Blackpool striker Armand Gnanduillet earns the backing of manager Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson says Armand Gnanduillet has taken his game to another level for Blackpool in recent weeks.
The Frenchman scored both of Blackpool’s goals in their 2-0 win against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, taking his goals tally for the season to 12.
The 26-year-old now has five goals in his last four outings, a run of form that followed the striker’s dropping for the 0-0 draw against Burton Albion last month.
Gnanduillet rightly took all the plaudits for his brace at the weekend, his goals capping off a superb all-round display.
Grayson said: “I thought he was a real handful and I’m not just talking about his goals, because I know that’s what strikers get judged on.
“But the last few weeks he’s been very good and very difficult to play against.
“We’ve worked with him in terms of trying to retain the ball better and hold it up, not flicking things around.
“When he gets hold of it and gives us a base to play from, we’ve got players that can get the ball and create chances for him.
“His all-round game has been very good and two more goals shows the work he’s been doing in training, which is reflected on the pitch with the goals tally he’s got.”
Gnanduillet’s tally in all competition of 12 is now just two shy of the amount he produced for the whole of last season, which had been his most prolific campaign in front of goal.
When asked what the secret is to Gnanduillet’s personal improvement, Grayson added: “Working hard in training.
“But he’ll be the first to admit his teammates are supplying him and he’s in the right place at the right time.
“Competition for places has also been key as he knows he only has to look at the bench to know, if he doesn’t perform, he’ll be out of the team.
“He’s playing with a smile on his face and seems to be enjoying what he’s doing, so let’s just hope he gets past 14 goals.”
Gnanduillet’s first goal on Saturday came at a vital time for the Seasiders, who had struggled to break down a defensive Wimbledon side.
The striker beat goalkeeper Nathan Trott at his near post six minutes after the interval, having latched onto Nathan Delfouneso’s clever through ball.
Gnanduillet then put the game to bed in the 81st minute, tapping home from Liam Feeney’s clever pullback.
“If you ask Sullay Kaikai I’m sure he would have liked it to go across the face of goal,” Grayson said of Gnanduillet’s first effort, where Kaikai was screaming for him to pass.
“It’s one of those situations where, if the keeper saves it, it’s the wrong decision. But he hits the back of the net so it’s the right decision, isn’t it?
“Sometimes they will come back off the keeper, sometimes they will square it or other people will.
“It hit the back of the net, which is the most important thing. I don’t care who does it, but for Armand to go on and get the second goal was nice as well.”