A Fulham fan’s view of Dan Burn

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Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 24 year old Dan Burn. The 6 ft 7 in central defender was out of contract with Fulham.

Gary Caldwell is clearly pleased to have signed Burn and the club’s web site reports him saying that “He fits our profile exactly, young, hungry and with experience at this level and the desire to progress with us. He is a powerful defender, but he likes to play as well and adds tremendous competition to the squad.”

Dan Burn was born in Blyth but came up through the youth ranks at Darlington, making his first team debut at the age of 17.  He went on to make 14 appearances for the north east club before moving to Fulham in the summer of 2011 for a fee of around £350,000.

In September 2012 Burn went on an initial short term loan to Yeovil, but the loan period was to be extended to the end of the season. He made 41 appearances for the League 1 side, scoring three goals. Burn was to be sent off on another loan in July 2013, this time to Championship club, Birmingham City. He made 28 appearances for the Blues, scoring one goal, before being recalled to Fulham in January 2014. He made his debut for the Londoners on January 4th 2014 in an FA Cup tie at Norwich.

Burn went on to make a total of 69 appearances for Fulham scoring two goals.

In order to learn more about Burn we reached out to Fulham fans on The Independent Fulham Forum.

Alanos commented that Burn was:

Hugely promising early in his career, especially on loan to Yeovil and for a little while Birmingham. Very disappointing in the last few years playing for us, though the same inexplicable loss of form seemed to come over many of our defenders. Who knows, could be a great acquisition (or not).

Biff added that:

Progress seems to have stalled the last few seasons but several players seemed to have been affected as our form and progress fell away.

BS recognises Burn’s top performance against Manchester United:

Probably had his best game against Man Utd when we got a draw at Old Trafford, season we were relegated. Headed so many clearances Sky asked if he had a headache in the post-match interview. Think he might have got MoM for that.

Mike H adds that:

He held Man Utd at bay for 90 mins a few years ago. If the opposition keep floating cross into the box, he’ll clear them. Not so reliable against nippy forwards though.

JamesS notes:

Some harsh comments. Still think he could have a very good Championship future. Wholehearted and good man to have in your squad.

NoHost comments that:

For his size, he doesn’t command the in and around the box as much as you’d think, although he has had his good days. He is prone to making simple mistakes which develop into bigger ones when he tries to rectify. Seems to trip over his own legs sometimes. He talks a lot on the pitch, but I’m not sure what he says is actually helpful. He is determined and genuine and perhaps can be coached into a more solid performer.

Barry@ENF recognises Burn’s determination:

….perhaps with the addendum that you will rarely, if at all, accuse him of lacking heart!

Harry adds:

Excellent attitude and good guy. Positives: Better coaching at a stable club could improve him. Negatives: prone to the odd howler and a liability with quick forwards running at him. Wish him well, though.

Lowe’s Pate sums up by adding:

Huge aerially & plays with his heart on his sleeve. Sometimes loses out positionally but personally would have been delighted if we’d have retained him.

 

Fulham 2 Wigan Athletic 2 – good football is back for Latics

 

It was a lovely mild spring evening and the walk through Bishops Park by the Thames was as delightful as any approach to a football ground. But then again, despite its great location, Craven Cottage had rarely been a happy hunting ground for Wigan Athletic.

It was Gary Caldwell’s first game as manager. What kind of tactical formation would he play? Would it be the 3-4-3 from his days under Roberto Martinez? Could he get the commitment from the players that has been lacking for so much of the season? Would he bring back players who had been left out in the cold under Malky Mackay? But more importantly could he steer his players away from the hoof that typified the era of his predecessor? Could they play football in the “Wigan Athletic way”?

It proved to be an entertaining 2-2 draw and Latics were well worth their point. A win was just beyond their reach and relegation has crept even closer. But the bright side was that, after just two days of training, Caldwell had got the team moving towards a brand of football reminiscent of the club’s best of times in the Premier League.

The starting lineup showed two changes from the last game with Scott Carson being preferred to Ali Al-Habsi and Jerome Pennant came in for Leon Clarke. Caldwell employed a flat back four, with William Kvist and James Perch in holding midfield and Kim Bo Kyung in the hole behind the lone centre forward, Marc-Antoine Fortune. James McClean was played wide on the left and Jerome Pennant on the right, although the latter tucked inside in the earlier proceedings.

