He’s been told he can leave London Road and Darragh MacAnthony has suggested five clubs are in for him. There’s no suggestion we’re one of those clubs, none at all, but I’d love it if we were.
I know that plenty of fans will start switching off at this point; we seemingly have a thing about knocking down former Players of the Year. Only this week I read a poll that suggested Michael Bostwick be dropped from the side, carrying on the trend of hauling our players off a pedestal.
In the instance of Bradley Wood though, I can see the fans point.
Anyway, back to Alex. I made no secret of the fact I’m was a big fan of his; his tenacious application in front of the back four was exactly what we needed to make the EFL Trophy final and the top seven in League Two. I firmly believe Bozzy had a great season in midfield that year because they worked well as a team, Alex dogged and constantly running, Bozzy as hard as Chuck Norris on steroids.
I hear we’ve moved on from Alex, I see comments like ‘he only passed sideways’ and inside, I chuckle. To say Alex Woodyard only passes sideways is like saying Bozzy only heads the ball up in the air; it misses out a whole host of different attributes. If we did go in for Alex, it wouldn’t be because of his passing, not just that.
I’m thinking about the Niall Ennis goal, the Jon Taylor goal (to a lesser degree) and even Kieran Agard’s opener for MK Dons. All of those I hear someone comment ‘we should be closing down’. Against Stevenage last season I heard the same; 2-0 up and we were sat off Ilias Chair in front of the ‘D’. It doesn’t always happen and this isn’t critical of the players we do have, but Alex Woodyard patrols that area.
He used to ‘rat around’ as Luke Waterfall once succinctly put it. He would pop up here, there and everywhere. He wouldn’t score a lot of goals and as some people point out, he was the conduit by which we moved from side to side, often feeding the ball with ease across the field. When we came out of the National League that was applauded, by the time he left it was used as a weapon to beat him with.
I believe Danny wants two for every position and in my mind, he has one for the cleanup role; Michael O’Connor. Joe Morrell is playing what I consider to be Lee Frecklington and Tom Pett’s role pushing up to link the defensive man and Jack Payne. Micky is a good player but he’s not had a full pre-season and won’t want to play 90 minutes every Saturday and Tuesday as we are doing now.
We know Alex Woodyard is a decent influence in the changing room, no matter what anyone says about how he left. He’s a favourite of Danny and Nicky too, a player they know and understand. They treated him like a son and whatever anyone says, he rewarded us with sterling displays.
In the 2016/17 season, Alex Woodyard had a 77.9% pass accuracy, making 10.43 forward passes per game, 6.63 passes into the final third per game and just 4 backward passes per game. He won 68.1% of his defensive duels and contested 19 duels per game. In our first season back in the league he improved on those numbers, his accuracy went up to 79%, made 11.28 forward passes per game, 6.97 passes into the final third and 5 backward passes per game. He won 60% of his defensive duel and contested 20 duels per game.
Those are good numbers in my eyes and last season in a passing side like Peterborough he improved on his accuracy further, going up to 83.2% accuracy, Here’s how good that is; Paul Pogba’s stats for the Premier League last season were 83.7% accuracy.
Why would we not want that sort of player in our side, especially one who shouldn’t take time to settle and has a full season of League One football, as club captain, under his belt?
To end, I’ll contrast those numbers with Mark O’Hara, a player you overwhelming decided you wanted us to target in the coming days. He spent time on loan with us as you know last season and he achieved a pass accuracy of 78.1%. He made 6.96 forward passes per game, 3.45 into the final third and 3.79 backwards passes. He was involved in 16.1 duels per game and won 45% of his defensive duels. I’m not calling O’Hara, he was a good player for us and would add something different to Woodyard but, to claim he’d be a better signing than Alex is, in my opinion, wrong.
Sadly, Darragh MacAnthony has essentially said we’re not getting either player but that won’t stop me speculating. I’d love Alex Woodyard back on loan if we could get him and I’m sure Danny would love it just as much.