A Barnsley fan’s view of Joe Williams

Last week Wigan Athletic announced the signing of 22-year-old Joe Williams from Everton for an undisclosed fee. The midfielder signed a three-year contract.

Born in Liverpool, Williams joined the Everton Academy at the age of 7, becoming a first-year scholar in June 2013. In the 2013-14 season he broke into the U-21 squad. In 2016 he won two caps for the England U-20 team.

Williams spent the 2017-18 season on loan to Barnsley, where he made 38 appearances, scoring one goal. Last season he was on loan at Bolton Wanderers where he made 29 appearances.

Williams is a tenacious midfield player, very strong in the tackle.

In order to learn about Williams’ time at Barnsley we contacted CraigIsRed (@CraigIsRed) through Twitter. He commented:

Joe is remembered fondly at Oakwell. He enjoyed a successful loan spell with Barnsley in 2017 which was unfortunately cut short due to injury. He played really well in that anchor-man role between defence and midfield.

 Joe’s a player that’s not afraid to get stuck in and his timing with tackles is great for the most part. He was the glue that stuck that team of ours together a couple of seasons ago, winning back the ball, scooping up loose balls, and transitioning defence to attack. I have full confidence that he’s only improved more and more since then.

 Overall, Joe’s a really good Championship midfielder. He’s still young as well so I can see him pushing even higher in the future.

 

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Kevin McNaughton – a Bolton and Cardiff fan view

Soccer - Pre Season Friendly - Cardiff CIty v Celtic - Cardiff City Stadium

Kevin McNaughton signed for Wigan Athletic yesterday on a one year contract.

McNaughton was released by Cardiff City this summer, after spending the last season on loan at Bolton.

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

So here’s over to Chris:

After a summer of uncertainty, Kevin McNaughton today committed his future to Wigan Athletic.

Having fallen out-of-favour at Cardiff City, McNaughton joined Bolton on a three-month loan spell in September 2013 and impressed so much that he immediately returned to the Bluebirds defence upon his return to the Welsh capital.
His new-found lease of life at Cardiff didn’t last long, however, and he was back with Wanderers in July 2014 – this time on a season-long loan – as then-boss Dougie Freedman landed a target that had previously served him well.
McNaughton started the campaign as first-choice right-back, but a troublesome hamstring injury put him out of the side soon after Neil Lennon’s arrival at the club.
With Wanderers struggling for options at the back, fans questioned the manager’s decision to continually overlook McNaughton for a place in the squad. In response, Lennon revealed he wasn’t happy with the player’s efforts in training but then, surprisingly, threw him straight back into the side the following weekend.
After a four-month exile, McNaughton looked to have earned a second chance under Lennon but was cruelly struck down with a broken leg in the following game and ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
All things considered, the majority of Bolton fans took pretty well to McNaughton. He has his limitations, which are to be expected at 32 years of age, but you could never fault him for effort, something which many young players severely lack these days.
We wish him well at Wigan, even though I’m a little surprised he didn’t get snapped up by a Championship club. Had luck been on his side last season, he may well have earned himself a deal with Bolton. Unfortunately, for him, a new manager came in and didn’t have the same opinion as his predecessor.

 

We had previously learned about McNaughton’s time at Cardiff through Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site.

What to say about Kevin McNaughton?

A player who most, if not all Cardiff fans, would have gladly kept. A player who came in unheralded and went on to become one of the most revered players of recent times. The very definition of a club legend.

The image of him on the pitch after our promotion to the Premier League is iconic – he, out of all those players in the squad, deserved it more than most. Near misses and play-off disappointments were felt most by him.

It looked as if for all the years he had given us, he was going to miss out on some Premier League action; a loan to Bolton looked to signal the end of his career at Cardiff City. But he returned and I was so happy that he got to play in the Prem for us.

Wigan have signed a player who will build an incredible rapport with the fans. You’ve signed a player who will leave it all on the pitch. You’ve signed a player who will be invaluable to the dressing room – if you want someone to dress up as Dangermouse, he will be the first to do it.

I’ve seen him knock himself out in consecutive games, take out lino’s in his quest to get to the ball and outpace the quickest of players.

