Profiles from the archives: Part 3 – Callum McManaman and James McClean

In April we stated our intention of republishing articles from our archives from time to time. It takes a long time for a fan site to get established and Amigos has been no exception. We are now in our third year. Our readership grew slowly in the first year, steadily in the second, but much faster in this third year. Given that we now have a wider readership we decided to occasionally republish articles from our archives, that many may not have seen.

The republishing of the  “Fan View”articles – perspectives of Latics players from fans of their previous clubs – went particularly well, according to the viewing stats.

We now plan to look back to some of the player profiles that we have have written and published over the past couple of years. Once again we ask our long-established readers to bear with us on this. We will continue to put out our stream of current articles.

Click here for our previous player profile on  Jean Beausejour and Chris McCann.

Click here for our previous player profile on James McArthur and Ben Watson.


Callum for Wembley – first published April 9, 2014

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - FA Cup Final Being ‘Man of the Match’ in an FA Cup Final can be hard to live up to. Callum McManaman knows that all too well.

Just eleven months ago McManaman was the toast of the town as he led Gael Clichy and the Manchester City defence a merry dance at Wembley. He had not only been the star of the Final, but also of the whole FA Cup tournament. He had started in all of Latics’ seven matches in that cup run, scoring three goals and making two assists. His free running in the final trapped Pablo Zabaleta into a red card, turning the momentum of the game. His superbly taken goal from Jordi Gomez’s exquisite pass had sealed the semi-final win over Millwall.

Who could have known that just three days later he would get an ankle injury that would not only put him on crutches, but seriously knock back his career prospects in the process. A burgeoning young talent had been coming through, with managers of the rich and famous clubs casting an eye in his direction. The injury put everything on hold.

Many Latics supporters had viewed McManaman’s injury as a kind of blessing in disguise. If it had not happened the young player would most likely have been whisked away to a big club rather than helping Latics get back to the Premier League. Moreover the excellent Shaun Maloney remained at the club following the large turnover of players in the summer. Latics had a new manager in Owen Coyle and he would have at his disposal two players who could tear the hearts out of the defences of Championship sides.

Those hopes were soon quashed as Maloney’s injury In September put him out of action long term. Moreover McManaman was dealing with illness and niggling injuries that hampered his return to full fitness. When Coyle left in December, McManaman had made hardly any impact up to that point. Fans were hoping that new manager Uwe Rosler could get the best out of the exciting young forward.

At this point of the season McManaman has started in only 14 of the 41 league matches played, scoring one goal and making one assist. Moreover he has rarely played the full ninety minutes. However, he has started in four of the five FA Cup matches Latics have played, scoring in the home tie with MK Dons.

It has been a disappointing season so far for Callum McManaman, but there is still time for him to make a major impact. He has clearly enjoyed playing at Wembley, judging by his performances against Millwall and Manchester City, maybe less so than in his appearance as a 60th minute substitute in the Community Shield.

Rosler will surely take McManaman into strong consideration for lining up in the semi-final against Arsenal at the weekend. Coincidentally it was against the Gunners that his career took that set-back last season. Saturday’s game will be one in which he will be keen to impress, showing a big audience that he still has that talent that has been hiding under the surface for so long this season.

If he is given the chance McManaman can get his career back on fast-track with a star performance against the Gunners. At his best there are few more exciting players to watch in English football.


James McClean can become a Latics legend -first published January 3, 2014

McClean and Smalling compete for the ball

McClean and Smalling compete for the ball

Latics at Wembley, a goal behind to Manchester United in the Community Shield.

Stephen Crainey launches a ball over the Reds’ defence. Chris Smalling makes a hash of it and James McClean is through with what is to be Latics’ best chance in the match. But instead of looking for Grant Holt coming up on his inside the Irishman hits a cross shot that goes astray.

It was McClean’s debut for Wigan Athletic, only three days after being signed from Sunderland.  He had looked lively that afternoon at Wembley, clearly keen to make an impression on the match. The 24 year old had been so keen to come to Wigan that he had taken a pay cut to drop down a division in his move from the north east.

It is his enthusiastic approach and his willingness to run at defenders that endears McClean to so many Wigan Athletic fans. Often referred to in fan forums by his first name – an accolade rare among Latics fans – ‘James’ has already become a player with the potential to be a legend at the club. At 5’11” he is physically strong and is never afraid to take on defenders.  He has a great left foot and genuine pace. So why is he not playing in the Premier League?

During his time at Sunderland some of their more extreme fans dubbed him ‘a headless chicken’ , through his lack of awareness when on the ball. Mathew Wear of the Mackems  fan site ‘A Love Supreme’ provided us with a more balanced view of McClean’s time at Sunderland in the article we posted in August.

McClean had a hard time at Sunderland over the ‘poppy issue’, which made him unpopular with many fans. Facing probing media questions about McClean’s absence at the same time this season Owen Coyle stated that the player was injured.

Moreover McClean has had various off the field problems with his club and national team managers through his activity on ‘Twitter’.

McClean had a ‘Man of the Match’ performance in Martin O’Neill’s ’ first game as Republic of Ireland manager in November .However, he was soon to get himself in hot water once again with the manager following another rant on Twitter. He had similar problems with both O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland and with Giovanni Trappatoni for Ireland.

Up to this point in the season  James McClean has started 14 games and come on as a substitute in 11. He was unfortunate in having his first goal for the club chalked off as the match with Sheffield Wednesday was abandoned.

Under Coyle, McClean was used a winger, on both flanks. Although less comfortable on the right he has a powerful shot and can be employed in the same way Latics that Roberto Martinez effectively used Charles N’Zogbia. However, since Uwe Rosler’s arrival McClean has added energy and vigour when played in a striking role. If Rosler decides to play with wing backs this will be McClean’s role.

On his appointment Rosler was asked about Callum McManaman and James McLean. He described each as exciting, fast and direct players that would fit his system, while reserving a diplomatic word about room for improvement in McLean’s final pass. Rosler is already getting much more out of McManaman and he has clearly had an influence on McClean.

Rosler can help McClean to become a top player. As an ex-striker the German has a good insight as to what is required.  McClean has spent most of his career as a left winger. He is likely to have to play a variety of roles under Rosler, which will make him into a better player.

McClean has been left on the bench for Latics’ last two games against Burnley and Derby, despite approaching his best form in previous matches. However, he has recently become a father for the first time and this might have impacted upon Rosler’s decisions.

James McClean is an enigma, both on the field and off it. He could be Uwe Rosler’s greatest challenge.

Were Rosler to be successful in unlocking the Irishman’s potential it would make a huge difference in Latics’ quest for a return to the top flight.

McClean has the ability to become a top quality forward.

He has the support of the majority of Latics fans who will be willing him to succeed.

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