A Bolton fan’s view of Joe Williams and news of Latics’ academy


Yesterday we published a Barnsley fan’s view of Joe Williams. Williams played at Barnsley in the 2017-18 season, then at Bolton in 2018-19.

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

Here’s over to Chris:

Joe Williams recently joined Wigan Athletic from Everton, signing a three-year contract at the DW Stadium. The time was right for him to move away from Goodison Park. Having spent the past two seasons out on loan at Barnsley and Bolton, respectively, it was clear to see he was a long way from Premier League quality.Wigan fans will no doubt have seen clips on YouTube of a stunning goal he scored whilst with the Tykes, but don’t get too carried away as it is the only one he has managed in more than 60 Championship appearances. There are some strong qualities to Williams’ game. He isn’t scared of a tackle, has a good engine and likes to get the ball on the floor, but a lack of consistency and potential disciplinary issues need to be ironed out.It’s difficult to truly judge any Wanderers player based on last season alone. The general consensus is that he has more in his locker than was shown at the University of Bolton Stadium, but with two relegations from his two years in the second-tier, he and you must be hoping it is a case of third-time lucky.
Well done, Jack, on putting this great news on Twitter. We await confirmation  from the club, but the transition from Category 3 to Category 2 is really going to help in the development of young talent.

Courtesy of FlashScores.co.uk


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 Bolton fan’s view of Kaiyne Woolery


The 21 year old Kaiyne Woolery has signed for Wigan Athletic from Bolton Wanderers for a fee of around £200,000. The pacey forward, who is 5 ft 11 in tall, has signed a three year contract.

On signing Woolery, Gary Caldwell commented that: ”Kaiyne is someone we are really excited to bring to the club. We have been looking at him for some time and been impressed by what we have seen. He is still young but has great potential. He has pace, an eye for goal and we are looking forward to being able to see him develop in a Wigan Athletic shirt.”

Woolery was born in the London borough of Hackney and began his career at Maidstone United, playing in the Isthmian League South as a youth. In the summer of 2013, as an 18 year old, he moved to the midlands, signing for Conference Premier League club  Tamworth. He was loaned out to Stafford Rangers of the Northern Premier League for the first half of the 2013-14 season, then back to Maidstone in January 2014.

In the summer of 2014 he signed for Bolton for a fee of £10,000. The following January  he was sent on loan to Notts County, where he made 5 appearances, before making his debut for Bolton in late April. He had come on for Adam Le Fondre as a 79th minute substitute in a defeat at Bournemouth.

Last season saw Woolery make 20 appearances for Bolton. He scored two goals including a last minute winner against Rotherham in February. He has made three appearances for Bolton this season, scoring a stoppage time goal against Blackpool in the League Cup to put the game into extra time.

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

Here’s over to Chris:

Kaiyne Woolery’s departure came as a surprise, with the general attitude surrounding the move a little mixed.

 A £10,000 arrival from Tamworth in 2014, Woolery was a low-risk signing by Dougie Freedman and got his break as a late substitute in defeat at Bournemouth in April 2015, before getting more regular opportunities during our struggles of last season.

 Woolery is lightning quick and has undoubted potential, but there are major flaws that need working on.

 First of all, somebody, whether it be he or the Wigan coaching staff, need to decide on his best position. He was billed as a winger upon his arrival, but was utilised in a more forward role as his time at Macron Stadium progressed.

 Woolery is still somewhat raw and desperately needs playing time. He would probably have received that at Bolton this season, which is why his deadline day move to the DW Stadium raised a few eyebrows.

 I’m not so sure he’s Championship standard right now. Sure, he could be in the future, but he’s reached the critical stage where he needs to impress and avoid becoming another false dawn. Fingers crossed he gets that time with Latics, but I do fear it’s the wrong move at this moment in time.

A Bolton fan’s view of Adam Bogdan

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

The 28 year old Hungarian goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan, made his debut for Wigan Athletic at Macclesfield last week, saving a penalty within minutes of coming on to the field. The 6 ft 5 in tall keeper has been signed on a season-long loan deal from Liverpool.

Bogdan was born in Budapest and started his career in his home city for Vasas, one of the country’s foremost clubs. However, it was during a loan period at Vesces, a lower division club from the suburbs that he was spotted by a Bolton scout. He was to sign for Wanderers as a 20 year old in August 2007.  Bogdan went on to spend 8 years at Bolton, making 120 appearances. He was to establish himself as a top class goalkeeper.

