Caldwell’s summer shopping list

Will Grigg has been on fire but the dust has now settled on Wigan Athletic’s achievement of winning League 1. Now it is time to look ahead to the start of the Championship season on August 6th.

shoppingGary Caldwell will surely be relieved that he will not have to go through the massive restructuring of last summer. But at the same time he will know that the current squad will need strengthening if Latics are to hold their own in the higher division. At least half a dozen reinforcements are likely to be brought in.

Caldwell’s immediate priority will be to deal with players out of contract and players who have come in or gone out on loan.

Caldwell has already secured the services of Stephen Warnock for the next couple of seasons following a very successful loan from Derby County. Warnock has looked a class act in League 1, whether playing as a left back or on the left side of a back line of three. However, he is 34 years of age and it comes as a surprise that a contract of more than a year was offered.

Rumours also suggest that Caldwell is trying to tie up a deal with Everton for Conor McAleny. The 23 year old scored 4 goals in his 9 starts and 4 appearances as a substitute since joining Wigan on loan in January. McAleny’s career has been dogged by injury, but Caldwell must feel reasonably confident that the player can maintain a good level of fitness. McAleny can hit the ball as hard as anyone, as evident on the screamers he scored at Walsall and Shrewsbury.

Haris Vuckic is the third loan player who finished the season for Latics. The 23 year old Slovenian has a great left foot and can both score and create goals. The question mark over Vuckic has been his fitness. He made 5 starts for Latics, but never completed the 90 minutes. Vuckic has reportedly gone back to Newcastle and given his inability to establish himself at Wigan it is unlikely he will be sought after by Caldwell.

Caldwell has the option of bringing back three players who were packed off on loan to other clubs at the start of last season. With Reece James and Stephen Warnock, Latics do not need another left back, so it is likely that Andrew Taylor will once again be sent away on loan until his contract expires in June 2017.

Billy Mckay was given minimal opportunities at Wigan, but has scored 12 goals in 28 starts for Dundee United who finished bottom of the SPL. However, it is reported that there is interest in him from other Scottish clubs and it is unlikely he will return.

The prospect of Emyr Huws playing in midfield with the likes of Max Power is mouth-watering, but it appears that he might have burnt his bridges at Wigan. Huws is a combative midfielder who oozes class, but comments attributed to him as not wanting to play for Latics when they were going down to League 1 were unfortunate to say the least. Moreover it appears that the ankle problem the player suffered at Wigan has continued to plague him. Huws has another two years to run on his contract and the likelihood is that Latics would accept any reasonable transfer fee put forward.

There are seven players out of contract. Both Leon Barnett and Chris McCann were recruited by Owen Coyle in the days when the club’s annual salary bill was well above what we can expect for the near future. Barnett is an experienced ex-Premier League player, but has found it difficult to adjust to the possession football that Caldwell demands. McCann on the other hand has thrived under Caldwell. The Scot has not only called on him to play in the centre of defence as he did at times under Uwe Rosler, but has reinvented the big Irishman as a wing back. Although Barnett’s stay at the club looks to be coming to a close, Caldwell will be keen to retain McCann, although he will have to ask the player to take a significant salary cut if he wants to stay.

Reece Wabara was signed on a short term contract in January, since when he made 14 starts with 3 appearances off the bench. Although Wabara has by no means played badly, neither has he convinced us that he must stay. Wabara is already being linked with other clubs and rumours suggest he is on his way out of the club.

Kevin McNaughton missed most of the season out through injury and although the 33 year old Scot is an accomplished full back it is unlikely Caldwell will offer him a further contract.

The positions of three younger players who are out of contract are unclear. The 23 year old goalkeeper Lee Nicholls has amassed nine league appearances over his five years or so at the club. He has had loan spells at six clubs, his most successful being in 2012-13 when he was an ever-present for Northampton Town. Fan opinions on Nicholls vary. Some say that he is the kind of commanding keeper that Latics need and that successive managers have never given him the chance he has deserved. Others cite a lack of concentration, that some of the goals he has conceded should have been easily saved. Rarely has the rift in fan opinion been more apparent than in the last game of the season. On the Vital Latics forum 18% of readers voted him ‘’Man of the Match’’ whereas others slated him for all four Barnsley goals. The signing of young Dan Lavercombe from Torquay in January could prove a key factor in the decision whether or not Nicholls will be offered a new contract.