I can’t think of a bad word to say about him and I know I’m not alone in this. In an ideal world, Kev would have seen out his career with us. He became a true fan favourite in his nine years with the club and he will be missed.

He’s played all across the back four and even in midfield at points. He’s seen the best of times and some of the worst yet he’s stayed as consistent as ever. I really hope he succeeds at Wigan and Wigan succeed with him – he deserves nothing less.  

A Coventry fan’s view of Sanmi Odelusi

Odelusi

According the Sun newspaper Latics are about to sign 22 year old  Sanmi Odelusi  from Bolton Wanderers for £50,000 on a three year contract. Odelusi is a 5 ft 11 12 in tall winger.

Oluwasanmi Babafemi Oluwaseu Odelusi was born in Nigeria but brought up in Dagenham. After being part of the youth setups at Reading and QPR he joined Bolton in 2009. Odelusi was to make nine appearances for Bolton, scoring two goals. In February 2014 he joined MK Dons on loan, where he started in six matches and made four appearances off the bench in a three month stay. For the second half of last season he played on loan at Coventry, making four starts and ten appearances as a substitute, scoring three goals.

If the newspaper reports are correct then Latics will be taking a gamble in signing a player on a long term contract who has had such little first team experience. But Odelusi clearly has talent. The question is whether he can establish himself and add consisitency to his game.

In order to learn more about Odelusi’s time at Coventry we got in touch with the Covsupport News Service at at http://www.coventrycity-mad.co.uk/

Here’s over to them:

Sanmi Odelusi, was very much in and out during his loan at Coventry City.   He could not have asked for a better debut after joining the Sky Blues on loan in January from Bolton, showing some class to finish smartly in the 38th minute of a 2-2 draw with Rochdale.    

But from then on, he was soon out injured with a hamstring injury and struggled to command a regular place in the side.  

Odelusi showed that he has good ball control and a neat touch along with a good finish especially in the win at Chesterfield and the defeat to Port Vale but could not convince Tony Mowbray, who took over from Steven Pressley as Coventry City manager that he was worth anything more than a place on the bench.  

A decent lad, if he can keep his fitness then he could thrive at Wigan.

Click here to read another Coventry fan view on Odelusi, written for a Bolton fan site last month.

Latics can beat Bolton if…..

Defeat to Wigan Athletic is something that Bolton Wanderers supporters find hard to bear. After all their local rivals are nothing but young upstarts compared with the glorious history of their Trotters.

Wanderers were founder members of the first Football League in 1888, one of the 6 Lancashire clubs that formed that initial division of 12. Since then they have spent more time in the top tier (Premier League/First Division) than out of it, 73 seasons to be precise. Their highest placing in the top tier was 3rd in 1920-21 and 1924-25 seasons. By the time Latics entered the Football League in 1978, Bolton had won the FA Cup four times, being runners-up on three occasions.

Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers had their first-ever encounter in the Football League on Boxing Day in 1983. That was in the old Third Division and Wanderers won 1-0, but Latics went on to win by the same score in the return match at Burnden Park. Things have remained fairly even ever since. Bolton have won 17 and Wigan 16, with 11 draws in league and cup matches between the two clubs.

No matter what situation of either club the result of the derby is always of paramount importance. But a win it is so much more important to Latics than Bolton this time around. The 2-0 home defeat to Watford in midweek was depressing in that it was a repeat of what has happened on too many occasions this season. Wigan seeming to match their opponents, but once a goal has gone against them they have not been able to get back into the game.

However, the 2-0 defeat of Rotherham at Nottingham Forest and a 3-0 home reverse for Fulham against Leeds United means that Latics remain at 6 points behind the two. Moreover the London team’s collapse continued with Leeds scoring with the only genuine chances they had.  Fulham strikers Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, who had a combined total of 42 goals for Leeds last season, just could not find the net. Like Wigan, Fulham were among the bookmakers’ favourites for promotion this season. They are caught in a downward spiral, having won only one of their last thirteen games.

