A Cardiff fan’s view of Alex Revell

RevellIt was announced yesterday that Wigan Athletic have signed 32 year old Cardiff target man Alex Revell on a short term loan until January 23rd .

The 6 ft 3 in tall Revell was born in Cambridge and is a product of the Cambridge United youth system. After a four year spell with United in League 2, making 57 appearances and scoring 8 goals, he moved on to non-league Braintree Town. After scoring 39 goals in 65 appearances and helping Braintree get promotion to the Conference South, Revell signed for Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer of 2005 for £8,000.

After scoring 21 goals in 59 appearances in a two and a half year stay in Brighton, Revell moved on to Southend United in January 2008 for a fee of £150,000. In January 2009 Revell broke his leg in a game against Leyton Orient, missing the remainder of the season. In the 2009-10 season he was sent out on loan to Swindon Town and Wycombe Wanderers. During his time at Roots Hall, Revell had made 34 appearances, scoring 6 goals.

In summer 2010 he joined Leyton Orient, where he stayed for a year, and scoring 13 goals in 44 appearances. At the end of August 2011, Revell signed for League 2 Rotherham United. He went on to become a fan favourite as Rotherham climbed up to the Championship division under the management of Steve Evans.  In his four years there Revell made 150 appearances, scoring 28 goals.

Revell scored Rotherham’s first goal in the 2014 League 1 playoff first leg against Preston. He went on to score two goals in the final when they drew 2-2 with Leyton Orient, before Rotherham won the resulting penalty shootout. Revell’s second goal had been a spectacular effort from 40 yards out.

In January 2015 Revell  joined Cardiff City for a £400,000 fee. At the time Evans told the Rotherham Advertiser that:

“Without Alex I couldn’t have been a Championship Manager, not just because of his two goals at Wembley but his performances all the way through the last season. During my time here there has only been about two or three occasions when he’s not played when not injured. The greatest tribute I can give him is that the highlights he has given me as a manager will be in my thoughts on my deathbed – and I can’t say that about many players. He’s been stunning and he’s a great individual and pro off and on the pitch.”

On signing for Cardiff,  Revell was rejoining Russell Slade who had been his manager at Leyton Orient. However, he has had a hard time at the Welsh club, scoring just two goals in 15 starts and 10 appearances off the bench.

In order to learn more about Revell’s time at Cardiff we have once more reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian site (@ViewFromTheNin).

Here’s over to Ben:

Alex Revell kind of looks like a footballer in as much as he has the boots and plays professionally for Cardiff. I don’t want to be too harsh on him but I have spent the best part of ten months bemoaning his lack of ability. He’s never been a prolific striker and when Slade signed him, it was clear he was never going to anything other than a back-up to Jones.

Due to our lack of options this season, he has started more games than I thought he would but he’s never made a big impact. A big man up top, he seems to struggle to win headers. A willing runner who rarely threatens the goal, he’s only managed a couple in his time at Cardiff – one was a spectacular one at Brentford last year and he does seem to have the odd belter in his locker.

It’s an odd departure for us; another striker of ours has just been ruled out for six weeks and Revell leaving means Jones and Mason are only out and out strikers who aren’t injured or on loan. Either Slade is signing someone else or Revell is so poorly thought of, it doesn’t matter if he stays or not.

Saying this, he’ll probably smash them in for you lot. I’ll just be very, very surprised if he does. 

 

 

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Craig Davies – journeyman or saviour?

Davies

“He’s a big, strong boy who is also quick. He is different to what we’ve got and he’ll certainly cause defences some problems.”

The words of Mickey Adams, who certainly had some belief in Craig Davies as a footballer. He had signed the big man for Brighton in February 2009. Some 11 months later, after scoring just one goal in 10 league starts and 11 appearances off the bench, Davies was dispatched on loan to Port Vale, where once again he would be under the tutelage of Adams. Davies made an instant impression at Vale Park and ended his goal drought in his fourth game for his new club.

When Davies came on after 78 minutes against Bury on Tuesday night he did not receive an overwarm welcome from the crowd. Being an ex-Bolton player and the replacement for Grigg did not help his case. Moreover he had not impressed in the 35 minutes he was given as a substitute at Coventry. Some fans condemned him as being lazy. Another categorised him as a “journeyman” who has had as many clubs as Leon Clarke.

But on signing the big Welshman Gary Caldwell had said that “Craig’s a powerful striker who has a proven track record in this division. He’s an experienced player who will inspire those around him and we are absolutely delighted he has chosen to be with us.” Moreover he had later enthused about a Davies-Grigg striking partnership.