Fulham’s goal after just 4 minutes was beautifully taken by the skillful Ross McCormack, as he curled the ball home from the edge of the box. However, once again the Wigan defence had not closed down a player in a shooting position, as has so often happened this season. Going a goal down so early on was a hammer blow and given their inability to get back into games after conceding the first goal in previous games one wondered if Latics might be doomed.

However, Caldwell’s new Latics began to dominate possession, largely resisting the hoof. Fulham were put on the back foot but there was little penetration in Wigan’s play. The forwards were simply not making the runs necessary to unlock a stubborn home defence with two giant central defenders who were ready to gobble up anything that went in the air. However, in the 22nd minute McClean was upended as he set off on a mazy run at speed. Pennant stepped up to score a delightful free kick, just like the first one he scored at Rotherham. Latics were clearly delighted and Pennant and Gaetan Bong ran to the other end of the field to celebrate in front of the visiting support.

Matt Smith’s beautifully taken long range goal after 35 minutes put the home team ahead again. Despite the excellence of the finish the Latics’ defence had once again backed off and allowed an opposition player a clear shot on goal.

Despite Wigan dominating the possession Fulham were a goal up as the teams went in for half time. One wondered if Caldwell would be able to find an answer to the lack of penetration of the Wigan attack.

Latics started the second half unchanged and the game continued in a similar vein although Fulham looked dangerous in flashes. The Wigan central defenders had looked uncomfortable playing the ball out of defence. Jason Pearce sometimes found a midfield player with a short pass, but largely passed the ball sideways or backwards. Harry Maguire’s passing was repeatedly off target as he went for long diagonal balls to the flanks. Carson’s distribution was also poor as he launched his customary long kicks that were too often ineffective against the height in Fulham’s defence. Meanwhile Latics continued to lack penetration up front.

However, Fortune was taken off after 56 minutes, the visiting supporters loudly cheering the arrival on the pitch of Martyn Waghorn. Latics then started to show more movement up front, players running off the ball to support those in possession. As a result their passing became more incisive and they deservedly got back in the game as Maguire headed on a Pennant corner for Pearce to slide home.

Chris McCann replaced the tiring Emmerson Boyce after 70 minutes with James Perch moving to a more familiar full back position. Josh Murphy replaced Pennant after 83 minutes as both teams attacked trying to get a winner. Both teams had chances in the closing minutes but the game was to finish in a draw that guarantees safety for Fulham but leaves Latics in deep relegation trouble.

Despite the inability of his team to win the three points, Caldwell was clearly happy with their performance. Good football has returned and there were signs in the second half that the forwards were able to make the kinds of incisive runs that will unlock defences.

 

 

Relying on other teams’ results

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They are five points adrift in a relegation struggle, with just seven matches to go. Failure to win points in the next couple of games could practically seal the saddest of ends to a troubled season for Wigan Athletic.

Moreover one of those games is against a Middlesbrough team currently one point from an automatic promotion place with the joint best home record in the division. The second is a home game against a Derby County team that many of us thought was the best in the division, but has suffered a series of adverse results over recent weeks. Derby too will be desperate for a good result to get themselves back on track. Eyeing a Latics home record of W2 D8 L10 they must fancy their chances.

Supporters of many clubs would have psychologically thrown in the towel at this stage, given such a scenario. But optimism still remains among many Wigan Athletic supporters. There are people who believe that Malky Mackay’s patched up team of journeymen and short term signings can get the results needed to avoid the drop. After all, as supporters they have faced adversity before and given their full weight of support to their struggling teams with startling results. The neutral observer would be well advised never to count out Wigan Athletic.

It was looking ominous in the 2006-07 season when Latics went into the last match at Sheffield United needing a win to stay in the Premier League. But a fine finish by Paul Scharner, an ice-cool penalty from David Unsworth and gritty backs-to the-wall defending in the closing minutes helped keep the Blades out, consign them to relegation and keep Latics up.

