A Wolves fan’s view of Nathan Byrne

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Nathan Byrne from Wolves for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be in the region of £400,000. The 24 year old usually plays as either a wing back or a winger.

On signing for Latics the 5 ft 10 in tall Byrne commented that “I’m energetic, I want to attack and run at people, provide crosses and have shots but overall I’m about energy and my pace.”

Nathan Byrne was born in St Albans and played for his home town club until joining Tottenham, signing professional forms for them as an 18 year old in June 2010. Byrne never went on to play for Spurs, but was sent on a series of loan moves. In February 2011 he went to Brentford where he was to make 11 appearances. In July 2011 he went to Bournemouth on a season-long loan which was cut short by an ankle injury in September which kept him out until January. Byrne went back to Tottenham in February 2012 after making 9 appearances for the Cherries.

Byrne spent the first half of the 2012-13 season at Crawley Town, making 12 appearances. In March 2013 he went on loan to Swindon for the remainder of the season, making 7 appearances. In summer 2013 he left Tottenham on a free transfer, signing for Swindon.

2014-15 was particularly successful for him, Swindon making the playoffs and Byrne making 43 appearances, scoring 3 goals and making 9 assists over the course of the season. He appeared in the League 1 team of the year. Byrne scored a hat trick against Bradford City in the first league game of the 2015-16 season in early August, but in early September he signed for Wolves for an undisclosed fee. In his time at Swindon he had made 83 league appearances, scoring 10 goals.

Byrne made 24 appearances for Wolves last season, scoring 2 goals.

In order to find out more about his performances at Wolverhampton we contacted Thomas Baugh at the Wolves Blog (http://www.wolvesblog.com).

Here’s over to Thomas:

We only signed Nathan Byrne a year ago (almost exactly) for a decent chunk of money, so in one sense it’s surprising to see him moving on.

But he always struggled to get near the team and when he did make an appearance he was usually back on the sidelines again a week later, leaving many to rightly ask ‘why did we bother getting him in the first place?’.

Kenny Jackett certainly didn’t seem too keen, choosing to ignore him even when we were crying out for width and pace. I suspect his diminutive stature is what ultimately counted against him, as he always seemed a decent player on the rare occasions he was selected.

I remember being particularly impressed in a derby victory at Birmingham last season. He got into pockets of space in between midfield and attack and looked a threat. In sporadic appearances he showed quick feet, a decent (but not lightning) turn of pace and an eye for a goal. He scored a nice one against Leeds last season and hit the bar with a free kick so he has a few tools in his armory.

I suspect in a more free flowing team with good technical players around him (e.g. Jacobs) he could be a good Championship player. He came highly rated from Swindon but we never truly got a decent enough look to make a fair judgment.

Good luck to him. It seems like a good move.

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A Leeds United fan’s view of Jason Pearce

 

Photo courtesy of football365.com

Photo courtesy of football365.com

For some time now the Wigan Athletic defence has looked in need of a leader with physical presence, someone who can outmuscle those big strikers that so many Championship clubs have.

Malky Mackay obviously recognized that by initially bringing in the combative Liam Ridgewell on loan, but now he has acquired another rugged central defender, this one on a permanent contract.

The 27 year old Jason Pearce started his career as an apprentice at Portsmouth in 2004. Over his three years at Pompey he did not make a first team appearance but had loan spells at Bognor Regis and Woking. As a 20 year old he joined Bournemouth, where he was to make 162 appearances in four years. In his third season he had helped the Cherries get promotion to League 1, being named captain midway through the season. The following season Bournemouth reached the playoffs, when Pearce was sent off in a match they eventually lost on penalties to Huddersfield. Despite his expulsion in that crucial game, Pearce was named Player of the Year for that 2009-10 season.

Strangely enough Pearce was resigned by Portsmouth in June 2011. He made 43 appearances that season, taking over as captain in March and gaining the Player of the Year award. However, due to their dire financial position Portsmouth had to sell him and he joined Leeds United in May 2012. He made 41 appearances for Leeds in the Championship the following season, then 49 in 2013-14.

In order to find out more about Pearce’s time at Leeds we reached out to a couple of fan sites. We were happy to receive submissions from both Kevin of Leeds United Mad @LeedsUnited_MAD) and Adam of the Marching on Together site forum (@motforum).

Thanks to Kevin and his site for the post below:

Jason Pearce was former United manager Neil Warnock’s first long-term signing in May 2012 when he joined the club from Portsmouth. He was highly-rated at the time and it was considered a coup that he joined the Whites.

Pearce, who started his career at Fratton Park as a trainee before moving along the coast to Bournemouth, was named Portsmouth’s Player of the Year in 2011/12 and won seven of the nine supporters’ awards.

The player had gained his reputation at Bournemouth, where he spent four years, skippering the side, before returning to Pompey at the start of the 2011/12 season in a £500,000 deal.

