Alfie May: Cheltenham Town’s Lionel Messi
Over the past two decades, plenty of players have been deemed ‘the new Lionel Messi’ from Alen Halilović to Marko Marin and have gone on to have underwhelming careers — the nickname seems to be a curse rather than a blessing. However, when you look at Alfie May’s role at Cheltenham Town, there are few players that come to mind like the Argentine superstar, such has been his brilliance and importance in the team. At 29 years of age, May has enjoyed a sensational campaign that has seen him score 14 goals and 3 assists in 32 League One appearances for Cheltenham Town, who sit 10 points clear of the drop with seven matches left.
Similarly to Messi, May drops deep to receive the ball, underlying his own keenness to get involved and help the team, but he also leads from the front, harassing and hurrying opposition players and thereby influencing the off-the-ball pressure alongside the rest of his teammates. He was influential for the first goal in their 3-1 win against Exeter City on March 18, providing a cross for Aidan Keena to come steaming into the box and score.
Cheltenham Town’s next match will see them host league leaders Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday, and in order to secure an upset, the Robins will be counting on their English striker to be at his best as they take on Darren Moore’s side. He is the club’s top goal scorer with 14, and he could be set for a move away from Whaddon Road after a sensational campaign, although it remains to be seen whether or not he feels the need to depart a club where his unique but effective playing style is received with the care and respect that it deserves.
How Darren Moore Turned Sheffield Wednesday into a ‘Well-machined Oil’
At 1.76 m, May has a low centre of gravity and quick feet, and more importantly, quick thinking. The greatest example of this came on March 11 when he grabbed a brace in a 3-0 win against Peterborough, one of them being a Puskas contender. After his teammate flicked on a header from a throw-in, May controlled the ball by popping it up to his other side before launching a shot from the halfway line that soared above the goalkeeper and doubled Cheltenham’s lead.
May scored 23 goals and 4 assists in 46 matches last season and has followed that up with another sensational campaign at Whaddon Road, where he has spent the past three years and two months of his career. He has emerged as the team’s attacking talisman and creative force, and he could be vital in their attempts to secure their safety in League One.
By: Joseph Baker / @Joebakerwinch
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Bradley Collyer – PA Images