A Cardiff fan’s view of Joe Bennett

Courtesy of Wales News Service

Wigan Athletic last week announced the signing of 31-year-old Joe Bennett from Cardiff City. The left back has over 300 appearances in the Premier League and Championship and looks an outstanding signing for Latics in League 1.

Bennett had been offered a new contract at Cardiff prior to Mick McCarthy’s arrival in January, the player suffering a serious ACL injury in March. By early August Bennett was still training with Cardiff although no new contract had been offered, prompting McCarthy to comment:

“He is in the building and he is going to train. I am more than happy for him to train, he has been a great servant to the club. I think there was an offer made to him prior to me coming in and it didn’t get signed. That’s just the way it is. Contracts run out. Sadly for him he got injured.

If he hadn’t have been injured he would have left, played for someone else and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I was quite sad about it because I spoke to Benno when I came in, I knew his contract was running out. I discussed with him about staying, then injury comes and it changed it all.”

On signing for Latics, Bennett commented:

Im delighted to get a chance to come to a massive club like this and get the opportunity to play. Hopefully I can come here, help the team and get promoted and thats why Ive come here – to get promoted and Im sure a lot of the lads and staff want that as well.

For me there was a good feel about the club and we’ve had a good start. We’ve got a good squad and a good team. If I can add my experience and some of my attributes to the team as well, then itll bode well. I think I fit into that, and I want to help the team and help the squad if I get the opportunity to play. Ive come here to get promoted and hopefully thats what we can do.”

Born in Rochdale, Joseph Bennett graduated through the Middlesbrough academy, signing a professional contract as a 19-year-old in the summer of 2008. He went on to make 78 starts and 7 appearances off the bench over four seasons in the Premier League and Championship. Bennett signed for Aston Villa for £2.75m in August 2012. He made 25 appearances in the Premier League in 2012-13. He had injury problems in his second season, limiting him to 7 appearances in all competitions. In 2014-15 Bennett played for Brighton and Hove Albion on loan, making 45 appearances. Following further loan spells at Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday he left Aston Villa for Cardiff after amassing 30 league appearances for Villa.

Joining Cardiff City in August 2016 he went on to make 164 league appearances for the Bluebirds over 5 seasons, scoring 5 goals.

In order to learn more about Marshall’s time at Cardiff we reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site (http://www.viewfromtheninian.com/).

Here’s over to Benjamin:

Joe Bennett has great teeth and is a great left back. He joined Cardiff, unheralded, in 2016 and we no longer needed to worry about the left back position. It was like he was what we had always been looking for.

Solid, good going forward, even better at defending. When we got promoted to the premier league, he was a key player in the promotion run and in the year at the top where he really didn’t look out of place. 

If I’d had my choice, we would have kept him but a difference in opinion on wages and then his injury put paid to that. It feels like a changing of the guard for us. A player who had spent five years with us and was a big part of our successes during that time is moving on.

No offence to Wigan, but I’m surprised he’s dropped down to league one. Maybe he’s not sure his body is up to the rigours of the Championship after an ACL injury but I won’t doubt his ability. He’s a quality, consistent left back and you’ve got a gem. 

A St Johnstone fan view of Jason Kerr

Wigan Athletic yesterday announced the signing of St Johnstone centre half and captain Jason Kerr for a fee of around £600,000. The six-foot tall, 24-year-old was a key player in the Perth club’s historic achievements in winning both the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup last season.

Jason Kerr was born in Edinburgh and joined St Johnstone in 2014. In summer 2015 he was loaned East Fife, then in the Scottish League 2, as an 18-year-old, making 33 appearances to help the Methil club gain promotion to the Championship.  He stayed there in the 2016-17 season, making 43 appearances. Kerr then spent a half season loan period at Queen of the South, making 18 appearances for the Dumfries club in the Scottish Championship, returning in January to Perth to appear 15 times for St Johnstone by the end of the season. Having established himself he went on to become club captain from summer 2019 and to make a further 100 appearances in the next 3 and a bit seasons for The Saints.

Kerr has 6 caps for the Scotland at U23 level.

In order to learn more about Kerr’s time at St Johnstone we contacted Jamie Beatson from the We Are Perth fan site (www.weareperth.co.uk).

Here’s over to Jamie:

First things first – £600k is a bargain. For that you’re getting a 24-year-old who is vastly experienced for his age, has captained a small club to unprecedented success and who has shown up extremely well against very good European teams – Galatasaray and LASK – in the past few weeks. In any just world he’d have multiple Scotland caps by now, but, alas, the SFA have their heads firmly in their ar..s.