In July 2015 Bogdan joined Liverpool on the termination of his contract with Bolton. However, his start at Anfield was less than auspicious. On his Premier League debut for Liverpool in December 2015 he dropped a corner after three minutes, leading to a goal for the opposition, the Reds going on to lose 3-0 to Watford. Then in early January he conceded a goal direct from a corner in an FA Cup tie at Exeter. He had to wait until the final game of the season to reappear in the first team.

More than any other position, goalkeepers tend to be remembered for their mistakes. All keepers make them, but Bogdan made them at Liverpool at inopportune moments. However, the big Hungarian has proved himself to be a top class keeper and he could make an outstanding contribution to Wigan Athletic’s return to the Championship. He has 20 caps for Hungary and would surely have had more if it had not been for his lack of game time at Liverpool.

In order to learn more about Bogdan’s time at Bolton we reached out to Chris Mann of the Burnden Aces fan site http://www.burndenaces.co.uk (Twitter @BurndenAces ). Chris has provided us with some excellent fan views in the past and this one is a good read too.

Here’s over to Chris:

Wigan Athletic completed the season-long loan signing of Adam Bogdan this week. The move may be a little underwhelming, but could serve as the catalyst he needs to get his career back on track.

 After eight years with Bolton, Bogdan departed at the end of his contract last summer and made the mistake of signing for Liverpool.

 Some may question how you could turn down such a move, but he was always going to be second choice at Anfield. Ultimately, a couple of costly mistakes in rare appearances saw him slip down the pecking order.

 It wasn’t just his club career that suffered. Bogdan should have been taking goal for Hungary at this summer’s European Championships, but a lack of game time over the last 12 months saw him left out of the squad entirely. At the end of his career, he may look back and wonder whether his brief time at Liverpool was worth it.

Bogdan moved to Bolton in August 2007, as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. Initially signed to link up with the reserves, Bogdan was way behind Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ali Al Habsi and Ian Walker, but had all the raw ingredients to be a success.

 Years of cup appearances and the occasional league outing followed, before Bogdan got his big chance at the start of 2012 – in a relegation campaign that saw him go on to be voted Player of the Year at the Reebok Stadium.

 Bogdan established himself between the sticks on our return to the Championship, eventually going on to make a total of 120 appearances, having seemingly shaken off the indecisiveness and lack of self-belief that had threatened to halt his progress.

 He remained prone to the occasional error, but was largely consistent and an excellent shot-stopper. An outstanding individual display in an FA Cup tie at Liverpool put watching eyes on him and it wasn’t long until he was on the move to Merseyside.

 12 months on, Bogdan has a point to prove. Gone are ambitions of European football, replaced with cold midweek trips to Burton Albion and Barnsley.

 But if he gets his head in the right place and, crucially, manages to avoid injury, Wigan have signed a goalkeeper that, without any disrespect, should be turning out at bigger and better places on a weekly basis. This should prove to be a very smart deal for Latics.

Losing money to win promotion


Figures can help provide startling comparisons, causing us to question underlying trends. Recent information and figures  from Wigan and Horwich have  once more caused questions to be raised.

Wigan Athletic lost £3.9m last season. Having to pay agents a total of £1,461,088 was a contributory factor towards the loss, which had come after three consecutive years of making a profit.

The last time Bolton Wanderers announced a profit was in 2006. Referring to their loss in 2014 the club stated that ”Net loss improved by £41.6million, down to £9.1million year on year.” A couple of weeks ago Wanderers were issued a winding-up petition by the HMRC, which goes to court on January 18th. Owner Eddie Davies has loaned the club £185m over recent years, but is not prepared to continue to pump money in. In the meantime they are looking for ways to pay their players and staff.

The scale of Latics’ loss for 2014-15 came as a surprise to most of us, although it is small compared with those suffered by other Championship clubs last season, not just Bolton.

In the summer of 2014 Dave Whelan made a calculated gamble in a bid to get Latics back into the Premier League. Is David Sharpe about to follow in his footsteps?

“The continued financial support of the Whelan family has allowed the club to continue pursuing long-term strategic goals and although the financial results for the year ended 31 May 2015 mirrored the disappointments on the field, the owners remain committed to developing and improving Wigan Athletic to enable the club to return to the highest level of English football.”

The words of Jonathan Jackson to Wigan Today after announcing last season’s financial loss.

