Continuing in our current series, Richard Hobbs assesses why Nouha Dicko should win the highly-acclaimed Fancast Player of the Year.
Coming into the season, I am not afraid to admit I was uncertain if Dicko could make an impact for Wolves in the Championship. It can be difficult for strikers to score the moving up a division and I was unsure whether Dicko was clinical enough to fire enough up the table.
In terms of goals, it did take Dicko a few games to get off the mark, not scoring until the fifth game of the season. However, in that opening month of the season, the Malian showed he had the ability to lead the line for Wolves.
Playing by himself up front, Dicko played the role of lone striker to perfection. His work rate made him a constant nuisance for defenders and he moved across the opposition backline, stretching their defence for 90 minutes.
With his low centre of gravity, Dicko could hold up the ball for the likes of Sako and Edwards to join in attacks from his midfield. Despite his height, he would win headers and wasn’t afraid to put his weight about.
It is often overlooked how much responsibility Dicko had in the first half of the season. Without any other competition for his place, we have seen players in the past lose motivation when they do not have anyone else vying for their. Dicko thrived in being the number one choice to play up front for Wolves and was a contributing factor for why Wolves were still in with a shot of the title towards the end of October.
Dicko’s season hasn’t exactly go to plan. Playing constantly at such a high intensity, Dicko continued to play with niggling injuries. This resulting in him injuring his hamstring and missing a month of the season. His layoff came in November, a month where Wolves notoriously lost five games in a row. It is no coincidence that Wolves worst run of form of the season came at a time when the mercurial Malian was not in the team.
After returning to fitness, it was clear that Dicko would not be physically able to play his current role without additional personnel. Reinforcements came in the form of Benik Afobe from Arsenal. Afobe has been on fire on loan at MK Dons and looked like far better competition than Dicko had previously had.
At first, Wolves rotated Dicko and Afobe in the lone striker role as they persisted with the five-man midfield they had used all season. But with wolves needing goals to fire themselves back into the playoff places, Kenny Jackett started playing them as a duo.
The pair struck an excellent partnership up front. Dicko seemed to thrive of having someone up in the final third with him and with Afobe’s willingness to close down defenders as well; Dicko has not had to run himself into the ground as much.
Dicko has continued to consistently scored goals despite the arrival of Afobe. Despite Afobe scoring over 30 goals this season, Dicko is still heavily relied upon for Wolves. His importance to the team was clear to see when Wolves hosted Ipswich. With many of his team mates, including Afobe, having quiet games; Dicko was a constant menace against Ipswich, giving Wolves urgency and impetus that was missing throughout the rest of the team.
It’s easy to forget that Dicko is only 23 years old and though his goal return was not as good as Afobe’s or even Sako’s, his overall contribution has been second to none. Unlike other players up for player of the year, Dicko has not had big dips in form and has been consistent throughout the whole campaign.
You can always judge the importance of a player to a team when you see how they are without them. When Wolves were without Dicko during that treacherous month of November, they looked a shell of their former selves. He is vital to the way Wolves play with his industry and directness and has been one of the main reasons why Wolves will finish in top third of the Championship.
That’s why I think Dicko should win the Fancast Player of the Season.
You can vote for Nouha Dicko as your Wolves Fancast Player of the Season here – http://t.co/ts9QuFPnSs .
photos via www.birminghammail.co.uk