A Cardiff fan’s view of Anthony Pilkington

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of the 30-year-old Anthony Pilkington on an 18-month contract. The winger was signed as a free agent, having left Cardiff City by mutual agreement.

Although Pilkington has not played first team football this season, he has made over 300 career appearances in league football, with three full seasons in the Premier League. Although Pilkington was born in Blackburn, he has made 9 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, qualifying through having an Irish grandparent. He has an impressive goalscoring record for a wide player and can score spectacular goals with either foot. He can also play as a central striker.

On signing the player Paul Cook commented: “Anthony has good experience in the Championship and Premier League, I am delighted to bring him to Wigan Athletic. He won promotion with Cardiff City last season, so he knows what it takes to do well at this level and I am sure he will be a big asset to us for the rest of this campaign and beyond.”

The 6 ft tall Pilkington was part of the youth programs at Preston, Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but joined Atherton Collieries as a 17-year-old in November 2005 whilst attending Myerscough College, where the Collieries manager, Alan Lord, was a lecturer. After making a strong impression, scoring 19 goals in 35 games, he signed for Stockport County in December 2006. County were in League 2 at the time. Pilkington made 80 appearances for County over three seasons, scoring 17 goals, one of them helping them to win the League 2 playoffs in 2008.

Pilkington signed for Huddersfield Town, then in League 1, in January 2009. He went on to make 92 appearances for the Terriers, scoring 19 goals.

In the summer of 2011 he joined Norwich City for a fee of £2 m. He went on to make 58 Premier League starts, with 17 appearances off the bench, scoring 14 goals in three seasons with the Canaries.

In July 2014 Pilkington signed for Cardiff City for a fee of £1 m. He went on to make 111 appearances, scoring 23 goals and contributing eight assists. Last season he scored 5 goals in 13 appearances in the Bluebird’s promotion campaign.

In order to learn more about Pilkington’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:

Pilks is a Cardiff player who deserved more from his time at Cardiff. He came in the season after we got relegated and was a bright light for us. Committed, scored and assisted and was pretty reliable. When Warnock came in, his space in the team became less of a guarantee and by the start of last year, he was out of the squad consistently.

But he was a model pro and worked hard and clawed his way back into contention. He wasn’t a regular, but he scored some important goals – none more so than his late equaliser at Sheffield United that went a long way to helping us get promoted.

There’s certainly a feeling that he should have had more of a say this season. It was perhaps a little unfair that he was left out the 25 for the Premier League when he could have been in the squad on merit – plus for his lengthy service.

 You’ve got a good player and a top pro on your hands.

 

 

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A Bolton Wanderers fan’s view of Antonee Robinson

 

The 21 year-old Antonee Robinson joined Wigan Athletic on a year’s loan from Everton on the summer transfer deadline day. The 6 ft tall Robinson is 21 years old.

Born in Milton Keynes of an American father, Robinson joined Everton as an 11-year-old.  He signed a professional contract for the Toffees when 17, after being awarded the Under 18s Player of the Season. Robinson missed much of the 2015-16 season because of a cartilage injury. Despite his injury he was offered a new one-year contract and went on to play three EFL Trophy games for the U23 side in 2016-17.

In August 2017 Robinson joined Bolton Wanderers on loan. He went on to make 30 appearances over the course of the season.

After playing for the US under 18 team he went on to make his full international debut in May 2018 against Bolivia.

In order to learn more about Robinson’s time at Bolton we contacted Chris Mann of the Burnden Aces fan site http://www.burndenaces.co.uk (@BurndenAces ).

Here’s over to Chris:

Following Andrew Taylor’s performances during our League One promotion season of 2016/17, Antonee Robinson arrived at Bolton as somewhat of a low-key signing and one many expected to provide nothing more than backup.

 A couple of Carabao Cup ties aside, Robinson had to wait for an opportunity with Wanderers but was thrust in earlier than anticipated when Taylor picked up an early-season injury.

 It would be a baptism of fire for Robinson, who was torn apart by Adama Traore on his first league start on an afternoon where we were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Middlesbrough at Macron Stadium.

