So the highs of January already feel like a month ago after the losses at Sutton and Huddersfield, but the truth is, it’s barely been a week since we were on top of the world. January was a great, great month for Leeds United: we started off 3-0, including a systematic destruction of Derby County at Elland Road, and finished the month 4-2 across all competitions.
Who deserves the credit for that? Well, everyone, but if we had to pick a Player of the Month, there was clearly only one choice. Even these guys realized it...
⚽ Congratulations to @LUFC’s @officialcwood on winning the January Sky Bet Championship PFA Fans’ Player of the Month. pic.twitter.com/7NerKwDnwv— PFA (@PFA) February 8, 2017
Yes, the Championship PFA Fans’ Player of the Month is also ours, as Chris Wood dominated from start to finish in the first month of 2017. In only four league matches, Chris Wood scored SIX goals, accounting for all but two of Leeds United’s league total for the month. He scored twice against Rotherham and Barnsley and once against Derby and Forest. It was a masterclass goal-scoring forward performance.
He won our staff poll by an 8-1 margin, with only our contrarian Irishman Sean Ryan holding out for Kemar Roofe (his Case for Kemar Roofe is below). James Mahoney gave the summary of the Case for Chris Wood below as well.
And you weren’t foolish enough to give the Reader’s Choice award to anyone else either: Chris Wood won that poll in a very nice showing too:
Hey: game's about to start and we've got your attention, let's run this thing now. Who was your Reader's Choice POTM for January? #MOT #LUFC— Thru It All Together (@ThruItAllLUFC) February 1, 2017
So Chris Wood wins the Staff and Reader’s Choice TIAT Player of the Month awards for January. No surprise there, but here are his awards... still better than some fancy watch, we think.
Congratulations, Chris. Keep it up. Our rationale for our staff vote follows below. Looking forward to seeing the Big Kiwi and the rest of the lads in White get back on the winning track on Saturday. MOT.
The Case for Chris Wood, by James Mahoney, 8 votes
January can be a crucial month in the Championship promotion race. January is where you see the true contenders emerge and stake a claim for promotion. And throughout January, Leeds have staked their claim... and all because of the contribution of Chris Wood.
Chris Wood has once again claimed the TIAT POTM award. In January, the Big Kiwi has been a dominate force in front of goal and dominated the TIAT staff POTM vote. He picked up 8 votes from the team in the office, the votes all centered around one vital statistic - his astounding scoring record. Wood scored 6 league goals in 4 games in January and is the sole reason we currently reside comfortably in the play-off places.
He set the tone straight from the word go against Rotherham. I had the pleasure of being behind the goal as he shrugged off the Rotherham defender with ease and fired the ball into the back of the net out of nowhere.
However, it was his second goal that day that really highlights Wood’s striking pedigree and his incredible January in particular. If you watched him closely during the game, just as he arrived in the 6-yard box, he peeled off the defender marking him and found a pocket of space to attack the ball and score.
Then came Derby. The Derby game was the performance of the season from Leeds. We completely dominated from the first whistle to the last whistle but then as Leeds piled on the pressure on Derby, the pressure started to grow. The fear of not taking advantage when we were in the ascendance was becoming apparent throughout the ground. However, just before the break, Wood leaped into the air like a majestical red fox to head home the only goal of the game.
The Derby game emphasised the role Wood ultimately plays within the Leeds set up. At various stages this season, when it’s looked like the goal might not come, Wood has just found the net to give us the points. In January, Leeds picked up 8 points with Chris Wood scoring in each game. This season his goals have helped us accumulate 39 points out of the 51 we currently have.
The first goal can be a defining thing in a match of football and Wood has opened the scoring in 9 of our victories this season, 2 of which happened in January. Even in the defeat against Barnsley, we were out-played but could have picked a point all because of Wood scoring 2 goals.
However, it’s not just because of his goals that he deserves the POTM award for January: it’s his work rate. Many Leeds fans, including myself, had questions about Wood being able to put in a real shift and be a team player. Well, you saw throughout January that Wood ran his socks off in every match.
Every time the ball is anywhere within the oppositions backline, Wood is hounding them like a dog after a bone. The defenders and goal-keepers look terrified as this 6’2 man bears down on them with a fierce determination in his eyes.
We have now seen Wood reach the 20 mark for the club (against Nottingham Forest), and as we say goodbye to January, we applaud the big man’s efforts and hope for more goals in the months to come.
The Case for Kemar Roofe, by Sean Ryan, 1 vote
My pick for player of the month is the same as December. Kemar Roofe, for me, has been an absolute revelation since the end of November. When we were beginning to lack a bit of flair and creativity, when Pablo was injured or out of form, the 23 year old stood up and started providing. Chris Wood will get the plaudits this year and rightfully so, but without Roofe and those around him, he would have half the goals he does.
Roofe has been brilliant this month. He attacks players and creates chances, something that we have been desperately missing in recent seasons. Give this one to Roofe. Without him we wouldn't be where we are.