Fan views – Part 4: Reece James and Craig Morgan

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 Wildschut and Jordy Hiwula.

Click here for our previous fan views on Andy Kellett and Haris Vuckic.

Click here for our previous fan views on Will Grigg and Craig Davies.

 

A Huddersfield fan’s view of Reece James.

jAMES3

Written by: Marko (Twitter @marko2807) is a Huddersfield Town SC holder & ATT Town Fans Panel Member and Matthew (Twitter @mtthwrks).

Published: July 30, 2015.

 

The 21 year old Reece James joined Wigan Athletic just over a week ago on a three year contract for a fee of around £1million. Within a couple of days he was to play his first game for his new club, playing at left wing back in the pre-season game at Dens Park, Dundee.

James had arrived at Wigan with a good reputation and his display in Dundee did not disappoint. In fact he was arguably Latics’ best player that day, being a constant threat to the home team, showing a fine technique and putting over quality crosses and corner kicks.

The 5 ft 11 12 in tall James was born in Bacup and began his football career just five miles away at Rossendale United as a youth player. He enjoyed brief spells at Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers before joining Manchester United as an 18 year old in July 2012. He went to Carlisle United on loan in summer 2013, but returned to United in September due to injury. He was to be one of the outstanding performers for their under 21 team that season. He made his senior team debut in July 2014, scoring two goals in a 7-0 victory over Los Angeles Galaxy.

In November 2014 James went to Rotherham on loan, making 8 appearances before returning in late January. In late March 2015 he joined Huddersfield Town on loan and played with them until the end of the season, making 6 appearances and scoring a goal directly from a corner against Derby County.

In order to find out more about James’ time at Huddersfield we contacted a couple of Terriers’ fans.

Here’s over to Marko (Twitter @marko2807):

Huddersfield Manager Chris Powell swooped for the loan signing of Reece James from Manchester United following the long term injury to season long loanee from QPR Jack Robinson. Robinson who suffered a serious knee injury after steadily growing into a very competent full back left a big hole in the Town back line which was already known for shipping too many goals.  Powell tried in house to fill the gap but soon brought in James on loan until the end of the season as it became evident following Robinsons injury and Paul Dixons return to Scotland, that was a problem position for us.

 Being brought up through the United academy, you would always expect players to be of a certain level and James was no different.  This was James third loan spell after previously making just one senior appearance for Carlisle in 2013 before a 7 game spell at Rotherham.  

James made just 6 appearances for the Terriers, scoring one goal,  but made a very favourable impression. With no recognised first choice left back, many Town fans assumed that the club would go in for James either on a season long loan or a permanent transfer.

 It’s unclear if Town did make enquiries into the possibility of a return for him but then instead swooped for Australian world cup star Jayson Davidson from West Brom.  Whilst being pleased with the signing of Davidson however It was met with some surprise by many fans that James made a move down the divisions into League one when it’s clear that he is more than capable of playing at a higher level. 

Perhaps the lure of bigger wages enabled from the continuation of the rather unfair parachute payments was the case but either way, in my view, Wigan have signed an excellent young footballer who will only get better and should really shine in League One.

 I for one will be watching with interest at how he progresses. 

 Here’s over to Matthew (Twitter @mtthwrks).

It’s quite difficult to go into enormous depth as he only made 6 appearances towards the back end of last season after an injury to previous loanee Jack Robinson, but from what Town fans saw in just 540 minutes of football, the vast majority were impressed.

He seemed to be quite an attacking minded full-back, but in contrast to your modern day “attacking full-backs”, was more than capable of doing his defensive duties. It was evident to Town fans he was schooled at Manchester United and, albeit only a brief stint, we had our first decent left-back in years!

He takes a good set-piece, particularly corners. In fact, he actually scored directly from a corner in Town’s 4-4 draw with Derby, his first and only current senior goal.

What to expect? Not goals. But you can expect 100% commitment, tidy deliveries into the box from the left side and a pretty complete young full-back.

Put it this way, there wasn’t a Huddersfield Town fan about that wasn’t disappointed when hearing we weren’t going to be in for him.

Furthermore, there were a lot of shocked fans about when hearing he’d be playing in League One next season, as he’s more than capable of playing regular Championship football. Best of luck to him!

 

 

A Rotherham fan’s view of Craig Morgan.

 

Morgan

 

Written by: It’s Millers Time (Twitter @millerstimerufc)

Published: July 31, 2015.