See for example Jack Hendry – a recent Celtic flop who just sold for £8m to a Belgian side. As far as I’m concerned Kerr is every bit as good a defender as Hendry – better in many aspects. But Hendry played for Celtic so was rewarded for caps, despite his crap form. Kerr excelled for Saints and got nothing.

At the price quoted I’m amazed a current championship side hasn’t taken him. He could easily play at that level right now – and I guess the hope for you guys is that he will be next season!

You’ll want to know what type of player he is. Very much a modern centre back – comfortable with the ball but, crucially, still a good defender. Strong and good in the air, but also clever with his feet and always picking the right moment to set out of defence. His underlapping runs from RCB last season were a joy to watch and will be missed.

I’d be amazed if a good year or two with you doesn’t see him in the sights of bigger clubs higher up the food chain. He has all the attributes and his best years are well and truly in front of him. He will forever be a St Johnstone legend for leading us to an unprecedented cup double and for that we’ll always be grateful.

Enjoy him, and I hope he leads you to similar success as he had up here!

Finding the right place for Thelo Aasgaard

Thelo Aasgaard has worked on the physical side of his game to complement his technical skills

The “Rabona” is probably the most difficult technique in football. When the ball is kicked the kicking leg is crossed behind the back of the standing leg. Eric Lamela made national headlines last season when he scored a Rabona for Tottenham against Arsenal. He made it look easy.

In February 2017 Wigan Athletic posted a video clip on YouTube. It showed a 14-year-old scoring a “Rabona” in a U15 game against Blackburn Rovers. It made Lamela’s effort look pale in comparison.

Thelonious Gerard Aasgaard had joined Latics not long before after having been with Liverpool’s youth system. Although born in Liverpool, his father is of Norwegian heritage and his mother of French. Aasgaard represented Norway at U16 level. During the past week he was called up to their U20 squad.

Aasgaard has dubbed by some as the “Wigan Grealish”, a compliment to a young player with a similarly high level of technical ability. Like Grealish his natural position is as a number 10, but he tends to get played in wide positions. Despite possessing sublime skills, it took Aasgaard some time for him to develop the physique to cope with the competitive side of the game.

Thelo Aasgaard made his senior debut for Latics against Peterborough in a League 1 game on October 20, 2020. He went on to make a major contribution in helping a club in administration to hold on to its place in the division in finishing one point above Rochdale in 20th place. Over the course of the season, he made 13 league starts with 20 appearances off the bench, scoring 3 goals.

In most of Aasgaard’s appearances last season he was played in wide positions. However, in recent months Latics signed wingers Gwion Edwards, Jordan Jones and James McClean. Moreover, both Callum Lang and Gavin Massey, who play wide, remain from last season’s squad. With such competition for places in wide positions what are Aasgaard’s chances of getting regular game time this season?

Aasgaard was a starter in the Carabao Cup match at Hull, then came on after 79 minutes in the draw against Wycombe. With Massey, Edwards and McClean chosen as the advanced midfield three for the Carabao Cup encounter with Bolton he once again found himself on the bench, being brought on after 70 minutes.

It has been acknowledged by management that the club being under administration last season gave opportunities for younger players that they would not normally have had. Over the course of the 2020-21 season ten players from the U23 squad went on to make their League 1 debuts. Ollie Crankshaw, Owen Evans, Charlie Jolley. Kyle Joseph, Chris Merrie, Emeka Obi and Alex Perry have since departed.

Aasgaard, Adam Long and Luke Robinson remain. Between the three of them they amassed 72 league appearances last season. However, with the arrival of so many senior pros their opportunities have been much diminished. Long started in the first game at Sunderland but was displaced by the loan signing of Kell Watts. Robinson started against Hull and in the Rotherham game when he was substituted after 56 minutes.

Latics will be looking at offering extended contracts to both Long and Robinson. Aasgaard signed a new contract in January. But other than appearing in the cup competitions are they likely to feature on the first team roster? Only Aasgaard was in the squad to face Portsmouth on Saturday, with Leam Richardson opting to choose an unbalanced bench without a recognised defender.

Like any other manager given expectations of a high position in the table, Richardson will rely on the experienced senior pros in his squad. Last season he had no choice but to include players from the U23 squad. The majority of them have gone, but what are his plans for the three that remain? Will they go back to being regarded as U23 players, being fielded in cup ties or having occasional appearances from the bench for the senior team? Or will they be sent off on loan to eventually return with more experience?

