A Portsmouth fan view of Tom Naylor

Wigan Athletic recently announced the signing of 29-year-old Tom Naylor on a three-year contract. The 6ft 2in Naylor was a free agent following the completion of his contract at Portsmouth. He has signed a three-year contract.

Naylor normally plays in central midfield but can also play in the centre of defence. As Portsmouth captain he played in all 46 League 1 games last season. Although primarily a holding midfielder who protects the defence, he scored 8 goals over the course of the season. He has made almost 400 appearances in his career.

Upon signing for Latics he said: “When Wigan came calling, I spoke to the manager, and he sold the club to me. He told me the players he’d be bringing in, and the fact the aim is promotion. That’s all I want to do as well, the aim every season has to be promotion and I’ve come here to do that next season.”

Tom Naylor was born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, near Mansfield. He was given his first professional contract with Mansfield Town is 2009. In the 2009-10 season he was loaned to Belper Town where he made 32 appearances, scoring 3 goals. Naylor joined Derby County on loan in November 2011, the move becoming permanent in January 2012. There followed further loan periods at Bradford City, Grimsby Town, Newport County, Cambridge United and Burton Albion. Naylor signed a contract at Burton in June 2015, and he was to become a key player for the Brewers in their promotion to the Championship and during their two seasons there.

Naylor signed for Portsmouth in July 2018 and went on to make 124 appearances for them in League 1 over his three seasons at Fratton Park.

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

Here’s over to Jim:

Last season, Tom was clearly Pompey’s outstanding player in the first half of the campaign. He brought his usual bite to the centre of midfield and got around the pitch but added long range strikes to his game and even improved his much-maligned passing.

However, after the turn of the year he drastically declined and downed tools, making him one of the prime targets for Pompey fans to direct their anger at, especially as he was the captain. 

Why did this happen? He knew he wasn’t going to get an improved deal at Fratton Park and was also carrying an injury that nullified his tackling and mobility – two key components of his game.

Like Whatmough, signing Naylor on such a long deal is a gamble for Wigan but if he can regain the form that made him such a favourite for most of two-and-a-half seasons at Pompey then it’s another shrewd signing by Leam Richardson. However, most Pompey fans lament how far he’d fallen, bemoan his lack of leadership and believe we should be aiming to bring in a higher calibre of player if we’re to make a promotion push again next season.

A Portsmouth fan view of Jack Whatmough

Last week Wigan Athletic announced the signing of 24 year-old central defender Jack Whatmough on a free transfer from Portsmouth.

Whatmough made 136 appearances for Pompey and is among the most talented defenders in League 1. If he can stay clear of injuries, he could prove a great signing for Latics. Leam Richardson knew him from his time with Paul Cook at Portsmouth in 2015-17. After Whatmough signed for Latics he commented:

Jack has very good attributes. He is a centre half who has a good mix of the old-fashioned centre half who likes to defend, but also the modern defender where he can handle the ball. One of the most important factors is how much of a good person he is. He is fantastic in the dressing room and he brings maturity to the football club. He is a leader. I think he will show that with his performances and with how he is in the dressing room. He is a brilliant addition to Wigan Athletic.”

Jack Whatmough was born in Gosport on the western side of Portsmouth harbour, opposite Portsmouth. Up until the age of 13 he played at south coast rivals Southampton. After joining the Portsmouth Academy, he signed a two-year scholarship contract in July 2012. Just over a month later he was on the bench for the senior team in an away game at Plymouth.

In August 2013 Whatmough signed a three-year professional contract, making his debut as a 17-year-old in a home game in November 2013 in a League 2 home game against Southend United. He went on to make 12 appearances in the 2013-14 season, also playing for England U18 against Croatia in March 2014.  Whatmough made 24 appearances in the 2014-15 season before suffering a serious knee injury in March 2015. In January 2016 he made his return when playing on loan at Havant and Waterlooville.

After suffering three serious knee injuries he was excellent last season, making 38 appearances for Pompey and would have surely exceeded the 40 mark if it were not for suspensions at the end of the season. Due to financial losses caused by the coronavirus  last season Portsmouth offered reduced terms to Whatmough and three other players whose contracts were expiring. Whatmough was quoted in the Portsmouth News as saying:

“Some have said I left for the money – and it’s a load of rubbish. It was nothing to do with wages at any point. It was always to do with the length of the deal. Always.

