It has been no secret that the main reason for Leeds United’s 2016 resurgence has been an improved back line. Improving from last year’s “error prone back four” was key, and we have done that in spades.
But one man has not gotten the recognition he deserves in the shadow of greatness. Kyle Bartley, Pontus Jansson, and Charlie Taylor have all won TIAT Awards honors already this season, and today, our readers have chosen to honor the fourth member of that back line with the November Reader’s Choice Player of the Month. His recognition is long overdue.
Bartsson and Taylor might get more attention, but Ayling’s consistent effort and heart have meant as much to a successful defence as anything else. He even gives piggy-back rides to injured Whites. He’s a hero.
This wasn’t really a close contest for the 353 voters. Ayling earned endorsements from our James Mahoney and Jack Dudley as well, and the data backs his selection up too:
Luke Ayling in the @SkyBetChamp in 2016/17— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) December 5, 2016
Joint-5th most tackles won in the division (52)
0.6 fouls committed per game
Cracking signing pic.twitter.com/8TKq3uRHS1
My daughter calls him the “Leeds guy with the pony tail,” but he can wear his hair however he likes if he’s producing like that on the pitch. On top of the in-game performance and the post-game piggy-backs mentioned earlier, he also has made himself involved in the community, attending a little autograph signing session just this week at the ER Superstore with his long-time best bud, Kyle Bartley:
Join us at the Elland Road Superstore tonight between 6pm-7pm, and meet/grab a selfie with Leeds United duo Luke Ayling and Kyle Bartley pic.twitter.com/ivhg9zxjf1— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 7, 2016
Joe meeting his heroes @joelewis04 @lukeayling_8 @LUFC pic.twitter.com/o1i3OdzV3U— Allie Lewis (@Allielew11) December 7, 2016
The best. Our squad, every squad, could use more Luke Aylings. Why Bristol let him transfer is beyond me. Let’s hope he and Kyle stay together on that Leeds United back line for a long time.
Congratulations Luke; here’s your People’s Choice POTM award sticker. Keep playing your heart out back there and we’ll continue to give you the recognition you deserve. MOT.