Initially his tough-tackling no-nonsense nature was a big hit with the Elland Road support but lately his indecision at times was a frustration, even though he was made skipper at the start of the season.

Therefore, when Liam Cooper and the erratic Giuseppe Bellusci forged a partnership when Pearce was suspended, it was generally thought it was better for the United defence. The signing of Sol Bamba seemed to be a suggestion that Pearce was no longer required and a move away seemed to be the logical conclusion for a player with a year left on his contract.

In short, capable when on form and marking a bog-standard centre forward but weaknesses appear when he is up against a more skilful opponent.

Thanks to Adam and his site for this fan’s view:

Signed in 2012 from Portsmouth Pearce was at the heart of Neil Warnock’s squad rebuilding. You cannot question Jason Pearce’s commitment, there can’t be many harder working players out there prepared to but their body on the line for the cause. He will fling himself in front of any ball, foot, man, post to deny a goal with little regard for himself. He will play on bloody and bruised with his head bandaged up. As captain of both Portsmouth and Leeds he was prepared to take responsibility, go get players going, he is a leader.

For all his commitment and strength he is a limited player though. Leeds major deficiency over the past few seasons had been our defence and Pearce has been at the heart of that. His positioning has a lot to be desired and he has a habit of panicking under pressure and slicing the ball straight to an opposition player. For all the points he saved us by heroically throwing himself in front of the ball he probably cost us just as many with his mishaps.

Pearce has slipped down the order at Leeds following the signings of Giuseppe Bellusci and Liam Cooper and with Sol Bamba coming in on load this week his opportunities for the latter part of the season would have been limited. Leeds fans love Pearce for his commitment but I can’t say many will miss him for his footballing ability. Mind you we said the same about Tom Lees and he’s gone on to be one of Sheffield Wednesday’s best players this season since we sold him to them back in August.

FFP and Latics – should Whelan splash the cash?

2012-moneyball

Bournemouth has never had a team playing in the top tier of English football. They entered the Football League in 1923 and AFC Bournemouth play in a stadium that holds 11,700. They had 91% occupancy last season when they challenged for a playoff place, eventually finishing 10th in the Championship.

Owned by Maxim Demin, a Russian petrochemicals billionaire, they would like to see the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules changed. They claim that less than half of the clubs playing in the Championship now were present when current FFP regulations were agreed. In May their chairman, Jeremy Mostyn, said that “What we have is an ambitious owner who has a desire to take this club as far forward as he possibly can…….but what is wrong with having an owner who is determined to put his own money into a football club and take it as far as he can?

Demin wants to see his club in the Premier League. In gaining promotion from League 1 in 2012-13 they lost £15.3m. He is clearly prepared to put in the funds to launch them up another division.

Wigan Athletic fans know what it is like to have an owner who wanted to get his club into the Premier League. It cost Dave Whelan an awful lot of money not just to get Latics into the elite circles, but also to keep them there. If FFP had existed a decade ago it is highly unlikely that Wigan Athletic would have been able to climb up to the Premier League.

In their final two seasons in the Premier League Latics were among a small minority of clubs that actually made a profit. After years of Whelan pumping money into the club it was starting to look like it could become self-sufficient. But relegation meant that the parameters changed – breaking even in the Championship was to be a very different proposition to doing the same in the Premier League.

Last season Latics were due to receive £23m in parachute payments from the Premier League. With an historic Europa League campaign coming up the club decided to largely invest the parachute payments into maintaining a large squad. It is believed that the club had previously written into players’ contracts that their salaries would drop if they were to be relegated from the Premier League. Moreover a number of players left the club, several at the ends of their contracts, others for significant transfer fees.

The proceeds from the sales of Arouna Kone and James McCarthy to Everton probably amounted to around £18m, although the payments were to be staggered over a time period. Most fans expected a sizeable chunk of that money to be reinvested in signing players who could help get the club back into the Premier League. Owen Coyle came in and did a remarkable job in bringing in 10 new players in the space of a couple of months, some having been at the ends of their contracts, some loan signings and others for what appeared to be bargain prices.

With hindsight Coyle was to make one major blunder, paying around £2m for the 32 year old Grant Holt and giving him a 3 year contract. At the time Holt looked like a good signing, given his proven goal scoring record, although the length of the contract raised eyebrows at the time. However, Coyle paid modest fees to acquire Leon Barnett, Scott Carson and James Perch, who have proved to be good signings. He paid a little more to sign James McClean, who took a drop in pay to join Latics from Sunderland. Although the Irishman remains enigmatic he might well become a key player in the future. Coyle’s acquisition of Chris McCann, who had reached the end of his contract at Burnley, was by no means lauded at the time, but the Irishman was to prove a quality signing. Seven of Coyle’s signings remain Latics players, although Juan Carlos Garcia has gone to Tenerife on loan.

