The season ahead for Jordan Flores

He didn’t think he had played particularly well, but he had scored the opening goal at a very opportune moment, in the 45th minute. It was a superbly hit strike from outside the box, revealing the kind of technique that could make him a top player.

But Jordan Flores was right: he did not have a good game against Blackpool on Tuesday evening. His goal and a beautifully weighted pass to release Will Grigg were the highlights, but his passing was too often errant and it was clear that he still needs to work on his defensive skills.

But for those who have closely followed Flores’ career the biggest plus of the night was that he played the full 90 minutes plus of the match. It was the first time he had done so in  a competitive match for Wigan after having made his debut at Brentford in the final game of the 2014-15 season.

Jordan Flores is 21 years old, a local lad from Aspull. He played with the Latics juniors, later to re-join the club as a 15-year-old. He was to work his way up through the youth team and the development squad to make that first team debut in May 2015. The club had once prided itself on developing home-grown talent, but had somehow lost its way in recent years. Flores had come on to the field at Brentford to replace Tim Chow, another local lad who had come up through the ranks. Together they represented “homegrown youth” when Latics had for too long preferred to bring in young loan players from other clubs.

Flores is without doubt a talented player. He has the kind of technique that would enable him to feel at home among the talent at La Masia. He is blessed with a sweet left foot, excellent close control and a powerful shot. His best position is probably on the left side of a midfield trio, the kind of role that Chris McCann would often play in the era of Uwe Rosler. Flores is left sided, but not a winger. But in Paul Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system where could Flores fit?

Prior to the Blackpool match the manager had commented: “In Jordan’s case, what’s Jordan’s best position in our line-up? We’re going to have a look at him on Tuesday night in a different position, in the front three behind the striker. Jordan’s a very naturally talented boy, and I think he’s going to be a great player for Wigan Athletic.”

It is not unusual for young footballers with genuine talent to be lacking in the physical side of the game. Flores has clearly been working on his stamina and having to sometimes play at full back or wing back will surely have helped him appreciate more the defensive part of the game. The challenge ahead is for him to be able to display his fine skills, but at the same time complement them with the physical attributes necessary for a successful footballer in the modern era.

When Warren Joyce sent him on loan to Blackpool in January it was by no means certain that Flores would be coming back this season. He was in the final 6 months of his contract with his future at the club seemingly in the balance. However, although he was not able to establish himself as a regular starter he went on to make 14 starts, with 7 appearances off the bench, scoring 3 goals. His total of 1,300 minutes playing time with the seaside club was to dwarf the combined total of 194 minutes he had previously spent on the pitch for Latics.

The relative success of his loan period at Blackpool surely influenced Latics to offer Flores a new two-year contract. It was a surprise at the time that the club were offering new contracts – Craig Morgan and David Perkins also received theirs – when the new manager had not been decided at that stage. Flores was clearly delighted commenting that: “I’m buzzing; I am going into what is my sixth season now and every year I feel like I have made progress. Last season that meant going out on loan and getting game time but this season I will hopefully break into the team. I support this club, I love this club and I have always wanted to play here.”

Cook clearly has faith in Flores’ abilities. However, he also commented about the player that: “But again these lads need to play regular, because you don’t learn much by not playing. These are the challenges ahead, not just for me but for Jordan and players like him. And we’ve got to stick together no matter what the plan is.”

The manager has already let us know that his squad is currently too big and that more players will be leaving. Is he hinting that Flores will be sent off on loan again?

The decision Cook will need to make before the end of August is whether Flores is ready to make an impact in his 4-2-3-1 system, and if he is, in what position? But another loan spell is a distinct possibility.

Jordan Flores remains a bright young talent with his best years ahead of him. With the right amount of nurturing he could become a very fine player.

 

Fan Views – Part 5: Max Power and David Perkins

Given that we now have a wider readership than in our earlier days we will occasionally republish articles from our archives, that some may not have seen. We ask our long-established readers will bear with us on this. We will continue to put out our stream of current articles.

Our site stats have shown that our readership has been particularly interested in perspectives of Latics players from fans of their previous clubs. Thanks to contributions made by bloggers on the fan sites of those clubs for these articles from our archives.

Click here for our previous fan views on Yanic Wildschut and Jordy Hiwula.

Click here for our previous fan views on Andy Kellett and Haris Vuckic.

Click here for our previous fan views on Will Grigg and Craig Davies.

Click here for our previous fan views on Reece James and Craig Morgan.

 

A Tranmere fan’s view of Max Power.

