A Derby County fan’s view of Jake Buxton

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

No sooner had Jake Buxton signed for Wigan Athletic but he made his debut last night at Oldham. The 31 year old central defender, who is 5 ft 11in tall, has joined Latics on a three year contract.

On acquiring Buxton’s services Gary Caldwell said that: “Jake adds great experience and competition to our defence and I am delighted to be able to bring him here, Not only will he be an asset to us on the field, but Jake will also add to the great character within our dressing room and I feel he will fit into our group perfectly. He’s a top professional with over 300 Football League games to his name and he’s chomping at the bit to add to his tally.”

Jake Buxton was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a Nottinghamshire market town. He started his career four miles away in Mansfield coming through the youth ranks, making his first team debut as a 17 year old in a Football League Trophy game against Crewe in October 2002. Buxton was to made captain at the age of 21 in the 2006-07 season and was to spend 6 years at Mansfield Town, making over 160 appearances.  However, on the club’s relegation to the Football Conference in 2008 he left by mutual consent.

Following a trail at Crewe, Buxton joined Burton Albion and they went on to win the Football Conference title under Nigel Clough. Buxton was voted Player of the Year for the Brewers in that 2008-09 season, after making 40 appearances.

Clough was to join Derby County the following season, taking the out-of-contract Buxton with him. Buxton went on to make 139 appearances over 7 seasons for the Rams, scoring 11 goals.

In order to learn more about Buxton’s time at Derby we contacted the Ollie Wright at the @derbycountyblog.

Here’s over to Ollie:

Jake Buxton arrived at Derby County from Burton Albion in 2009, following his manager Nigel Clough in transferring from the Brewers to the Rams.  Given that Derby had not long been relegated from the Premier League and Burton had only just been promoted to the Football League, the signing was met with widespread incredulity – but Clough had faith in Buxton to make the jump, based on his work ethic and character.  –

 Clough was big on character.  In the same way that his father would have no truck with ‘sh..houses’, Nigel prioritised and was loyal to men that he could trust.  Buxton proved to be worthy of Clough’s faith.  

 He is not tall for a centre back, nor is he particularly quick.  He is, however, rabidly competitive, blessed with a street fighter’s determination and not above using a few of the ‘dark arts’, at times. Raised in the lower leagues, he loves to fight for every ball.  It would be unfair to write him off as a rudimentary clogger, because he can pass, but it’s undeniable that his game is based on the simple core virtues of ‘heading and kicking it’, to quote Clough.  

 Buxton continued to play regularly under Steve McClaren, who also extended Buxton’s contract. He was a key member of the side which reached the play-off final in 2013/4, but that season proved to be his peak at Derby, with injuries and the arrival of Jason Shackell reducing him to the role of bit-part player in the past two seasons.  

 This is the right time for Buxton to move on from Derby, but at 31, he has plenty of time left.  And a cursory scan of Twitter will reveal the real affection most Rams fans have for ‘Bucko’, who will be missed by all of us. 

 

A Bolton fan’s view of Adam Bogdan

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

The 28 year old Hungarian goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan, made his debut for Wigan Athletic at Macclesfield last week, saving a penalty within minutes of coming on to the field. The 6 ft 5 in tall keeper has been signed on a season-long loan deal from Liverpool.

Bogdan was born in Budapest and started his career in his home city for Vasas, one of the country’s foremost clubs. However, it was during a loan period at Vesces, a lower division club from the suburbs that he was spotted by a Bolton scout. He was to sign for Wanderers as a 20 year old in August 2007.  Bogdan went on to spend 8 years at Bolton, making 120 appearances. He was to establish himself as a top class goalkeeper.

In July 2015 Bogdan joined Liverpool on the termination of his contract with Bolton. However, his start at Anfield was less than auspicious. On his Premier League debut for Liverpool in December 2015 he dropped a corner after three minutes, leading to a goal for the opposition, the Reds going on to lose 3-0 to Watford. Then in early January he conceded a goal direct from a corner in an FA Cup tie at Exeter. He had to wait until the final game of the season to reappear in the first team.

More than any other position, goalkeepers tend to be remembered for their mistakes. All keepers make them, but Bogdan made them at Liverpool at inopportune moments. However, the big Hungarian has proved himself to be a top class keeper and he could make an outstanding contribution to Wigan Athletic’s return to the Championship. He has 20 caps for Hungary and would surely have had more if it had not been for his lack of game time at Liverpool.

