A Portsmouth fan’s view of Noel Hunt

Wigan Athletic today announced the signing of 34-year-old striker Noel Hunt on a one year contract. The 5 ft 8 in tall Irishman was a free agent who spent last season at Portsmouth.

Following the announcement of Hunt’s signing Paul Cook said: “Noel is a top pro whose experience, commitment and quality has already started rubbing off on the squad. He’s a player who trains as he plays, at 100% level, and he will make a significant contribution on and off the field.”

Noel Hunt was born in Waterford and joined Dublin club Shamrock Rovers as an 18-year-old. He was soon to be loaned out to Waterford United where he went on to score 5 goals in 9 appearances. Hunt went on to make 25 appearances for Rovers, scoring 11 goals.

Hunt signed for Dunfermline Athletic in January 2003 for £100,000. He spent three years there, injuries limiting him to making 80 appearances, scoring 8 goals, before moving to Dundee United for £50,000. He went on to make 64 appearances, scoring 23 goals in two years. In July 2008 Hunt was transferred to Reading for £600,000. He went on to spend five years there, making 145 appearances, scoring 33 goals.

Hunt left Reading as a free agent in July 2013 after they had been relegated from the Premier League to re-join Brian McDermott who had taken over at Leeds United. In November 2014, he joined Ipswich Town on a short-term loan. Hunt’s time at Leeds had been blighted by injuries and he made 22 appearances, without scoring a goal, before terminating his contract by mutual agreement in January 2015. He then went back to Ipswich but was released at the end of the season, after scoring 2 goals in 7 appearances. He went on to play for Southend in 2015-16, making 21 appearances, scoring 4 goals. Last season, on a one-year contract at Portsmouth, he scored 1 goal in 20 appearances.

In order to learn more about Hunt’s time at Portsmouth we contacted Jim Bonner  (@FrattonFaithful) of the Fratton Faithful fan site.

Here’s over to Jim:

Noel Hunt will be a positive influence off the pitch. His experience will be valuable to some of the younger players and he was popular amongst Pompey fans last season for his attitude and willingness to talk to fans. I suspect he has signed with a view to be having some coaching role when he retires in the next year or two.

However, in terms of on the pitch contribution he only scored once for us (a tap in against the nine men of Mansfield) and barely saw any playing time in League Two, so he is likely to have even less of an impact on a team pushing for promotion in League One, although his willingness to run around despite his age does give him some nuisance value up front. 

If he has signed to be a replacement for Omar Bogle, Wigan fans are going to be very disappointed. Hunt was a player all Pompey fans expected to leave this summer regardless of who the manager was.

 

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A Dundee United fan’s view of Kyle Knoyle

Kyle_Knoyle

The 19 year old Kyle Knoyle has joined Wigan Athletic on loan from West Ham United for the whole of the coming season.Knoyle is a right back, a position which was problematic for Latics last season.

Last summer Caldwell signed Kevin McNaughton on a one year contract and Jonjoe Kenny on a two month loan. Unfortunately things did not work out with McNaughton making only three appearances before picking up an injury that effectively kept him out for the rest of the season. Moreover Kenny was recalled by Everton when his loan spell expired. Donervon Daniels was moved across from the centre of defence and showed promise in the right back position, if not being entirely convincing. Donald Love was brought in from Manchester United for a short term loan, with Reece Wabara being signed as a replacement in January. Wabara’s short term contract terminated in summer and it appears that Latics were not willing to meet his wage expectations for staying.

With Knoyle and Daniels available it could be that Gary Caldwell will not be seeking another right back. The signing of Knoyle could therefore prove crucial.

On signing the Newham-born youngster Caldwell said Kyle is a young player with potential, one who has been identified as having the qualities we are looking for and was watched last season. We are optimistic he can develop here with us and make a positive contribution to the squad and we’re happy to have him on board.”

The 5 ft 9 in Kyle Knoyle is a product of the West Ham academy with three caps for the England under 18 team. He has made just one appearance for the Hammers’ senior team, playing the full 90 minutes against Astra Girgiu in Romania in the Europa League last August. He was an unused substitute on three occasions last season.

In January Knoyle went on loan to Dundee United, where he was to play alongside Billy Mckay. He made his debut for the Tangerines as an 82nd minute substitute in a 3-0 win at Ross County in late February. He repeated this with a 66th minute substitution against the same side a week later in the Scottish Cup, which United won 3-2. Knoyle had to wait until early April to make his first start in a 1-0 victory over St Johnstone. Despite poor team results in the rest of April and May he was a regular starter. Knoyle made a total of 9 starts for United.

In order to get more information on Knoyle’s time at Tannadice we reached out to the Dundee United fan forum on www.arableague.co.uk.

I hasten to add that United have been referred to as “the Arabs” since the 1962-63 season when the harsh winter led to the cancellation of many matches. However, on one occasion they were due to play at home to Albion Rovers and the club hired a tar burner to melt the snow and ice on the pitch, which they covered with tons and tons of sand. The team played so well on the sandy surface, virtually devoid of grass, that they became known as the Arabs.

The feedback we received through the forum:

Setenza commented that:

He only really started getting a game towards the end of his loan period for us. Once he did, most people wondered why he didn’t start before.

