BRIS­TOL BOX OF­FICE

Aaron Wil­bra­ham is City goal king af­ter be­ing or­dered to stay in the box

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

BRIS­TOL City hot-shot Aaron Wil­bra­ham be­lieves he is dis­pelling the myth you can­not teach an old dog new tricks – as he closes in on the best goalscor­ing sea­son of his 18year ca­reer.

Hav­ing con­tin­u­ally tried and failed to usurp the 17 goals scored for MK Dons in the 2008-09 cam­paign, Wil­bra­ham was one short of that tally be­fore yes­ter­day’s trip to Craw­ley.

The striker’s feat is all the more re­mark­able when you con­sider he turned 35 in Oc­to­ber – and missed al­most two months of the sea­son with a hip in­jury!

But Wil­bra­ham is quite clear on the rea­son for his suc­cess – a stroke of ge­nius from his manager Steve Cot­ter­ill.

“I’ve al­ways worked best when I’ve been given a game­plan and I think that’s why things are work­ing so well this sea­son,” he said. “I sat down with the manager and he said to me ‘don’t do so much out­side the box’.

“I’d al­ways been that way, hold­ing the ball up, bring­ing oth­ers in to play. But he said to me ‘Get in the box more, there’s no value to you lurk­ing around the edge of the area’.

“I’d have prob­a­bly had to give up my place in the team if I wasn’t scor­ing, though the manager was notic­ing the job I did. But the goals started com­ing, which is easy when you have good play­ers around you and the manager be­lieves in you.

Guid­ance

“He’s given me guid­ance and di­rec­tion. It’s the first time we have worked to­gether, but I ab­so­lutely love work­ing with him.”

Cot­ter­ill is not just popular with Wil­bra­ham, but the whole red half of Bris­tol at the mo­ment with his team rac­ing to­wards the League One ti­tle and look­ing for­ward to a day out at Wem­b­ley later this month for the Johnstone’s Paint Tro­phy fi­nal against Wal­sall.

End­ing the sea­son with both tro­phies is still a big ask, but Wil­bra­ham did just that in 2007-08 with MK Dons. It was the sec­ond of four pro­mo­tions in his ca­reer, hav­ing gone up with Hull as well as Nor­wich and, most re­cently, Crys­tal Palace via the play-offs.

And Wil­bra­ham sees no rea­son why his cur­rent em­ploy­ers can­not stay on track for their own sea­son of suc­cess.

“Be­ing in­volved in both com­pe­ti­tions didn’t af­fect us at MK Dons, it wasn’t a dis­trac­tion,” he added.

“If you win it’s a great feel­ing, but it is only one game. Once it’s over you have to get on with the league sea­son and with MK Dons we did ex­actly that. We went to Wem­b­ley and won, but we didn’t take our eye off the ball and got pro­moted, too.

“When you know your ca­reer is com­ing to an end, for this to be hap­pen­ing is some­thing you dream about.

“We’re in a great po­si­tion. Any­one would swap with us, though I’m not sure it’s a case of it’s ours to throw away, be­cause there are still lots of points to be played for.

“There is a bit of ex­pec­ta­tion within our squad, though, and again, that’s down to the manager in­still­ing this win­ning men­tal­ity and supreme con­fi­dence in us. He al­ways makes sure the play­ers know what is ex­pected of them and ev­ery­one knows their role within the team.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be pro­moted four times and some­times you look around and think maybe any­one could have suc­cess man­ag­ing this team. And yes, we have good play­ers, but the manager gives us that di­rec­tion – he is so thor­ough in ev­ery­thing he does.

“I’m good friends with Sam Bal­dock (now at Brighton), who I spoke to be­fore I signed, and he spoke very highly of the manager. I can see why.”

PIC­TURE: Pin­na­cle

NOT AGAIN! Aaron Wil­bra­ham cel­e­brates an­other goal for Bris­tol City

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