A Leyton Orient fan’s view of Gavin Massey

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Gavin Massey from Leyton Orient. The 24 year old forward, 5 ft 8 in tall, was a free agent following the London club’s relegation from the EFL.

On signing Massey, Latics manager Paul Cook commented on the club’s website that: “Gavin is a player we feel can do really well for us. He played against Portsmouth twice last season and scored a great goal at Fratton Park. He’s quick, strong and committed and can operate anywhere across the front three. For a player of his age, he has a lot of experience and has played a lot in this division. He adds great competition to the squad.”

Gavin Massey was born in Watford and is a product of their Harefield Academy. The Watford manager at the time, Malky Mackay, gave him his first team debut as a 17 year old in May 2010 at Coventry, soon after which he signed his first professional contract. In March 2011, he was loaned out to Wealdstone. He went on to make 6 appearances for the Isthmian League side in the 6 weeks of the loan period, scoring one goal. After making an appearance for Watford in mid-August 2011 Massey was sent on loan to Yeovil Town in September. He went on to make 16 appearances for the West Country club, scoring 4 goals before returning to Watford in mid-January 2012. However, just over a week later he joined Colchester United on a one month loan.

After returning to Watford he was to be released on a free transfer to return to Colchester. Massey went on to make 158 appearances for the U’s, scoring 20 goals, in four years with them. In the summer of 2016 Leyton Orient paid Colchester an undisclosed fee to sign Massey. He went on to make 36 appearances, scoring 4 goals, last season.

In order to find out more about Massey’s performance over the last season we contacted Matt Simpson of the Leyton Orient blog View from the West Stand, who put us in touch with David Thompson (@DavidTh64301889).

Here are David’s responses to our questions:

What positions has he played in for Orient? Which is his best?

He started off playing right midfield and did quite well early on, even scoring 3 minutes into his debut.  He then had a slight knock and sort of disappeared in games for a little bit.  To be honest I think that was more to do with the complete circus surrounding the club at the time and him suddenly realising what he had got himself into!  Around Christmas time he came back into the side and was playing as a number 10, off of a front man and at times as a more advanced forward.  He was superb at this point and scored some great goals (check out his goal away at Portsmouth on YouTube).

What are his strengths and weaknesses as a player?

He’s actually quicker than he looks – he’s not a jet healed type winger but is quite fast.  He can put a decent cross in and has a decent touch.   He scored a few goals for us, a couple of which were crackers from distance.  It’s hard to call him out on weaknesses, as at times he was playing in a terrible side, put together by whatever sucker / idiot / victim was selected as manager that week.  He’s not the most defensive player you will see and can go missing a bit.

How does he relate to the fans? Is he a team player? Does he show commitment?

He was popular with the fans, especially around Christmas when he was putting on a one man show at times to try and keep us up. Personally, I think losing him around April time to injury was one of the major nails in the coffin of our relegation as he had been playing so well and teams were scared of him.  His effort from Christmas on was excellent and cannot be faulted.  If I was being cynical I could say he was playing for a move as he could see the writing on the wall for Orient, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was getting stuck in.

What kind of potential does he have? Would you have him back at the O’s?

He has a lot of potential.  He’s only 24/25 I think and could play at least Championship in my opinion.  He needs a decent run of games and a team that’s going to go on the offensive in games, allowing him to get in and around the box where he is a hand full.   Would I have him back?  Absolutely.  The rumour is we paid out around 200K for him.  On a free he’s a bargain.

 

 
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Is it too early for alarm bells to be ringing?

Alan Nixon is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he so often gets inside information on what is going on at Wigan Athletic. In January he had kept us informed on Twitter about Latics’ pursuit of Omar Bogle, raising our spirits in that an exciting young centre forward might be on his way in. But this time around his tip-off serves more to dampen our spirits.

There have already been rumblings about the transfers that have already happened. The highly experienced Jake Buxton, Matt Gilks and Stephen Warnock have departed the club. The feeling among many fans is of being underwhelmed by the new signings brought in so far. The prospect of selling off the 24-year-old Bogle (who has 35 goals in 80 appearances over the past three seasons) to bring in the 29-year-old Doyle (15 goals in 66 appearances in the same time period) is daunting to say the least.