It is certainly reassuring to hear that the owners – the Whelan family – remain committed towards getting the club back into the Premier League. The question is how they will be able to develop and improve things at the club to make it a possibility. Will the Whelan family remain the benefactors to Wigan Athletic that they have been in the past?

Last season Dave Whelan had given major backing in the transfer market to Uwe Rosler, who had taken Latics to the FA Cup semi-final and the Championship playoffs.  £7.3m was brought in through the sales of James McArthur and Callum McManaman. But £10m was spent on transfers into the club, the majority on Andy Delort, Adam Forshaw, Emyr Huws and Oriel Riera. Other signings were made at lesser prices, with some being free agents.  But not only was it the shelling out of money on transfer fees that was to cost the club, but Rosler had brought in eleven new players. The large squad that resulted was to eat away at the budget week by week.

Sadly things went pear-shaped for Rosler, who was sacked in November. Seeing his financial gamble starting to look less viable, Whelan was to embark on a huge cost cutting exercise in January. The hapless Malky Mackay was to be the manager who oversaw a fire sale that resulted in swathes of players leaving in the January transfer window.

But that too turned into a gamble that turned sour on Whelan as Latics’ severely pruned squad just did not have the quality to hold their own in the Championship under a manager who could not deliver.

With hindsight one could say that Whelan’s appointment of Malky Mackay caused more damage to the club on and off the field than anything previous in the club’s history. The January sales certainly helped rebalance the finances. If those players had stayed the budget would have been propelled much further into the red, anathema for a club that had prided itself on balancing its books. It could be argued that those players had lost the will to fight for the club and were happy to sit pretty on their inflated salaries at a time when the going was tough.

But it was the scale of the January clear out that was staggering. More than anything else it was a cost-cutting exercise, which helped reduce a potentially large budget loss for the season.

Did the January sales leave Latics in better shape for the future? The reality is that they were a major factor in the club losing its place in the Championship division.  Getting back there is not going to be easy and if Latics cannot gain promotion from League 1 this season or the next they will be in trouble. Parachute payments help provide a huge competitive advantage over other clubs but they will be at an end in the summer of 2016.

For the moment the hope is that the purge within the club and the advent of a young duo at the helm will bring forward a shining new era. But even if the dynamic duo of Gary Caldwell and David Sharpe can get Latics back into the Championship division, what would be the chances of them going further?

At the end of last season Championship clubs were over £1.1bn in debt, an average of £48.5m per club. The desire to reach the riches of the Premier League continues to drive so many clubs severely into the red. Having a benefactor owner is the key to getting out of the division. But there are clubs in the division who make every effort to live within their means, not an easy matter with the profligacy around. If Latics were to get back there, in which category would they stand?

Benefactor owners have made their mark even in League 1, where clubs live within their means much better than in the division above. Last year’s champions, Bristol City, have been bouyed by the funding of Steve Lansdown. Second place Milton Keynes Dons are owned by Pete Winkleman, who moved Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes in 2001. Playoff winners Preston North End are supported by Trevor Hemmings, who has reduced their debt by more than £50m since 2010. During the 2013-14 financial year, he waived £18.7m of debt and £15m through a share issue.

Wigan Athletic will look towards breaking even financially on the current season. They are likely to continue to shed higher wage earners this January, as they did just over a year ago and in summer. Players on Championship-level salaries will be encouraged to leave. Squad size could also diminish.

A few miles away in Horwich, Bolton Wanderers will surely do something similar but on a larger scale. They have to drastically cut their costs and a fire sale like that one in Wigan just over a year ago is on the cards. They will surely be heading towards League 1 next season, but will they meet their local rivals there?

Whether Gary Caldwell can achieve promotion this season remains to be seen. Perhaps it will be next season, or perhaps Latics will be marooned in a division where they will no longer have a financial advantage over the rest.

But in the current climate of English football the level of elevation will depend on the funding of a benefactor. But Dave Whelan’s role in Wigan Athletic’s rise was not solely as a benefactor. He was a visionary who made it possible through his hard work, knowledge and dedication.

David Sharpe has a hard act to live up to. But he has already revealed a vision that can take the club forward, impressive for such a young man.

But is Sharpe capable of being the chairman who can not only run a balanced budget this season, but provide the benefactory backing for the club to eventually get back into the Premier League?

The Whelan family have done so much for Wigan Athletic over the past two decades. How much more can we expect from them?