The other two young players whose contracts are due to expire are Jordan Flores and Ryan Jennings, both 20 years old. It was always going to be hard for young, inexperienced players to break their way into a team aiming for promotion. Both have certainly showed promise, although only Flores played in league games this past season. He made two league starts, both in September, scoring a fine goal against Fleetwood but getting sent off at Oldham a week later. Flores has had injury issues, but he has a great left foot and shows some silky skills. Jennings made his senior Latics debut as a substitute in the League Cup game against Bury and has been on loan at Grimsby and Cheltenham, making a total of 9 starts and 9 appearances as a substitute.

So what are the areas that need strengthening?

David Sharpe has recently made it clear that Latics will not be spending big money to bring in players in their late twenties or beyond. However, that does not preclude money being spent on young players who have already shown what they can do at other clubs. Any more experienced players coming in are likely to be free agents or those available at knockdown prices.

With Jussi Jaaskelainen now 41 years old, Caldwell is likely to seek an experienced goalkeeper to challenge the Finn for his place. Rumours suggest that they will once again try to sign the 32 year old Andy Lonerghan. The ex-Preston and Bolton man has a wealth of experience and is midway through a two year contract at Fulham.

Right back was a problem position last season and Caldwell will be keen to recruit someone who can fill the bill. Donald Love (21) could be that player should Latics be able to persuade Manchester United to part with him for a reasonable fee. Love’s loan spell at Latics was interrupted by injury and call-ups from the Scotland under-21 team, but he did enough to suggest that he would be a good investment for Wigan.

Caldwell will also be looking for a quality central defender with the speed to cope with pacey Championship forwards. With the likely departure of Barnett it will be a priority.

Rumour suggests that Latics are interested in the 31 year old Darren Pratley, a holding midfielder with a wealth of experience with over 300 appearances under his belt at Swansea and Bolton. Together with the 22 year old Danny Whitehead, signed from Macclesfield Town in January, Caldwell would be adding a balance of youth and experience to his midfield if he were to sign Pratley.

Caldwell will also seek another centre forward. Much depended on Grigg last season and Latics need alternatives in case he is called up for international duty or injured. Craig Davies had his most injury-free season for some time, but was only used as a substitute in the second half of the season. Caldwell will broaden his options by going for a third central striker.

Should Vuckic not be returning, another left footed winger/creative player would help maintain a balance. Ryan Colclough, Michael Jacobs, Conor McAleny and Yanic Wildschut are all right footed although Andy Kellett can play a left footed role on the right of midfield.

Caldwell and his recruitment team have done a fine job over the past year. Their next challenge is to find half a dozen new recruits who can add further balance to a squad that is going to have to come to grips with playing at a higher level this coming season.

Striking problems for Caldwell ahead of Shrewsbury match

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Will Gary Caldwell lose sleep over choosing his attacking players for the Shrewsbury game tomorrow?

Question – which club in cash-strapped League 1 can afford to leave a £1 million striker on the bench?

The response is that Wigan Athletic can. Moreover they did it last Saturday when Will Grigg was not only on the bench, but was not called on to the field of play as the game at Rochdale progressed.

Wigan Athletic’s affluence is clearly the envy of so many clubs in their division. According to Rochdale manager Keith Hill, Latics are the Manchester United of League 1. Indeed the squad that Gary Caldwell has put together is formidable compared those of their rivals. There is a minimum of two players fighting for each position, a healthy state of affairs as far as the manager is concerned.

Of course, Latics are in a lower division now, but it could be argued that Caldwell’s squad is superior to that of Malky Mackay in the Championship. The biggest weakness in Mackay’s squad was in the area of strikers. The hapless Scot not only persisted with a centre forward who went on to score one league goal in 34 appearances, but also played  winger James McClean as a central striker, where he looked like a fish out of water.

In contrast Caldwell has a wealth of striking options available to him. At Rochdale he employed a 4-2-3-1 system, meaning that he had four specialist attackers in his starting lineup. Typically this season he has lined up with three attackers in a 3-4-3 formation, but with wing backs pushed far forward. But even though he played with four attackers he was still able to leave Grigg on the bench, with Jordy Hiwula, Sanmi Odelusi and Haris Vuckic not even making the match day squad.