In order to learn more about Bogdan’s time at Bolton we reached out to Chris Mann of the Burnden Aces fan site http://www.burndenaces.co.uk (Twitter @BurndenAces ). Chris has provided us with some excellent fan views in the past and this one is a good read too.

Here’s over to Chris:

Wigan Athletic completed the season-long loan signing of Adam Bogdan this week. The move may be a little underwhelming, but could serve as the catalyst he needs to get his career back on track.

 After eight years with Bolton, Bogdan departed at the end of his contract last summer and made the mistake of signing for Liverpool.

 Some may question how you could turn down such a move, but he was always going to be second choice at Anfield. Ultimately, a couple of costly mistakes in rare appearances saw him slip down the pecking order.

 It wasn’t just his club career that suffered. Bogdan should have been taking goal for Hungary at this summer’s European Championships, but a lack of game time over the last 12 months saw him left out of the squad entirely. At the end of his career, he may look back and wonder whether his brief time at Liverpool was worth it.

Bogdan moved to Bolton in August 2007, as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. Initially signed to link up with the reserves, Bogdan was way behind Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ali Al Habsi and Ian Walker, but had all the raw ingredients to be a success.

 Years of cup appearances and the occasional league outing followed, before Bogdan got his big chance at the start of 2012 – in a relegation campaign that saw him go on to be voted Player of the Year at the Reebok Stadium.

 Bogdan established himself between the sticks on our return to the Championship, eventually going on to make a total of 120 appearances, having seemingly shaken off the indecisiveness and lack of self-belief that had threatened to halt his progress.

 He remained prone to the occasional error, but was largely consistent and an excellent shot-stopper. An outstanding individual display in an FA Cup tie at Liverpool put watching eyes on him and it wasn’t long until he was on the move to Merseyside.

 12 months on, Bogdan has a point to prove. Gone are ambitions of European football, replaced with cold midweek trips to Burton Albion and Barnsley.

 But if he gets his head in the right place and, crucially, manages to avoid injury, Wigan have signed a goalkeeper that, without any disrespect, should be turning out at bigger and better places on a weekly basis. This should prove to be a very smart deal for Latics.

Has Caldwell got it right in the pre-season?

exhaustedathelte

Wigan Athletic’s first league game in their return to the Championship is less than two weeks away. Since the last match of the previous season against Barnsley on May 8th Latics have signed four new players, moved to a superior training complex at Euxton and played five pre-season games without a win, scoring just one goal. Today’s 4-1 defeat at Rochdale has raised many eyebrows. Given what has happened so far what kind of season can we expect to follow?

Some weeks ago Gary Caldwell acknowledged that recruiting players this summer was going to be a different matter than it was a year ago. Latics no longer have the financial advantage over teams in their division, enabling them to offer lucrative salaries to prospective signings. Wigan are now up against clubs with higher revenues, many of them buoyed with parachute payments. Latics are now in their final “parachute” season with a less than rosy financial short term future ahead.

Nevertheless Caldwell and his recruitment team have done well over the past weeks. Dan Burn may not be the most fulfilled central defender, but he is only 24 years old and already has more than 80 appearances in the Championship under his belt. The question is whether Caldwell, an ex-central defender himself, can nurture the player into realizing his full potential.

The signing of Stephen Warnock on a one year contract was no surprise. Warnock proved to be an excellent loan signing for League 1 and has a wealth of experience in higher divisions, plus two England caps.  However, he will be 35 in December, hence the short term contract. Warnock will face fierce competition for the left back spot from the 22 year old Reece James, providing the young player can rid himself of the troublesome ankle injury that has been dogging him so long.

Caldwell has brought in one for the future in the 21 year old Alex Gilbey. A product of the Colchester academy he has the kinds of technical attributes akin to those of Max Power, together with a willingness to work hard for the team. Although only 22 years old he made over 100 senior appearances for the U’s. Gilbey’s arrival will heighten the pressure for places in the central midfield.

The signing of Nick Powell is a bold gamble that Caldwell will be praying will come off. Powell’s impressive performances for Latics in the first part of the 2013-14 season showed what a fine player he can be at Championship level. However, niggling injuries have played their part in knocking Powell’s career off-track. His loan spells at Leicester and Hull were fruitless. In fact, the last time Powell played in a starting lineup was on April 5th 2014 for Latics against Leeds United. But the player is still only 22 and has the ability to become an outstanding performer. Once again the question arises whether Caldwell and his coaching staff will be able to give the player the kind of nurturing he will need to help him turn his career around.