 Many young players would have crumbled there and then but Phil Parkinson showed a huge amount of faith in Robinson, even as the club embarked on a run of eight successive defeats without scoring a single goal.

 As the season progressed, Bolton’s form improved and so did that of Robinson, who made the left-back position his own for the majority of the campaign and earned a first international call-up to the United States squad.

 The Everton loanee has undoubted potential, with his pace and ability to burst forward once making him a fans’ favourite in these parts, but his defensive capability needs some serious work if he is ever to make the grade at Premier League level.

 Robinson may have been handed a new three-year deal at Goodison Park, but I just don’t see him forcing a way through. The Toffees will cash in at some stage and a good season at Wigan will only increase his value. As is so often the case with loan deals though – as we have seen ourselves in this instance – just don’t expect any loyalty at the end of it.

 

 

 
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A Rangers fan’s view of Josh Windass

On transfer deadline day Wigan Athletic announced the signing of Josh Windass from Rangers on a three-year contract. The fee is reported to be around £2.5 m plus add-ons.

 

On signing the 24-year-old Paul Cook stated: “Josh is an exciting player with an eye for a goal and he gives us further strength in attacking positions.

The 5 ft 10 in tall Windass was born in Hull. He spent ten years at Huddersfield Town until being released as an 18-year-old. After an unsuccessful trial at Bradford City he joined Northern Counties East club, Harrogate Railway Athletic, in December 2012 on a semi-professional basis. In July 2013 Windass joined Accrington Stanley in League 2. He made his debut against Tranmere Rovers in an FA Cup tie in November 2013, alongside new teammate Kal Naismith. Windass went on to make 77 appearances for Stanley, scoring 22 goals over three seasons.

Windass turned down the offer of a new contract at Accrington in November 2015, reportedly on the advice of his father Dean, who is well known to many Latics fans. On the termination of his contract he joined Rangers, with Stanley receiving £60,000 as compensation.

Windass went on to make 57 starts for Rangers, with 14 appearances off the bench, scoring 19 goals.

To learn more about Windass’ time at Rangers we contacted Stewart Franklin of Gers Net (https://www.gersnet.co.uk/).

Here’s over to Stewart:

First and foremost, Josh is a talented footballer. He’s quick, he can score goals, he can find space and he’s very good at being the link between midfield and attack, especially on the counter.

The problem at Rangers was his inconsistency. In his first season he kept picking up niggling injuries so he never really got going until his second season. Unfortunately, despite the impressive stats (13 goals and 6 assists in the league), his overall contribution split fan opinion. He’d go missing in games, he’d shirk out of tackles and he never really looked entirely comfortable in any position.

We used him deeper, we used him as a second striker and he played mainly right across the three attacking roles in our preferred 4-2-3-1 but he was unable to persuade our fans he could be relied upon. It seems Steven Gerrard was equally unconvinced as despite already playing two Europa League ties and our first league game, Windass struggled to stay a first pick ahead of Thursday’s transfer.

In closing, I’d imagine most Rangers fans will miss the undoubted threat the lad brought but we won’t miss his social media gaffes and we won’t miss his old man poking his nose in where it usually wasn’t wanted. Nevertheless, we wish Josh all the very best for the future and the same goes for Wigan!

 

 

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A Motherwell fan’s view of Cedric Kipre

 

On Friday Wigan Athletic announced the signing of Cedric Kipre from Motherwell on a three-year contract. The fee was not disclosed but reports suggest it could reach £1m including add-ons. The 21-year-old is the third Motherwell player to sign for Latics in the last 20 years following on from Lee McCulloch and Steve McMillan.

On signing the 6 ft 3 in tall player Paul Cook commented: “Cedric is a strong, powerful and athletic defender, who we have been monitoring some time. He is at a great age to develop his game after a really good season with Motherwell and I am looking forward to working with him.”

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson opined: “Although it’s with a heavy heart that we lose Cédric, his progress over the last year has been remarkable and it’s little wonder English Championship clubs have been circling. He has the potential to go all the way to the top in my opinion and we very much wish him well in his future career. He will always be welcome back at Fir Park.”

