A Peterborough fan’s view of Leonardo da Silva

 

Wigan Athletic yesterday announced the signing of the 19 year-old midfielder/winger Leo Da Silva from Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee. The 5 ft 6 in tall player has signed a four-year contract.

Although the Posh owner refers to a seven figure fee, the Wigan Post reports that it was not so high.

On signing Da Silva, Wigan manager Paul Cook was enthused stating that:

“Leo has been one of the best young players in the EFL over the past couple of seasons, this is a really strong addition to our squad. I am looking forward to working with Leo and believe he will embrace the challenge of Championship football here at Wigan Athletic. Everyone has to remember Leo is just 19 and has his best years ahead of him but he certainly has the foundations to become a top level player.”

Leonardo Da Silva Lopes was born in Lisbon and moved to England at the age of 12. He joined the Posh as a 14 year-old, making his first team debut at 16 starting in a home game against Crawley Town in April 2015. He made another start the following week in the last game of the 2014-15 season at Oldham. The following season he made 4 league starts, with 4 appearances as a substitute. However, in 2016-17 Da Silva became more established, making 32 league starts, 6 appearances off the bench, scoring 2 goals. Last season he made 28 league starts with 11 substitute appearances. Although still only 19, he made over 100 appearances in all competitions at Peterborough. He has also been called into the Portugal under-21 squad.

To learn more about Da Silva’s time at Peterborough we contacted a couple of Posh fans through Twitter:

Nathan Brown (@NathanBrown_95) commented that:

His strengths were his speed, pace, athleticism, his versatility as well. His weaknesses would be confidence, his reliance on trickery.. his upper body strength.

He wasn’t popular with many fans and that’s hampered his development at the club, but of the fans who did like him, we felt he had potential and just needed proper coaching and a confidence boost, an arm around the shoulder really.

James Bloodworth (@Jamesb17_)  gave an overview:

 I’m going to assume that the vast majority of Wigan fans reading don’t know a great deal about your shiny new million pound signing, beyond the fact he’s come from a bit of a naff 3rd division club and has a big reputation. If you want a basic outline of what you’ve got on your hands in terms of playing style, I’d say if I was building a 5 a side team from last season’s squad, LDSL would be my first pick. However, if I was choosing a full XI the youngster would be near the bottom…

 Don’t get me wrong, he has an excellent dribbling ability; some tricks and flicks he has in his locker are beyond the average league 1 player’s imagination, let alone their skill set. A terrific engine too: he’d probably cope just as well at the local athletics club doing 10,000m as he will do at The DW. But that, unfortunately is where the positives end. If Leo has a grade A in trickery, he has an F in footballing intelligence. His spatial awareness is poor, and his knack of making the wrong decisions or executing the right ones poorly didn’t help endear himself to the Posh faithful. Neither did his overly laid back style. Nor his below average final ball. All of this accumulated to Leo’s final stats for us: 108 games, 6 goals. For an attacking midfielder, that is poor. What is even more concerning is that in spite of playing over 50 games in the season just gone, Lopes scored 0 goals and got one assist. He did not contribute in a positive way at all.

 I do have sympathy for the 19 year old, who was spotted playing in the Peterborough and District Junior league five years ago. We first heard of a ‘special talent coming through the youth ranks’ in 2014. A free scoring attacking midfielder with an eye for a spectacular goal. What’s not to like?

 Throughout his first two seasons, he was slowly inducted into the first team squad. 3 managers came and went in that time, and none of them gave Leo more than a token appearance here and there. Then, in the summer of 2016, Posh legend Grant McCann took the reins, and Lopes was thrust into the limelight. From the reserves to first eleven virtually overnight, Leo was no longer a kid that we wanted to do well, he was a first teamer who had to do well. Lopes was a virtual ever present throughout the latter stages of that calendar year, and it became clear it was all too much too soon. He needed a break, his career had accelerated far too quickly and it was clear he was not ready for such responsibility. Unfortunately, Peterborough United have become a club forced to sell to survive, and in the age of Dele Alli and Ademola Lookman moving from League 1 to the Premier League, Lopes was seen as our golden ticket. He continued to play, regardless of his countless poor performances, as we could not afford to let an asset go unsold.

