Holgersson will come good, says Red Bulls supporter

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As part of our continuing effort to keep Latics supporters informed about new recruits, we have invited a New York Red Bulls supporter to guest write an article about new centre-half Markus Holgersson.

Holgerrson’s signing, subject to international clearance, was confirmed by the club today. His initial contract will be until the end of the current season.

Hello Wigan supporters, my name is Dan Ryazansky. I have run MetroFanatic.com, the premier website for the MetroStars (now Red Bulls) of Major League Soccer since 2001.

It’s hard to think of a player whose lot with Red Bulls supporters changed as much as Markus Holgersson’s. He arrived in 2012 at the tail end of the team’s Scandinavian invasion: a group of players acquired by Norwegian Sporting Director Erik Soler and Swedish manager Hans Backe. A rather tepid show in preseason led to many question Holgersson’s inclusion in the starting lineup.

Yet there he was, from the get-go, starting in central defense and quickly becoming a liability. Too slow. Too awkward. Not able to keep up with MLS’s physical attackers. And — worst of all — poor clearances and defensive lapses that led to scoring opportunities and, alas, goals.

And then, with Thierry Henry absent due to injury, Backe gave Holgersson the captain’s armband. Was it a case of Swedish nepotism, the supporters thought?

But something happened to Holgersson. Thrust with new responsibility, the much-maligned defender started to improve. His ability to read the game trumped his slowness of feet. He became excellent in one-on-one situations. The mistakes started to disappear as well. Even the goalscoring came, as he became a threat on set pieces.

Then, the offseason came. With Soler and Backe fired, many thought that Holgersson would be gone as well. Not so; new head coach Mike Petke kept him on, but the Swede did manage to lose his starting job in preseason. He won it back after the first two matches and didn’t relinquish it afterwards, playing almost every minute the rest of the way. By the end of the season, he was the team’s most consistent defender. When called upon, he even played some at right back.

Unfortunately, Holgersson’s high salary (by MLS standards) made it very hard for the team to keep him. When his departure was announced, the same supporters that called for his head expressed concerns over his departure.

So, in summary: a solid central defender who should be able to hold his own on the Championship level. Might have difficulties adjusting early, but will be able to adjust. Good at reading the game. Can start the attack from the back. Can play right back if needed, but not an efficient crosser of the ball. Thrives when given responsibility. Passionate. Will be missed.

Best of luck for him at Wigan!

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McCann arrival kicks off Coyle revolution at Wigan

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The first signing of the Owen Coyle era has been confirmed in the shape of 25-year-old Irish midfielder Chris McCann, who will join Wigan Athletic upon the expiration of his contract at Burnley, where he spent the past nine years.

The transfer virtually confirms Wigan’s intentions to cash in on their prize asset and fellow Irish midfielder, James McCarthy.

Though not a household name, McCann looks an astute signing. At 25 years of age (26 in July), his best years are in front of him yet he boasts an impressive seven seasons of Championship football. He is the type of player Wigan were never able to afford in the top flight: someone established who knows the division well, entering his prime years as a footballer. Today’s three-year deal should see him turn 26, 27 and 28 in a Latics shirt — peak years.

And while Coyle has a technically gifted midfield with players like James McArthur, Ben Watson, Jordi Gomez, Roger Espinoza, Fraser Fyvie, it is the athleticism of the likely-departing McCarthy that he would have struggled to replace internally. At six-foot-one and described as a powerful box-to-box player, it appears McCann is the man to do it.

Interestingly, the year McCann made the most appearances for Burnley was the year they achieved promotion to the Premier League. He then suffered a bad injury and was limited to seven appearances in the Premier League campaign. He has worn the captain armband for Burnley and having spent nine seasons with them, appears to be a loyal and committed player. His comments upon arrival at the club make for encouraging reading.

The hope now is that a McCarthy transfer will bring in at least 12 million pounds. Those who have watched his development over the last few years would likely value him at closer to double that amount, but realistically, 12 million would still be very good business. Potentially, Coyle could buy five good Championship players and still have money left over.

In a related note, news sources had suggested that McCann’s former teammate and striker, Martin Paterson, could be ready to follow. But earlier today, it was confirmed that Paterson had opted instead to join Huddersfield Town.

The other rumour doing the rounds at the moment involves a move for goalkeeper Scott Carson, who has made more than sixty appearances for Bursaspor in Turkey over the past two years but may fancy a move back to England. He seems to have been around forever but is only 27 and would be an excellent signing for the 400,000 pounds that are being mooted. With Ali Al-Habsi apparently set to miss the beginning of the season to injury (along with Gary Caldwell and Ivan Ramis) — Latics supporters will be hoping there is some truth to that nugget.