Fyvie back on track

Fraser Fyvie

In the 14th minute in Wigan Athletic’s pre-season friendly game against TSV Havelse, Fraser Fyvie put through a defence-splitting pass for young winger Ryan Jennings to get Latics’ first goal.

Wigan went on to win 3-1, but the main purpose of the match was to provide playing time for a squad that had been involved in intensive training sessions over that past week. No less than 21 players got playing time, with only one playing the full 90 minutes. That was the young Wigan-born prospect, Tim Chow. However, the player who received the next largest amount of playing time was Fyvie, who went off to be substituted by Gary Caldwell after 75 minutes.

What is significant is that Fyvie appears to be back in the Latics fold after being seemingly on his way out of the club.

Last season was a nightmare for the 21 year old Scot. Snubbed by both Owen Coyle and Uwe Rosler he had been farmed out on loans, which just did not work out.

In mid-October Fyvie went to fellow Championship side Yeovil Town on loan. He soon made his debut against Brighton, but a shoulder injury forced him to be forced off after only 22 minutes. A month later he returned to the lineup against Doncaster Rovers, but in the 11th minute he gave the ball away leading to a goal for Rovers. He was substituted after 31 minutes. Before the end of the first half he had posted a tweet on Twitter: “Everyone has given away a goal in their career – learn from mistakes!” Fyvie was returned to Wigan in mid-December after making no more appearances at Yeovil.

In late January Fyvie joined League 1 club Shrewsbury Town on a one month loan. He started in four consecutive matches and it looked like Shrewsbury were going to request an extension of the loan period. However, a knee injury suffered in training was to scupper that plan and he returned to Wigan.

It looked like Fyvie was on his way out of Wigan when he went to train with Sheffield United in April, playing a game for their under-21 side. However, the Yorkshire team was not sufficiently impressed to take things further.

When Fraser Fyvie joined Latics as a 19 year old in July 2012 Roberto Martinez said: “Technically he’s very gifted, enjoys playing in the midfield where he can cover large areas, he’s very powerful off the ball and in possession is someone who can read the tempo of the game very well”.

Despite his tender age Fyvie had made 58 appearances for his home town club Aberdeen in the SPL. He was the youngest player to play for the Dons, making his debut against Hamilton at the age of 16, winning the ‘Man of the Match’ award. He was later to score a goal against Hearts that made him the youngest goalscorer in SPL history. Fyvie has represented Scotland at schoolboy, youth and under 21 levels.

In his first season at Wigan his appearances were confined to FA and League Cup matches. It appeared that he was being groomed to step up to regular first team action the following season. With the change of management that was not to be.

With Ben Watson and Chris McCann out with long-term injuries and James McArthur and Shaun Maloney struggling for fitness, Uwe Rosler is short on midfield players. The arrival of George Saville on loan from Chelsea is likely to be announced shortly, but in the meantime the absence of the senior players might well continue to give Fyvie the chance to prove that he still has a lot to offer.

Rosler prides himself on developing young players and in Fyvie he has a player with undoubted talent. The Aberdonian still has one year left on his contract. Hopefully it will be one in which we will see his potential being realised. It is an opportunity to get his stuttering career back on track.

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An entertaining goodbye

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Wigan Athletic said goodbye to the Premier League through an entertaining 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. Latics’ display had the hallmarks of what we have seen so often this season – bouts of champagne football interspersed with mediocre defending.

The £24 miliion Darren Bent had opened the scoring in the 5th minute, breezing past Paul Scharner before shooting in off the post. Wigan equalized in the 20th minute through a superb header from Emmerson Boyce from an excellent cross by Roger Espinoza. They went in leading at half time following an unlucky own goal by Nathan Baker.

Wigan had recalled Ali Al Habsi in goal. Roman Golobart replaced Antolin Alcaraz, with Ben Watson starting in place of Callum McManaman. The big Paraguayan was missed in a central defence that did not convince. Tactically Wigan played a mélange of what we have seen in recent weeks, with Watson flitting between midfield and centre of defence  and James McArthur playing on the right of midfield.

Aston Villa were unrecognisable from the shaky team we had seen at Villa Park in December when Latics had beaten them 3-0. This team played an attacking game with three forwards and showed no mean level of skill in the process. It did not come as a complete surprise when Ron Vlaar’s hooked shot somehow found its way past Ali Al Habsi after 60 minutes.

Driven on by Shaun Maloney’s creativity, Wigan came close on several occasions in the second half, including a superb volley from James McArthur that hit the crossbar in the 79th minute. But in the end a draw was a fair result.

The Good

Wigan played some excellent football and were unlucky not to have scored more goals. One hopes that they will continue to play this brand of football against rugged Championship teams next year.

It was heartening to see Ali Al Habsi much more dominant in his area. The  Omani has had a difficult season and it is going to take him a while to regain his confidence fully. This was a step in the right direction.

At last Fraser Fyvie was given his Premier League debut, coming on after 69 minutes for Ben Watson. The 20 year old Scot could prove to be a key player next year. The exciting young wing back Eduard Campabadal also made a debut, substituting for Emmerson Boyce in the closing minutes.