 But he did. Despite *ahem* ‘interest’ from Tottenham and Arsenal, Lopes started 17/18 at London Road. Curiously though, as a wingback. Grant McCann’s tactical shift saw Lopes shoehorned into the side, and he struggled. His weak defensive skills were exploited, and before long, he was playing as a “number 10”. Then a winger. Then a defensive midfielder. I do have sympathy, as McCann’s poor management- which resulted in his contract being shredded in February- has hindered Lopes. His neat touches and engine are still his only assets, when he should have improved other fundamental skills to make him a genuine attacking weapon.

 As has been alluded to, Lopes became somewhat of a political pawn. He was that much of a mainstay in the team when it was clear he didn’t belong there, that some speculated he was being played on instruction from the boardroom. A frustration that should have been aimed at McCann and the hierarchy ended up being centred on Leo, and the weight of expectation from the club and lack of patience from the fanbase hindered him. The bottom line though has to be, Lopes was not good enough for us last year, and was being played in the hope somebody bought him. Some fans thought he is good enough to reach the Premier League. Others were rather harsh in saying that LDSL would look out of his depth in a pub side. I’m in the middle: he’s currently operating at League 2/ Conference level,and should really have had a loan spell before he became such a polarising figure.

 

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A Portsmouth fan’s view of Kal Naismith

 

Wigan Athletic have announced that Kal Naismith will be signing a three year contract, commencing July 1. The 6 ft 1 in Naismith had decided to leave Portsmouth at the end of a three year deal. Although usually employed as a winger he can also play in the number 10 role or at centre forward.

The 26-year-old Kallum Naismith was born in Glasgow and is a product of the Rangers youth system, representing Scotland at U-16 and U-17 levels. In September 2010, at the age of 18, he and fellow ‘Gers player Kyle Hutton were abducted and robbed in Edinburgh, but fortunately suffered no injuries.

Naismith was sent to Cowdenbeath for the first half of the 2011-12 season and made his debut in senior football in early September 2011 in a 3-2 home win over East Fife. A couple of weeks later he scored both goals in a 2-1 home win against Albion Rovers. Naismith left Cowdenbeath in January 2012 after making 9 appearances, moving up a level  to Scottish Division 1 on loan at Partick Thistle. He made 4 starts and 4 appearances off the bench for the Jags by the end of the season.

Following that season away on loan, Naismith returned to Rangers who were then in Scottish Division 3. He made his senior debut in July 2012 in a League Cup victory over Brechin City. Naismith went on to make 4 starts with 13 substitute appearances in the 2012-13 season, scoring one goal.

After leaving Rangers in the summer of 2013 by mutual consent, Naismith went on trial at League 2 Accrington Stanley, subsequently signing for them. In mid-October 2104 he suffered the tragic loss of his childhood sweetheart who died of a long-term illness. He went on to make 54 league starts, with 19 appearances off the bench, scoring 14 goals in two seasons at the Crown Ground.

In May 2015 Naismith joined previous manager, Paul Cook, at Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee. On signing he commented that “It’s brilliant to be here. I was at a massive club before in Rangers and this place has a similar feel to it. Just walking around gives me a buzz and I can’t wait to move down here properly and get started. I knew that the gaffer liked me, so I always had the move at the back of my mind when he took charge.”

On September 1, 2015, Naismith made his Pompey debut as a substitute in a Football League Trophy defeat at Exeter. During a three year stay at Fratton Park he made 51 league starts, with 31 substitute appearances, scoring 18 goals.

To learn more about Naismith’s time at Portsmouth we contacted Jim Bonner (@FrattonFaithful) of the Fratton Faithful fan site.

Here’s over to Jim:

Whilst it was no surprise Naismith joined Wigan, most Portsmouth fans believe it’s a step too far for him as he was Pompey’s most disappointing player last season.

 Kal is capable of taking a quality set-piece and can deliver some excellent crosses into the box when he is on form. However, despite being given plenty of opportunities to prove himself last season, he scored a paltry two league goals (one against your team and the other an absolute gift from Plymouth) and doesn’t have the pace to beat players on the wing. Championship defenders should also be too clever to be fooled by his tricks and should be able to predict what he is going to do. 

Pompey fans will always thank Kal for the huge role he played in the League Two title winning season and if Wigan fans want to see this as a positive signing, then Paul Cook may be able to get the best out of him as he did in the second half of the 2016/2017 season when he ended up as Pompey’s top scorer. 