The loan signing of Adam Bogdan from Liverpool leaves Latics with four goalkeepers on their books. Although he has had a hard time at Anfield the Hungarian was highly regarded at Bolton, where he pushed Jussi Jaaskelainen out of the team. It is most likely that Bogdan will do the same again at Wigan, with the big Finn being the backup keeper and either Lee Nicholls or Dan Lavercombe leaving for a loan spell.

Right back continues to be a problem position, with recent loan signing Kyle Knoyle ruled out long term due to an elbow injury. In the meantime Caldwell has brought Ryan Taylor back to Wigan on trial. Taylor’s set piece deliveries were a key element for Steve Bruce’s team at Latics, but he left for Newcastle in February 2009, spending more than six years on Tyneside. However, injuries have taken their toll on the player who is now 31. Taylor started in only one Championship game for Hull City last season. Should Taylor be offered a contract it is unlikely to be for more than a year, given his recent history.

Caldwell will be hoping that his new signings can come out of the blocks running. However, in the cases of Bogdan and Powell, coming from unfulfilled spells at their previous clubs, it could take more time. Moreover Gilbey has to adjust to playing in the Championship for the first time and Burn has arrived possibly short on confidence after playing for a struggling Fulham team. However, new signings apart, the players remaining from last season’s League 1 title squad will also face the challenge of playing in a higher division. Key players such as Will Grigg and Max Power have never played at a level above League 1 and Yanic Wildschut only started in three games during his time at Middlesbrough in the Championship.

Wigan’s purchase of the Euxton training facility from Bolton Wanderers certainly looks like sound business. However, it puts into question the future of the venture at Charnock Richard, with implications for the development of the club’s academy. Dreams of developing a Category 1 academy now seem far away, given the short term financial situation the club will face. One wonders if Latics were to find their way back into the Premier League would they even then revisit the idea of having a top level youth programme?

In this month just a couple of years ago Uwe Rosler was the toast of the town after doing such a fine job in uplifting Latics following the damaging reign of Owen Coyle. But a calamitous pre-season proved to be the first nail in the coffin of a sequence of events which resulted in the German’s departure some four months later. Too many players picked up niggling injuries and a friendly match in Germany had to be cancelled because Rosler just did not have enough fit players. When the season started the majority of the players just were not up to going the whole 90 minutes, with slumps in the second half being too common. The seemingly old-fashioned concept of “over training” was raised by many fans at the time.

It is to be hoped that the lessons of a couple of years ago have been learned and that Caldwell’s squad is not being over trained. However, just one goal scored in five pre-season games is a worrying sign. Following a goalless draw at non-league Macclesfield Town the manager stated “It’s not about winning games or scoring lots of goals at this point, it’s about putting things into them physically and tactically and seeing how it works on the pitch.

However, he changed his tune somewhat following an abject 4-1 defeat at Rochdale yesterday, commenting that “I’m disappointed obviously with both the result and the performance because it wasn’t good enough. However, it’s understandable from the work we have been doing in training that the boys are going to be a little tired but we do still know that it’s unacceptable and we have two weeks to do something about it.”

Given the apparently heavy training regime and playing four games in eight days it is not surprising the players might be tired. The scheduling of the games against Manchester United and Liverpool on consecutive days was odd to say the least, offering more value in terms of PR than as a means of preparing the players for the season ahead.

Yesterday Caldwell was apparently unable to call on his three main centre backs – Donervon Daniels, Craig Morgan and Jason Pearce – and left back Stephen Warnock went off injured early on. Not surprisingly the back four of youth debutant Luke Burke together with Jack Hendry, Dan Burn and David Perkins was unable to assert itself.

Without a single victory in the pre-season up to this point, Caldwell will surely put more emphasis on winning for the two remaining friendlies at Oldham and Fleetwood. Although pre-season results are of minimal consequence as the season unfolds, the manager will want to restore the winning habit that the team established last season. He will also need to make greater use of his more established players, providing they are fit.

It is to be hoped that the sports science, physiotherapy and physical conditioning staff at the club are on top of things during the pre-season. Latics need to go out to that first league game at Ashton Gate with a squad of fit players who can give their all.

Surely the lessons of the Rosler era have been learned?

 

 

 

McCann out and Huws in?

Things are hotting up as the new season approaches. The news comes in, but questions continue to pop up.

Is Will Grigg really on his way to Scotland for a big transfer fee? Surely not.

Will Latics be losing Emyr Huws as well as Chris McCann? Maybe.

