Few people are better positioned to provide insight on new Wiganer Shaun Maloney than David Harper, of Celtic fansite Lost Bhoys. The little winger spent the better part of 10 years wearing hoops over two separate stints. What you are about to read is Harper’s assessment of Maloney — his two spells at Celtic, his playing style and attitude, and his chances of success with Wigan. David has also kindly agreed to answer questions about Maloney in the comments section below this story, so please do take him up on the offer!
Shaun Maloney aka Bupa
Howdy Wiganites, sorry I have no idea what you call someone from Wigan please excuse my ignorance. Ned asked me to put together a small piece about former Bhoy and new Latic Shaun Maloney. Iʼm a regular blogger and editor on http://www.LostBhoys.com and co-host of the weekly HomeBhoys Celtic fans phone-in show. I started following Celtic home and away from the age of 14 in 1987 so Iʼm pretty well placed to give you a brief rundown on the last of the Seville team to leave Celtic (management team excluded).
Shaun broke into the 1st team in 2001 and if I recall correctly he made his debut at Ibrox against ʻthemʼ. Originally he was deployed as an out and out striker and for the next couple of seasons mostly made appearances from the substitutes bench. It wasnʼt until Gordon Strachan took over the reigns that Shaun found his best position as an attacking left-midﬁelder which is still his natural position to this day.
Thatʼs when heʼs ﬁt of course and those occasions have been few and far between in his second spell at the club. Heʼs a player that has divided fans ever since his return up north from Aston Villa. Many many fans myself included didnʼt think Maloney should be afforded a return to Celtic after the way we felt he had let us done badly when he left for Villa Park.
Shaun had suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury and despite the fact nobody was sure if he would return the same player Gordon Strachan fought to get the board to offer him a new contract. Celtic were very good to Shaun in this time and when he came back from injury he had his best spell winning both Scottish footballs player and young player of the year.
The disharmony came to be when Shaun played hardball over a new contract and eventually left under a cloud for Martin OʼNeillʼs Villains. Personally I think Maloney was due us a bit more loyalty considering we had taken a chance on him while injured and this was the reason many eyebrows were raised upon his ʻgloriousʼ return. His second spell has been a disaster for the player and a quick check shows he only played 55 games in the last 3 years. Maloney is constantly injured. Iʼll be absolutely astonished if he plays 20 games this season. Actually whenever I hear his name David Bowie singing China Doll creeps into my head. It would seem his hamstring is made of glass.
On his game heʼs a fantastic player who loves to drift in from the left onto his right foot and has a good eye for goal. He certainly isnʼt an out and out winger and isnʼt the kind of guy who will hit the byeline but rather step inside and play neat one-twoʼs around the box. Heʼs often been described as a buzzbomb as he is very busy but heʼs lost a bit of the pace he had when he was younger. Heʼs by no means a slouch though. Ned asked me if heʼs the kind of guy that will get stuck in. Flying into tackles no but heʼll certainly track back and has a good engine to get up and down the ﬂank. I would say one of his biggest assets is heʼs a very intelligent player and reads the game extremely well.
There is no doubt in my mind if he can stay ﬁt and if this is the position Wigan are looking to ﬁll heʼll be a great signing but again I canʼt stress enough his ﬁtness is a major problem.
There is also a myth surrounding him being a dead ball specialist. In his ﬁrst spell he was quite proliﬁc with free-kicks but this ability seems to have alluded him on his return. Frustratingly his seniority in the team (was stand in captain for a period) often seen him push better candidates to the side before he sailed one harmlessly over the bar. Most notably when Nakamura was in the side who was a real free-kick expert.
You may think reading this that Iʼm being overly harsh and my opinion has been tainted from my disdain at him letting us down. Believe me itʼs not Iʼm being as honest as I can. I think youʼll ﬁnd most fans have actually forgiven him his sins but at the same time everyone knew it was time for him to move on. Money is tight in the Scottish game and Maloney being one of the larger earners at the club who spent the majority of his time in the physio room was a pay packet that could be better utilised. In saying that heʼs ﬁt and raring to go at the minute so weʼll see how he goes.
Iʼm not sorry to see Shaun go but I wish him the very best of luck in the rest of his career. Heʼs a pretty laid back guy with no billy big boots airs or graces about him and I pray he can get a real run of games under his belt for you. Iʼll watch his career now from afar with interest.
I hope this has been a decent insight into what you have bought and hope I havenʼt panicked you too much with the injury woeʼs. If anyone would like any further info I can be contacted at LostBhoys@gmail.com.
Iʼd like to wish Wigan and Maloney all the best for the season ahead, most sincerely.