Power

 

 

Written by: Deadly Submarine of the

Total Tranmere site (totaltranmere.co.uk)

Published: June 27, 2015.

 

 

It appears that Max Power is to sign for Wigan Athletic over the next few days. Power is a free agent, but Tranmere Rovers will be due to receive compensation from Latics because of his age. He appears to be a fine young prospect and could provide some genuine creative spark in Latics’ midfield.

The 5 ft 11 in tall  Power has made 108 appearances, scoring 12 goals, for Tranmere despite still only being only 21 years old. Born in Birkenhead, Power joined his local team at the age of eight, captaining the team at all playing levels at the club, turning down an offer to play at Liverpool along the way. He was awarded a professional contract at the age of 17, making his first team debut as an 18 year old in August 2011.

Sadly Rovers were relegated in April, after a 94 year stay in the Football League. Power was unfortunate enough to have given away a penalty in the vital last match at Plymouth, which the home side converted. However, he was to make amends by firing home an effort from the edge of the box, although the home team were to eventually triumph by 3-2.

In order to find out more about Power’s  time at Tranmere we got in touch with Deadly Submarine of the Total Tranmere site (totaltranmere.co.uk). Our thanks to him for his insight on this exciting young player.

A youth product at Tranmere and a lifelong supporter of the Club, Max Power, the guy with the most talked about name in football seems to have always suited a role alongside a playmaker type midfielder rather than being the guy to rely on to run a midfield game himself.

 Capable of some great finishes and with a huge passion for the game (certainly when playing for his boyhood team), Power is a player still learning the game and learning from mistakes – a fact supported by two incidents last year where he tried to be clever and chip in a couple of penalties rather than just hit the target – something he will no doubt learn from.  He also likes to look for a killer ball which is always good to see even if not always executed.

The nicest guy you could ever meet off the pitch (I have had many personal encounters with Max from his youth days right up to his time in the first team), if he carries on where he left off at Rovers, Latics fans will certainly be getting a passionate and committed player who in he right team and with the right players around him would do a job in League One although he may initially be a substitute for Wigan in my opinion.

 Back-to-back relegations in the last two of his three or so senior seasons is no reflection on Max alone that’s for sure!

 

 

A Blackpool fan’s view of David Perkins

 

Written by: Phil of avftt.co.uk 

Published: May 21, 2105.

 

 

 

Yesterday Wigan Athletic announced the impending signing of David Perkins from Blackpool. Perkins is a 32 year old central midfield player who has just completed his second season with the Tangerines. The 5 ft 6 in Perkins is to sign a one year contract.

Perkins is from Heysham and began his career at Morecambe at the age of 18. He was to spend seven years with the Shrimps making 176 appearances in the Conference before joining League 2 Rochdale in 2007. He went on to make 58 appearances for Rochdale before joining Colchester United for a six figure fee in July 2008.

In the 2009-10 season manager Aidy Boothroyd loaned Perkins out, first to Chesterfield where he made 13 appearances, then to Stockport County where he made 22. John Ward’s arrival as manager at Colchester in the summer of 2010 saw Perkins blossom and have an outstanding season, making 40 appearances and receiving the Player of the Season and Players Player of the Season awards.

After 79 appearances over three seasons at Colchester he moved to Barnsley as a free agent in the summer of 2011, rejoining his ex Rochdale manager Keith Hill. On a visit to Charlton in October 2012 he was dubbed ”Barnsley Boris” by the home fans, his blonde hair reminiscent of that of the Mayor of London. Perkins was to make 69 appearances in  two and a half years playing for Barnsley in the Championship. In January 2014 he joined Blackpool on a free transfer. He made 64 appearances before being released this month.

In order to learn more about Perkins’ time at Blackpool we reached out to Phil at the AVFTT Blackpool fan site. AVFTT started out as a fanzine in 1996 and transferred to the Web in 2000. It has been going in various forms for the last 15 years and is now part of the FansNetwork group of websites.

The fan view below is also to be found on the avftt.co.uk site:

“He could do a job in League One” – probably the worst compliment anyone could pay a player who’s been plying his trade in the Championship for the last two seasons! However, that seems to have been the general consenus about David Perkins who was released by Blackpool officially yesterday and has been ‘snapped up’ by Wigan Athletic today.

When he first arrived at Bloomfield Road, many remembered him as the combative midfielder who had often been a thorn in the side when we’d played his former club Barnsley and whilst there wasn’t much around him when he arrived, it’s fair to say that in his time under Barry Ferguson he was one of the few players who could hold his head high at the end of the season. Therefore, much was expected of Perkins last season – few would say he delivered.

