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!

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.