Why are Latics due to host Liverpool and Manchester United on consecutive days? Will the big clubs  be sending their senior squads? Will it be largely youth players or maybe a mixture of the two? Or was it an offer the young chairman just could not refuse?

SharpeManULiv

David Sharpe has shown himself to be an excellent communicator who has made an effort to reach out to the fans. He uses the social media as a vehicle to keep people informed and to raise morale. However, the social media is a double-edged sword and Sharpe has to field comments such as this:

Athertontweet

However, other fans can have a different perspective:

HumphreystweetA month ago we published an article Can Latics afford to keep Chris McCann?  Our question has now been answered by the announcement that the Irishman has signed for MLS expansion team Atlanta United. However, it appears that McCann will go out on loan until January. After his good form last season there are Latics fans who are already clamouring for McCann to spend his loan at Wigan.

There remain hopes among fans that Sharpe and Gary Caldwell will bring in Jordi Gomez and Leon Osman, but is it likely to happen?

McCanntweetMcCann announced his departure on the social media, giving due thanks to the fans.

For most of us, McCann’s departure is no surprise. One can bet that Sharpe just was not willing to offer the kind of salary the Irishman wanted, likely have been around £15-20K per week.  The departure of Reece Wabara was also most likely due to the club not meeting the player’s wage demands.

Sharpe has set the tone on keeping a ceiling on the wage bill as Latics enter their final season of parachute payments. Most of the players who previously played for Latics in the Championship, receiving relatively generous salaries, have now left the club. However, some still remain and Sharpe and his recruitment team will once again look at getting as many as possible off the wage bill. Included in those are the three players sent off on loan last season – Emyr Huws, Billy Mckay and Andrew Taylor.

Given that Caldwell already has Reece James and Stephen Warnock to compete for the left back position it is likely that Taylor will be seeking other pastures during the final year of his contract. Mckay did well to score 12 goals last season for a Dundee United team that finished bottom of the SPL. But he barely received a chance in his previous spell at Wigan and it appears unlikely that he will stay. The principal question mark hovers around the subject of Huws.

The mere mention of Huws can invoke anger in Wigan Athletic supporters. In late August 2015 Caldwell talked about the player’s unwillingness to play in League 1.

“I tried very hard to keep him to say that you have to help the club back to the Championship and to the Premier League – that’s the aim at this club – and we want people who are committed to that and doing everything they can to help us. He didn’t want to do it – that’s football – but we had to let the fans know that it wasn’t us that had decided to let him go – it was Emyr that wanted to go…I feel that is disrespectful to his team mates, myself, the chairman and the supporters.”

Caldwell’s comments certainly impacted upon fan opinion of the player. There remain some who would not like the player back at the club even if Caldwell decided on taking up that option.

However, it can be argued that Latics did well out of sending Huws  to Huddersfield. He gained further first team experience at Championship level, making 31 appearances and scoring five goals. The Yorkshire team paid his wages and the player’s value in the transfer market was maintained.

There are arguments to suggest that Caldwell made the comments to avoid criticism that might have come his way by allowing the player to leave. Moreover that it was early in Caldwell’s days as Wigan manager and with more experience he might not have criticised a player publicly. The word ‘disrespectful’ can stir up emotions in football circles. However, even in that heated time last August the manager did not close the door on a possible return of the player in the future.

Despite the furore Caldwell said last week that He (Huws) wanted to be in, he wanted to be back with the group on day one, and that tells me everything I need to know. We’ve always known the quality that Emyr has, and for him to want to be here is great. You want good players at your club, he’s a good player, and we’re delighted to have him back.”

However, rumours were circulating about a possible move for Huws to Fulham who might be willing to stump up a fee in the region of £2m for his transfer.

The likelihood is that Latics will be losing two very capable midfield players in Huws and McCann. They will not be short in that area with Alex Gilbey having arrived from Colchester and Danny Whitehead from Macclesfield. However, neither has the experience  at Championship level of Huws and McCann:  they are clearly players for the future.

If Latics can sell Huws for a price close to that they paid Manchester City a couple of years ago they will almost certainly do so. It would not only bring in revenue but they would be shedding another player on the level of the Championship salaries during the Rosler era. But questions remain over fans’ support for the player in the aftermath of Caldwell’s  previous comments. Moreover statements made by the player during his time at Huddersfield hardly improved Wigan fan views of him.

However, Huws has the potential to be a top player. He is tough in the tackle, with a high workrate, a great left foot, strong on taking set pieces. Together with the likes of Max Power he could form a formidable central midfield for Latics.