Callum Lang’s return from a loan spell at Motherwell in January was pivotal. His goals, so well-taken, made a massive contribution towards Latics staying in League 1. Prior to that, Lang had looked like the player Paul Cook just did not want. The player had the potential to follow on from his considerable successes with the club’s youth team. But he was still only 19 when he was sent on loan to Morecambe in 2017. He performed well there as he later did in subsequent loans at Oldham, Shrewsbury and Motherwell over those four years.

However, fans of Cook would say that the manager knew exactly what he was doing in sending a talented young player off on loan for that period of time. The club had been careful to make sure the player’s contract had not lapsed during that era. Lang is a key player in the current squad, and it is so good to hear that his new extended contract is about to be announced.

With the reports suggesting Latics will be signing two more central defenders in the next 24 hours it looks likely that Long will once again be sent off on loan. He was at National League Notts County for a short loan term in the latter part of the 2019-20 season. Robinson is likely to stay as back-up to Tom Pearce, but the latter is in the last year of his contract and the club could cash in the final stages of the transfer window. Reports suggest that Latics are looking to sign another full back, but it could be someone accustomed to playing on either flank.

Aasgaard, Long and Robinson are excellent prospects for the future. Of the three it is Aasgaard who stands out. His high technical ability is backed up with a strong work ethic and a real “football brain”.

Thelo could well become a genuine “Wigan Grealish” if his career trajectory is correctly managed. To see him languishing in the U23 side, with occasional cameos from the bench for the senior team, would be a real waste. But is he is to be sent out on loan, let it be to a club where his talents can be properly utilised?

Let’s hope the club can find the right place for their prodigy.

Amigo and Social Media reaction to a hard-earned victory over Portsmouth

August 28, 2021: Wigan Athletic 1 Portsmouth 0

Table courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Portsmouth arrived at Wigan having won three and drawn one of the first four games, not having conceded a goal. They were going to provide stern opposition for Latics.

Wigan had started the game without Max Power, presumably injured, with Tom Pearce coming in at left back and Tendayi Darikwa reverting to his more habitual position on the right. Both clubs have had major changes in their playing staff over summer and it can only be expected that they will need time to gel.

However, the visitors immediately settled into their stride, their smooth running and passing movements depriving Wigan of possession. Fortunately, this Latics team is better set up defensively than most, with a solid goalkeeper and a cohesive back four and holding midfielders who do so much to shield the defence.  The downside for Latics was the return of that hoofball/hopeful long ball approach that remains dormant in the players’ mindsets. Going into half time one hoped that Latics could get the ball back on the ground and challenge a Pompey defence that had been underworked up to that point. The defence had held firm and the visitors had not scored.

Things did improve for Latics in the second half, gradually clawing back into the game against a tight Pompey rear-guard. It was not pretty, but they did get the ball down more and as the match went on they looked the more likely to score. Jordan Jones was substituted for James MacClean to come on after 54 minutes and the Irishman added life on the left, even if his final touch was somewhat lacking. Pearce had started to overlap on the left, where he can be so exciting to watch. But his crossing had been wayward until the 78th minute when his pass reached Callum Lang who rifled the ball home with aplomb.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

I thought the response in the second half was the most pleasing aspect. I thought in the first half – credit to Portsmouth – they imposed themselves quite quickly on us and the game. I thought our distances weren’t great, and I felt it looked like we played on Tuesday night in a derby, and they had a free week.

In the second half, I thought our lads responded well to the information, imposed themselves a lot better, and took the game 10-15 yards up the pitch. They were tough. They’ve got some good players, and they are a fantastic football club. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it down in Portsmouth, and they are carrying a healthy squad. They are expecting to get out of the league, and they’ve probably been in it too long, but today, I thought it was up to us to impose ourselves a little bit more.

I thought we were on our heels a little bit and our distances through the centre of the pitch weren’t what they should or could have been, and I felt that we didn’t really have contact around the pitch, so we spoke about that at half-time. The subs that came on gave us impetus in the game, and our energy and high-speed running was excellent again. Normally when you tick a few boxes, you normally land on the right side of the result.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

C_Latic commented:

That is an outstanding three points, it really is. I thought they were the best team we’ve played so far. Really is the sign of a good side when we can get three points from a game like that without really dominating. McClean changed the game. Also, whilst he made a mistake for Wycombe’s goal, Kell Watts is looking like a very good signing indeed and any centre-back we sign between now and Tuesday will not walk straight into this side.

FrancosLoveChild opined:

Tell you what, that was a poor performance, especially the first half, but last season we would have lot that 4-0 and I always see teams that eventually go up to pick up wins in those types of games and we did, do think we felt a little leggy with the number of games in quick succession and the team looking to gel.

Can give chance to more of the youth and Fringe lads for wolves u21 Tuesday and the. Have a well deserve rest.