 

 

Craig Morgan was Gary Caldwell’s third signing some six weeks ago, following on from David Perkins and Richard O’Donnell. At the time Caldwell commented that:

“He has great experience, having played internationally, but he also knows the division inside out. He is a quality defender, a real leader on the pitch who has been a captain, with a superb attitude and we are delighted to have him on board.”

Morgan surely knows League 1 well – moreover he was part of teams that gained back to back promotions to the Championship division with both Peterborough United and Rotherham United.

The 30 year old Welshman was born in Flint and began his footballing career some 15 miles away at Wrexham, making

his debut for them as a 16 year old. He was to play for the Welsh club for three years before allowing his contract to run down after 52 appearances.

In summer 2005 he joined MK Dons and made 47 appearances that season. He made his debut for Wales in October 2006, but a week later he re-joined Wrexham on a one month loan, making two appearances before being sent out on loan to Peterborough United at the end of November.

The initial loan turned into a permanent transfer in January 2007. He was to make 41 appearances in the 2007-08 season when the Posh won promotion to League 1. At the beginning of the 2008-09 season Morgan was made captain at the age of 23. The Posh finished runners up to Leicester City, gaining promotion to the Championship.

Morgan went on to make 125 appearances for them in three and a half seasons, before Preston North End paid £400,000 for him to rejoin his former Peterborough manager, Darren Ferguson. A few months later Ferguson was sacked and replaced by Phil Brown, Preston being subsequently relegated to League 1 at the end of the season. Morgan’s contract at Preston was cancelled by mutual consent on the transfer deadline at the end of August 2012. He had made 50 appearances.

Morgan joined Rotherham United and they gained promotion to League 1 in that 2012-13 season. The following season Morgan was made captain, with them beating Leyton Orient in the League 1 playoff final. Morgan continued to captain the side as the Millers managed to stay in the Championship last season. Despite having an offer of a new contract from Rotherham he chose to join Latics, turning down an approach from Bolton Wanderers.

On joining Latics Morgan said:

“The changeover of the chairman and the manager last season seems to have given the club a fresh start for this new season. The club hit a very low point last season, but the only way is north for us and that’s why I was excited about coming here. I played here at the start of the year for Rotherham. It’s a good place to play football and it’s in desperate need of having the feelgood factor restored to it.”

Morgan had made 83 appearances for  Rotherham. He has 23 caps for Wales.

In order to learn more about Morgan’s time at Rotherham we contacted fan site It’s Millers Time (Twitter @millerstimerufc)

Here’s over to them:

Craig Morgan will be the perfect signing for Wigan in League One.

 A leader by example, Morgan has plenty of experience of winning promotion in that division and will be a focal point of the defence.

 He’ll win his headers, he’ll make his clearances and be strong in challenges. He is also comfortable in possession and is not a hoof merchant.

 One thing he does lack his pace, but he makes up for it with his positional sense. He could also be better in the opposition box as he does not provide much threat from set-pieces.

 

 

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Does Rosler want promotion this season?

Uwe Rösler. Thanks to Beesotted Brentford for photo.

Another defeat to a mediocre team, say the cynics. They say that Latics don’t really want promotion this year – they are not ready. Give it another year and Rosler will have his own players playing in the style he seeks. Better to build up a nucleus of players who can serve us for years to come.

The 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield has opened up old wounds. Uwe Rosler’s honeymoon period at the club is nearing its end. Around 1,500 supporters made the trip across the Pennines yesterday in foul weather, but many must have come back disgruntled. The German’s team selection was puzzling.  Most people had expected him to play the wing duo of Callum McManaman and James McClean, but it was to be Martyn Waghorn and Jean Beausejour. Moreover with the wind behind them in the first half Latics did not utilize it to the same degree that Huddersfield were to in the second half.

But this was only Latics’ second league defeat in ten games since Rosler arrived, during which they have amassed 18 points. If they continue at that rate until the end of the season they will equal the 72 attained by Crystal Palace last year to reach sixth place and to go on to win the play-offs. In the two years prior to that the sixth place gathered 75 points. Wigan currently have 40 points from 28 matches. Rosler has mentioned the need to average 2 points per game. Were Latics to be able to do that until the end of the season it would leave them with 76 points.