I know I can rest easy having not left Pompey for the wrong reason. It was just the length of the deal. I wanted to do it, Danny wanted to do it – the club didn’t.

That was Pompey’s decision and one I fully respect. I will never hold anything against the club, they have done so much for me. Not a bad word will come out of my mouth about what has happened.”

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

Here’s over to Jim:

Jack was Pompey’s best defender based on ability. He’s good in the air and with the ball at his feet playing out from the back and was one of the few players many fans believed could have made the step up to the Championship.

However, his positional sense is lacking, he has a few own goals to his name and can be rash in the challenge, missing seven games last season due to receiving two straight red cards.

However, what makes this signing such a gamble is Jack’s injury record. Although he played most of last season following successful surgery, in previous years he hasn’t made many appearances due to a career blighted by injuries and the belief is that one more will finish him.

If he can stay fit, he knows Leam Richardson well from his days at Fratton Park and will be an astute addition to the Wigan backline. Maybe Pompey will regret letting him go rather than offering him the longer deal he wanted?

Social Media Reaction to a home defeat by Bristol City

Wigan Athletic 0 Bristol City 2

Latics looked at least as good as the much more expensively assembled Bristol City until 77 minutes when the visitors scored. Given what we have seen before it was not a surprise when City scored their second two minutes later.

Paul Cook once again, to his credit, insisted his team try to play football, rather than hoofball. Latics had around 70% possession in the first half. Unfortunately, most of it was passing the ball around in their own half and they were lacking a cutting edge going forward. The central defensive partnership of Kipre and Naismith had been excellent. When Latics did attack they rarely threw enough players in the box to cause concern for the visitors.

The second half saw a solid Bristol City come more into it, with Latics looking less assured. But until that first goal they were certainly up for the fight. Despite Wigan’s approach play they looked unlikely to score. It was only when Joe Gelhardt came on that they had someone willing so shoot, rather than pass the buck.

Paul Cook is one of the luckiest managers in English football to still be in his job. Let’s hope Darren Royle and IEC are proven right to keep faith in him. He has set himself on a better direction by putting out line-ups that help avoid that awful hoofball.

But he continues to put round square pegs in round holes. Today he played a defensive midfielder, Joe Williams, at number 10 yet again, playing the natural first choice, Kieran Dowell on the left.

Despite his impressive riposte in the local press to people suggesting Gelhardt should be an automatic starter in a mediocre advanced midfield, the jury among fans remains divided. Is Cook shielding Gelhardt from pressure or merely currying favour with his senior pros?

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, 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.

NorthernSoul on the Latics Speyk Forum said

Should have won that but shot ourselves in the foot once again. Our inability to score is a disgrace for professional footballers. The front 4 were once again a terrible selection from Cook. Apart from one hit and hope chance that Marshall tipped over, Bristol City did absolutely nothing and then get a lucky offside goal and then it’s game over as we can’t score.

How many times are we going to dominate and fail to win until Cook realise his line ups are so wrong. Lowe should not be playing, 3 tap ins all missed again. Williams is not an AM, Dowell is not a wide player.

JrfatFan on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

I lost count of the number of balls whipped into the box only to see a red shirt on the end of um to hoof it away. Bristol City clearly came for a point and plundered 3.

It all seems to go pear shaped when Cook makes his subs. Its no reflection on the subs, it just keeps on happening week in week out. We need to follow Gelhardt’s lead and start having a few punts at goal. We spend an eternity passing the ball sideways 30 yards from goal, nobody wants to have a pop, yet we have players who can strike the ball well.

As we keep saying it’s time for a change but it won’t happen.

Lowey on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Too many midfielders and not enough attackers. That’s why we dominate possession but never look like scoring. Cook may notice this if he hadn’t spent the entire game arguing with the fourth official over feck all.

ManchesterLatic89 on the Latics Speyk Forum said

He has struggled this season since signing this summer, but I have remained patient in the hope that he would come good for us and replicate his form over last two seasons for Pompey eventually.

Today however, remaining patience and faith i once had have evaporated, Lowe has had some poor performances so far but that was utterly abysmal.

