A Bournemouth fan’s view of Shaun McDonald


Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 28 year old midfielder Shaun McDonald from Bournemouth on a two year contract.

McDonald is a player little known to Latics supporters, but on recruiting him Gary Caldwell said:

“He is a quality addition to the squad. A terrific pro who understands the way we want to play, a skillful midfielder capable of fitting into our system. He is a a great person too, with a great attitude who has gone through a similar experience at Bournemouth to where we are now, a team coming up from League One to the Championship and playing a certain brand of football.

The 6 ft 1 in McDonald was born in Swansea and joined his home town club, making his debut as a 17 year old in August 2005. From 2009 to 2011 he spent no less than 5 loan spells with Yeovil Town, making 61 league starts and scoring 9 goals.

McDonald signed for Bournemouth in August 2011 for a fee of around £125,000. He since made 70 starts, with 31 appearances off the bench, scoring 7 goals. McDonald has four full international caps for Wales.

In order to learn more about McDonald we contacted Steve J, Supreme Overlord at Tales From the South End @tftse www.thesouthend.co.uk

Here’s over to Steve:

Shaun MacDonald signed back in 2011 when AFC Bournemouth were still in League One. Nicknamed the Welsh Zidane Bournemouth fans didn’t know what to expect, but he proved to be a hard-tackling midfielder with a touch of flair. As a defensive midfielder he rarely ventured too far up field so scoring a goal was a rare treat. He got two in first season.

He was an integral part of the Cherries team that got promoted to the Championship, which cemented his place amongst the fans affections. His future was looking bright, he made 25 appearances in 2013/14, but the emergence of Harry Arter and the signing of Andrew Surman saw his chances restricted. He struggled to get in the side but never let down the team when called upon.

At 28, he is coming into his prime and deserves a chance to prove himself with regular first-team football. It’s catch 22 for MacDonald, when he’s not in the first team he is not getting the minutes needed to improve and prove himself.

We at TFTSE thinks if he gets regular football he will prove to be an invaluable part of the Wigan team. Maybe even good enough to play in the Premier League.


The Dream refuses to die – but who will play?


When Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup it really was a dream come true. Who could ever have imagined that they would be within close distance of making it come true again just eleven months later?

Just like last year Latics had a difficult time disposing of a team a division below them in the early rounds. Last season it was Bournemouth, this time around it was MK Dons. Martinez’s team had an amazing 3-0 win at Everton in the sixth round, while Rosler’s side also shocked the pundits with a 2-1 win at Manchester City.

However, Martinez’s team were to meet Millwall in the semi-final. Arsenal present a different proposition.

Whatever happens at Wembley tomorrow this team has done the club proud. They have got to the semi-final on merit following three successive victories over Premier League teams.

Latics had gone into the match at the Etihad following a series of good results, having won 4-1 at promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest in the previous game. Nevertheless they were facing a City team that had won 12 of its 13 home games in the Premier League and had already thrashed Latics 5-0 in the League cup.

As with the FA Cup Final last year against the same club, Latics’ manager got his tactics spot-on. Rosler’s team plays a more pragmatic style of football than that of Martinez. From the start they went at City, their high pressing game stemming the flow of the Citizens’ play. When Latics’ went 2-0 up not long after half time they dug in to conserve the result. City were to get a controversial goal that should have been disallowed for offside, but they were to pummel Wigan’s defence. With grim determination and a tiny bit of luck on their side Latics held on to get their victory.

At the Etihad, Rosler played a conservative 3-5-2 system, with Marc-Antoine Fortune and Callum McManaman upfront. However, the midfielders – Jordi Gomez in particular – pushed forward in the first half. He had surprised us by playing Chris McCann in the left of the backline trio. Leon Barnett was to take over that role after half time, due to the unfortunate injury to the Irishman.

Rosler will almost certainly adopt a similar approach tomorrow. Arsenal tend to pack their midfield with a lot of players and Wigan will need strength in numbers there to compete. James McArthur and Jordi Gomez will play in central midfield with James Perch and Jean Beausejour playing wide. However, it is that third central midfield position that will be up for grabs.