Latics’ miserable home record – their last win was against Birmingham City on August 30 – will surely come to an end soon. The pundits have tried to explain how a team can win four consecutive games on the road, but lose their last six at the DW Stadium. Their approach to matches appears similar, be they home or away, but they have so often been caught by surprise at the DW.

The away victories have been characterized by them getting goals relatively early in the proceedings and hanging on to their lead with grim determination. Most of those goals have come from set pieces, which clearly have not worked at home where they have not scored a goal for four matches.

However, football is rarely as scientific as we sometimes think. The difference between winning and losing games in the Championship can so often depend on a slice of fortune – a deflection or a misplaced pass finding a teammate for whom it was not intended. Latics have enough height to be a danger at set pieces, but too often the delivery at home games has been found wanting.

However, the law of averages tells us that you are more likely to score goals if you have players in the penalty box. Even better if they are in the right place at the right time. Some players have a knack of being in such positions. Some do not. Given Mackay’s choice of strikers over recent months it is sadly no surprise that Latics have not been scoring goals.

Latics can certainly beat Bolton tomorrow if…………….

  1. Mackay plays strikers who have track records of goalscoring.
  2. They are organised, work hard and “win that second ball”, as ex-Latics captain Neil Rimmer says so often in his Wish FM commentaries.
  3. The rub of the green goes their way.

This is the least accomplished group of players the club has had for at least a decade. Most are loanees or on short term contracts. They lack the mutual understanding gained through playing as a collective unit over a long period of time. As a result the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

However, Mackay has largely succeeded in getting levels of commitment that were not apparent earlier in the season. He has stabilized the defence. The central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Jason Pearce is rugged and determined, well suited to the division. Mackay will look towards playing with a solid defence and scoring from set pieces.

However, Bolton do not have a particularly good team. They are out of the relegation zone due to the “new manager effect” after Neil Lennon was appointed, something that Latics crucially missed with Mackay. That effect has since faded and their squad is not overburdened with talent. They have lost their last six away games and have difficulty scoring goals. Their leading scorer is Zach Clough with just 6 goals, although Adam Le Fondre has scored 5 in his 10 matches so far.

Wigan Athletic fans have learned to keep their expectations low for results in home games over the past six months. Maybe the time has come for them to see the victory they have been waiting for so long. It would be particularly sweet against a local rival which considers itself a step above.

Investing in Wigan Athletic –what comes next?

dave whelan espn

I read a quip the other day that amused me.

It is relatively easy to take out £1m by being the owner of a football club. All you have to do is first put in £2m.

Dave Whelan reportedly put £100 m into underpinning Wigan Athletic’s success over these past two decades. One wonders what he will get back.

Football clubs are probably the worst run businesses to invest in. So few make a profit because of mismanagement within and the pressure on clubs to spend to keep up with others. So many are kept afloat by their owners and benefactors.

According to Sir John Madejski, Reading chairman, the ideal football club owner is “someone with deep pockets, mercurial, and not faint-hearted.”

That could well describe Whelan over these years. His generosity to his home town club has been exceptional. Through converting debt to equity he has effectively given the club financial stability.

The case of Bolton Wanderers differs. They currently owe Eddie Davies over £165 m. Davies, now 67 years old, made his money out of thermostats for kettles and moved out of Bolton in his twenties. When he bought the club in 2004 fans expressed concern that they were now owned by an Isle of Man tax exile via a trust listed in Bermuda.

Davies has not actually given the money to the club, but has provided loans on which they have had to pay interest payments every year. The last time Wanderers made a profit was in 2006 and even that was close to breakeven. Put simply they have been living beyond their means for so long and if Davies were to pull the plug the very existence of the club would be at severe risk. Today’s Daily Telegraph reveals that Davies would be willing to sell the club, should he right buyer come along. But is any potential buyer going to be willing to takeover so much debt?

Dave Whelan’s silence over the past couple of months has caused unease among so many Wigan Athletic supporters. We had become so reliant on him to provide the financial backing needed for the club to make forward strides. However, over the past four years he has insisted on the club at least breaking even financially. The profits made over the past three seasons have made Latics a beacon among the dark and shady world of mismanagement typical at so many football clubs. Breaking even this season will be more of a challenge, but the selling off of assets and the reduction in liabilities that happened during the January transfer window will surely put things back on track.