Spent the entire first half wandering around like a lost child and three moments in the second half summed up his career for us so far in a nutshell. The two guilt edged chances he missed and the pass around halfway that was intercepted by a Bristol City player.

Sadly Lowe is another Grigg/Jacobs, good in League One but just not up to it in the Championship. I’m willing to forgive Moore as the system Cook plays just doesn’t suit his strengths. Lowe however has no excuses.

If ever you need proof that our scouting system and where we do our scouting for fresh talent needs a major rethink, 5 million pounds spent on Lowe and Moore is the answer. It would have been cheaper to have a scout based in Belgium / Switzerland / Scandinavia for a few months and sign 4 players from those markets than the crazy sums frittered away on the two aforementioned players.

 

 

A Forest fan’s view of Kieran Dowell (Part 2)

 

Following on from previous fan views of Kieran Dowell we later received a further one from Rich Ferraro at his Forest Ramble site (www.forestramble.com)


As for Dowell, we just didn’t see enough of him in a red shirt, and neither did Derby. This doesn’t seem to be down to lack of ability, he obviously has loads of talent, and when he got a chance he showed flashes of brilliance (including nine goals in league and cup), but without ever being the first name on the team sheet.

 However, it says a lot that he seemed to do ok at Sheffield United – maybe he needs a manager who is able to put an arm around his shoulder, rather than a kick up the bum.

 Dowell left Forest when Mark Warburton left and Aitor Karanka came in, so maybe he was a victim of the new gaffer having less faith in youth (other victims included Joe Worrall).

 Can he do a job for you? Yes, he provides a good through ball, skills and goals; but you will need to get your enforcers to do some of the donkey work around him.

 All the best for the rest of the season.

 


			

A Derby County fan’s view of Kieran Dowell

 

Kieran Dowell made his debut for Wigan Athletic yesterday at Leicester, starting in a wide left midfield role. Dowell can be a very important player for Latics in the second half of the season, a natural number 10, with the ability to make incisive passes and score goals.

In order to get more information on Dowell’s performances at his previous club, Derby County, we contacted Ollie Wright of the @derbycountyblog

This is what Ollie had to say:

I feel sorry for Dowell, because he was the victim of circumstances.  Phillip Cocu only arrived at Derby very late on in the summer, after the whole ‘will-he-won’t-he-of-course-he-bloody-will-get-it-over-with’ nonsense over Frank Lampard and Chelsea.  Cocu didn’t really have any time to assess his squad and what he needed to bring in before the start of the season.  

 Several loan signings were made quickly, the first of which was Dowell, just after Cocu had landed in Florida to take over pre-season training.  I’m guessing that Cocu spoke to Marcel Brands – the Everton director of football, who had worked with him at PSV – and Brands recommended that Cocu take Dowell, who was reportedly weighing up offers from yourselves and Huddersfield at the time.  

Dowell played the first few games of the season in an advanced midfield role, but after we were humiliated 3-0 at Brentford, Dowell paid a heavy price and lost his place in the team.  After that, he only started two more games, defeats at Blackburn and Hull, and whispers started to circulate that his loan would be cancelled last month. He was left out of the 18 for the win against Barnsley this week and that was widely seen as confirmation that he would leave the club.

An element of the Derby fanbase wrote Dowell off very quickly and he will certainly not be missed  However, in his defence, it was a tall order for any attacking midfielder to come in and try to replace the elite talents who left the club last summer – Mason Mount and Harry Wilson – and there have been plenty of poor performances since the Brentford defeat in which Dowell was not involved at all, so it’s not as if he could be scapegoated for our difficulties this season.  He did not impress here, to put it kindly, but there’s definitely a talent in there, if somebody can unlock it.  

From the limited time he spent on the pitch, my assessment would be that he is best used as a number ten, without being asked to take care of much (any) defensive duty.  It’s obvious that Wigan are in need of creativity and, if played in a relatively free role, Dowell does have the potential to make things happen – he was the best Derby player for key passes per 90 minutes this season, with 1.9 – but he was unable to replicate the burst of brilliant goals he scored for Nottingham Forest and I wouldn’t expect him to win you many duels in the midfield hurly burly.
Given the difficult position Wigan find themselves in and the lack of goals in the Latics’ side, I think this is a loan move which is definitely worth a shot.  
Wishing you all the best for the rest of the season.  Good luck!