A Brentford fan’s view of Adam Forshaw

Forshaw and Billy the Bee.

Forshaw and Billy the Bee.

It was a relief to Wigan Athletic fans when the Forshaw saga was finally resolved and the 22 year old eventually signed on the dotted line. Uwe Rosler regards him as the replacement for Jordi Gomez – a hard act to follow given the Spaniard’s spectacular form last season.

Adam Forshaw arrives at Wigan as the League 1 Player of the Year. The Liverpudlian is clearly a bright young talent who could provide the kind of midfield creativity that Latics need in their quest for promotion.

In order to find out more about Forshaw we once again reached out to Billy the Bee of the www.beesotted.co.uk site. Billy has given us quality articles in the past and the one below follows that same pattern.

Billy gives us a fascinating Brentford view on the player himself, followed by his take on the transfer saga.

Here’s over to Billy:

Adam Forshaw

Forshaw is a great, great player. One of several obscure but talented youngsters plucked from the depths of the earth by Brentford’s Sporting Director Mark Warburton now Brentford manager (Jake Bidwell, Harlee Dean & Stuart Dallas to name a few others).

 Raw to start off with, he went on to play nearly 100 first team games for The Bees – experience he could only dream of gaining at his first team, Everton.
 
Many Bees fans say he’s the best player they have ever seen pull on a Brentford shirt. The amount of times you would hear someone on the terraces say “He’s too good for Brentford” and “he will one day play at a higher lever. Probably for England” is too many.
 
He’s a midfield general. A potential game-changer. An intelligent player. Controlling the game from the centre of the park.  He understands the game implicitly. A clever player. He likes to pick up the ball and run with it ..
 
But equally is able to pick players out with a pin-point pass.
 
He’s a match winner for sure and last season, you could see that we occasionally lacked a bit of creativity in the midfield when Forshaw wasn’t in the side.
 
He didnt score bucketloads of goals for Brentford but when he did, he would score some corkers. His crackers against Crewe  and Sheffield Utd were right up there in the “goal of the season” list.
 
Yes he can attack. But equally, he’s not shy in tracking back.
 
Early on last season during our doddery period, we were surprisingly beaten by Rotherham at Griffin Park. The Rotherham fans were delighted. On our Beesotted match videos , one fan even said “If I die now, I’ll be a happy man” referring to the fact that they had just beaten Sheffield Utd .. then Brentford.
 
On asking them what Rotherham did to beat us they said ” It’s not what we did. It’s what you didn’t do. Just give the ball to your number 4 (Forshaw) all day long. He’s a different class”.
 
One thing that really counts for a small club like Brentford is the players’ personality. There is now an ethos of the club signing level-headed, “sensible” players. No matter how talented a Nile Ranger or Gavin Tomlin may be, they don’t fit into our ethos any more.
 
Forshaw did.
 
And if you ever meet him, you’ll find out that he’s a lovely guy. Mild-mannered. Humble. Hard working. Always happy to chat with you or sign autographs for the kids. And knowing what he’s like, he was probably embarrassingly sitting at home with his hands over his eyes watching his transfer being played out in public.
 
Beesotted managed to get a brief chat with him during the pre-season match against Barnet – his last ever interview as a Brentford player. The last time we spoke to him before this was in the pub after we won promotion. He was down there with the rest of the team .. the manager … the owner .. and the fans.  Diamond player. Diamond geezer.
 
Good luck in your career, Alan. Hopefully one day, I will be able to proudly stand behind the goal at Wembey Stadium …. … on your England debut …… thinking “I was there when it all started”.
 
Yes the transfer could have been conducted better. But it’s over now. And we’ve all moved on (bar a wee bit of fun and fishing on twitter .. where many fish seem to be biting). 
 
I have never hidden the fact that I think Uwe Rosler is a nice guy … and a good manager. And I have no reason to change that opinion. I also am realistic that he is in a new job .. with a new boss … and needs to produce results. However, I think this deal was a bit of an eye opener for him. Hopefully, he will learn from this experience and approach his next tricky deal slightly differently. 
 
 
 

The Transfer Saga

So Adam Forshaw has finally left West London. It was interesting watching the the stink kicked up by this recent transfer both in West London and in Lancashire.

 Without going into a whole who-hah about it … Beesotted were privy to much of the goings ons behind the scenes from day one. Brentford were trying to keep as much detail as possible from going public as they were trying to convince Forshaw to stay. It wasn’t in their best interests to let this news go public.

 Once @SkySportsPeteO leaked the information on twitter (where did he get that information from we ask?), Beesotted fanzine were first to break the news properly .. naturally we were unable to publish all the information we were privy to .. but folk who could read in between the lines got the gist of what was going on.
 
Being realists we always knew that someone would always come in for Forshaw, such a good player he is.
 
