A Portsmouth fan view of Tom Naylor

Wigan Athletic recently announced the signing of 29-year-old Tom Naylor on a three-year contract. The 6ft 2in Naylor was a free agent following the completion of his contract at Portsmouth. He has signed a three-year contract.

Naylor normally plays in central midfield but can also play in the centre of defence. As Portsmouth captain he played in all 46 League 1 games last season. Although primarily a holding midfielder who protects the defence, he scored 8 goals over the course of the season. He has made almost 400 appearances in his career.

Upon signing for Latics he said: “When Wigan came calling, I spoke to the manager, and he sold the club to me. He told me the players he’d be bringing in, and the fact the aim is promotion. That’s all I want to do as well, the aim every season has to be promotion and I’ve come here to do that next season.”

Tom Naylor was born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, near Mansfield. He was given his first professional contract with Mansfield Town is 2009. In the 2009-10 season he was loaned to Belper Town where he made 32 appearances, scoring 3 goals. Naylor joined Derby County on loan in November 2011, the move becoming permanent in January 2012. There followed further loan periods at Bradford City, Grimsby Town, Newport County, Cambridge United and Burton Albion. Naylor signed a contract at Burton in June 2015, and he was to become a key player for the Brewers in their promotion to the Championship and during their two seasons there.

Naylor signed for Portsmouth in July 2018 and went on to make 124 appearances for them in League 1 over his three seasons at Fratton Park.

To learn more about Naylor’s time at Portsmouth we contacted Jim Bonner (@FrattonFaithful) of the Fratton Faithful fan site.  

Here’s over to Jim:

Last season, Tom was clearly Pompey’s outstanding player in the first half of the campaign. He brought his usual bite to the centre of midfield and got around the pitch but added long range strikes to his game and even improved his much-maligned passing.

However, after the turn of the year he drastically declined and downed tools, making him one of the prime targets for Pompey fans to direct their anger at, especially as he was the captain. 

Why did this happen? He knew he wasn’t going to get an improved deal at Fratton Park and was also carrying an injury that nullified his tackling and mobility – two key components of his game.

Like Whatmough, signing Naylor on such a long deal is a gamble for Wigan but if he can regain the form that made him such a favourite for most of two-and-a-half seasons at Pompey then it’s another shrewd signing by Leam Richardson. However, most Pompey fans lament how far he’d fallen, bemoan his lack of leadership and believe we should be aiming to bring in a higher calibre of player if we’re to make a promotion push again next season.


Getting it right against Burton – match preview

In late November, 2015, we saw a dull, scrappy game at the DW Stadium.

It offered little in the way of entertainment and seemed to be heading for a goalless draw until Abdenasser El Khayati scored for the visitors from a breakaway in the 74th minute. An ugly, but well organised Burton Albion side, who had looked like they had come for a draw, went on to inflict on Wigan their first league home defeat of the season.

Following a difficult start to the season, Latics had been on an unbeaten run of 11 matches, moving up to 4th place, Burton being just a point behind them in 5th. Burton’s victory helped them leapfrog over Latics and it was to be the case for four more months, with the Brewers looking like potential champions until Wigan overtook them late in the season.

Latics entertain Burton once again on Saturday, four points behind the Brewers in the Championship division. In the corresponding game last season Gary Caldwell was outmaneuvered by his opposite number, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. On a day when so many players were below par it was hard to come up with positives. Caldwell had clearly been preaching patience to his players, as they struggled to break down the Burton defence.

Sadly the patience was there, but the dynamism that was lacking.Yanic Wildschut was heavily marked. Michael Jacobs was ineffective on the right and Alex Revell, favoured ahead of Will Grigg, was a lonely figure up front. So can Caldwell get it right this time around?

Even though Hasselbaink left the Brewers for QPR last December, Nigel Clough was to gain promotion on his return to the club. Like his predecessor Clough is tactically astute and his Burton team will pose a challenge. He will have done his homework and will be ready to cancel out Wigan’s attacking players.

Following a home win against Wolves and a draw at Brentford after a dismal set of results, Caldwell will be keen to get a good result on Saturday.

Last season he played a modified 3-4-3, which Burton managed to stifle. Given the improvements in performances since aborting playing three at the back Caldwell can be expected to adopt a 4-3-3 formation.

