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.


A Bolton Wanderers fan’s view of Antonee Robinson


The 21 year-old Antonee Robinson joined Wigan Athletic on a year’s loan from Everton on the summer transfer deadline day. The 6 ft tall Robinson is 21 years old.

Born in Milton Keynes of an American father, Robinson joined Everton as an 11-year-old.  He signed a professional contract for the Toffees when 17, after being awarded the Under 18s Player of the Season. Robinson missed much of the 2015-16 season because of a cartilage injury. Despite his injury he was offered a new one-year contract and went on to play three EFL Trophy games for the U23 side in 2016-17.

In August 2017 Robinson joined Bolton Wanderers on loan. He went on to make 30 appearances over the course of the season.

After playing for the US under 18 team he went on to make his full international debut in May 2018 against Bolivia.

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

Here’s over to Chris:

Following Andrew Taylor’s performances during our League One promotion season of 2016/17, Antonee Robinson arrived at Bolton as somewhat of a low-key signing and one many expected to provide nothing more than backup.

 A couple of Carabao Cup ties aside, Robinson had to wait for an opportunity with Wanderers but was thrust in earlier than anticipated when Taylor picked up an early-season injury.

 It would be a baptism of fire for Robinson, who was torn apart by Adama Traore on his first league start on an afternoon where we were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Middlesbrough at Macron Stadium.

 Many young players would have crumbled there and then but Phil Parkinson showed a huge amount of faith in Robinson, even as the club embarked on a run of eight successive defeats without scoring a single goal.

 As the season progressed, Bolton’s form improved and so did that of Robinson, who made the left-back position his own for the majority of the campaign and earned a first international call-up to the United States squad.

 The Everton loanee has undoubted potential, with his pace and ability to burst forward once making him a fans’ favourite in these parts, but his defensive capability needs some serious work if he is ever to make the grade at Premier League level.

 Robinson may have been handed a new three-year deal at Goodison Park, but I just don’t see him forcing a way through. The Toffees will cash in at some stage and a good season at Wigan will only increase his value. As is so often the case with loan deals though – as we have seen ourselves in this instance – just don’t expect any loyalty at the end of it.



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An Everton fan’s view of Callum Connolly


Callum Connolly made an instant impression on Wigan Athletic fans when he scored two headed goals to beat to beat Burton Albion on Saturday. The expertise with which Connolly leaped for those headers suggested he is a player the opposition will have to mark closely when Latics have set pieces. Connolly can play anywhere across the back four or in midfield. Last season he scored seven goals for Everton’s under 21 side.

The 19 year old comes from Litherland, five miles north of the Liverpool city centre. An Everton academy graduate, he has represented England at under 17, under 18, under 19 and under 20 levels. Roberto Martinez gave him his first team debut in mid-April 2016 when he came on as a substitute for Seamus Coleman after 60 minutes against Southampton. Prior to that he had been on a month’s loan at Barnsley where he made three starts in League 1.

Connolly has been signed on loan until the end of the season. His contract at Everton runs until the summer of 2019. On signing for Latics he commented that “I got the call up on Thursday morning, I shot down the motorway, had a couple of days of preparation with the lads and settled in well – the lads and gaffer have been great with me.The gaffer was at United last season and he has seen a lot of me in the last couple of seasons and liked me so I am just glad that I performed on my debut. I would like to think of myself as a versatile and hard-working player who just wants to do well for the team.”

In order to learn more about Connolly we contacted Lyndon Lloyd of Everton fan site Toffeeweb  (http://toffeeweb.com/).

Here’s over to Lyndon:

Regarding Connolly, only those who regularly watch the U23 games will know much about him because he’s only made that one first-team appearance to date. 

 He is certainly highly regarded in what is a very good crop of emerging youngsters at Everton, though, and he didn’t look out of place at all when he came on as a substitute early in the second half of our draw with Southampton last season.

 Everton were in the middle of a difficult period under Roberto Martinez so they weren’t the easiest circumstances in which to make your debut… although the way the senior side was playing, it was actually refreshing to see some young blood come in and put in a good shift!

 Though he’s primarily a defender or defensive midfielder, he does have an eye for goal (he scored a few for Everton U21s and U23s over the past couple of years) as he proved in his debut for you. Hopefully there’s more where that came from and he can prove really useful to Wigan between now and the end of the season.

An Everton fan’s view of Luke Garbutt


Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Luke Garbutt from Everton on loan until January.

Given recent surgery to both Reece James and Andy Kellett, Gary Caldwell was looking for cover at left back. The 23 year old Garbutt is an accomplished player and appears to be an astute acquisition. On signing Garbutt, Caldwell commented that:

“Luke is a tremendous young player with a big future in the game and we are delighted to have reached an agreement to bring him here. He knows the division well having spent last season on loan with Fulham and he adds excellent competition to the squad. He has great energy, and is a dynamic defender who is comfortable as a wing back or as part of a flat back four.”

The 5 ft 10 12 in defender was born in Harrogate and joined the Leeds United academy. He was signed by Everton as a 16 year old, the Toffees having to pay the Yorkshire club a £600,000 fee set by tribunal. He made his Everton debut in August 2012 in a League Cup tie.

Garbutt spent the 2011-12 season on loan at Cheltenham Town, making 34 appearances and scoring two goals. He was to go on loan again, spending the first half of the 2013-14 season at Colchester, making 19 appearances and scoring two goals.