Caldwell has been talking to the media recently about his sleepless nights, as he mulls around in his head the different permutations and combinations available to him. One wonders if his sleep will be any better tonight given the Shrewsbury match coming up tomorrow. It is not only the personnel he chooses for the match to be considered, but also the “shape”. According to Caldwell he had decided on a new formation early in the week because of the way Rochdale attack. Then his headache was to choose the players to lineup in that different “shape”.

In previous eras there have been managers who have had a set way of playing, with the players having to fit into the system. There have been other managers who have adapted the style and shape of the team in order to get the best out of the players at their disposal. This was certainly the case for Wigan Athletic in the 2011-12 season. Latics were bottom of the Premier League in November 201l. Following yet another defeat, this time by Wolves, Roberto Martinez switched from a flat back four to having three central defenders and two wing backs. The change in shape was to catalyse a revival in performances, enabling Latics to finish in 15th place, 7 points clear of relegation. The 3-4-3 system had become the norm under Martinez as he used it to get the best out of the players at his disposal.

Having played in Martinez’s 3-4-3 and seeing its results Gary Caldwell is clearly a fan. Like Martinez, Caldwell too looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming opposition. Martinez would sometimes change his team’s shape during a game if things were not working out, although he would typically stand by his 3-4-3 set up. In contrast, already in his brief reign, Caldwell has adopted a variety of tactical formations and is not afraid to radically change his team’s shape within the ninety minutes.

What kind of tactical formation will Caldwell employ tomorrow against Shrewsbury? Will he persist with his four attackers in the 4-2-3-1 formation or will he revert to 3-4-3? Will Caldwell consider the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition before figuring out his formation?

Part of the reason for Grigg’s benching at Rochdale will surely be down to his late arrival, following his early release from the Northern Ireland squad. Another factor must be the presence of Craig Davies. The 29 year old is a superb centre forward at League 1 level. Were it not for a succession of injuries the big man would surely have played at higher levels throughout his career. Following a hamstring problem he was absent for more than five weeks. He came back on October 20th at Peterborough as a 76th minute substitute. He made a similar late entrance in the next two matches before starting in the FA Cup match at Bury. Davies started in the next two matches against Blackpool and Rochdale, being substituted around the two thirds mark in each. Caldwell is using Davies wisely in the hope that he can have a sustained run in the team without injury. Davies’ ability to turn a defender makes him a nightmare for opposition defences, but he also has pace and no mean levels of skill and tactical awareness.

Caldwell will be seeking the right blend among his attackers. Yanic Wildschut’s emergence has provided a whole new dynamic to the forward line and his is one of the first names to go on Caldwell’s team sheet. Michael Jacobs has been one of Caldwell’s leading players this season and will surely challenge for a place tomorrow. But what of the players who did not make the squad last week?

After scoring two goals against Blackpool, Hiwula could count himself unlucky not to have been included last week. In fact in terms of goals per start and goals per appearance in his career he is statistically Latics’ best goal threat:

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Hiwula is not a “target man” type of striker, but he clearly has an eye for goal and will remain in Caldwell’s thinking.

Caldwell might not sleep well tonight, as he decides on tomorrow’s lineup. Moreover he will surely also be thinking ahead of the visit of high flying Burton Albion on Tuesday. Will he stick with that same four-pronged attack that did so well at Rochdale or will he bring back Grigg to partner Davies up front?

However, many managers in League 1 will not feel even one ounce of sorrow for Caldwell, who currently has an abundance of options at his disposal. His team selection headaches are those which so many other managers in the division would love to have.

Fan views – Part 2: Andy Kellett and Haris Vuckic

Given that we now have a wider readership than in our earlier days we will occasionally republish articles from our archives, that some may not have seen. We ask our long-established readers will bear with us on this. We will continue to put out our stream of current articles.

Our site stats have shown that our readership has been particularly interested in perspectives of Latics players from fans of their previous clubs. Thanks to contributions made by bloggers on the fan sites of those clubs for these articles from our archives.

Click here for our previous fan views on Yanic Widschut and Jordy Hiwula.

 

A Bolton fan’s view of Andy Kellett

Date: September 2, 2015

 

The lasting memory of transfer deadline day from times gone by usually hindered around Harry Redknapp talking to reporters from his car, or crowds gathering at stadiums and training grounds with indescribable adult-themed objects.

A new trend seems to have been set, however, and that is ‘Transfer Deadline Day = Andy Kellett is on the move’.