 But he struggled to make any sort of impact whatsoever in the third tier and there’s simply no evidence to suggest he will cut it in the second, especially if he plays as a centre forward which clearly isn’t his best position as he is most likely to do some damage on the wings.

 Kal’s greatest contribution to our season was his stint in goal against Doncaster. He produced a superb instinctive save at the end of that game to ensure we didn’t lose.

Naismith may have the potential to get better but it’s unlikely and my prediction is that he will be sent on loan to Accrington Stanley or Coventry come January.

 

 

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A Swansea City fan’s view of Jay Fulton

 

Wigan Athletic have signed 23-year-old Jay Fulton on loan from Swansea City for the remainder of the season. The 5 ft 10 in Fulton’s contract with the Swans expires in June.

Following the announcement of his latest recruit Paul Cook said that: “Jay will fit right in here. It is a good move for him and we are really looking forward to working with Jay and integrating him into our squad.”.

Following his signing, Fulton identified his style of play: “I am a central midfielder, I like to break up the opponents play and start up our play. I spoke to the manager about how he wants me to play and hopefully I can fit into that.”

Jay Fulton was born in Bolton, his father Steve having signed for the Wanderers after playing for Celtic. Steve’s stay at Bolton only lasted a year and he left to play for Falkirk. Jay was only a few months old when he moved to Scotland.

Curiously Jay joined Falkirk as a youth and made his first team debut as a 17-year-old in April 2011. He went on to make 83 appearances, scoring 5 goals, for the Bairns, before signing for Swansea in January 2014.

In December 2013 Fulton had been highlighted by the Tell Him He’s Pele website as one of the top 25 superstars in the lower leagues of Scotland. The writer commented:

Jay Fulton is the best footballer at the club. With the vision and ability to execute through-balls like no other in the lower leagues, Fulton marries these with expert balance and an uncanny ability to slalom past players in tight spaces, making him a player who could seamlessly fit into any role in midfield.

Where exactly his best position is can sometimes be difficult to judge: should his ability to see the game unfold in front of him (and play audacious through balls like this) mean that he operates as a deep playmaker as part of a double-pivot? Or ought his willingness to take the ball in compressed space and play wall-passes dictate that he should be used behind a forward? It could be that he would be most effective further forward at this stage in his career and then eventually fall back, but he is equally capable of playing on the flanks.

Fulton made his Swansea debut in April 2014, coming on as a substitute in a Premier League game against Aston Villa. In June 2014 he signed a new four-year contract with the Swans. However, Fulton’s first team appearances at Swansea were to be limited and he went on loan to Oldham Athletic in the first half of the 2015-16 season. He made 11 appearances for the Oldham Latics, including one against Gary Caldwell’s Wigan side at Boundary Park in September 2015.

He has represented Scotland at U18, U19 and U21 levels.

In order to learn more about Fulton’s time at Swansea we contacted Phil Sumbler of the Planet Swans fan site https://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/swanseacity).

Here’s over to Phil:

Jay Fulton has barely had a look in at Swansea but from when I have seen him play he is a composed midfielder who certainly knows what the game is about.

 His lack of first team opportunities at Swansea should be put down more to maybe not being ready for the Premier League rather than a reflection of general ability.

 For me this loan move will be exactly what he needs and we will be watching his progress at Wigan keenly and willing him to succeed.

I’m not sure the fans have much of a view to be honest – his chances were limited although there were often calls for him to be given a chance (given how bad we have been for a few years)

He’s always looks strong in the challenge and composed on the ball but without the regular flow of competitive football then he has struggled.

For me I don’t think he is a Premier League player (and not sure he would be).

 

We gathered further insight on Swans fans’ views on Fulton through postings on the Planet Swans Forum.

In November Magidaps10 revealed Fulton’s Premier League record:

8 STARTS

5 WINS

1 DRAW

2 DEFEATS

 Not too shabby!

In late December TheKirkyLife  commented that:

Back from loan at Oldham. I must say whenever he played last year he was a really solid and confident addition to the squad. Good to have him back and actually would love to see him in Britton’s role a bit. Almost let Leon take him under his wing. Fantastic prospect from everything I’ve seen.

SwanfortheMoney recently added:

I’ve always liked Fulton when I’ve seen him. Big lad, tackles, gets headers, decent on the ball. A much cheaper version of Clucas.

The Manager sees more of him than we do, so we have to assume he’s surplus to requirements. Good luck to him.

