ALF hoping for a Royal welcome
Adam Le Fondre's scoring record over a decade suggests his next goal is never too far away.
And the danger posed by the Wigan Athletic striker will certainly have not gone unnoticed this week by Saturday’s opponents Reading.
Le Fondre –who joined Latics on deadline-day on a season-long loan from Cardiff – spent three goal-den years with the Royals between 2011-14, bagging 41 goals in 110 games, of which only 53 were starts.
Indeed, the 14 goals he bagged during his ‘middle’ year in the Premier League have placed him third on the all-time list in terms of top-flight goals-per-game.
“I managed to find the net quite a bit while I was there, which I’ve managed to do throughout my career to be fair,” Le Fondre told the Evening Post.
“I had a bit of a lull when I went to Cardiff, there were a few mitigating circumstances behind that, but that happens in football.
“It’s well-documented that I never really played at Wolves, but generally I’ve scored goals wherever I’ve gone.
“That’s obviously why I’m here, to get a platform to score even more goals.”
As Le Fondre is the first to admit, the last couple of years haven’t exactly gone the way he would have planned.
But his record during his Madejski Stadium tenure underline the permanent class he undoubtedly possesses.
“I had three great years down there, I’ve a lot of friends still at the club and a lot of good memories,” Le Fondre acknowledged.
“We managed to get up to the Premier League during my time, as well as a couple of great years in the Championship so it was a good time for us all.
“There was a big void at the time with Shane Long leaving after they lost in the play-off final, and to go in and hit the ground running as I did was very pleasing.
“Promotion to the Premier League came a little bit out of the blue really.
“We were the underdogs at the time, I think even in January we were down in 17th or 18th place.
“We went on a ridiculous run of games, when I think we only lost a couple of times during the rest of the season.
“The squad really came together, we had a really strong bond and I think that was what saw us over the line.”
That Premier League adventure only lasted one year – home and away defeats to Latics sealing their fate – and after a year back in the Championship he reluctantly moved on to help the club balance the books.
“It was a massive decision for me to leave,” he recognised.
“Obviously at the time it was something that was kind of forced on me, because the club was in financial trouble with the previous owners running up debts.
“Two of us had to be sold for the sake of the club, one of them was me, and it was something that had to be done.
“That’s football, that kind of thing can sometimes happen.
“You never really know what’s going on behind the scenes, but that was something that happened and you move on.
“Funnily enough the only time I was in the Cardiff squad this season before I came here was for the Reading game, and I was impressed by them.
“They play really good football, they keep possession well and they attack very well down both flanks.
“When I was there we used to play 4-4-2, but it’s now been influenced by the new manager (Jaap Stam), who plays more of a Dutch style with a 4-3-3.
“They seem to have really taken to it and they’ll be a tough nut to crack.”
Reading, under Stam, lie fifth in the table, and look to have the best chance of winning promotion since dropping back into the Championship four seasons ago.
“I’d like to think they’ll challenge, for the sake of the people there and the fans,” Le Fondre revealed.
“They’re a big club who will feel they should be in the top half, pushing for the play-offs at least.
“Obviously there’s a long way to go, but to be honest all of my focus is on Wigan and making sure we achieve our goals.
“The sooner we can start regularly picking up wins and points, the better for us.”
A repeat of last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Cardiff would certainly be appreciated.
“It was a great display from the boys, we really needed it,” Le Fondre said. “We’ve deserved more from recent performances, but sometimes you play well and lose, and sometimes you play not so well and win.
“Grinding out results is something you have to do in this league and thankfully we were able to do that on Saturday.”
Le Fondre was prevented from playing against Cardiff due to the terms of his loan deal, but there is nothing standing in the way of him facing up to his former Reading pals. And for the second home game in a row, Latics face a play-off chasing side in good form.
Last time out a fine performance wasn’t enough to prevent Brighton going away with a 1-0 win, but Le Fondre believes it will be different this time round.
“We like to think we’re a tough team to beat,” he added.
“Obviously the Brighton game was a bitter pill to swallow, because we thought we played really well and just didn’t take our chances. Dale Stephens has then put one in the top bins, and there’s not a lot you can do about that.”