There are fans who do not want Wigan Athletic to go up this season or next. They have seen Latics struggle to survive in the ‘Greed League’, year after year, against the odds. Seeing your team lose 9-1 and 8-0 can be depressing, as can having to sell your best players to keep financially afloat. The more senior of those fans might even remember the non-league days and the excitement of getting into the Football League in 1978. They have seen the club come so far but no longer yearn for higher things. Some talk of Latics having a slot in the lower divisions, playing against more humble opposition, but at least on an even keel.

But then again Wigan Athletic have a firm fan base of younger people who had known nothing but Premier League football until relegation last May. They want to see teams like Arsenal and Manchester United come to Wigan with their superstar players.  The sooner Latics get back into the Premier League the better for most young fans.

When a new manager comes in he tends to bring in his own players. Rosler brought in four loan signings and another on a short term contract over the January transfer window. It looks like Tyias Browning, signed on a one month loan, is going back to Everton.  Rosler will be hoping to get ex-Rochdale player Craig Dawson from West Bromwich Albion, as another loan signing over the coming week, which would be much to the chagrin of Bolton fans.  Dawson clearly made a very positive impression when playing at the Reebok last season. Rosler has not been afraid to give new loanees Nicky Maynard, Josh McEachran and Martyn Waghorn playing time. He could not include new signing Markus Holgersson in the squad for yesterday’s match because of illness.

There are fans who are less than impressed with Rosler’s signings and foresee the departure of more Martinez men in summer. They are not convinced that Rosler is making a serious push for promotion, not having brought in a high profile central striker during the transfer window. Latics just cannot convert enough chances into goals. Maynard is still trying to get back to fitness after a serious knee injury. Waghorn is being released by rivals Leicester when his contract expires in summer. Neither seems to fit the bill. These fans foresee losing technically gifted players from the Martinez era and them being replaced by players of inferior technique, with little or no Premier League experience.  Many of the players brought in by Owen Coyle are not good enough for the Premier League, but will be staying.

Rosler fans say he is looking for players with the right attitude who will fit into his style of play. Too many of the Martinez men did not have the right attitude and the struggles they went through in the Premier League left them with a losers mentality. Rosler is initially signing players on loan, but with a view towards signing them permanently if they fit the part. Too many times over the years the club paid big money for players who were not to succeed. The high tempo style that Rosler has in mind is very appealing. Seeing Brentford currently topping League 1 is a testament to the firm foundation the German left behind there.

Rosler is clearly hedging his bets. When he arrived at Wigan the club was in the lower part of the league table with a record of W6 D4 L8. They are now sitting in mid-table, having won more matches than they have lost. Like Coyle he has had to deal with fixture congestion and has regularly rotated his squad. He is not afraid to try different tactical formations and require the players to adjust accordingly. More than anything else he has eschewed the long-ball tactics of his predecessor and brought the concept of good football back to Wigan.

Rosler will be hoping that Latics can gradually ease their way into a play-off spot, knowing that time is tight and it is going to be difficult for his new players to settle in to the club and his style of play in a short period. If he does succeed in winning promotion this season he will be in a position to persuade players whose contracts are at an end, to stay on at the club with Premier League salaries. Moreover he can consider offering permanent contracts to loanees who have impressed.

If promotion does not happen this season Rosler will have nevertheless instilled a style of play upon those who remain after a considerable summer exodus. Prized assets will be sold off, but with Dave Whelan’s support, the funds will be reinvested into bargain buys.

Rosler is certainly looking at a return to the Premier League for Wigan Athletic. The question is whether it will be this season or the next.

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Jordi to start at Huddersfield?

Thanks to the Sun for the photo

Thanks to the Sun for the photo

Jordi Gomez is a footballer whose playing style can drive people to the extremes of both ecstasy and despair. Never before has a Wigan Athletic player polarized public opinion in the way he does.

Following his sumptuous free kick against Charlton his name has been bandied about the social media and fan forums. That last gasp goal really was something special, as were his celebrations following it. For once the neutrals who have reserved their judgement on the 28 year old Catalan are starting to openly praise him as Latics’ most skilful player.

What a turnaround for the man whose exit from the pitch was so loudly cheered in the home match against Rubin Kazan. Suddenly fans are realizing that Gomez’s contract expires at the end of the season. There are rumours of him going to the Major League soccer in the United States. Is it a case of realizing a player’s worth when it is too late?

Many of us thought that this might be Gomez’s best season at Wigan. He excelled in Swansea’s team when he played in the Championship before in 2008-09, getting 12 goals and 5 assists in 38 starts. The Championship just seems the best place for him to perform.