Having spent the early part of last season on loan at Plymouth Argyle, Kellett had looked set to return to Home Park only to become one of the country’s biggest talking points when he sealed an 11th-hour switch to Manchester United back in February.

United were short of options at full-back, but the move baffled supporters of both clubs. As predicted, though, Kellett’s time at Old Trafford was consigned to the development squad that would eventually go on to win the Under-21 Premier League title.

Kellett signed on at Wanderers as a seven-year old and, having impressed at youth level, made his senior debut in April 2014 – making a total of three appearances before the end of the 2013/14 campaign.

Hopes were high for the hometown boy, but a change in management seemed to put the brakes on his progression and it quickly became obvious that he just wasn’t rated by Neil Lennon.

His big chance arrived in a game at Rotherham United in January, prior to his United move, but a shambolic performance from the entire team saw Kellett sacrificed after 51 minutes – at 3-0 down – and he hasn’t been anywhere near the first-team since.

Kellett was a popular figure amongst the Bolton fans, many of whom believe he should have been given more of an opportunity. But Lennon has granted chances to the likes of Zach Clough, Josh Vela and Tom Walker, while a group of other names are also on the verge of breaking through, so the manager has shown he will put his faith in youth if he deems them good enough.

It’s a shame to see him leave, but Kellett had entered the final year of his contract and wasn’t being considered for what has been a position lacking in cover. Lennon hasn’t made many mistakes in terms of player recruitment so far, so we’ll trust his judgement and wish Kellett the best of luck down the road.

A Rotherham Fan’s view of Haris Vuckic

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Written by: It’s Millers Time @millerstimerufc)

Date published : September 3, 2015

 

 

Vuckic has good experience of League One having spent more than half the season on loan at Rotherham in 2013/14.

At the time, he was a bit raw and untested and was used mainly as a substitute by boss Steve Evans, but he did make an impact.

He can play as an out-and-out striker, in a target man role, is comfortable playing behind the main striker and can also be employed on the left. He is tall, has good aerial ability, but also can run with the ball and beat men.

A Rangers fan’s view of Haris Vuckic

Written by:  Stewart Franklin of Gersnet Independent Rangers Fansite gersnet.co.uk @GersnetOnline

Date published: September 3, 2015

When Haris Vuckic signed for Rangers on loan from Newcastle in the January transfer window, it’s safe to say the transfer initially polarised supporter opinion. Although the player’s reputation was impressive enough, conflict between Rangers and Mike Ashley’s Newcastle, meant many Light Blue fans were suspicious of any deal between the clubs – never mind five loan players arriving from the North East.

Vuckic’s first game didn’t help. Although he played reasonably well and scored a fine individual goal, Rangers were beaten 2-1 at home by Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup so the jury remained out. Nevertheless, as the other Newcastle loanees struggled to feature through a combination of injury and illness, Vuckic was able to retain his place in the team going forward. Indeed, a change of manager also improved our form through the rest of the campaign and, it’s fair to say, Vuckic was central to our attempts to achieve promotion back to the Scottish Premiership.

In that sense, the Slovenian not only supplied several excellent goals himself but was a creative force in the side. Mainly featuring in wider positions, Vuckic had the strength and ability to take the ball in and, despite a lack of genuine pace, could beat players in any area of the park. It was through this contribution, Rangers fans started to warm to the player and many fans were certainly open to the idea of a permanent move. Unfortunately, the end of the season wasn’t quite as positive. Vuckic’s form dropped off and in our two final play-off defeats against Motherwell, his flaws were all to obvious and the player struggled to affect these vital games as he had previous matches. Despite an excellent return of 9 goals in 16 appearances his loan spell ultimately ended in disappointment as Rangers failed in their promotion attempt.

In June, Mark Warburton took control and Rangers’ style of play completely changed. The team went from playing an awkward blend of direct football to a fast, free-flowing possession game. Over ten new players arrived (including Tavernier, Waghorn and Kiernan from Wigan) and Rangers have started the season very well. Despite this, the club were still linked with Vuckic through August and the player himself was quoted in the Slovenian media as being happy to return to Scotland. However, our new style of play suggested these rumours were never going to come to fruition and the player moved to the Latics as the transfer window earlier closed this week.