The apathy by which fans have witnessed the selling off of many of the most accomplished players can be viewed as a sign that people are beginning to lower their expectations for Wigan Athletic Football Club. The notice boards and social media are awash with comments amounting to something like the club being bigger than just one man and that it can be run with dignity in the lower divisions. As always there are the cynics who suggest Whelan is pocketing profits, getting some money back after so many years of putting it in.

One thing we can expect over these coming weeks is for Whelan to step down as chairman. It remains to be seen if his grandson, David Sharpe, will take over the role.

The big question is whether the Whelan family will continue to pull the strings at the club in the long-term, or whether the house is being put in order for a sell off.

Should the Whelan dynasty continue we can expect the club to continue to be run on a breakeven basis.  After all could any of us reasonably expect the Whelans to pour in more funds in the hope of restoring past glories?

However, for a business to be run on even a breakeven basis there needs to be some kind of strategic plan. This would involve the fashioning of a new identity for the club that fits its current situation.

Gone is the romantic idea of “Little Wigan” holding its own in the world’s most wealthy football division. In its place needs to come a more grassroots identity, a club noted for its coaching and development of players who can be sold on in a systematic basis rather than the awful fire sale we have recently witnessed. The club as a finder of raw talent that it hones into a lustrous product that it cashes in on to keep itself moving forward.

The alternative is to stand still, which tends to inevitably lead to dropping back.

A key strategic issue that needs to be addressed is the development of an academy at Charnock Richard. Apart from the capital costs, which can be covered by incoming transfer dealings over the past year, will it be a moot point because of the operating costs it entails?

However, the probability is that Latics will be in League 1 next year. The FFP rules differ significantly there from those of the Championship division. Clubs are only allowed to spend up to 60% of their revenue on player salaries. Moreover standing costs for the club will need to be thinned down proportionate to the drop in revenue. Should that be done effectively it would surely leave some wiggle room for an academy which would cost around £2m to operate.

The starting lineup that faced Cardiff City on Tuesday night included only three players with contracts that go beyond this summer. The likelihood is that few of those short term signings or loanees have a future at the club. Moreover should relegation become reality Latics are going to have to shed not only those at the ends of their contracts, but a significant number of the players who were signed on contracts that could be considered lucrative by Championship standards.

When Wolves were in a similar situation in the summer of 2013 they released seven players, sold two and sent seven more out on loan. By the end of the season they had done seventeen loan deals of their players out to other clubs, They brought in three new players over the summer, with another five coming in January, including Leon Clarke and Nouha Dicko. They had only two incoming loans, both short-term in the first half of the season.

The key for Wolves turned out to be the appointment of manager Kenny Jackett, who remains in charge as they sit in eighth place in the Championship table. It remains to be seen whether Malky Mackay would be entrusted to try to follow Jackett’s lead should Latics get relegated.

Many fans are nervous about the possibility of the club being sold. Even if Latics are in League 1 next year the club will be a possible target for purchase. Through its successes, particularly in the past decade, the Wigan Athletic “brand” has gained considerable prestige. Moreover the club is close to being debt free. The fan base might pale in comparison with big city clubs, but has grown so much over these years. The club has a fine stadium and has bought a potentially excellent site for a youth academy.

Fears of the club being taken over by a foreign owner may be justified to some degree. However, with a new owner willing to invest in the club like Whelan did before, Latics would have a competitive edge compared with an austerity-laden approach that might operate under a Whelan dynasty regime.

Put simply, were Latics to be relegated they would have to compete with at least half a dozen ex-Premier League clubs in League 1. What would give them any kind of competitive advantage over those clubs and others in the division?

Without Whelan’s financial backing Latics would not have achieved what they did over the past twenty years. Without an owner willing to invest significant funds into the club it is going to considerably lower the odds of them getting remotely back to where they were three years ago.

Where Wigan Athletic will be ten years from now is impossible to predict – Premier League or Northern Premier League?

No matter who owns the club it will need to refine its vision and direction.

Without that it will meander into mediocrity.