11/12 Review: 12. Anthony Pilkington

Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Player Reviews | 0 comments

I didn’t know much about Anthony Pilkington when we signed him from Huddersfield. All right, I’d never heard of him. So I did what any self-respecting football fan does these days, and had a look on YouTube.

Among other things, I found this. And I became aroused.

Then, a little later, I found this. And I had to sit on my hands.

Of course, You Tube clips can be misleading (the Fotheringham effect), but so cleanly struck were those goals, both left and right foot, and most arrowing straight into the top corner, that this looked far from a “Fozzy flick” moment.

Even our habit of buying injured players couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm, as we were soon told that Pilks had made a good recovery from his dislocated ankle and broken leg. In fact, Pilks was ready to make a substitute appearance at Wigan on the opening day of the season, and started his first game in the home draw with Stoke a week later.

He fully arrived in the Premier League with the first in a 2-1 win at Bolton, but it was at the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford where we really first saw Pilks’ potential, despite missing a glorious chance to give City the lead, he caused havoc on the biggest stage of all, showing pace, poise and the knack of getting in goalscoring positions that makes his omission from the Republic of Ireland squad as mystifying as Wessi’s.

It took Pilkington just seven days to bury the memory of that miss in the north west, smartly tucking away two poacher’s goals in the 3-1 win over Swansea, and he followed that up with a wonderful free kick at Villa Park having played a major role in an opening 20 minutes that saw Norwich temporarily dominate the team we all wish had got relegated.

Pilks spent much of December on the bench as Paul Lambert gave the winger one of his trademark “rests”, something almost every Norwich player had to get used to over the course of the season, but Pilks came back with a bang with another sweet strike at QPR before tearing Ashley Cole apart in the goalless draw with Chelsea. I’m not sure if there was something wrong with Cole that day, but Pilks made the future Champions League winner and “best left back in the world” look pedestrian as he ran him ragged time after time.

The goals kept coming, and then it was Patrice Evra’s turn to discover that the man from Blackburn held no truck with reputations as he again destroyed one of the world’s best defenders in an all-round display that did not deserve to go unrewarded. A hamstring strained at Newcastle kept Pilkington out for a few weeks but he returned with another neat finish in the win at Spurs, before playing a reduced role in the run-in as Elliott Bennett and Wessi returned from their own respective breaks.

It’s fair to say that eight goals from midfield in 30 Premier League appearances jumping straight from League One and with an interrupted pre season, Pilks was perhaps slightly unfortunate not to have grabbed third place in the Player of the Season award.

Stand out performances against Cole and Evra prove that there are few more effective goal-scoring wingers around in the Premier League, and it’s vital that we keep hold of him this summer. After that, given another productive season, I’ve no doubt that Pilks is destined for somewhere like Liverpool, or even Old Trafford, for somewhere in the region of £8-£10m.

There are few more promising hard-working, two-footed, goal-scoring, pacy wingers out there. He seems a genuinely nice bloke too, the bastard.

Matt Ware

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