Mike Fondop is seriously challenging my preconceptions.
He arrived with a National League record of 7 goals in 31 games, having been with Guiseley, who finished rock bottom of the table last season. I wasn’t encouraged, but figured he’d be a decent back-up. When I realised he was our first choice centre forward, I was worried.
That seemed a popular opinion at the time, but scepticism turned to delirium as he enjoyed a prolific pre-season. Except in my mind.
I’d seen enough players flourish in meaningless games and then stumble when things turned serious to maintain a healthy level of doubt about Fondop’s ability to perform at that level when things got serious.
I’m not looking so smart now, am I?
Fondop has four in five, and has scored in his last three games. The last Wrexham player to achieve that was Jordan White in April 2017, and if he hits the net again tomorrow he’ll be the first Wrexham player to score in four consecutive matches since Joe Clarke in January 2013.
Fondop is a brutal centre forward. Centre backs must hate battling him, and a couple of recent referees seem to have been less than enamoured with him. He has scored a wide range of goals, from thunderous close range headers, through improvised overhead kicks, to sharp volleyed finishes and, at Eastleigh a goal which was as excellent as it was illogical.
In some ways it summed up Fondop. When he received the ball deep on the left, Chris Holroyd was tearing down the opposite flank, completely clear. Fondop had to spread it to him. The Wrexham fans were screaming at him to switch it, but their voices must have receded from his consciousness as he ran away from them. He surged past the bench, all of whom were on their feet, beseeching him to look up and find the unmarked Holroyd. He surged on by. The opportunity passed, he continued into the box, oblivious to the opportunity he’d just wasted. He continued down the left channel, burst past his man and slammed his shot across the keeper and in off the far post.
Maybe he knew what he was doing all along.
Was he oblivious, or was he just exhibiting the cold-blooded selfishness a goalscorer needs? Only he knows, and the answer will probably determine whether he can sustain his scoring form over the course of the season. Is he just a striker with some good attributes who is enjoying a purple patch of form, or a forward who is developing and will continue to improve?
I still feel cautious. However, Fondop has shown the attributes required to trouble opposing defences, and we look like a side which will provide him with plenty of opportunities. He also appears to have joined a club which is committed to working on his game, making up for his lack of experience at academy level. He’d have struggled in last season’s rather pedestrian approach to going forward, but the timing of his arrival has been kind. Hopefully he can take advantage of his circumstances.