Considering we only played really strong sides for our first 5 games, the team exceeded expectations

Up the tics!


Well done Leam as well, good substitutions. Lang had a stinker, but again that’s why you have to keep him on for 90 mins, because he always has a goal or a big moment in him.

Exiled Tic stated:

Not our best today but the defence stood up to everything they tried and Amos had his easiest game yet! Agree McClean changed the game Their defence fell apart when he came on! What an astute signing he’s proving already!!

Jeffs right summarised:

Fabulous win. Well done Latics.
Fourth from top and with an un-gelled and incomplete squad with a difficult fixture list to start.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to an entertaining draw against Wycombe

August 17, 2021: Wigan Athletic 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1

“Results don’t always match performances” is an old adage in football, but it could certainly be used in the context of this match. Wigan Athletic played some scintillating football and would have won the game with a canter had they put their chances away. But they did not and tired legs in the last quarter invited Wycombe pressure, resulting in a 91st minute equaliser as Kell Watts was outjumped at the far post from a corner kick.

The game was so different to that we saw on Saturday against Rotherham. That dour encounter was won by a late, late header from Will Keane. This was an entertaining affair.

Leam Richardson had retained the back four that completed the previous game, with Tendayi Darikwa  at left back and two specialists for that position on the bench. It proved to be a successful move as Darikwa had one of his better games. Jordan Jones was brought in on the left wing and his running and accurate crossing promised much for the future. Latics had gone ahead after 47 minutes from a thunderbolt finish from Callum Lang. The goal rattled the visitors and Latics were looking dangerous but were unable to add to their lead.

Keane’s header had hit the crossbar in the 69th minute with Jones taken off soon after, being replaced by Gavin Massey. Massey had looked more like his old self coming off the bench against Rotherham, playing on the right. However, this time he was placed on the left where, time after time, he has failed to deliver. Richardson is a wonderful motivator of his players, but his substitutions can be unimaginative and ill-timed. Gareth Ainsworth had made two substitutions for Wycombe in the 59th minute, the third being the huge Akinfenwa after 73 minutes. It signalled an aerial bombardment from the visitors who looked full of running at that stage compared with Latics.

After the game Richardson commented:

“I thought in the first-half we were excellent, and we were worthy of going in at half-time in-front. With the quality and the energy levels that we show, and the entries into their final third, we’ve got to be pleased.

Wycombe are a fantastic, well-drilled football team, and they are a threat from any dead-ball and set-piece, as well as from open play. If you do not put the game to bed, you obviously succumb to what we did.

I thought we were worthy to go in front and we started the second half where we left off. If we were going to be disappointed, it would be for the result, and possibly the last 15-20 minutes where we came off the page a little bit and started trading blows with Wycombe which is what they want.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

Zeb2 commented:

Football eh ?…..probably got two more points than we deserved on Saturday ….and got two less than we deserved tonight.
not conceded from open play in 3 matches but two direct from corners.

Went way too deep last few minutes (a long standing trait with us) and invited waves of attack which caused us to crack in the end, but we should have been out of sight by HT….maybe we ran out of gas in that last ten/fifteen minutes ….unfortunately they didn’t.

C_Latic stated:

The positive is that we’ll play a hell of a lot worse than that this season and win. That Wycombe side are a very good team who like Rotherham will be right in the top six equation and we’ve absolutely pummelled them.

I’d say if we can get one more win from our next two, we’ll be a good spot heading into the international break. Then the fixtures will ease up and we can look at putting together a run.

JockLatic added:

Best I’ve seen us play in some time….shuda been 2/3 nil up at half time & thoroughly deserved our goal, such a shame we couldn’t have got a second as that would have seen out the game. Unfortunately we sat back & had little possession the last 10 mins or so n it just seemed like they were gonna equalise….didn’t think it was a corner n possibly a free kick to us beforehand. If we play like that for a good chunk of the season we won’t be far off so long as we convert the chances. Disappointed coming away from the ground tonight but only because we should have been out of sight in 1st half…..

Made in Wigan opined:

Disappointing ending but will look at the bigger picture. It’s a brand new team and we have some decent players. We can only improve as the season progresses if McLean doesn’t upset the apple cart.

We really do need to start taking our chances. Miss of the season contenders in consecutive games and today its cost us two points. Whilst Wycombe were okay I thought Rotherham looked a tougher opponent. That said I don’t think we’ve much to fear in this league though the time it will take the team to gel and for LR to find his best team and tactics means we’ll have to come from behind to make any impact of the league table.

Stats courtesy of Whoscored.com