The sum total of the transfer fees paid by Coyle would approximate to that received through the sale of Kone. It is assumed that the sum roughly equivalent to that due to be received through McCarthy’s transfer will be allocated towards the development of the new training and youth development facility at Charnock Richard.

Latics actually performed relatively well last season in using their parachute payments to assemble a squad good enough to reach 5th place in the Championship. In the previous season the clubs who came down from the Premier League – Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves – finished in 13th, 16th and 18th positions, despite parachute payments of £16m.

With the parachute payment and funds gained from the Europa League campaign, together with prudent financial management, it is likely that Wigan Athletic at least broke even financially last season. The projected cost of the Charnock Richard facility has not been announced by the club, although Latics clearly made a bargain in buying the site, which was auctioned at a guide price of £650,000.

The accounts will make interesting reading when they are announced in a few months’ time.

Under the current financial regime at the club, Wigan Athletic are highly unlikely to incur penalties under FFP rules. The challenge is whether they can secure promotion back to the Premier League against clubs who are spending millions on new players. Fulham’s investment of £13m on Ross McCormack was staggering, especially for a player who has never played in the Premier League. Last season both Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers flouted FFP rules in gaining promotion. The London team is reported to have had a budget of £70m last year, exceeding that of Atletico Madrid, La Liga winners and Champions League finalists. They lost £23.4m over the season.

The rules for FFP for the Championship division differ from those of the Premier League and Leagues 1 and 2. For the 2013-14 season clubs were required to restrict any losses to £3m. However, it gave the owner of the club the option of converting up to £5m of any loss into equity, putting in cash to buy shares in the club. It cannot be done by borrowing money. However, if these were to be met and the losses did not exceed £8m there would be no penalty.

Clubs are required to submit their accounts for the 2013-14 season on December 1st. Any club that exceeds the limit will have a transfer embargo imposed until it turns itself around to reach FFP rules.

One club that appears certain to have a transfer embargo placed on it in January is Blackburn Rovers. They lost an incredible £36m in the 2013-14 season, wages alone accounting for 115% of revenue. The transfer of Jordan Rhodes for big money would help them to balance their books for the 2014-2015 season, but they face at least a year of transfer embargoes until the accounts are once more submitted in December 2015.

The Football League has a “Fair Play” tax in the case of clubs who overspend, but are promoted to the Premier League. The tax is on a sliding scale, but QPR are due to pay over £17m on their overspending last year. The Championship clubs voted overwhelmingly to impose the Fair Play tax, but the implementation of the scheme relied on the support of the Premier League, which has not materialized. At this stage it looks like QPR have got away with it, but it remains to be seen what will happen if they get relegated and return to the Championship.

Championship clubs continue to overspend in their ambitions to reach the Premier League, not only in transfer fees, but also in salaries. In the 2012-13 season only five clubs in the Championship made a profit. Leicester City lost £34m that season and if FFP rules had been in effect there is no way they would have avoided a transfer embargo, making it unlikely they would have been able to build up a squad strong enough for promotion the following season. It will be interesting to see if clubs fared any better last season, knowing that FFP was coming into effect.

Almost half of the clubs in the Championship are receiving parachute payments. This gives them a considerable financial advantage over the others who receive a “solidarity payment“of £2.3 million from the Premier League, one tenth of that of a club in its first year of parachute payments. The imbalance among the clubs has led to suggestions that clubs with parachute payments should have TV money withheld and that a salary cap be introduced for clubs.

Because of the financial support through the second parachute payment now is the time for Latics to really push for promotion. Over the next two years the payments will decrease and after that Latics would receive only the meagre consolidation payment that teams like Bournemouth are receiving. However, they are now competing against clubs who have just come down with bigger parachute payments plus other clubs who do not seem to be afraid to splash money on transfers despite FFP.

Latics desperately need another striker who can win matches by scoring goals. The question is how far is Whelan willing to go in the bidding wars that start up as the transfer window deadline day draws closer? Brentford sources are suggesting that Latics are going to have to pay more for Adam Forshaw than we previously thought. Moreover a good central striker is going to cost money.

Whelan will want to squeeze as much as he can out of any deal for James McArthur in order to finance the other two purchases. The hold-up in the Forshaw transfer might well be because Latics need to get the McArthur deal finalized first. There has been no news about other Latics players being sought by other clubs, but it remains a possibility at this late stage.

Whelan, Jonathan Jackson and Uwe Rosler deserve credit for the way the club is being run on a sound financial basis. Looking at the plight of near neighbours Bolton and Blackburn highlights the fact. Latics are likely to be one of the leaders in the division in terms of meeting FFP conditions.

However, whether Whelan will allow potential outgoings on transfers to exceed the incomings is a moot point. If he does not do so it will almost certainly jeopardise Latics’ chances of going up this year.

Dave Whelan is first and foremost a businessman. He will have some key business decisions to make over the next few days.

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