The 2010-11 season also had a remarkable finale. Latics had gone into their penultimate game at home to West Ham, three points adrift of safety with a goal difference that was inferior to the teams above them. The Hammers were 2-0 up after just 26 minutes and Latics were a shambles. But they kept plugging away and scored two good goals through Charles N’Zogbia and Conor Sammon. However, the scores were tied as the game went into time added on. Four minutes later West Ham keeper Robert Green allowed a weak shot from N’Zogbia to squirm under his body to give Latics an invaluable three points, consigning his own team to relegation in the process.

Latics went into the last match of the season at Stoke level in 19th place, level on points with Blackpool and Birmingham, but with an inferior goal difference. Wolves and Blackburn stood just one point above them. It looked like Wigan had to win at the Stadium against a home side that had only lost four out of the eighteen home games they had played. But Hugo Rodallega’s header from Maynor Figueroa’s cross was to prove sufficient for a remarkable 1-0 win. In the event a draw would have been sufficient to keep Latics up as Blackpool and Birmingham both lost on that fateful day.

The following season Latics were once more locked in a relegation struggle and by the end of January they were in bottom place. Then came a slight upturn in results over February and March, but relegation looked certain. The revival that took place from late March onwards was nothing short of miraculous, with wins following against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Latics were to win 7 of their last 9 matches to finish in 15th place, seven points clear of relegation.

Can Wigan Athletic achieve yet another great escape this season? Can Mackay inspire his team to get the results needed to avoid the drop in the same way as his predecessors Paul Jewell and Roberto Martinez? Fan support was crucial in such situations in the past. Will it be an essential element again? Will “Believe” come to the fore once more?

The current situation is serious. Latics remain 5 points behind 21st placed Rotherham and 8 points behind Fulham a place above the Yorkshire outfit. Either of the two could drop into the relegation zone should Latics get a good run of results. The pressure is on all teams in that relegation zone at this time of the season and teams can often go into freefall.

The last round of games was certainly eventful. Latics got a point through a 94th equalizer against Bolton, Fulham won 2-0 at Huddersfield with Nakhi Wells missing two penalties for the home team and Rotherham went down 3-2 at home to Sheffield Wednesday despite leading 2-1 after the regular 90 minutes.

Prior to that win Fulham had only won one of their last 13. It remains to be seen whether their win at Huddersfield will have boosted their sagging confidence sufficiently to end the season well. Like Latics they were one of the teams favoured by the bookies for promotion at the start of the season. Moreover they had paid around £12m for the striking duo of Ross McCormack and Matt Smith.

Rotherham’s defeat after being so close to a vital victory must have been hard for them to bear. After being beaten at home by Latics in mid-March they lost at Nottingham Forest before that fateful game with Wednesday. The question is whether they have the resilience to pick themselves up after such a cruel loss.

Despite a series of bad results and sacking their manager Millwall can still avoid relegation. They have drawn the last two games, 1-1 at home to Brighton and 2-2 away at promotion-chasing Brentford. They are just two points behind Wigan.

Wigan Athletic meanwhile continue to fail at home, despite four consecutive wins on the road. It is to be hoped that the failure to beat a poor Bolton side will not haunt them later. Mackay has put together a team that is willing to scrap for victory, which was not the case when he first arrived. However, it is doubtful whether his squad has the quality to get the kinds of results in the remaining matches that would render those of the other relegation candidates close to irrelevant.

Put simply Mackay needs either Fulham or Rotherham to fall apart while his own team narrows the gap. He also has to hope that Millwall cannot finish with a flurry. Should this not happen Latics will surely be doomed.

The next two games will go a long way towards deciding Wigan Athletic’s future in the Championship division. Tomorrow while Latics are away to Middlesbrough, Fulham play at home to Brentford, Rotherham travel to Birmingham and Millwall have a London derby at home to Charlton. Both Latics and Rotherham face games on Easter Monday, at home to Derby and Brighton respectively. Fulham have a day’s grace and play away at Charlton on Tuesday. Millwall have an eight day break before their next game on April 11th.

During the days of Roberto Martinez he would typically focus on his own team’s performances and results, rather than those of other teams in the danger zone. However, the results of the other teams certainly had an impact on where Latics were to end up.