Maybe the biggest indictment on Perkins only full season in a tangerine shirt was that he only missed one game all season and yet only saw us win 4 games. In fact in his 64 games in a tangerine shirt he only enjoyed 7 victories – ironically one of which was against Wigan. At 5’6″, and through not fault of his own, many a game was spent chuckling as our keeper delivered a high ball in to midfield and Perkins failed to get within a foot of it! If he was a confidence player, then his confidence was shot at Blackpool. Quite often he’d do the hard work winning possession in midfield, only to give the ball straight back to the opposition. You could never question his commitment but too many times he fell short in the talent department.

At least he was one of few ‘recognisable’ players in the Blackpool team last season who you didn’t have to squint at in order to see who he was and we’ll see on at least two occasions next season if it was just the curse of the tangerine shirt which turned him in to a very average Championship player or if he excels as a League One player at Wigan.

 

 

Don’t panic, but find the right blend

TableDec

Another awful performance and the doom and gloom is back in full force on the message boards. No wonder – within the space of a week Latics have lost at home to two sides in the relegation zone of League 1, albeit one defeat being on penalty kicks. With a budget more than four times higher than most clubs in the division can we not expect better performances from Gary Caldwell’s team? How much longer can we say that the team is still in the gelling process?

Is it time to press the panic button? Max Power does not think so.

“I don’t think it is time to panic; every team goes through a sticky patch and if this is ours then I fully believe we’ll come through it on the other side,” Power explained on the official WAFC site. “Saturday was only our second league defeat since September and that says a lot about us as a team but we know the last couple of weeks haven’t been good enough and it is up to us to put it right.”

This time a year ago Malky Mackay had been in charge for almost a month. Sadly Latics had not won any of their first four matches since his arrival, which had sparked mayhem from the media. But the optimists among us hoped that Mackay would get rid of the dead wood that was chewing away at the fabric of the club. Those were the players who just did not seem to care. They needed clearing out, with new players coming in who would give their all when wearing a Wigan Athletic shirt.

The disastrous regime of Mackay will be etched in our memories for years to come. But there are lessons to be learned from it that should be borne in mind in the present. Fans had been peeved with what appeared to be a lack of effort from the players that Mackay had inherited from Uwe Rosler. It seemed to give Mackay carte blanche to jettison no less than sixteen of them in the January transfer window. Household names were dispatched for minimal transfer fees with hardly a murmur. Sadly the net result was that Mackay was left with a threadbare squad of dubious quality, with the numbers being made up by young rookies from Premier League and other Championship  clubs. Relegation was the sad consequence.

As always when a team goes through a rocky patch there is criticism of the manager through the social media. Caldwell’s tactics and team selections are certainly under attack at the moment. Some point to him being a rookie manager, making mistakes along the way. Some of the comments can be off-the-wall, but others can be thought-provoking, like this one from Yon Mon on the Vital Wigan forum

“We play the same way no matter which players play. No matter what formation we play. Bring the ball halfway into the opposition’s half, pass sideways, pass backwards, pass forwards to the same point give it to Wildschut he then attempts to beat the 2 or 3 players on him. Sometimes he does sometimes he doesn’t. If he’s successful he then either shoots or plays across a crowded goalmouth. Trouble is our 1 or 2 players there are crowded out. It’s predictable and other teams have sussed us out. Where’s the variation? Where’s the movement upfront? Where’s the support when we attack? It’s too slow and it gives other teams time to get back and crowd us out. About 7 or so games into the season GC said he’d stopped having other teams watched because when they came here they played completely different. Has it not occurred to him it’s because we’re easy to play against and all they have to do is crowd us out to stop us being effective?”

Donnys Page  on the Cockney Latic forum echoes similar sentiments after the Blackpool game, although the writer acknowledges the need to give Caldwell more time :

“It wasn’t pretty. Slow, monotonous, boring. A continuation from last week. Not good enough. One pass to foot in the box to Grigg. Nothing in midfield but sideways and backwards movement and slow build ups. Again a job done by Pool and an easy job at that. We never stretched them at all. Got to give Caldwell a bit more time though. A month ago things were going quite well but at the moment clubs have us sussed unless he changes something.”

Horc responded to Donny on that same thread by making strong suggestions:

“Its time for a total clear out of everyone involved with the footballing side of Wigan Athletic who worked with and under Martinez and start again as it is just a continuation of the boring, negative, sideways and backwards, predictable crap we suffered under him for four years but with worse players.”