To conclude, I’d suggest Wigan have signed a decent player. Vuckic won’t win you games on his own and there were will be periods where he can go missing. However, he’s clearly talented, will create and score goals if used effectively (probably best playing just off another striker in a free role) and will prove a key signing as Wigan attempt to make their way back to the English Championship. A contract extension at Newcastle suggests the North East club still have faith in the lad and I think Rangers fans will also keenly follow his development. Certainly this will be a big year for the lad’s career and only time will tell if he can show the kind of genuine consistency to fulfil his early potential.”

All the best for the new season and thanks for the three lads above who’ve all started well! Amazed we got them so cheaply from you chaps!

 

 

 

Is Caldwell’s squad too young?

Can Gary Caldwell and his coaching staff get the best out of young players like Haris Vuckic?

Walking down the street in the suburbs of Boston with my son and one year old grandson, a stranger asked “Are you from Wigan?” Given the fact that the three of us were wearing Latics shirts the question was perhaps no surprise. But his next comment was. “Do you know they have just signed a guy from Newcastle?”

Coincidentally we had heard of Haris Vuckic’s signing less than five minutes before. This young American who we had bumped into surely knew his stuff – “Looks like a good signing” he said “My name’s Vince by the way. See you around.”

It was more evidence of Wigan Athletic’s global visibility. Eight years in the Premier League and winning the FA Cup helped that to happen. But will Wigan still be a name known on the streets of Massachusetts ten years from now? Can they get back up there with the big boys, within the media spotlight?

Curiously enough the signing of Vuckic could provide the kind of impetus Latics need to meet their more immediate goal, that of getting out of League 1. The big Slovenian has a lot of skill and a rocket shot with his left foot. A leftie was very much needed in an attack laden with right footed players. Moreover Vuckic can play in any role up front or in midfield. He will give Gary Caldwell extra options.

However, Vuckic is 23 years old and has still not established himself at Newcastle, despite being there for seven years. There had been rumors that Newcastle would release him, but they decided to give him a contact extension. Some of the pundits suggested they were doing that so they could sell him. His market value is reported to be around £450,000.

Will Vuckic make it at Wigan? Up to this point his main success has been a loan spell at Rangers, where he made the starting lineup and scored goals on a regular basis. But is the standard in the Scottish Championship akin to that of League 1? One doubts it.

Gary Caldwell and his recruitment team have done a fantastic job in signing no less than twenty new players up to this point. They have also shed players – seven free agents have left, three players have been sent out on season-long loans and nine have been sold at “give away” prices.

But Caldwell suggests that the intake of new players is coming to a close, acknowledging  a massive turnover of players, and that everyone who had wanted to go had gone, together with the exits of those that the club did not want.

The currently active senior squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Richard O’Donnell (26), Lee Nicholls (22), Jussi Jääskeläinen (40)

Full backs/wing backs –  Reece James (21), Jonjoe Kenny (18), Andy Kellett (21), Kevin McNaughton (32).

Centre backs – Leon Barnett (29), Donervon Daniels (21), Jack Hendry (20), Craig Morgan (30), Jason Pearce (27).

Midfielders – Tim Chow (21), Don Cowie (32), Jordan Flores (19), Ryan Jennings (21), Francisco Junior (23), Chris McCann (28), Sean Murray (21), Max Power (21), David Perkins (33).

Attacking players – Craig Davies (29), Will Grigg (24), Jordi Hiwula (20), Grant Holt (34), Michael Jacobs (23), Sanmi Odelusi (22), Haris Vuckic (23).

Of these twenty eight  players no less than sixteen are 23 years old or younger. Only three are in the age range of 24-27 which was put forward as a recruitment guideline by chairman, David Sharpe.

The younger players could be placed into two broad categories – “up and coming” and “not yet achieved their potential”. The old adage tells us that young players need time to develop. Caldwell’s challenge is to develop those young players under the pressure of  the challenge for promotion so actively sought by the chairman.

Haris Vuckic is a typical example in the second category. Will Caldwell and his coaches be able to get the best out of the 23 year old?Or will he fall by the wayside as have so many other young players at the club over the past couple of years?

It appears that Caldwell’s quest for Huddersfield’s James Vaughan is over. Given the player’s history of injury problems it was certainly going to be a gamble. He had already gambled by taking on Craig Davies and Kevin McNaughton, given their injury issues at Bolton last year.