Jack Collison has the most experience, but played a full game in midweek plus most of the second half last Saturday. Would his knee stand up to him taking a starting role tomorrow? Josh McEachran played there at the Etihad, but has not figured much recently and was taken off at half time on Tuesday. However, this is an entirely different kind of match to the league encounter against Millwall and might well suit the young Chelsea loanee.

The lineup could well be that which began the second half at the Etihad, with the exception of Jean Beausejour for Stephen Crainey at left wing back : Carson ; Boyce, Ramis, Barnett; Perch, McArthur, Gomez, McEachran, Beausejour; McManaman, Fortune.

The 29 year old Michael Oliver has been named as referee for the encounter. Coincidentally he officiated last year’s semi-final against Millwall. One of the features of Rosler’s regime has been in the discipline shown by his players, with no red cards received. They will need to show that same kind of resolve tomorrow against a skilful Arsenal team whose supporters will be in the large majority at the Stadium, ready to pressurize the young referee.

The fourth placed team in the Premier League is playing against the fifth placed team from the division below, which has already played 55 matches this season. So once again the odds are heavily stacked against the Latics. However, only a fool would count them out.

The dream is still alive.

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Rested Latics should prove too good for Bournemouth

Results often improve after a new manager arrives at a football club that has been struggling. The challenge for the new boss is to maintain that improvement over a more extended period.

Uwe Rosler had made an impressive start to his reign at Wigan Athletic. He has already shown himself to be more tactically astute than his predecessor and he has quickly gathered an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of his squad. He lost his first match in charge at Maribor, when a ‘dubious’ refereeing decision against Chris McCann was pivotal. Since then Latics have been unbeaten, winning three and drawing three.

Rosler will be keen to show that the upturn in results since his arrival has been no fluke. Bournemouth stand in 16th place and are the kind of team Latics need to beat if they are to make a serious challenge for promotion. Callum McManaman will be keen to get his revenge on the Cherries after being sent off against them in the 1-0 defeat at Dean Court in August.

Latics will go into the match fresh, not having played a midweek match – a rarity so far this season. They will be keen to put last week’s blip of a 3-3 draw with MK Dons behind them.

Rosler has said that the injury situation is improving. Therefore we can expect Ivan Ramis to come back into the centre of defence with Leon Barnett. Ramis is a central defender of Premier League quality and will be outstanding in the Championship if he can maintain his fitness. Barnett has already proved to be one of Owen Coyle’s best signings, solid in defence and dangerous in the opposition penalty area. If he has a main area of weakness it is in his distribution, but Rosler will surely be working with him on that.

With Ramis and Barnett in the centre, Emmerson Boyce can be employed in his best position at right back. James Perch may well be switched to the left flank, providing defensive stability. However, Rosler might go for the attacking option with Jean Beausejour.

In midfield Ben Watson might be fit to return, but if so, will have to fight for a place with James McArthur, Chris McCann and Roger Espinoza. Espinoza has been left out in the cold for so long, but his ‘Man of the Match’ performance last weekend will help his chances. Jordi Gomez also comes into the reckoning.

If fit, Nick Powell will probably occupy the lone centre forward role. Rosler might be tempted to play the two wide men – Callum McManaman and James McClean – although there have been times when the presence of one has possibly inhibited the other. Both thrive on receiving the ball and if the midfield is stretched neither is going to get the service he needs. The other option is for Rosler to play a midfielder – such as Espinoza – in a wide position and to bring the other flanker on later in the game as the opposition tires.

The club’s official site has announced the signing of 19 year old defender Tyias Browning from Everton on a one month loan. Such short term loan signings can be questionable, but it could be that Rosler is looking for cover at centre back until Gary Caldwell is match fit.

Moreover Rosler has tried various formations, including  3-5-2.  Playing three central defenders cannot be ruled out given the quality that Wigan possess in that department. A back three of Barnett, Ramis and Rogne would be formidable at Championship level, let alone the prospect of a return for GC.

Whichever formation Rosler decides upon, Latics have much more quality than Bournemouth.

A resounding win for Latics is on the cards.

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Bournemouth 1 Wigan Athletic 0 – the end of the Honeymoon Period

Scott Carson was Wigan's best player in a disappointing performance.