Providing Latics can get good results in the final seven matches they will have a chance of staying up. Ideally they would win at least five of them, but given the squad they have it seems unlikely. The hope is that Fulham and Rotherham will fare much worse and Millwall no better.

Wigan Athletic’s hopes of avoiding relegation are very much dependent on the implosion of teams above them. Stranger things than that have happened in the past, but it surely should not be counted upon.

Latics can beat Bolton if…..

Defeat to Wigan Athletic is something that Bolton Wanderers supporters find hard to bear. After all their local rivals are nothing but young upstarts compared with the glorious history of their Trotters.

Wanderers were founder members of the first Football League in 1888, one of the 6 Lancashire clubs that formed that initial division of 12. Since then they have spent more time in the top tier (Premier League/First Division) than out of it, 73 seasons to be precise. Their highest placing in the top tier was 3rd in 1920-21 and 1924-25 seasons. By the time Latics entered the Football League in 1978, Bolton had won the FA Cup four times, being runners-up on three occasions.

Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers had their first-ever encounter in the Football League on Boxing Day in 1983. That was in the old Third Division and Wanderers won 1-0, but Latics went on to win by the same score in the return match at Burnden Park. Things have remained fairly even ever since. Bolton have won 17 and Wigan 16, with 11 draws in league and cup matches between the two clubs.

No matter what situation of either club the result of the derby is always of paramount importance. But a win it is so much more important to Latics than Bolton this time around. The 2-0 home defeat to Watford in midweek was depressing in that it was a repeat of what has happened on too many occasions this season. Wigan seeming to match their opponents, but once a goal has gone against them they have not been able to get back into the game.

However, the 2-0 defeat of Rotherham at Nottingham Forest and a 3-0 home reverse for Fulham against Leeds United means that Latics remain at 6 points behind the two. Moreover the London team’s collapse continued with Leeds scoring with the only genuine chances they had.  Fulham strikers Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, who had a combined total of 42 goals for Leeds last season, just could not find the net. Like Wigan, Fulham were among the bookmakers’ favourites for promotion this season. They are caught in a downward spiral, having won only one of their last thirteen games.

Latics’ miserable home record – their last win was against Birmingham City on August 30 – will surely come to an end soon. The pundits have tried to explain how a team can win four consecutive games on the road, but lose their last six at the DW Stadium. Their approach to matches appears similar, be they home or away, but they have so often been caught by surprise at the DW.

The away victories have been characterized by them getting goals relatively early in the proceedings and hanging on to their lead with grim determination. Most of those goals have come from set pieces, which clearly have not worked at home where they have not scored a goal for four matches.

However, football is rarely as scientific as we sometimes think. The difference between winning and losing games in the Championship can so often depend on a slice of fortune – a deflection or a misplaced pass finding a teammate for whom it was not intended. Latics have enough height to be a danger at set pieces, but too often the delivery at home games has been found wanting.

However, the law of averages tells us that you are more likely to score goals if you have players in the penalty box. Even better if they are in the right place at the right time. Some players have a knack of being in such positions. Some do not. Given Mackay’s choice of strikers over recent months it is sadly no surprise that Latics have not been scoring goals.

Latics can certainly beat Bolton tomorrow if…………….

  1. Mackay plays strikers who have track records of goalscoring.
  2. They are organised, work hard and “win that second ball”, as ex-Latics captain Neil Rimmer says so often in his Wish FM commentaries.
  3. The rub of the green goes their way.

This is the least accomplished group of players the club has had for at least a decade. Most are loanees or on short term contracts. They lack the mutual understanding gained through playing as a collective unit over a long period of time. As a result the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

However, Mackay has largely succeeded in getting levels of commitment that were not apparent earlier in the season. He has stabilized the defence. The central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Jason Pearce is rugged and determined, well suited to the division. Mackay will look towards playing with a solid defence and scoring from set pieces.