However, the manager is never predictable. The return from injury of Reece Burke gives him the option of playing the talented West Ham loanee on the right of a back three, with Nathan Byrne in his natural position as right wing back. The alternative is to play Burke at right back, with Byrne as a winger.

Latics are certainly good enough to beat Burton, but a home win is by no means a foregone conclusion. The visitors will be a hard nut to crack. Caldwell’s approach to the game last year was cautious, but at the time Wigan had ground out previous results playing like that. It just did not work out against another team which played the same way.

But then again, can Latics surprise us and press Burton from the start, getting an early goal, setting up a comfortable victory?

A Derby County fan’s view of Jake Buxton

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

No sooner had Jake Buxton signed for Wigan Athletic but he made his debut last night at Oldham. The 31 year old central defender, who is 5 ft 11in tall, has joined Latics on a three year contract.

On acquiring Buxton’s services Gary Caldwell said that: “Jake adds great experience and competition to our defence and I am delighted to be able to bring him here, Not only will he be an asset to us on the field, but Jake will also add to the great character within our dressing room and I feel he will fit into our group perfectly. He’s a top professional with over 300 Football League games to his name and he’s chomping at the bit to add to his tally.”

Jake Buxton was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a Nottinghamshire market town. He started his career four miles away in Mansfield coming through the youth ranks, making his first team debut as a 17 year old in a Football League Trophy game against Crewe in October 2002. Buxton was to made captain at the age of 21 in the 2006-07 season and was to spend 6 years at Mansfield Town, making over 160 appearances.  However, on the club’s relegation to the Football Conference in 2008 he left by mutual consent.

Following a trail at Crewe, Buxton joined Burton Albion and they went on to win the Football Conference title under Nigel Clough. Buxton was voted Player of the Year for the Brewers in that 2008-09 season, after making 40 appearances.

Clough was to join Derby County the following season, taking the out-of-contract Buxton with him. Buxton went on to make 139 appearances over 7 seasons for the Rams, scoring 11 goals.

In order to learn more about Buxton’s time at Derby we contacted the Ollie Wright at the @derbycountyblog.

Here’s over to Ollie:

Jake Buxton arrived at Derby County from Burton Albion in 2009, following his manager Nigel Clough in transferring from the Brewers to the Rams.  Given that Derby had not long been relegated from the Premier League and Burton had only just been promoted to the Football League, the signing was met with widespread incredulity – but Clough had faith in Buxton to make the jump, based on his work ethic and character.  –

 Clough was big on character.  In the same way that his father would have no truck with ‘sh..houses’, Nigel prioritised and was loyal to men that he could trust.  Buxton proved to be worthy of Clough’s faith.  

 He is not tall for a centre back, nor is he particularly quick.  He is, however, rabidly competitive, blessed with a street fighter’s determination and not above using a few of the ‘dark arts’, at times. Raised in the lower leagues, he loves to fight for every ball.  It would be unfair to write him off as a rudimentary clogger, because he can pass, but it’s undeniable that his game is based on the simple core virtues of ‘heading and kicking it’, to quote Clough.  

 Buxton continued to play regularly under Steve McClaren, who also extended Buxton’s contract. He was a key member of the side which reached the play-off final in 2013/4, but that season proved to be his peak at Derby, with injuries and the arrival of Jason Shackell reducing him to the role of bit-part player in the past two seasons.  

 This is the right time for Buxton to move on from Derby, but at 31, he has plenty of time left.  And a cursory scan of Twitter will reveal the real affection most Rams fans have for ‘Bucko’, who will be missed by all of us. 


Caldwell gets it wrong – Burton Albion (H) Match Reaction

A dull, scrappy game offering little in the way of entertainment seemed to be heading for a goalless draw until Abdenasser El Khayati scored for the visitors from a breakaway in the 74th minute. Au ugly, but well organised Burton Albion side, who had looked like they had come for a draw went on to inflict on Wigan their first league home defeat of the season. Once again Wigan were unable to defeat a team in the upper reaches of the League 1 table.

Gary Caldwell had chosen to field an unchanged starting lineup, following a 1-0 victory against lowly Shrewsbury on Saturday. It was to be a 3-4-3 formation with Alex Revell in the lone centre forward role and Michael Jacobs and Yanic Wildschut playing wide.