We were a pretty dreadful team last season, playing mostly long ball football, but he did show plenty of willingness to get forward from full back and attack, and in my view was one of our better performers. Worked hard and usually tried the right thing in possession. Defensively, maybe a few more slip ups, but was playing in an awful defence.

Certainly wouldn’t have been unhappy if we’d signed him for another loan spell. Seemed to have the right attitude to be a decent player in time.

Micky added that:

Can’t add anything more than what Set said, seems a good attacking option from full back..

Naebody responded:

For a couple of games, he looked the best player in the worst United team for 50 years. Everything Set says is fair. But it’s impossible to know whether the awful quality of players around him were making him look better or worse.

We also got feedback from the Dundee United Mad forum:

TerryTheTerror commented:

Signed on loan in January then never given a chance in the team. Once he did get that chance he was a fixture and ended up probably being our best and most consistent performer. Fast, athletic, hard in the tackle, and good with the ball. Everything a full back should be.

Weedude83 supported Terry’s comments:

Once our idiotic manager decided to play him, was regularly our best player.

Quick, strong and likes to get forward and help the attack.

Defensively, strong in the tackle, very tenacious and won his share of headers – sometimes caught out of position but that’s to be expected at his age/experience.

Genuinely wish we had him for next season.

Smirky4 was less positive:

I thought he was very average, I think people hyped him up on here and everyone looked at him with rose tinted glasses, often caught out of position, not a flying wing back bombing forward getting crosses in or indeed playing that killer pass…..

 

 

Wigan Athletic v Dundee United Preview

On Saturday,  Wigan Athletic play host to Dundee United at the DW Stadium. It will be their final warm-up fixture before the Championship season starts for the at Barnsley on August 3rd.

By the time it gets to the final pre-season game a manager tends to have a good idea of what his first choice lineup will be.

Owen Coyle has skillfully shuffled his pack in the previous four pre-season games, giving game time plus an opportunity to all his available squad players to show their mettle. However, we can expect the starting lineup for the United match to be pretty similar to the side which lines up at Oakwell.

Dundee United had a disappointing  season last year,  finishing sixth in the SPL  – but important to them  – they were six places above Dundee, who were relegated. The bitter rivalry between the two clubs – whose grounds are just 150 yards apart – continues after already spanning a century.

Dundee – the “True Blues” of the city – were formed in 1893 and have won the Scottish League once, in 1962-63.

Dundee United – originally known as Dundee Hibernian – were formed by the Irish Catholic community in the city in 1909. They changed their original green colours to tangerine in the 1960s. Like their close neighbours they have won the Scottish League once, that being in 1982-83. However, the Blues have had hard times over recent years and it is the Tangerines who have maintained their status in the highest level of Scottish football, as well as reaching the European Cup semi final in 1984 and the UEFA Cup final in 1987.

The last encounter between Wigan and United  was at Tannadice Park three years ago when Latics won 3-1 in a pre-season match, when Mauro Boselli scored two and set up a cracker for Victor Moses from 25 yards.

Owen Coyle will have fond memories of his time at Tannadice, playing for United from 1993-1995, having  joined them from Bolton. He was to return there briefly in 2003-2004.

A team which has finished in mid-table in the SPL is clearly going to offer Coyle’s side some degree of challenge. Results have gone well for Wigan in pre-season up to this point, although the opposition has been weak at times. Latics did well to beat Atromitos, only a day after returning from their US journey, with the associated jet lag. The Greeks have been their strongest opponents so far.

Coyle is still lacking mainline defenders and it looks like big Norwegian centre back Thomas Rogne is still not fit enough to play. If he is  not available the Coyle will have to choose between rookie Adam Buxton at right back or midfielder Chris McCann at centre back, the versatile Emmerson Boyce being able to switch as needed. James Perch, who has had an excellent pre-season at centre back, and the experienced and solid Stephen Crainey will make up the rest of the back four. If fully fit, Scott Carson wil start in goal.

Latics are blessed with a fine squad of midfield players. Coyle has lots of options available. However, Ben Watson is likely to start in the midfield holding role, just in front of the back four. James McCarthy  and James McArthur are favourites to take the other central midfield roles. Callum McManaman and Jean Beausejour are the natural wide players and Marc-Antoine Fortune has done enough to justify selection at centre forward ahead of Grant Holt, with fine displays capped by well taken goals so far.

Shaun Maloney has not appeared as much as he might have liked in the pre-season up to this point, due to a niggling injury. One wonders if Coyle will use him in the playmaker role – where he is most effective – or push him out wide. Maloney could play a key role in the promotion push.

Jordi Gomez and Roger Espinoza have looked lively in pre-season and will also be knocking on the door. Nouha Dicko is at hand to provide the unpredictable element if brought on.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter. It will certainly provide us with an insight into Owen Coyle’s thoughts about the formation of his team, with the new season coming up the following week.

In the meantime Coyle will continue to pursue his transfer targets – at least four more according to his own words – some of which will be on loan. The saga with the transfer of winger Albert Adomah from Bristol City continues to muddle on, but it is going to be defenders that will be the main priority.

Coyle has achieved so much up to this point, but he still has a lot of work to do in getting his squad ready to challenge for a return to the Premier League.

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