Sammy Salt 1968 on the forum of This Northern Soul opines that:

“We are pedestrian and predictable . So easy to play against . Every club has worked us out now . They let us have our possession , save their energy and then press us and counter our cart horse defence . We suffer from delusions of grandeur that we can a play a patient continental game and pass teams into submission . You would think we were on a dry pitch in August the way we set up with no plan to beat the elements as well . I am sure there is a role for both long and short corners but we seem to always take wrong option . There is total absence of a leader….”

Caldwell is under pressure at the moment, but as Max Power said, it is not time to panic. Despite gaining only one point from their last three league games, Latics remain in the playoff zone, in sixth place, just five points away from an automatic promotion spot. At the start of the season, given the almost complete turnover of the playing staff, I for one would have been satisfied with a mid-table position by Christmas.

Nor every Wigan Athletic fan was a lover of Roberto Martinez and his style of football.  Many see Caldwell as an acolyte of Martinez. They see the frustrations of the Martinez era returning under Caldwell. Patient possession football is not the order of the day for those who yearn for the days of Paul Jewell’s 4-4-2.

However, like Martinez, Caldwell will stick with his beliefs although he will surely be pragmatic enough to recognise when things are not working. Under managers such as Coyle and Mackay the hoof was the order of the day for defenders who did not know what to do with the ball. They were both poor appointments and set the club back on its heels. In the Caldwell era, as it was in that of Martinez, the hoof is frowned upon and players who do not have the self-confidence to do something imaginative merely pass the ball sideways or backwards.

Martinez always had a creative player capable of unlocking a visiting defence. Shaun Maloney, Victor Moses and Charles N’Zogbia were totally different in their styles, but were capable of doing something special.

Caldwell seemed to have that to some degree in Michael Jacobs earlier in the season, when he was playing in the hole between the holding midfield and the central striker. Jacobs was to be superseded by the arrival of Yanic Wildschut, who was devastating in his role of cutting in from the left wing, with blistering speed, not only unleashing powerful shots but providing superb assists.

The advent of Wildschut, combined with a knee injury sustained against Shrewsbury, has impacted upon Jacobs’form. He has been too often pushed away from his best position towards the right wing where he is much less effective. Moreover Wildschut is now not only heavily marked by the opposition, but defenders have started to figure out how to play him. He is not having the same impact that he was a few weeks earlier.

During the unbeaten run of eleven matches, Latics rarely looked like world beaters. So often good results were hiding unimpressive performances.  But they had an attacking threat. The more forward players were running into space, looking to receive the ball. Midfield was coming up in support.

In recent games these things have not been happening to the same degree. Too often a player can receive the ball in the middle of the field and have no other option but to pass the buck. Such a habit is contagious. Players who are fighting for their places in a very competitive squad are reluctant to make mistakes which can ultimately lead them to lose their place in the starting lineup.

On Saturday Caldwell chose a starting lineup that must have been pretty close to his eleven best available players, based on their form over the course of the season. On paper it looked a positive team selection.

However, choosing your best available players is not always the way to choose your potentially most viable lineup. Sometimes combinations of certain players just don’t work. You need the water-carriers and the flair players. It is the blend that is the key.

Question marks remain about the viability of playing the two best central strikers – Davies and Grigg – with Wildschut on the left wing. Moreover none of the three are likely to perform the levels of defensive duties necessary to keep things compact.  That, in turn, puts added pressure on the midfielders, who are expected to both support the attack and repel counterattacks.

Wildschut is an exciting player to watch and has made a huge impression since his arrival. His permanence at the club could prove crucial to Latics’ promotion chances. However, Caldwell needs to consider how best to use him. In the Martinez days of 3-4-3 Victor Moses was essentially a winger with freedom to roam. He was not strong on his defensive duties. However, he linked up well with his wing backs. Both Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour were excellent in those functions. One did not feel that Moses cramped their style.

However, if Caldwell’s team plays 3-4-3, with the Dutchman in his preferred position on the left wing, one wonders about the difficulties the young left wing back, Reece James, must face. James is expected to attack, but his space is limited by having a left winger in front of him.

The lack of recent form of Michael Jacobs is a concern for Caldwell. Jacobs is the main creative force at his disposal. To get the best out of the player he needs to be played in that central advanced midfield role. He also needs a good share of the ball. Haris Vuckic is an obvious candidate for a similar role, but has not even appeared on the bench in recent games.