Wildschut made one of his trademark runs in the first minute with a cut back to Tim Chow in a good position, but the young player fluffed his shot. But Burton tightened up. They had clearly done their homework and Wildschut was heavily marked. Jacobs was ineffective on the right and Revell a lonely figure up front. Latics were playing cautiously, unwilling to put enough men into the penalty box for the fear of a breakaway at the other end. Their right hand side was having a torrid time, with Chow way out of sync, Daniels poor in his passing and Jacobs looking like a shadow of his normal self. Latics main idea of attack was to feed Wildschut, although the service he received left much to be desired. But Burton had little to offer going forward too.

Given the way Latics were struggling to break down the Burton defence one wondered if Caldwell would make a change at half time, not only in terms of players on the pitch, but in the team’s shape. The rigid 3-4-3 system was not getting the best out of the players, who looked lethargic. With such talent on the bench, surely Caldwell would bring on someone like Francisco Junior who can change the tempo of a game, but the African was not to come on until after Burton scored.

The second half started with another cross from Wildschut finding Chow at the far post, but he could not get high enough to head the ball down and the chance was lost. Burton had shown us an ugly side to their game in the first half with players going down as if poleaxed, with the referee surrounded by their teammates. It continued in the second half, much to the crowd’s frustration.

Latics just could not find a way through Burton’s defence and the game seemed to be heading for a draw. Craig Davies had come on for Revell after 65 minutes, but Latics had kept to the same shape and there seemed to be no way through the visitors’ defence. Then came Burton’s breakaway goal in the 74th minute, which prompted Caldwell to bring on both Junior and Will Grigg. Junior was pushed into an advanced midfield role, with Grigg partnering Davies up front. However, Burton continued to defy Wigan although a goal seemed certain after 85 minutes when Max Power’s shot inside the area was somehow blocked and Reece James hit the post from the rebound.

Given the amount of timewasting from Burton, the referee added seven minutes on at the end of the game, but Latics were unable to get the equaliser.

The Good

On a day when so many players were below par it is hard to come up with positives. Caldwell had clearly been preaching patience to his players, as they struggled to break down the Burton defence. Sadly the patience was there, but it was dynamism that was lacking.

The Bad

Caldwell had put out the same lineup despite a lacklustre performance in the previous game. Sadly in this match he did not get the best out of the players at his disposal.

The rigid 3-4-3 was easy for the visitors to read and the situation was crying out for a change in approach. Jacobs looks only half the player when playing wide. He has been most effective in a free role supporting the forwards from central midfield. Playing ugly to get a result is one thing, but Latics seemed happy to keep grinding away with little end-product.

Caldwell had a wealth of talent at his disposal, but left it too late making the necessary changes. Revell put in a good shift as a lone centre forward in the Fortune style. He could not be faulted for effort or commitment. However, Grigg’s career goalscoring record shows a strike rate almost twice as much as that of Revell and Davies’ too is 50% more. A twin strike force of Grigg and Davies could have been employed from the start, rather than at the later stages when things were getting desperate. It could be argued that Caldwell is using Davies cautiously because of potential injury, but he is clearly not getting the best out of Grigg. Grigg’s self-confidence can hardly be expected to be high after being repeatedly left out of the starting lineup.

Caldwell deserves some credit in persevering with Chow after an unimpressive display against Shrewsbury. He is a local lad and his presence in the starting lineup will give young players in the development squad the message that there are potential chances for them too. However, Chow looked out of his depth in this game, short of confidence and off the pace of the play. Chow’s more natural position is in midfield. Moreover questions need to be asked about bringing in a rookie young player against a team that is a rival for promotion.

Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen: 6 – a quiet night apart from the goal conceded. Calm in his distribution.

Tim Chow: 4 – sadly lacking.

Donervon Daniels: 5 – played better in the second half, but not at his best.

Craig Morgan: 6 – generally solid, but beaten for pace on the Burton goal.

Chris McCann: 7.5 – solid in defence, with good distribution from the back.

Reece James: 6 – worked hard.

Max Power: 6 – worked hard, if not at his best.

David Perkins: 6 – a bundle of energy as always, but not as influential as he often is.

Michael Jacobs: 5 – was he fit after the injury he received on Saturday?

Alex Revell: 6 – worked hard.

Yanic Wildschut: 6.5 – not at his best, being heavily marked, but was nevertheless the main danger to the visitors.


Craig Davies: – a frustrating evening for him.

Will Grigg: – not at his best leaping for long balls. But why is he not in the starting lineup?

Francisco Junior: – added creativity to the midfield, but brought on too late.