Kipre went on to make his Latics debut against Sheffield Wednesday the following day, looking calm and assured at the centre of defence.

Cedric Kipre was born in Paris of Ivorian parents and played youth football at Paris St Germain. At the age of 17 he joined Leicester City, playing for their U18 and U21 teams in his first season. He next played for the U23 side but could not break into the senior squad. In September 2015 Kipre went on a month’s loan to Corby Town in the National League North, making an impressive debut against Boston United. Manager Tommy Wright commented “Cedric looked the real deal. He was strong, powerful, very good technically on the ball and he was a breath of fresh air.”  Kipre went on to play two more games for the Steelmen.

In the summer of 2017 after being released from Leicester Kipre went to Motherwell for a trial, impressing enough to be offered a one-year contract. He became a regular starter for his new club, which had a successful season in finishing in 7th place and reaching the finals of the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup. Kipre made 49 appearances for the Steelmen, together with a debut for Ivory Coast U-23 side in March 2018 against Togo.

In order to learn more about Kipre’s time at Motherwell we contacted Andrew Paterson of the Steelmen Online site (https://www.steelmenonline.co.uk).

Here’s over to Andrew:

We knew it would happen.  We knew he would go.  We just hoped we’d have him with us for a little bit longer.

 If that reads almost obituary like it kind of feels like it is.  Our Cédric. Gone!  If only to pastures new thankfully rather than the big fitba pitch in the sky.

 So what can I can tell you about Cédric? 

 Well, in truth when he lined up on trial in pre-season last summer it was his compatriot Bira Dembele who actually impressed more and there was a tinge of disappointment when he elected to return to France rather than join us.

 How much truth there was in Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson’s claim some months later that he was always going to sign Cédric I don’t know, but there’s more than one of our support who think back and breathe a sigh of relief that Motherwell couldn’t meet Dembele’s financial demands.

 It would be fair to say that Kipré’s rise in prominence was rapid. 

 The thought was that he would settle into life in Scotland in Motherwell’s U20 side and perhaps as the season progressed he might breakthrough with the odd appearance here and there. In fact he played more minutes in domestic games in Scotland than any other top flight player.

 Initially signing on a one year contract it was immediately apparent that the club had to tie him down on a longer deal and just weeks into the 2017’18 season he had signed an extension on better terms.  It would be extended again in April 2018.

 But why?

 Cédric settled into Scottish football instantly.  From the minute he was given his opportunity against Queen’s Park at Hampden in the League Cup he never looked back.

 His stature meant he wouldn’t be outmuscled by anybody but there is more to his game than just physicality and bodying opponents.  He has pace too and applied it occasionally to get himself and his team-mates out of trouble and also when demonstrating his willingness to bring the ball forward whenever an opportunity arose. 

 At just twenty-one there are still flaws in his game of course. He was on occasion susceptible to a losing track of a long aerial ball hit over the top but over the piece it was incredible to think we were watching a player that hadn’t played a single first team game before signing for us.

 It was more than just his footballing ability that endeared Kipré to the Motherwell support though.  We are fortunate that the media team at Fir Park are absolutely terrific in bringing us insights about our team.  Over the course of the season we warmed to a young guy who was quiet, unassuming and humble. A boy who could laugh at himself and was never slow in getting involved in team bonding activities.

 He quickly became a huge fans favourite and it’s sad to think that never again are the Motherwell Bois likely to launch into a rendition of the Kipré, Kipré” war cry. A chant he even sang himself when he featured on “Up the ‘Well” a club song reproduced by local band The Banter Thiefs to mark Motherwell reaching the Scottish Cup Final.

 Memories?  Plenty.  It remains a travesty he was red-carded in the League Cup Final against Celtic and his further red-card against the same opposition was equally ridiculous.  We’ll remember fondly his single goal for the club against Dundee where the celebrations amongst supporters were going on a good few minutes after the game had re-started. He had threatened to score a few times so when he did everyone was just ecstatic to see him finally do it.

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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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