Scott Carson was Wigan’s best player in a disappointing team performance.

The honeymoon period for Owen Coyle and the FA Cup winners came to an end at Dean Court.

Latics were brought back to reality as a nervy, but resolute, Bournemouth team proved strong opposition. A succession of errors by Wigan handed the initiative to the home side who took full advantage of a weak performance from referee Graham Scott.

Wigan had brought back Jean Beausejour in place of James McClean on the left wing. Shaun Maloney was to operate in central midfield together with James McCarthy, James McArthur and Ben Watson. By packing his midfield Coyle had to sacrifice width, the result being that Latics rarely looked dangerous in open play in the first half.

The game opened with an error from Wigan in the first minute. McArthur’s slack pass allowed the home side to set up a clear chance for Lewis Grabban but Scott Carson blocked his shot. Latics had to work hard to contain a lively home team but it looked like they were heading to half time with a clean sheet. That was not to be as James Perch lost his concentration and sent a back pass directly to Grabban who took his goal well.

Wigan started the second half with another major error as Beausejour’s clumsy challenge on Brett Pitman resulted in a penalty.  The same player was to see his penalty kick saved by Carson diving to his left. Beausejour was substituted after 56 minutes, together with McArthur. The result was a much more attacking shape for Latics as Coyle brought on wingers Callum McManaman and James McClean.

However, three minutes later McManaman was sent off after the Bournemouth players, staff and crowd put pressure on the referee. In a match where a number of rough challenges had been ignored by the referee, he nevertheless decided that McManaman’s tackle on Pitman merited a straight red card.It hardly looked even a foul.

Ten man Wigan took the game to Bournemouth but could not find a way through. The nearest was a header from Leon Barnett cleared off the line.

The Good

Scott Carson kept Latics in the game with a series of fine saves, including a penalty stop. The big Cumbrian looks like a bargain signing.

It was good to see Coyle throw caution to the wind when he switched to an attacking 4-3-3 formation with McManaman and McClean on the wings, Grant Holt leading the attack and Maloney in an advanced midfield role. It is an option that he may well choose to employ during the course of the season.

The Bad

In their eight years in the Premier League Latics suffered a host of bad refereeing decisions. When they faced the top clubs it was almost an expectation that they would receive no favours from the referee.

This is less likely to be the case in the more egalitarian Championship. However, referees are going to be influenced by the crowd and the pressure of home players. This was certainly the case in this match where the referee and his team made some poor decisions to Bournemouth’s benefit.

Latics’ midfield disappointed: they were unable to provide the central strikers with clear chances for goal and they did not get in the area enough to trouble the Cherries defence. Too often the final pass was a hopeful centre. Moreover the lack of width stifled Wigan’s play.

Although it would be easy to blame the referee for Latics’ woes it was their own errors that handed the initiative to the Cherries.

Player ratings

Scott Carson: 8 – showed his experience and technique with his shot-stopping. His distribution still needs improvement, his long punts being easily dealt with by the opposing defence.

Emmerson Boyce: 6 – solid in defence.

Leon Barnett: 7 – continues to play well. Made a number of timely interceptions.

James Perch: 5 – strangely off-key, not only with the back pass that led Bournemouth’s goal.

Stephen Crainey: 5 – worked hard defensively, but his passing needs a lot of improvement.

Ben Watson: 5 – worked hard, but to no avail. His long diagonal passes continue to go astray.

James McCarthy: 5 – disappointing. Still adjusting to his more attacking role.

James McArthur: 5 – not at his sharpest. Taken off after 56 minutes.

Shaun Maloney: 5 – busy as always, but not at his best. Did not produce the kinds of incisive passes that are his trademark.

Grant Holt: 6 – worked hard as always and showed his skill with some nice passes in the first half. Substituted after 65 minutes.

Jean Beausejour: 5 – out of sorts and careless in giving away the penalty. Taken off after 56 minutes.


Callum McManaman: – is the so called “horror tackle” of last season going to haunt him and influence referees against him? Let’s hope that referees will give him a fair crack of the whip this season.

James McClean: – petulant and ineffective.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: – came on after 61 minutes for Holt.  He too was to be starved of decent service from the midfield.