We cleverly hid him away during the whole of the Christmas transfer window to “protect his injury” ensuring that no-one poached him from us during that crucial period. He miraculously became available again immediately the window slammed shut.
 
Brentford’s main bone of contention was not the fact that he went to Wigan. It was the unprofessional way they felt the transfer was conducted.
 
Ironically, at around the same time the Forshaw kerfuffle was gong down, Nottingham Forest were quietly going about securing Peterborough’s star player Britt Assombalonga. Did Posh want to sell him? Probably not.
 
However as opposed to the Forshaw saga, this transfer was thrashed out professionally behind the scenes (no embarrassingly low offers and leaking to the press) with the deal announced to the world only once it had been finalised – when all sides were “happy” with the end result.
 
Brentford are used to being bullied. Teams coming in. Offering us peanuts. And expecting us to cave in (we got £500k for DJ Campbell from Birmingham when we were flying at the top league 1 and got mis-firing Callum Willock in exchange .. we ended up missing out in the playoffs .. .again).
 
Luckily, with Brentford fan Matthew Benham at the helm, that wasnt going to happen this time and, once it was ascertained that Forshaw definitely wanted to leave, the club were prepared to sit tight until the valuation was met – the final settlement being £3.6mill rising to £5mill after add-ons.
 
Times have changed for Brentford. For the better. This transfer sent a huge signal out to footballing world.
 
In reality, Wigan could have got to this same stage faster, more professionally and with dignity. But we’re here now. And having lined up a number of replacements, including a creative midfielder from La Liga (Jota) and a wonder-kid from Arsenal (Toral – just look at our last minute goal at Rotherham that he set up), the club has have moved on quickly.
 
 
Billy (@BillytheBee99) writes and videoblogs for Beesotted (@beesotted) fanzine … www.beesotted.co.uk … If things go to plan, Beesotted will be looking to do a pre-match live TV/radio broadcast link-up with Wigan fans for the match at the DW Stadium in October.
 
 

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Selling off quality

“We need the right offer. I don’t want to stop the lad from going into the Premier League.”

The words of Dave Whelan regarding the probable departure of James McArthur over the coming days. Once again Latics are playing the role of a club selling off quality.

When thinking of James McArthur the words “automatic choice” come to mind. In fact his would be the first name most Latics supporters would pencil into a team lineup. The Scot might not be the most elegant of movers, but he has been the key man in the engine room of the team. McArthur grew up under the tutelage of Roberto Martinez, where good football was of the essence, even if the results did not always match.

Working under three different managers in less than a year, McArthur stayed with the club when relegation happened. He is a player of genuine Premier League quality, with a massive work rate to supplement his considerable skills. Even in the dark days of long ball under Owen Coyle, McArthur did not succumb. He stuck to his footballing principles, providing the link between defence and attack, preferring to keep the ball on the ground rather than make hopeful long passes. With McArthur on the pitch there has always been a chance of good football coming from Latics.

The same could also be said for Ivan Ramis, the club’s most classy defender. Ramis might well have proved to be one of Martinez’s most astute signings, had he not suffered that cruciate knee ligament injury at Fulham in January 2013. Ramis remains a class act and if he can maintain his fitness he can still be a top flight player. Martinez never had much luck with injuries to his squad and one can only ponder on what might have been if Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz had been able to play together in the centre of defence on a regular basis.

Reports suggest that Ramis is on his way to join Deportivo  La Coruña in Galicia, now back in La Liga after a year’s absence. No fee has been mentioned, but if there is one it is likely to be modest, given the player’s injury record over the past 18 months. Ramis is reputed to be one of the highest earners at the club and his departure has been imminent.

The media reports that both Burnley and Leicester City have made bids for McArthur, the latest one being around £5m from the Foxes. Whelan will probably try for £7m, but the final figure is likely be closer to £6m. The lure of playing in the Premier League and earning a commensurate salary will be hard for the Scot to resist, although the cynics might say that he could well be back in the Championship a year from now if he joins either of those clubs. However, possibilities remain for other Premier League clubs to get involved as the week progresses.

At the moment it looks like Latics are going to take one step forward – in signing Adam Forshaw – and two steps back in allowing players of the quality of McArthur and Ramis to leave.

The dismantling of Roberto Martinez’s squad continues. In July  Latics lost both Jean Beausejour and Jordi Gomez, skilful players who added poise to the team.  Martinez himself did his old club no favours a year ago when he took James McCarthy and Arouna Kone to Everton, along with Alcaraz and Joel Robles. Four of the players remaining from the Martinez era – Emmerson Boyce, Gary Caldwell, Ali Al Habsi and Shaun Maloney – are now well into their thirties. Al Habsi is playing second fiddle to Scott Carson and might well be gone over these coming days.  Roger Espinoza and Fraser Fyvie have not impressed  Rosler sufficiently to push for regular first team places. Even Ben Watson could have left in summer if it had not been for his double leg fracture. On a more positive note Callum McManaman is getting back to his best form and both Rob Kiernan and Lee Nicholls have come up through the ranks.

