad. The two Checkatrade Trophy wins have masked a tough spell of football in the league and that isn’t down to one person.
His partnership with Michael Bostwick has been the rock around which our season has been built and it was always vital we retain his services.
Alex cleaned up last season at the awards dinner and rightly so. His displays were eye-catching, he does the stuff nobody sees but with him, everyone notices. He is industrious and has a never-ending engine which helps in the latter stages of games. Some criticise his lack of goals, but he’s very much a defensive midfielder. His partnership with Michael Bostwick has been the rock around which our season has been built and it was always vital we retain his services. The fact he’s stated he believe Lincoln City can help him fulfil his desire to play higher is a testament not only to the trajectory the club is one, but also to Danny and Nicky’s skill of persuasion!
It would be remiss to let the rumours sweeping internet forums to cloud your judgement of Alex Woodyard and I think most fans have shot down those peddling the various stories. The intricacies of the situation shouldn’t be for public consumption, only the outcome. We haven’t kept a player against his will, he’s remained here through choice and that has to be applauded from all angles. Luton Town are, and it pains me to say this, a much bigger team than us. They’re on a collision course with the Championship, they have quality and depth and they will be deserving league winners come the end of the season. Alex could have been apart of that, but he has chosen to stay here and ensure that we take their place at the top next season, if we don’t sneak in this time around.
Danny has said we’re four or five years behind Luton in terms of where we want to be, but I think we’re much closer than that. I understand the facilities we’ve got are not up to scratch yet, but if there hadn’t been movement on the training ground I think Danny would have been more vocal. No, I believe everything is progressing nicely in that area and if that is the case, we’re not that far behind Luton. They’re a slick side and have a stronger squad than us, but we matched them at Sincil Bank. If the return hadn’t been on New Year’s Day I think we would have seen a different game of football, those special occasions often offer up a different spectacle to a wet Tuesday night in March. I believe we’re twelve months, eighteen at most, from being in their shoes and I guess Alex Woodyard agrees.
They say a season can be defined by your January transfer window business and retaining the services of one of our key players is every bit as important as bringing in a new face. To lose Alex would have set us back six months at least, I believe it would have scuppered our chances of promotion this season. Once again though, he’s chosen Lincoln City over moving to another club. Luton Town wouldn’t necessarily have been a side-step either, they’ll be League One next season without question. Their crowds and ours are very similar, but we’re at the peak of our achievement whereas they’re slowly building up to a crescendo. They’re certainly a bigger club than Scunthorpe, a side also linked with Alex in the summer. It doesn’t seem to matter who comes in for him though, he’s an Imp and a vital one at that.
Tomorrow night, I can’t wait to hear the 617 back in the ground and singing ‘we’ve got Alex Woodyard’ loud and proud. Rumours of his departure had clouded the January window for me and news of him remaining an Imp was incredibly well-received here at the Stacey West ranch. Let’s make sure we get right behind him tomorrow and let him know exactly what him staying at the Bank means to us all.