JFSWAN  said:

Never let us down when he’s played. Always snappy into tackles. Southampton away comes to mind with a midfield 3 of Fulton, Carroll and Shelvey where he performed exceptionally.

 

A Hearts fan’s view of Jamie Walker

Reports suggest that the 24 year old midfielder Jamie Walker will sign for Wigan Athletic today for a fee of £300,000. The 5 ft 9 in tall Walker was in the final year of his contract.

Robbie Neilson, MK Dons manager, was in charge at Hearts from 2014-16. In a recent interview with The Scotsman newspaper he commented on Walker’s imminent move to Wigan:

“I’d expect him to score a few goals there and play some games, and hopefully make that step up to the Championship. The team he’s going to dominate a lot of the games so I think that will definitely help him in the way they play. They’ve got guys who are similar to Jamie and that’s the way they play, so it would be a good one for him.

I thought he was excellent when I had him as a player. When I came in I spoke to him about his work rate and I think he’s done that, he’s looked after himself fitness-wise. He’s earned himself a move and I’m sure he’ll kick on because there is no doubting his technical ability, that’s for sure.”

Jamie Walker grew up in Edinburgh and came up through the youth ranks at Hearts.  At the age of 18 he was sent to Raith Rovers on loan to get first team experience. He went on to make 23 appearances, scoring 3 goals in the 2011-12 season. He made his first team debut for Hearts as a substitute in November 2012 against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Tynecastle. By the end of the season he had made 24 appearances for Hearts in the SPL, scoring 2 goals, being voted the club’s “Young Player of the Year”.

Last summer Walker was the subject of two bids from Rangers, who were eventually unwilling to meet the Edinburgh club’s asking price of £1m. The club reported that Walker had asked for the move, although the player himself denied it, causing a rift between him and Hearts fans. In October The Daily Record reported on the abuse that not just the player, but also his immediate family, suffered as a result.

Walker can play on either flank, or behind the centre forward. In his five years of first team football at Hearts he has made 125 league starts and 29 appearances as a substitute, scoring 37 goals. He has represented Scotland at U15, U16, U17, U19 and U21 levels.

In order to learn more about Walker’s time at Hearts we contacted the Jambos Kickback (http://www.hmfckickback.co.uk) fan forum. The responses we got were multituidinous, but below you will find a selection of them:

Debut4 commented:

Fresh start for him. I don’t think the Cathro period helped him and became frustrated. Its been clear recently that under a proper manager (Levein for the OPs info) he’s found a little bit of his previous self again.

 A lot of Hearts supporters don’t like him because he was angling for a move to Rangers. No matter how he played he was dismissed as having lost it or not committed to Hearts latterly.

 You are getting a decent player, good brain, dangerous around the box when it falls to him but injury has plagued him which should concern you.

Davidkeye said

Overall as above really, plenty natural talent but certainly a bit inconsistent. Overall disappointed to lose him but it was inevitable and a fair chunk of Hearts fans think the same (have a read of the long thread as mentioned above on this forum).

 Will he do ok at Wigan? Who knows, he will need to get a little stronger for English football i’d say and there is also the issues of him and his family settling off the park (think he has a little kid etc now) and although its only a few hours down the road moving away from where you’ve been brought up with friends and family etc is never easy).

It has certainly ended slightly on a sour note but he has had success overall with Hearts and been here pretty much his entire playing career, he leaves us with a half decent fee as he said he would. it could have been a lot more if he was a bit more consistent imo. Good luck to him, hope he does well for you.

BigHenry added:

The boy’s got bags of ability. Likes to run with the ball. Takes players on and gets fouled regularly due to his quick feet. His finishing is decent but still needs improvement. A difficult player to fit into your team because he likes to play in behind the strikers, sniffing out openings. I don’t think he can play wide as he’s not got real pace ,although quick over the first few yards.  He’s went off the boil recently due to the nonsense surrounding the transfer saga. If you get keep him fit and fit him  into your system then you could have a bargain on your hands. A right good player at our level anyway.  

Hughsie27 said

He has been a promising prospect since he was about 15/16. Comes from a Hearts family background. He joined the first team quite young and impressed for the first couple of years in the team but suffered from a lot of injuries which seems to have hampered his development somewhat. 

On his day he is brilliant. He hasn’t really been on his day for about 18 months though. Still young enough where a fresh start might help him but I’d be willing to bet you lot will have him back up here at Rangers (on loan or otherwise) by this time next year.