Times have changed at the club. Few fans these days expect Whelan to get out his cheque book as he did in not only in helping Latics rise to the Premier League, but in keeping them there.   They made losses for six successive years in the elite league despite selling off prized assets like Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios. However, when Whelan brought in Martinez he cut the budget and somehow the Catalan managed to keep the club up there for three more years,  an horrendous injury list contributing to relegation in his fourth and final year.

A few years ago fans might have expected Whelan to back the manager in retaining quality players like Beausejour, Gomez, McArthur and Ramis. Uwe Rosler does not have such luxury. He is now likely to lose his classiest players in both defence and midfield. Rosler has to balance the books, using money brought in from transfers to fund his own searches for players.

Ramis played at his best for Rosler when in the centre of a back line of three. Although Latics remain well stocked for central defenders only Caldwell has experience in that position.

It looks like Forshaw will be McArthur’s replacement.  A young player who has excelled at League 1 level compared with an experienced campaigner who played in all of the most eventful games in the club’s history in the higher echelons of English football.However, Rosler clearly has confidence in Forshaw’s ability to make it in a higher level of football.

However, fans will hope that the proceeds of the sales of Ramis and McArthur will go towards improving the squad. The media reports that Latics are in negotiations to sign central striker Andy Delort from French second division side, Tours. It is rumoured that they are offering around  £2m-£3m for the player. This added to an investment of around £5m for Riera and Forshaw would come close to what Latics would recoup. However, the possibility remains of more players leaving, particularly those on higher salaries or out of favour with the manager.

In McArthur and Ramis, Latics will be losing two more players of genuine Premier League quality. However, Rosler has to take a wide overview and make sure that his squad is well balanced and competitive in all positions. At the same time he needs to make sure that he not only breaks even on his transfer dealings, but that he keeps a cap on the wage bill.

Rosler does not have the financial backing that Paul Jewell or Steve Bruce had during their time at Wigan. His situation is more akin to that faced by Martinez. Although he has recruited mainly UK based players he has had to look further afield to find strikers that he can afford.

Fans will be disappointed to see McArthur and Ramis go, less so the Spaniard given his injury problems. They are quality players capable of performing at a high level in the first tiers of football in both England and Spain.

 

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Hope looms on the horizon for Rosler

 

Adam Forshaw and Uwe Rosler appear soon to be reunited.

Adam Forshaw and Uwe Rosler appear soon to be reunited.

How the mighty are fallen. “In Rosler we trust” was the catchphrase just a few weeks ago. Since then criticism and doubt have come raining in.

There is an old saying that goes to the effect that football managers are only as good as their results. But despite a win over Blackpool on Saturday, Rosler’s mode of operation continues to be questioned. Once again Latics went on the defence in the second half, but this time against a team that is likely to stay rooted at the bottom of the league table for the rest of the season. A 1-0 win over a team as poor as Blackpool was seen as a relief, it being Latics ’first win of the season. On the other hand Rosler’s assertion that it was the best first half display by Latics since his arrival has been met with derision on the social media and fans forums.

Fitness still remains an issue, as does the lack of creativity in midfield and the lack of another reliable goal scorer to supplement Oriol Riera.

However, hope looms on the horizon for the German. Brentford sources announced today that they had reached an agreement with Latics over the transfer fee for Adam Forshaw. He is expected to sign for Wigan in the next few days. The League One Player of the Year, Forshaw might well be able to provide the kind of creative spark that has been missing up to this point.

On Saturday Latics played 3-5-2 with Callum McManaman and Oriel Riera up front. McManaman came close to scoring on at least four occasions, the easiest opportunity being after a great run and low cross from Riera. McManaman has returned to form this season and could well prove to be Latics’ trump card in their bid for promotion. He has shown in the past that he can have a cool head for finishing, even if a little poise was lacking on Saturday.

Given ridiculously inflated market prices for strikers within English football circles, it could be that Latics already have the players who can deliver the goods. Playing as a striker in a 3-5-2 formation, McManaman is likely to see more of the ball, making him more of a danger to the opposition defence than when he plays out wide in the 4-3-3 formation. Similar possibilities exist for James McClean, when he returns from injury. Although not renowned for his finishing, the Irishman actually has a better career record for scoring goals than McManaman.

Rumour also tells us that there is a possibility of a return on loan for Nick Powell. The 20 year old had an exciting start to his Latics career, scoring spectacular goals and oozing self-confidence. However, he was unable to reproduce that same form after an injury in mid-season. Rosler clearly rates him highly, having recognized his exceptional talent.

Suddenly there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Rosler and Latics.