It was surprising to see Angelo Henriquez brought on as a subsititute in preference to the more senior Franco Di Santo. One wonders if Wigan are looking at a permanent deal for the young Chilean, currently on loan from Manchester United.

Jordan Mustoe and Daniel Redmond were also on a youthful-looking bench,

The Bad

Once again injuries forced Martinez into fielding  a new central defensive partnership – this time it was Paul Scharner and Roman Golobart. Not surprisingly there was a lack of cohesion between the two.

The centre of defence has been a real problem for Latics this season. The long term hip problem of  Gary Caldwell has had a major impact. Brave as he is – he recently stated that he had not been able to train properly for 6 months  – Caldwell still started in 25 games, but was a shadow of that dominant captain who would marshall the defence. The loss of the excellent Ivan Ramis in January, on top of the long term injury at the time of Antolin Alcaraz, was another blow to Latics’ defensive cohesion.

Injuries apart, it is the centre of defence that has been the weak point of all Roberto Martinez’ teams at Wigan. Ideally there would be an established duo – or trio depending on tactical preferences – in central defence that would develop a mutual understanding through playing together on a regular basis. There is a need for both height and pace in the middle. Is there also a need for a defensive coach?

Player Ratings

Ali Al Habsi: 6 – returning back to form.

Emmerson Boyce: 8 – excellent throughout. Took his goal superbly and almost scored another in the second half.

Roman Golobart: 6 – a  work in progress.

Paul Scharner: 6 – had some good moments, but some bad ones too.

Roger Espinoza: 7 – starting to look comfortable in the Beausejour role. As always, full of energy and put in some great crosses.

Ben Watson: 7 – growing in that midfield anchor/central defence shielding role. Substituted after 69 minutes.

James McArthur: 7 – worked hard. Never ceases to surprise with the quality of his efforts on goal. He has scored some crackers for Latics in the past and his sublime volley 10 minutes from the end could have won the game for his team.

James McCarthy: 7.5 – played a little further forward. He is a class act and will almost certainly be snapped up by a big club this summer. A transfer fee in excess of £15 million would not be unreasonable for  a player with  all round ability and a good temperament.

Shaun Maloney: 8 – a typical performance,  full of running and guile. Deservedly voted ‘Player of the Season’.

Jordi Gomez: 6 – ineffective playing wide on the right. Substituted after 69 minutes.

Arouna Kone: 6 – finishing not sharp enough.

Substitutes

Fraser Fyvie: – came on for Watson after 69 minutes. Has the ability to become a top player.

Angelo Henriquez: on for Gomez after 69 minutes for a rare appearance.

Eduard Campabadal – made his debut after 88 minutes. Could make a major impact next year.

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Everton v Wigan Athletic – Nothing to Lose

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Only the brightest of optimists could expect a second string Wigan Athletic team to go to Goodison Park tomorrow and get a good result. The Wigan team will be largely composed of players who have spent most of their time on the bench or on the treatment table in recent months. In contrast Everton are likely to put out a strong lineup.

Everton are a formidable team at Goodison, where they have lost only one of 14 league games this year. It is going to be a tall order for Wigan, but who knows what might happen?

There are players in the Wigan squad who will be anxious to impress in this game, none more so than ex-Everton youth player, Callum McManaman. The 21 year old forward has excelled in cup matches this year and has been unlucky not to have appeared more in the Premier League. He will be joined up front by either Angelo Henqriquez or Nouha Dicko, although Ryo Miyaichi is fit again and will probably appear at some stage during the game. Jordi Gomez will be charged with the creative role for the strikers.

Fraser Fyvie, a 19 year old with more than 50 senior games prior experience under his belt for Aberdeen, is another who has waited patiently for his chance. He is likely to lineup in the centre of midfield alongside the committed American/Honduran, Roger Espinoza, who continues to adapt to the pace of English football.

Roman Golobart, at 20 years of age, is another fine prospect. He made his debut in the starting lineup in the Premier League game against Stoke in January. His extra height in the centre of defence will be useful against an Everton side which always poses a strong aerial threat. He will almost certainly be joined by Antolin Alcaraz, back from long term injury. Adrian Lopez is also back to fitness and will probably take up Gary Caldwell’s position in the centre of defence.

Ronnie Stam will take the right wing back position, but Martinez might have to throw in Maynor Figueroa or Jean Beausejour on the left. With David Jones and Jordan Mustoe out on loan he lacks alternatives in that position. Young Spanish goalkeeper, Joel Robles, faces an acid test where he will have the chance to show that he can compete with Ali Al Habsi for the first team spot.

Likely starting lineup: Robles – Alcaraz, Lopez, Golobart – Stam, Fyvie, Espinoza, Figueroa or Beausejour – Gomez, McManaman, Henriquez or Dicko.

However, in previous rounds Martinez has surprised us by including a smattering of first choice players. At this stage of the season he is less likely to do so. If he were to choose between the FA Cup and Premier League survival, the latter would be his most likely option.

A second string Wigan Athletic is still strong enough to give Everton a run for their money – they have nothing to lose!

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