Sadj commented:

Fantastic football brain , makes good choices , cracking player when his heads in it. Has had a tough 18months with injuries needs a change to move forward as has stagnated at Hearts recently. 

The Apprentice opined:

A fit and ‘at it’ Jamie Walker would no doubt be an asset for Wigan but has others have said his last couple of injuries seem to have robbed him of any pace he’s had before. Widly inconsistent, drifts in and out of games but if he plays to his full potential then he’s a match-winner on his day. IMO I reckon a change of scenery could do him the world of good. 

Jambos_1874 said

I would say the majority of comments on here are overly critical. Jamie has plenty of natural ability and early on his Hearts career that wasn’t matched with workrate and effort. However, in recent years (when injury free) this definitely improved and there is no doubt he can score goals when given the chance but that depends on the type of football Wigan play and whether he’ll suit their style. For me his lack of pace is his main negative and I think that will definitely count against him in England. Jamie was a fans favourite but this season a lot of fans appear to have tirned against him. 

 To those fans who criticise his derby peformances, I agree to an extent. But there were several recent derbies, particularly under Cathro, where I think he really was trying but there was zero effort from the players around him.

 

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A Portsmouth fan’s view of Gary Roberts

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 33-year-old midfielder Gary Roberts from Portsmouth on a one-year contract. Roberts had been released by Pompey after completing two years of a three-year deal.

Roberts has played under Paul Cook’s management at Accrington, Chesterfield and Portsmouth. On announcing the signing Cook commented: ‘Gary is a player I trust and who has proven himself at this level. He will make a significant contribution and I’m delighted to have him on board.’

Gareth Roberts was born in Chester, joining Liverpool’s academy but being released at the age of 17. He went on to play youth football at Bala Town and Denbigh Town before briefly playing for Rhyl to move on to Bangor City as a 19-year-old where he played 22 games, scoring one goal, in the 2003-04 season. Roberts went on to play for his fifth club in Wales the following season, when he made 22 appearances for Welshpool Town scoring 9 goals.

At the age of 21 Roberts signed for Accrington Stanley where he made 66 appearances, scoring 22 goals. In October 2006, he went on loan to Ipswich Town, signing permanently for the Tractor Boys in January 2007. He went on to make 40 appearances for Ipswich in almost two seasons, scoring 4 goals. He had also played for Crewe Alexandra on a month’s loan  in February 2008.

In summer 2008, Huddersfield Town, then in League 1, paid Ipswich £250,000 for Roberts. In his first season he went on to score 11 goals, winning the Huddersfield awards for best goal of the season, Player’ Player of the Season and Fans’ Player of the Season. Over his four seasons Roberts went on to make 145 league starts, with 17 appearances off the bench, scoring 31 goals.

In summer 2012 Roberts made a parallel move to Swindon Town, where he made 39 league appearances, scoring 4 goals. In June 2013 Paul Cook signed him for Chesterfield where he was to spend two seasons, making 69 starts with 5 appearances as a substitute, scoring 17 goals. When Cook went to Portsmouth in summer 2015, Roberts was to follow. He went on to make 58 league starts, 16 appearances as a substitute, scoring 17 goals over two seasons.

Roberts has won four promotions in his career and was League Two Player of The Year in 2013-2014.

In order to learn more about Roberts’ time at Portsmouth we contacted Jim Bonner  (@FrattonFaithful) of the Fratton Faithful fan site.

Here’s over to Jim:

Gary Roberts going to Wigan after being released from Pompey is the most predictable deal of the summer. He has always been a favourite with Paul Cook so it’s no surprise that the pair have been reunited after Kenny Jackett deemed him surplus to requirements and wanted to remove him from the bill.

Roberts can play on either wing or behind the striker and on his day he can be a major influence on a match as he clearly has ability and scored some very important goals duringhis two-year spell at Portsmouth. However, his days are now few and far between as his 33-year-old legs have gone and he often becomes a passenger in matches because of it.

Do not be surprised to see Cook select Roberts ahead of other, more logical choices for the Wigan starting eleven as our ex-manager probably values him too highly but he will be fondly remembered at Fratton Park for the most part and may well chip in with an important goal or two for his new club. It’s just a question of whether those goals will be worth the time he spends on the pitch being completely ineffective.

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