The speed and anticipation of Premier League midfields and defences made it difficult for him to stamp his mark on matches. He made a total of 61 starts in the Premier League with 35 appearances off the bench, scoring 10 goals. However, he made only 3 assists. Contrast that to the player’s performances in cup ties last year (FA and League cups) where in 9 starts and one appearance as a substitute he scored 5 goals and made 4 assists. The assist he made for Callum McManaman in the FA Cup Semi Final is the one that Latics fans will remember for years to come.

The arrival of Owen Coyle and his ‘’direct” approach to football was not to bring the best out of Gomez. Neither does he command a regular place in the team under Uwe Rosler. Up to this point he has started in 10 Championship matches, with 7 appearances off the bench, scoring four goals and making one assist.

Following that match winning goal last weekend there are many fans who feel Gomez should start in today’s game at Huddersfield. Although there are those who would argue that the player is more effective as an impact substitute, a “supersub”.

In order to play Gomez today Rosler would have to consider breaking up his preferred midfield trio of James McArthur, Chris McCann and Ben Watson. His other option would be to play with one wide player and play Gomez in a more advanced role.

In an interview this week Rosler said that he was actually planning to start Gomez in the Charlton game, but changed his mind at the last minute, expecting the game to be scrappy.

It will be interesting to see if Gomez starts today. If he does he can expect a much warmer welcome from the traveling Latics fans than he could have expected a couple of months ago.

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Huddersfield Preview

McManaman

Callum McManaman slots home in the 4-1 FA Cup win over Huddersfield in February.

It seems like more than nine months ago since Wigan Athletic demolished Huddersfield Town in a fifth round FA Cup tie at the Galpharm Stadium. Callum McManaman was the star for Wigan, repeatedly ripping open the Terriers’ defence in a 4-1 win.

How times have changed. Latics were then a Premier League team, a class above opponents who were languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship.

So far this season Wigan Athletic have outclassed only one team, a woeful Barnsley in the first competitive match under Owen Coyle.

But the good news  is that the Wigan defence is getting stronger and not throwing away goals like it did in the Martinez era. The goalless draws at Charlton and at home to Queens Park Rangers are an indication that Latics can become a ‘mean machine’ capable of grinding out results.

There is certainly no shortage of effort and commitment from the current  Latics side.  They are now physically imposing, with height in defence, less likely to give away soft goals from aerial set pieces than they were even a couple of months ago.

Latics remain unbeaten at home, largely down to their resilience. They trailed to both Doncaster and Middlesbrough in their first two home games, but came back with late goals to secure draws. The subsequent wins over Nottingham Forest, Ipswich and Blackburn were gained through hard work and determination. The bore draw with QPR was not one for the spectator to enjoy, but Latics showed that same resilience. In previous times they might well have come away without any points in such a match.

Huddersfield currently lie a point above Wigan, but their away record is not good – W1 D2 L3. Moreover they are without top scorer James Vaughan, who is suspended.

Despite the FA Cup win last year, Latics have a poor record against the Terriers. In league matches over the years they have a home record of W6 D1 L5 against the Yorkshire team, but Latics’ away record against them  is W0 D5 L5.

Owen Coyle believes that Latics are close to fulfilling their potential. He commented this week that “We know that if we keep knocking on the door it will fly open and someone will be on the end of three or four goals. There’s so much more still to come from this team, players to come back from injury and money to be spent come January.”

Coyle will once again have to rotate his squad.

Having started in three consecutive games in less than a week, Emmerson Boyce is due for a rest. Ryan Shotton will probably move over to the right back position, with Thomas Rogne returning in the centre of defence.  Chris McCann has silenced his critics with an excellent trio of displays in central midfield, but is likely to find himself rested with Ben Watson coming back in.

Nick Powell and Leon Barnett too have started in those three games, but both seem to get included in the starting lineup despite the physical demands they might face. Both have become key players.

Marc Albrighton could well make his debut on the right flank and Jean Beausejour is due to return on the left.  Marc-Antoine Fortune will probably take over from the out of form Grant Holt at centre forward. However, Holt might well be used as an impact substitute later in the game.

Were Latics to really click and win this match in style and by a clear margin it could be the turning point that Coyle seeks.  Latics fans have been patient up to this point, but the time has come for a convincing display to reward them for their loyalty and support.

Maybe this will be the game in which the team will show what it is capable of.

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