However, there remains a fear among fans that is largely beyond Rosler’s control. That is of a further exodus of quality players from the club. Will the arrival of Forshaw herald the departure of James McArthur?

Will Dave Whelan provide the financial backing that will allow Latics to compete in the transfer market without having to sell their prized assets?

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Do Latics really need Adam Forshaw?

Forshaw

Rarely can a football club get as inflamed as Brentford have done these past few days. Wigan Athletic have made bids for Adam Forshaw that Brentford just don’t seem to appreciate.

“Warburton fumes as Brentford reject second ‘unacceptable’ bid from Wigan for Forshaw” was the headline in the London 24 newspaper a couple of days ago. So what is it about Latics’ bid for the ex-Everton youth player that has touched a raw nerve at the west London club?

Forshaw is clearly a key player for the Bees in their attempts to hold their own in a higher division. A 22 year old midfield player with a degree of elegance and skill, he was named League 1 Player of the Season. With Chris McCann and Ben Watson recovering from major injuries it is going to take a matter of months before they will be fit enough to challenge for a first team place again. Moreover Shaun Maloney did not play one minute in the pre-season matches. Rosler clearly likes to have a balance of experienced and young players in his squad and would see Forshaw as a good long-term investment for the club, given his age.

Manager Mark Warburton is quoted as saying “A bid is only a bid when it’s realistic. When it comes in and unsettles a player – that’s unacceptable. There’s been a second bid which is totally unacceptable.” He left Forshaw out of a pre-season friendly at the weekend against Crystal Palace because “the bid was unsettling for the player” and “he needed to go away for a couple of days to get his head straight.”

Wigan Athletic fans know all about their top players being courted by bigger clubs who do not hide their interest in the player they seek. It does not seem so long ago that Latics were receiving derisory bids for Victor Moses, but they hung in there until Chelsea eventually came in with a more realistic figure. A similar case happened with Charles N’Zogbia, who was certainly unsettled by interest from other clubs, but eventually stayed for another year and helped keep the club in the Premier League.

In effect all clubs outside the elite handful that dominate the Premier League are selling clubs. It is unsettling for a player when a bigger club takes interest in him because he wants to improve himself professionally and big clubs pay bigger salaries.

Being Player of the Year in League 1 is a great achievement for Forshaw, but there is no guarantee that he can perform to the same level in the Championship or the Premier League. Latics will be loath to pay out a big transfer fee for a player that is of yet unproven in their tier. Reports suggest that Everton will receive a sizeable chunk of the transfer fee if Forshaw does leave, having built an agreement into the deal they made with Brentford. It is rumoured that Brentford want £6m for the player, but Wigan’s first bid was £1.5m. Somewhere between the two figures would apppear realistic, but it is doubtful that Latics would stretch that far for a midfield player, given the need to strengthen other areas in the squad.

Clearly much of the Brentford venom has been aimed at Dave Whelan. He was the one who snatched Uwe Rosler from them at a time when they were on a high, with the announcement of a new stadium coming through. This time it is the Wigan chairman again, who in their eyes is trying to poach away their brightest young player without adequate compensation. Whether it is Whelan, Rosler, Jonathan Jackson or whoever else at the club who has been making the bids is academic. In the real world opening bids tend to start on the low side and gradually build up until a consensus is reached. Whelan might be a tough negotiator, but other labels currently being attached to him are clearly unfair.

But then again, do Latics really need Forshaw?

Much depends on the injury situation. Rosler tends to play with three box-to-box midfielders. Don Cowie has been brought in from Cardiff and can be expected to adopt the role previously held by Ben Watson, as an anchorman sitting in front of the back four. James McArthur is an automatic choice. In pre-season Rosler played new signing James Tavernier in midfield and his shooting, his quality crossing of the ball and ability at set pieces makes him an attractive proposition in the long term. However, Tavernier arrived at the club as a full back and only time will tell if he will develop into a quality midfielder. Should Tavernier not become a regular in midfield, Roger Espinoza is the obvious candidate for that third position. Rosler also has a revived Fraser Fyvie, loan signing Emyr Huws and under 21 player Tim Chow as possibilities in midfield.

The media has also reported Latics’ interest in Chelsea’s George Saville, who was on loan at Brentford last season. Were they to sign both Saville and Forshaw it would be interesting to see how Brentford reacted. Many Latics fans consider that Warburton over reacted to the bid for Forshaw, when it is not unusual for a manager to go back to his previous club for a player. They will also cite Whelan’s oft stated view that should any player want to move on to higher things from Wigan, he would not stand in his way, providing the price were right.

Two questions remain. Would Latics be willing to pay £3m-£4m for an extra midfield player and one who has not proved himself at Championship level? Is Rosler seeking more midfield cover because one of his current squad might be leaving?

If there is a number one priority for adding to the squad it surely lies in the acquisition of another central striker. Would those funds be better used in that area rather than spending it on Forshaw?

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