If Caldwell really were willing to bury the hatchet with Emyr Huws would the majority of supporters get behind the player? He is still only 22 years old and represents one of the club’s most potentially valuable assets. Moreover with another full season under his belt, injuries notwithstanding, he would surely be in the shop window for the big clubs.

Put simply, are Latics willing to take a gamble on Huws? Then how about Gomez and Osman?

A Dundee United fan’s view of Kyle Knoyle

Kyle_Knoyle

The 19 year old Kyle Knoyle has joined Wigan Athletic on loan from West Ham United for the whole of the coming season.Knoyle is a right back, a position which was problematic for Latics last season.

Last summer Caldwell signed Kevin McNaughton on a one year contract and Jonjoe Kenny on a two month loan. Unfortunately things did not work out with McNaughton making only three appearances before picking up an injury that effectively kept him out for the rest of the season. Moreover Kenny was recalled by Everton when his loan spell expired. Donervon Daniels was moved across from the centre of defence and showed promise in the right back position, if not being entirely convincing. Donald Love was brought in from Manchester United for a short term loan, with Reece Wabara being signed as a replacement in January. Wabara’s short term contract terminated in summer and it appears that Latics were not willing to meet his wage expectations for staying.

With Knoyle and Daniels available it could be that Gary Caldwell will not be seeking another right back. The signing of Knoyle could therefore prove crucial.

On signing the Newham-born youngster Caldwell said Kyle is a young player with potential, one who has been identified as having the qualities we are looking for and was watched last season. We are optimistic he can develop here with us and make a positive contribution to the squad and we’re happy to have him on board.”

The 5 ft 9 in Kyle Knoyle is a product of the West Ham academy with three caps for the England under 18 team. He has made just one appearance for the Hammers’ senior team, playing the full 90 minutes against Astra Girgiu in Romania in the Europa League last August. He was an unused substitute on three occasions last season.

In January Knoyle went on loan to Dundee United, where he was to play alongside Billy Mckay. He made his debut for the Tangerines as an 82nd minute substitute in a 3-0 win at Ross County in late February. He repeated this with a 66th minute substitution against the same side a week later in the Scottish Cup, which United won 3-2. Knoyle had to wait until early April to make his first start in a 1-0 victory over St Johnstone. Despite poor team results in the rest of April and May he was a regular starter. Knoyle made a total of 9 starts for United.

In order to get more information on Knoyle’s time at Tannadice we reached out to the Dundee United fan forum on www.arableague.co.uk.

I hasten to add that United have been referred to as “the Arabs” since the 1962-63 season when the harsh winter led to the cancellation of many matches. However, on one occasion they were due to play at home to Albion Rovers and the club hired a tar burner to melt the snow and ice on the pitch, which they covered with tons and tons of sand. The team played so well on the sandy surface, virtually devoid of grass, that they became known as the Arabs.

The feedback we received through the forum:

Setenza commented that:

He only really started getting a game towards the end of his loan period for us. Once he did, most people wondered why he didn’t start before.

We were a pretty dreadful team last season, playing mostly long ball football, but he did show plenty of willingness to get forward from full back and attack, and in my view was one of our better performers. Worked hard and usually tried the right thing in possession. Defensively, maybe a few more slip ups, but was playing in an awful defence.

Certainly wouldn’t have been unhappy if we’d signed him for another loan spell. Seemed to have the right attitude to be a decent player in time.

Micky added that:

Can’t add anything more than what Set said, seems a good attacking option from full back..

Naebody responded:

For a couple of games, he looked the best player in the worst United team for 50 years. Everything Set says is fair. But it’s impossible to know whether the awful quality of players around him were making him look better or worse.

We also got feedback from the Dundee United Mad forum:

TerryTheTerror commented:

Signed on loan in January then never given a chance in the team. Once he did get that chance he was a fixture and ended up probably being our best and most consistent performer. Fast, athletic, hard in the tackle, and good with the ball. Everything a full back should be.

Weedude83 supported Terry’s comments:

Once our idiotic manager decided to play him, was regularly our best player.

Quick, strong and likes to get forward and help the attack.

Defensively, strong in the tackle, very tenacious and won his share of headers – sometimes caught out of position but that’s to be expected at his age/experience.

Genuinely wish we had him for next season.

Smirky4 was less positive:

I thought he was very average, I think people hyped him up on here and everyone looked at him with rose tinted glasses, often caught out of position, not a flying wing back bombing forward getting crosses in or indeed playing that killer pass…..