So who is the real Craig Davies – the inspirational central striker who can make a real difference to Wigan Athletic this season – or the journeyman who does not make enough effort on the pitch? Is he the 23 goal striker who was instrumental in helping Chesterfield win League 2 or the player who struggled for goals at Brighton?

Davies had begun his Wigan Athletic career as a 77th minute substitute in the pre-season match with Partick Thistle at Firhill. He immediately added a physical presence, although playing wide on the left. Gary Caldwell was being cautious in bringing Davies into play, given the constant injury problems he had last season.

It was therefore a surprise to see Davies start up front with Will Grigg in the match at Dundee just three days later. This time Davies played in the right hand twin striker role and was a real handful for the Dundee defence. He only played for the first 30 minutes, but during that time he had formed a positive impression, his interchange of passes with Grigg provoking a penalty.

So what kind of role will Davies play for Latics this season? When will he be fully fit and in contention for a place in the starting lineup?

Caldwell will continue to give Davies time to get himself in optimal physical condition. In the meantime he will use him as an impact substitute, either for a tiring Grigg or alongside him as a main striker. Up to this point Caldwell has tended to opt for a lone centre forward system, but he is nevertheless pragmatic enough to go for the twin striker scenario when needs arise. Grigg would surely benefit from the presence of Davies, who will ruffle the feathers of any defence, drawing defenders away.

However, there is more to Davies’ game than playing the target man and creating space for others in the penalty box. In his career he has scored 88 goals from 237 starts in league games. He had played for 12 clubs before joining Latics, hence the “journeyman” tag.

Davies will be keen to show that he is much more than just a journeyman. His signing was a gamble by Caldwell, given his career path and his injury issues at Bolton. But if Davies can get fully fit he will have the power and speed to cause a serious threat to opposition defences.

If nothing else Davies will provide Caldwell the option of going direct when the patient building up of play has failed to produce the desired results. Fit and at his best he is a force to be reckoned with.

Only time will tell if Caldwell’s signing of Davies was one of desperation, or of inspiration.

Latics face QPR next Friday

Table

Wigan Athletic went down 4-3 to Blackburn Rovers in an entertaining game at Ewood Park this afternoon. However, Reading’s failure to beat Burnley left Latics in fifth place.

This means that they will play fourth placed QPR at the DW Stadium next Friday, May 9th.  The return game in west London is scheduled for Monday, May 12th. Both games will start at 7:45 pm.

Leonardo Ulloa’s header after two minutes of added time was enough to help Brighton win 2-1 at Nottingham Forest. The three points helped them to leapfrog over Reading into the playoffs at sixth place. Brighton entertain the in-form third placed Derby County on Thursday, May 8th with the return match on Sunday, May 11th at 5:15 pm.

Uwe Rosler will be pleased with the spirit shown by his team in the second half, but there will be questions asked as to his tactical approach which left a three man defence far too exposed.

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A good time to play Forest

Getting a result at the City Ground against a Nottingham Forest side that has lost only two home matches in the league is not going to be easy. Billy Davies is a formidable foe, a manager for whom the players give their all and one not averse to using negative tactics to get a result. However, Forest have lost some momentum in recent weeks and injuries to key players are disrupting their game. It would appear to be a good time to play them.

Forest will go into this game without playmaker Andy Reid, who scored a superb free kick in Wigan’s win at the DW Stadium in late August. They will also be without central defender Jack Hobbs, who was courted by Uwe Rosler in the transfer window. Dexter Blackstock, Chris Cohen and Henri Lansbury are also likely to miss the game. Forest had gone on a 16 match unbeaten run until February 16th when they were knocked out of the FA Cup by two added time goals from Sheffield United. Since then they have drawn 2-2 at home to Leicester and lost 3-1 at Burnley.

In contrast Wigan Athletic have won 5 of their last 6 matches. Latics know all too well about injuries and have Gary Caldwell, Shaun Maloney and Ben Watson unavailable. However, there is a possibility of both Scott Carson and Nick Powell returning at long last.

New signing Ryan Tunnicliffe will probably make an appearance at some stage tomorrow. If Latics play with a flat back four he will compete with Josh McEachran for the Ben Watson role of deep-lying playmaker. However, given Forest’s playing style, Uwe Rosler might decide to strengthen his aerial defences. The big Swede Markus Holgerrson will be ready to step into a backline of three central defenders.