However, Bolton do not have a particularly good team. They are out of the relegation zone due to the “new manager effect” after Neil Lennon was appointed, something that Latics crucially missed with Mackay. That effect has since faded and their squad is not overburdened with talent. They have lost their last six away games and have difficulty scoring goals. Their leading scorer is Zach Clough with just 6 goals, although Adam Le Fondre has scored 5 in his 10 matches so far.

Wigan Athletic fans have learned to keep their expectations low for results in home games over the past six months. Maybe the time has come for them to see the victory they have been waiting for so long. It would be particularly sweet against a local rival which considers itself a step above.

Fulham 1 Wigan Athletic 1: Di Santo redeems himself

DiSanto

A game of two halves for Franco Di Santo. Prior to this match, the Argentinian had not scored a goal since the beginning of October. The way he played in the first half reflected as much. In the first five minutes he somehow managed not to hit the net from two yards out, the ball trickling from his boot to the goalkeeper following a lovely move involving James McCarthy and Shaun Maloney. Even his usually excellent approach play wasn’t quite up to his usual standards as frustration set in. Shortly before half time, a neat backheel from James McArthur led to Emmerson Boyce putting over a great cross that a more accomplished Premier League striker would have poached — Di Santo put it over.

Roberto Martinez had gone into it with a conservative line-up. He packed the centre of midfield with David Jones, James McArthur and James McCarthy, while Shaun Maloney was employed in the second striker role. Fulham had strangely started without a recognized holding player to compete for midfield possession.  After Fulham had taken the lead in the 22nd minute with a spectacular goal from Giorgos Karagounis it looked like Wigan had a hill to climb and their lack of cutting edge was cause for concern. Neat approach play is to no avail without clinical finishing.

As the second half progressed the need for another forward became even more apparent. However,  in the 66th minute Jordi Gomez was brought on for David Jones.  Wigan reverted to a straight back four, with Gomez and Beausejour pushed into wide midfield positions. Although the move resulted in Wigan having two players in wide positions who do not have the speed to get past opposing full backs, the change of shape galvanised their play.The chief beneficiary was Shaun Maloney, who dropped deeper into the playmaker role, and dictated Latics’ attacking play from that moment on. Di Santo and his teammates  improved and the revived Argentinian went near with a quickfire volley before scoring a gem of an equalizer in the 71st minute. His confidence restored, he went close to a winner minutes later.

After a horrible injury to Ivan Ramis in the closing minutes Wigan fell apart and it was only an amazing goal line clearance from Maynor Figueroa that stopped them losing a match they had deserved to win.

The Good

A valuable point gained at a ground where Latics struggled so much in the past. The defence was disciplined and alert.  Wigan played skillful football and created chances. The reemergence of Franco Di Santo from the doldrums bodes well in the absence of the accomplished Arouna Kone. Wigan played with spirit and the result will help boost morale, following a poor run of results.

The Bad

Wigan’s cruel luck continues with a bad ligament injury to Ivan Ramis, who had done so much to neutralise the threat of Dmitar Berbatov.  Wigan had the better share of clear scoring opportunities and could have brought home three  points rather than one.

Player Ratings

Ali Al Habsi: 6 – a quiet afternoon.

Emmerson Boyce: 7 – very solid in defence, reading the game well, using his considerable experience.

Ivan Ramis: 7 – played the major part in keeping Berbatov at bay. Solid in defence and possibly a big loss for the rest of the season. Let’s hope not.

Gary Caldwell: 8 – marshalled his defence, excellent in positioning and tackling.

Maynor Figueroa: 7.5 – saved two points with a stunning goal line  clearance. Disciplined and solid  in defence.

Jean Beausejour: 6 – gradually regaining his touch. Worked hard in defence and put in some nice crosses.

James McCarthy: 7 – consistent as ever. Looked classy.

James McArthur: 6 – worked hard, tackled well and put through some nice passes.

David Jones: 6 – hard working,  but  wish his passing would be more incisive.

Shaun Maloney: 7 – much more comfortable in the playmaker role. At the heart of the second half revival.

Franco Di Santo: 6 – a game of two halves , but good to see him back on form in the last half hour.

Substitutes.

Jordi Gomez: – played out of position on the right and had little input on the game as a result.

Ronnie Stam: came very late in the game, but his lapse could have led to a defeat in added time.

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