A calmness in the centre of defence

 

He is a centre back who stays cool under pressure, waiting for the right moment to intervene. He exudes a calmness that helps to gel the back line of defence. If it were not for the cruciate knee injury he probably would not be at Wigan.

The classy Ivan Ramis is the one most Latics fans would think of when reading that description. Probably the best centre back in the Championship division, the Spaniard’s career was hit by a cruciate knee injury at Fulham in January 2013.

Ramis had been signed by Roberto Martinez in summer of 2012 to shore up a centre of defence that was leaking goals. He had a wealth of previous experience in La Liga with Real Mallorca and looked every inch a Premier League player until that injury set back. Many Latics fans still ponder – what if Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz had both stayed fit? Surely with such a capable central defensive pairing they would not have conceded so many of the ‘soft’ goals that led to relegation.

After such a long injury layoff Ramis struggled for fitness on his return last season. He was picking up the telltale kind of niggling injuries that often happen after being out of action for so long. Uwe Rosler had to use him sparingly as the games came in thick and fast in a hectic end of season. Ramis played in the last league match at Blackburn but picked up an injury and had to go off at half time. The injury was to prevent him participating in the playoff games with QPR. Once again one can only ponder as to whether the London team would have got their two soft goals if the Spaniard had been playing.

It is possible that the 29 year old Ramis will leave the club over the coming weeks. He is one of the highest earners at the club and there are question marks about his physical ability to play week in, week out. In January he almost went to both Crystal Palace and Cardiff City, but both clubs backed out after he received medical examinations.

As far as Latics’ promotion chances this season are concerned the regular presence of the big Spaniard could be critical. Not only is his defending of high quality, but his passing out of defence is a joy to watch and he is a danger to the opposition on set pieces. Should Latics achieve promotion they are going to need players of Ramis’ quality. Many of us will be hoping that he will not be not successful in finding a new club and his injury problems are a thing of the past.

Although Ramis would be the first name to roll off the tongue when thinking of that calmness in defence and problems with injuries, there is another who could fit that description. Thomas Rogne’s career has been cruelly blighted by injury but he is still only 24 years old and can play a major role for Latics this season.

The towering Norwegian international suffered the cruciate injury when he was just 18. He was playing for Oslo club, Stabaek, in a pre-season game in Spain against Russian side, Krylia Sovetov, when it happened. The injury forced him to miss the whole season, but he was to return and play in the Champions and Europa Leagues for the Norwegian club. Rogne joined Celtic in January 2010 and made 50 appearances for the Parkhead club. However, as noted in our fan view post of July 2013 he was to receive a series of niggling injuries during his time in Scotland.

At 6’4” Rogne is commanding in the air. Moreover he maintains a calm presence when under pressure. Distribution is not his strongest point and this is something he needs to work on. The player himself will surely be praying for an injury-free season and be hoping that Latics’ physical fitness team can help him overcome his previous problems. Should he manage to stay fit he will mount a strong challenge for a regular spot in the centre of defence.

Last season Ivan Ramis made 18 appearances for Wigan and Thomas Rogne made 16. Providing both stay at the club and steer clear of injuries they could form a key defensive partnership for Latics’ promotion push.

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