If both Callum McManaman and Nick Powell are back from injury, Rosler will face a hard choice on whom to play upfront. He got away with a win against the odds at Brighton where a couple of well taken, opportunist goals gave his team a win against a profligate home side. After taking James McClean off at half time the German was take off a second forward after 73 minutes in Martyn Waghorn. Playing the final 17 minutes light on attacking power invited the opposition to pressurize Latics’ defence.

It was a great result at Brighton, but it was achieved with a tad of good luck. There is a saying that good teams make their own luck, but also another that says fortune favours the brave.

Rosler has built team spirit within his group of players. These Latics players have the “character” to grind out results if need be.  Although one hopes to see a fluid, attacking approach it might well be the qualities of doggedness and resilience that are to prove paramount in getting Wigan a good result at the City Ground tomorrow.

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Brighton Preview – Latics need to show character

Photo courtesy of Visit Brighton

‘Character’ is a word that is much used – but much abused – in football vernacular. Ever hear a manager say his team showed character after his side has stolen the points with a controversial goal after being outplayed for most of the game?

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines character as “moral excellence and firmness”. Clearly it takes on a new meaning in the language used by football managers of modern day.

Wigan Athletic’s players will have to show a lot of character – that of technical excellence and consistent application – over the next two to three weeks. Before the next home tie with Sheffield Wednesday on March 12th Latics have three difficult matches on the road. Two are league matches against teams challenging for promotion, the third an FA Cup tie at the Etihad.

The first of that trio of matches is at Brighton tomorrow. Latics went 1-0 down to the Seasiders in a tight contest at the DW Stadium on November 23rd. Little did we know at the time that it was to be the beginning of the end for Owen Coyle, with further home defeats to Zulte Waregem and Derby County to follow. Two more defeats followed, at Leeds and Millwall, in the interim period between Coyle’s departure and Uwe Rosler’s arrival.

It is an indication of the turnaround in Latics’ fortunes that they have now caught up with Brighton, being level on points and with the same goal difference. Moreover Brighton have not done badly since their win at Wigan with a league record of W6 D4 L3 since then. In that same period Latics have an average of two points per game, with a record of W7  D3 L2. If they are to reach a play-off spot by the end of the season they will have to maintain that same average in the 16 matches remaining.

Over the January transfer window Brighton sold their most prized asset, Liam Bridcutt, to Sunderland for £3m. Moreover Ashley Barnes, who troubled the Wigan defence in  that last encounter, moved on to Burnley £750,000. However, they brought in Dale Stephens – Charlton’s best player in the 0-0 draw with Latics at The Valley – for an undisclosed fee.

Like Wigan, Brighton had their fair share of injuries early in the season and were short in firepower up front. Since then the Argentinian centre forward Leonardo Ulloa has returned to good effect, with 8 goals in 16 league starts. He is likely to be partnered by either Kazenga Lua Lua or David Rodriguez, a recent signing from Celta Vigo.

Once again it will be interesting to see how Rosler shuffles around his lineup. Sadly it looks like Ben Watson has played his last game for the club following the horrendous injury he picked up against Barnsley. The player’s contract expires in summer. Such a pity as he was approaching the best form of his career. It looks like Rosler is lining up Josh McEachran as Watson’s replacement, although Roger Espinoza is another in contention.

Ivan Ramis was excellent in his return to action at Cardiff and might well make the starting lineup tomorrow. Rosler could rest Emmerson Boyce or push him over to right full back at the expense of James Perch. Perch has started in 35 matches this season, second only to Leon Barnett. The ex-Newcastle man has been a key player in the tightening up of Latics’ defence since Rosler’s arrival. However, he does not possess the attacking flair of Boyce.

Callum McManaman missed the midweek game through injury, but should be fit for tomorrow.  James McClean was the Man of the Match against Barnsley, his inch-perfect cross setting up a goal for Martyn Waghorn. The Irishman’s final pass has so often let the side down this season, but he is starting to show signs that he can lift his head and find teammates in the opposition penalty box.  When he can do that consistently he will be a terrific asset for the team.

Will Rosler play the two wide men in the same lineup? His tendency has been to only play one, but both are approaching their best form and their pace could be dangerous on the counter attack. The German can choose between Nicky Maynard and Marc Antoine Fortune at centre forward, although it is probably Waghorn’s best position too.  Little mention has been made of Nick Powell recently, but could he make a surprise appearance tomorrow?

The Brighton match will certainly be a test of character for Rosler’s men. Neither team will want to lose and the winner could be the one who grinds out the result, rather than the one who has played the better football.

A fascinating contest awaits us.

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