Garbutt went on to make his Premier League debut for Everton in April 2014, soon after being called up for the England under-21 side, for whom he was to go on to make 11 appearances. In the 2014-15 he made 10 appearances for Everton, half of which were in the Europa League.

He spent last season on loan at Fulham, making 25 appearances, scoring one goal. Click here to check out a Fulham view of Garbutt’s performances.

In order to get an overview on Garbutt’s position at Everton we contacted Lyndon Lloyd of Everton fan site Toffeeweb  (http://toffeeweb.com/).

Luke’s situation is a puzzling one because, at one stage, as an up-and-coming England U21 international, he looked to be the natural heir to Leighton Baines. He deputised for him pretty impressively in 2014-15, including in some big games in the Europa League against the likes of Wolfsburg, and a lot of his play was reminiscent of Baines’s own style at left back.

 He appeared to have a great cross on him and was actually more effective at set pieces than most of the other players in the side at a time when our poor dead-ball routines were a regular source of frustration… as they were for most of the last two seasons under Roberto Martinez. In any case, we Blues clamoured for him to get a new contract when it looked like we might lose him for free to Liverpool last summer.

 I didn’t get to see any of his performances on loan for Fulham last season but the accounts weren’t all that favourable. I know that he struggled with injuries — if I recall correctly, he picked up an ankle injury almost as soon as he arrived at Craven Cottage — so, hopefully, with Wigan being closer to home and with better luck with injuries he can settle down and get his career back on track.

Since we were in touch with Lyndon we asked him if there was any news of Conor McAleny, who scored some crucial goals for Latics last season. There have been rumours that Caldwell is seeking the player’s return to Wigan. Here is what Lyndon had to say:

Regarding McAleny, it seems like only a matter of time before he gets a permanent move, most likely to a Championship side because, at 24, people are starting to joke that he’ll get his Everton testimonial before he makes another first-team appearance. Unlike younger Academy graduates like Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell, he’s been dropped back to the U23s again which doesn’t bode well for his future under Ronald Koeman.






Francisco Junior’s future at Wigan

Francisco Junior has started in just five games for Wigan Athletic and only finished the full ninety minutes in one of those. He has spent a large proportion of his time at the club injured and is involved in another scandal involving his behavior off the field.

Junior has had a troubled past and some of those demons just don’t seem to go away. But he has nevertheless captured the hearts of so many Wigan Athletic fans with his humility and his sheer footballing ability. His 95th minute winning goal against Swindon on Saturday brought the house down.

I had never even heard of Junior when he made his first appearance in a pre-season friendly against Partick Thistle at Firhill. For me he was the best man on the pitch that night. But I just could not understand at the time why a footballer with such talent would not be well known.

However, I did some research and contacted Everton fan site Toffeeweb for a fan view. The player has clearly had a chequered past. His move from street football in Guinea-Bissau, a country whose per-capita income is one of the lowest in the world, to Benfica was one for the story books. Playing in that Benfica academy led to him representing Portugal at under-19 and under-21 levels. Still only 23 years of age, he retains those silky skills that one associates with the best of Portuguese players. But Junior has still not been able to convince a club that he is worthy of a regular place in their starting lineup. As a footballer he remains “a work in progress”.

Gary Caldwell initially signed Junior from Everton on a one month loan, which was extended to January. The question is whether Latics will seek prolonging his loan or making him a permanent signing. Junior’s contract at Everton is up at the end of the season and he is unlikely to be offered a renewal. The question is whether Caldwell and Latics are willing to take a gamble on the player.

Despite not being able to command a regular place in the starting lineup of a League 1 side, Junior as a footballer cannot be written off.  He is still young and has genuine talent. Can he be steered towards achieving his potential? Could it happen at Wigan?

Despite his lifestyle difficulties, Junior’s humble approach is admirable. A couple of weeks ago he opened his heart – not for the first time – in the guest column for Wigan Today.

However, emotion apart, one of his key comments was “If I can keep my fitness up and avoid injury, I can do my best to help the team and achieve my goals”.

Francisco Junior has the pre-requisites to play at a level well above that of League 1. When he comes on the field for Latics he invariably alters the style of play. His ball skills and movement make him look a class above many of his colleagues. However, he remains largely unable to stamp his authority on to the 90+ minutes of a regular match. Fitness remains a major issue.

Caldwell and his recruitment team have been keen to try to sign the “right kind” of player. Junior is certainly “hungry” for success on the football field, even if his lifestyle excesses provoke questions.

Over the next couple of months Francisco Junior needs to show Gary Caldwell that he merits the club making the effort to negotiate with Everton for his release.

Up to this point he has made five starts, playing beyond the 55th minute on just two occasions. He has made four appearances off the bench.

So many Wigan Athletic supporters are willing Francisco Junior to succeed on the field of play and to overcome his lifestyle problems. He has endeared himself to them through his openness and honesty and his determination to be a better footballer.

But the burning issue for Caldwell is whether the player can reach fitness levels commensurate to challenging for a regular place in the starting lineup.

If that is not the case, it is unlikely that Latics will endeavour to seek his services beyond January.

However, the prospect of a Francisco Junior at the height of physical fitness and revealing his undoubted potential is a mouth-watering prospect for Wigan Athletic fans.