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Bournemouth Preview


Wigan Athletic travel to the south coast on Saturday to take on newly promoted Bournemouth.

The two clubs have a significant history of encounters, of which Bournemouth have won 13 times and Wigan 14, with 10 draws.

Last season’s FA Cup run started with a 1-1 draw against the Cherries at the DW Stadium, Latics being saved by a Jordi Gomez penalty. A Mauro Boselli goal helped Latics to a narrow 1-0 win in the replay at Dean Court. League 1 Bournemouth provided stiff opposition to the mixed lineups that Wigan put forward in those games. They were to go on to reach second place in their division, getting back into the second tier of English football for the first time in 23 years. Bournemouth’s  league attendances averaged 6,852 last season, in a ground with a capacity of 9,300.

Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic – trade name Bournemouth AFC – was formed in 1899. They have played at Dean Court – currently called Goldsands Stadium after their sponsor – since 1910. In 2001 the stadium was completely remodeled, with the original pitch being turned by 90 degrees.  In 2008 debt forced them into administration, a subsequent 10 point deduction dragging them into relegation to League 2.

Both clubs suffered defeat in their previous match.  Latics went down 2-0 to Manchester United in the Community Shield. The Cherries’ run of 11 matches without defeat came to an abrupt end when they lost 6-1 at Watford. They had won their first league match, beating Charlton 2-1 at Dean Court. Wigan will be hoping to keep up the form they showed in their first league game, when they had an emphatic 4-0 win at Barnsley.

Owen Coyle is likely to name the same lineup that started at Wembley last week. Jean Beausejour was ruled out of the Community Shield match with a thigh injury, but is likely to return to the squad. The winger scored two goals in midweek for Chile in a 6-0 routing of Iraq , the match being played in Denmark. There have been rumours of an impending departure of the Chilean – with Everton and Bordeaux being mentioned  – but this may well prove to be mere media speculation.

Latics are going to need players of Beausejour’s calibre if they are going to push for promotion. James McClean excited Latics supporters at Wembley with his willingness to run at defenders. This is not Beausejour’s style – his key strengths are in his excellent control when receiving the ball in wide positions and in his ability to put in inch-perfect crosses. Both McClean and Beausejour have important roles to play this season and if the two remain available it will allow Coyle to vary his approach.

In midweek James McCarthy completed 90 minutes for Ireland in their 0-0 draw with Wales, James McClean also making a second half appearance for the Irish. Shaun Maloney played 86 minutes for Scotland at Wembley. This season Latics players are going to have to get used to playing three matches in a week and it is expected that McCarthy and Maloney will complete close to the full 90 minutes at Bournemouth.

In the Martinez era so many players would come back jaded and jet-lagged from long journeys during international breaks and performances would dip. Latics now have a minimum of overseas players likely to go off on such journeys.

Getting back into the Premier League is the expectation for Wigan Athletic. The bookmakers currently rate QPR and Watford as being the favourites for winning the Championship this year. Wigan and Reading currently vie for third place at odds at and around 8/1. Owen Coyle will be looking at a positive result at Dean Court in an effort to build up momentum for the promotion push.

If Coyle’s squad has a clear competitive advantage over those of promotion rivals then it is in the area of central midfield. The current trio of James McArthur, James McCarthy and Ben Watson is as good as you will get in the Championship. The likes of Roger Espinoza, Fraser Fyvie, Jordi Gomez and Chris McCann are also competing for places. However, none of them are going to be potential match winners unless they have the ball.

During the Steve Bruce era one recalls Denny Landzaat making a comment to the effect that it was hard to do his job as a central midfielder when the ball so often flew over his head. Landzaat was a class act, but we rarely saw the best of him at Wigan.

Coyle’s team is capable of varying its approach as needed. They have a high quality midfield that can dominate the game through possession football, but then they have central strikers who are adept at chasing long balls and holding them up.

Bournemouth will be keen to win this match. They will be backed by a vocal crowd in a small ground and Latics can expect an initial barrage from the home side. Wigan will need to win the physical tussles in order to play the kind of football that can destroy teams like the Cherries.

Providing Wigan show sufficient resolve for the physical side of play there is no reason why they should not come away with three points.

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