Reports also suggest that Latics are close to signing Gavin Massey (24) from Leyton Orient and Jimmy Ryan (28) from Fleetwood. Like the two players signed already – Chey Dunkley (24) and Terell Thomas (21) – Ryan is also a free agent. The Liverpool born midfielder played under Paul Cook’s management at Chesterfield, together with Doyle, who later played under the manager at Portsmouth. Rumours have also linked Cook with the 33-year-old Gary Roberts of Portsmouth who also played at Chesterfield with Cook.

The more positive supporters will say that these are early days and there is no need for the alarm bells to be ringing. They will cite the arrival of David Perkins from Blackpool, as Gary Caldwell’s first signing in the summer of 2015. Perkins was seen as a 33-year-old journeyman, a free transfer signing to bolster the squad. But he went on to have an outstanding season, winning the Player of the Year award. Thomas is yet to make an appearance in the EFL and at 19 he is one for the future, although one can only hope that he will get the kinds of chances not afforded to other young players at Wigan in recent years. But Dunkley played over 50 games for Oxford United in League 1 last season and will surely be in contention for a first team place.

Reports from Leyton Orient suggest that, should Latics concrete his signing, Massey could certainly add something to the attack. Although only 24 years of age, he has made over 200 appearances in the EFL. With Orient dropping out of the EFL Latics could well get a bargain in signing Massey.

The departures of Buxton, Gilks and Warnock indicate the massive cost-cutting exercise that the club will undergo over the summer. With revenues dropping from some £20 m last season to probably no more than £4 m in League 1 there will surely be lots more departures over the coming weeks. David Sharpe will need to look at a player salary budget of at least £6m if he is seriously looking at getting back to the Championship next season. Any shortfall between outgoings and revenues will be subsidised by player sales and any surplus from last season that has not been used to play off long-term debt.

Last Friday an article appeared in Wigan Today quoting Paul Cook as saying “I think the squad strength is there for all to see, and I certainly wouldn’t envisage there being many changes. I’m not envisaging ripping it up and starting again – there’ll be none of that.”

Is he seriously suggesting that Wigan Athletic will not be making many changes in the squad over the summer? He is used to dealing with tight budgets, but his comments appear unrealistic in terms of the financial implications of keeping the strength of the squad in place. The departure of either Omar Bogle or Will Grigg was always on the cards, in terms of raising funds. No information has been forthcoming from the club about Grigg’s recuperation from injury. With just a year remaining on his contract we would expect the club to be looking for offers for him over the summer. But is injury set to rule out a move for Grigg, hence the need to sell Bogle instead?

Cook also mentioned in that same article that the squad was too big and needed reducing. Some will be offered free transfers, others sent on loan. The high earners will be the priority and most of those on Championship level salaries can be expected to move on. Moreover, there are a host of players in the first team squad who have been brought in from other clubs as “up and coming” players, but the reality being that none of them has yet made a handful of appearances for the Latics first team. They include Jack Byrne, Jack Hendry, Josh Laurent, Dan Lavercombe, Mikael Mandron, Sanmi Odelusi, Danny Whitehead and Kaiyne Woolery. It remains to be seen how many of them will be retained as members of the senior squad and how many will be dispatched elsewhere.

Is it too early to be sounding the alarm bells? It certainly is.

However, despite the statements of manager and chairman it would be surprising if we did not see a considerable number of departures over the coming weeks. The hope is that the club can cut its coat according to its cloth, but also find suitable replacements for the higher earners who will surely be on their way.

A couple of years ago we saw a remarkable clear out of playing staff over the summer to balance the books. But the club was still buoyed with parachute payments. This time around, with far lower anticipated revenues, the situation appears more severe, with the playing staff budget due to be reduced to around a third of what it was last season.

Paul Cook has had lots of experience in working within tight budgets. It will take all his know-how and expertise to make Latics serious challengers for promotion, given the financial hand with which he will be dealt.

But perhaps this is what made him Sharpe’s top choice for the job of manager of Wigan Athletic for the foreseeable future?