Sadly McNaughton is injured again, together with Don Cowie. Grant Holt continues his rehabiliation from an anterior cruciate knee injury, but will he be able to reach the levels of fitness needed to make his mark this season? Caldwell’s latest headache involves an injury to captain and defensive lynchpin, Craig Morgan, who will be out for 3-4 weeks.

Caldwell will largely depend on his more experienced players, but the younger ones will clearly have a role to play. The question is whether the younger players can mature quickly enough to command regular first team places. For the moment Caldwell is depending on an 18 year old, on-loan right back in Jonjoe Kelly with McNaughton out for a matter of months.

Moreover Caldwell is faced with Kenny’s absence on England under-21 duty for the visit to Chesterfield tomorrow. Tim Chow has played in that position for the development squad, but has only just come back from injury and may not be match fit. Caldwell has already talked about changing the shape for tomorrow, but he will be forced to play a midfield player – possibly Max Power – or a central defender at right back.

Caldwell’s squad is brimming with young players with lots of potential. It is the time of reckoning for the coaching staff at the club. The development of the younger players is largely in their hands and they need to step up to the plate. The demise of the likes of Delort, Forshaw, Kiernan, Tavernier and Taylor-Sinclair last season put the club back when it should have been moving forward. There is a new batch of players of similar ages who must not be allowed to fall between the cracks.

It is the emergence of young players such as Haris Vuckic that can make the difference. But can Caldwell and the coaching staff do it, given the pressure of promotion weighing so heavily upon them?

A Rangers fan’s view of Haris Vučkić

 

Following on from our Rotherham fan’s view on Haris Vučkić we contacted a Rangers fan site for their more recent observations on the player who clearly made an impact in Glasgow.

Thanks to Stewart Franklin of Gersnet Independent Rangers Fansite gersnet.co.uk @GersnetOnline for this in-depth look at the player’s loan spell there in the second part of last season.

When Haris Vuckic signed for Rangers on loan from Newcastle in the January transfer window, it’s safe to say the transfer initially polarised supporter opinion. Although the player’s reputation was impressive enough, conflict between Rangers and Mike Ashley’s Newcastle, meant many Light Blue fans were suspicious of any deal between the clubs – never mind five loan players arriving from the North East.

Vuckic’s first game didn’t help. Although he played reasonably well and scored a fine individual goal, Rangers were beaten 2-1 at home by Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup so the jury remained out. Nevertheless, as the other Newcastle loanees struggled to feature through a combination of injury and illness, Vuckic was able to retain his place in the team going forward. Indeed, a change of manager also improved our form through the rest of the campaign and, it’s fair to say, Vuckic was central to our attempts to achieve promotion back to the Scottish Premiership.

In that sense, the Slovenian not only supplied several excellent goals himself but was a creative force in the side. Mainly featuring in wider positions, Vuckic had the strength and ability to take the ball in and, despite a lack of genuine pace, could beat players in any area of the park. It was through this contribution, Rangers fans started to warm to the player and many fans were certainly open to the idea of a permanent move. Unfortunately, the end of the season wasn’t quite as positive. Vuckic’s form dropped off and in our two final play-off defeats against Motherwell, his flaws were all to obvious and the player struggled to affect these vital games as he had previous matches. Despite an excellent return of 9 goals in 16 appearances his loan spell ultimately ended in disappointment as Rangers failed in their promotion attempt.

In June, Mark Warburton took control and Rangers’ style of play completely changed. The team went from playing an awkward blend of direct football to a fast, free-flowing possession game. Over ten new players arrived (including Tavernier, Waghorn and Kiernan from Wigan) and Rangers have started the season very well. Despite this, the club were still linked with Vuckic through August and the player himself was quoted in the Slovenian media as being happy to return to Scotland. However, our new style of play suggested these rumours were never going to come to fruition and the player moved to the Latics as the transfer window earlier closed this week.

To conclude, I’d suggest Wigan have signed a decent player. Vuckic won’t win you games on his own and there were will be periods where he can go missing. However, he’s clearly talented, will create and score goals if used effectively (probably best playing just off another striker in a free role) and will prove a key signing as Wigan attempt to make their way back to the English Championship. A contract extension at Newcastle suggests the North East club still have faith in the lad and I think Rangers fans will also keenly follow his development. Certainly this will be a big year for the lad’s career and only time will tell if he can show the kind of genuine consistency to fulfil his early potential.”

All the best for the new season and thanks for the three lads above who’ve all started well! Amazed we got them so cheaply from you chaps!