The lack of creativity in midfield has been a worry for Latics over the past weeks.  Max Power and David Perkins are largely involved in physical battles for the dominance in the middle of the park. Caldwell faces the choice of playing two holding midfielders with two wing backs in the 3-4-3 system, or three parallel midfielders in a 4-3-3 formation.

There are fans calling for wholesale changes in the January window. However, Caldwell must be cautious in his transfer dealings. Having endured problems in the gelling in of so many new players, he will be cautious about bringing in too many more. He simply cannot afford to have too much turnover, as happened in the Mackay era last January.

Caldwell’s dilemma is that he may need to leave out  some of his best players to provide a balanced and functioning unit. It is going to take some bravery on his part to do that.

 

Michael Jacobs – fan views from Blackpool and Wolves

 

Wigan Athletic have now confirmed the signing of Michael Jacobs from Wolves.

We reached out to the Wolves Fancast (@WWFCFanCast) for a Wolverhampton based view on Jacobs.

Jacobs was influential for Wolves when we were in League 1. Initially playing on the wing, he truly excelled when given a central attacking role. His close control and shimmies were delightful to watch. 

I, along with many fans were hoping to see him push on last season in the Championship, but sadly wasn’t the case.  He struggled to break into the first team and when he was given the opportunity, he didn’t particularly set the world alight.

From my point of view, it looks like Jackett felt like Jacobs wasn’t quite ready for the step up to the Championship just yet, so a move to Wigan is a good move for himself, just a shame he isn’t going to continue his development at Wolves.

We had previously contacted the Blackpool fan site AVFTT http://fansonline.net/blackpool/ about his loan spell there:

There were very few positives about Lee Clark’s time in charge at Blackpool but there were two loan signings which he brought in who caught the eye. One was Gary Madine who ended up signing for Bolton over the summer and the other was Michael Jacobs from Wolves.

 When he joined the Seasiders practically everything about the side was a mess but the return to form of Jamie O’Hara alongside Andre Orlandi and Jose Cubero gave the side some much needed shape and ability. The addition of Jacobs complemented that and he looked a class above most players who visited Bloomfield Road.

 Surprised in many ways that Wolves have let him go. He has pace, accuracy, a powerful shot on him and really looks the business. Looks like our loss is Wigan’s gain.

A Blackpool fan’s view of Michael Jacobs

Jacobs

Reports suggest that Michael Jacobs is about to sign for Wigan Athletic from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Jacobs is a 23 year old winger who will add another dimension to Gary Caldwell’s evolving squad.

Jacobs was born in Rothwell in Northamptonshire and played in the Northampton Town youth system. He made his senior team debut as a 17 year old in October 2009 in a Football League Trophy match against Bournemouth. In February 2010 he was loaned out to Nuneaton Town for a month, making four appearances. In 2010-11 Jacobs became a regular in the Cobblers’ lineup, scoring eight goals and being named “Player of the Season”. He was playing alongside Billy Mckay. Jacobs remained a regular the following season when he scored 7 goals. He was to make 87 appearances for Northampton by the time he ran down his contract in June 2012.

In July 2012 he moved to Derby County after the clubs agreed a fee of £400,000 in compensation for the signing of a player who was under 24. Jacobs struggled to find a regular place in the starting lineup, often employed as a substitute. In November 2013 he joined Wolves on a short term loan, which resulted in him signing for the midlands club on a permanent contract in January 2014. During his time at Derby he had made 13 league starts, with 28 appearances off the bench, scoring two goals.

Jacobs played an important part in Wolves’ League 1 title winning team that 2013-14 season, scoring 8 goals. He gradually fell out of favour with Wolves in the Championship, leading to being loaned out to Blackpool in March 2015, making five appearances and scoring a goal, before being called back prematurely to Wolves.  Jacobs made 31 league starts at Wolves, with 11 appearances off the bench, scoring 8 goals.

In order to find out more about Jacobs we contacted the Blackpool fan site AVFTT http://fansonline.net/blackpool/ about his loan spell there.

Here’s over to them:

There were very few positives about Lee Clark’s time in charge at Blackpool but there were two loan signings which he brought in who caught the eye. One was Gary Madine who ended up signing for Bolton over the summer and the other was Michael Jacobs from Wolves.

 When he joined the Seasiders practically everything about the side was a mess but the return to form of Jamie O’Hara alongside Andre Orlandi and Jose Cubero gave the side some much needed shape and ability. The addition of Jacobs complemented that and he looked a class above most players who visited Bloomfield Road.

 Surprised in many ways that Wolves have let him go. He has pace, accuracy, a powerful shot on him and really looks the business. Looks like our loss is Wigan’s game