A Bolton fan’s view of Adam Bogdan

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

The 28 year old Hungarian goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan, made his debut for Wigan Athletic at Macclesfield last week, saving a penalty within minutes of coming on to the field. The 6 ft 5 in tall keeper has been signed on a season-long loan deal from Liverpool.

Bogdan was born in Budapest and started his career in his home city for Vasas, one of the country’s foremost clubs. However, it was during a loan period at Vesces, a lower division club from the suburbs that he was spotted by a Bolton scout. He was to sign for Wanderers as a 20 year old in August 2007.  Bogdan went on to spend 8 years at Bolton, making 120 appearances. He was to establish himself as a top class goalkeeper.

In July 2015 Bogdan joined Liverpool on the termination of his contract with Bolton. However, his start at Anfield was less than auspicious. On his Premier League debut for Liverpool in December 2015 he dropped a corner after three minutes, leading to a goal for the opposition, the Reds going on to lose 3-0 to Watford. Then in early January he conceded a goal direct from a corner in an FA Cup tie at Exeter. He had to wait until the final game of the season to reappear in the first team.

More than any other position, goalkeepers tend to be remembered for their mistakes. All keepers make them, but Bogdan made them at Liverpool at inopportune moments. However, the big Hungarian has proved himself to be a top class keeper and he could make an outstanding contribution to Wigan Athletic’s return to the Championship. He has 20 caps for Hungary and would surely have had more if it had not been for his lack of game time at Liverpool.

In order to learn more about Bogdan’s time at Bolton we reached out to Chris Mann of the Burnden Aces fan site http://www.burndenaces.co.uk (Twitter @BurndenAces ). Chris has provided us with some excellent fan views in the past and this one is a good read too.

Here’s over to Chris:

Wigan Athletic completed the season-long loan signing of Adam Bogdan this week. The move may be a little underwhelming, but could serve as the catalyst he needs to get his career back on track.

 After eight years with Bolton, Bogdan departed at the end of his contract last summer and made the mistake of signing for Liverpool.

 Some may question how you could turn down such a move, but he was always going to be second choice at Anfield. Ultimately, a couple of costly mistakes in rare appearances saw him slip down the pecking order.

 It wasn’t just his club career that suffered. Bogdan should have been taking goal for Hungary at this summer’s European Championships, but a lack of game time over the last 12 months saw him left out of the squad entirely. At the end of his career, he may look back and wonder whether his brief time at Liverpool was worth it.

Bogdan moved to Bolton in August 2007, as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. Initially signed to link up with the reserves, Bogdan was way behind Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ali Al Habsi and Ian Walker, but had all the raw ingredients to be a success.

 Years of cup appearances and the occasional league outing followed, before Bogdan got his big chance at the start of 2012 – in a relegation campaign that saw him go on to be voted Player of the Year at the Reebok Stadium.

 Bogdan established himself between the sticks on our return to the Championship, eventually going on to make a total of 120 appearances, having seemingly shaken off the indecisiveness and lack of self-belief that had threatened to halt his progress.

 He remained prone to the occasional error, but was largely consistent and an excellent shot-stopper. An outstanding individual display in an FA Cup tie at Liverpool put watching eyes on him and it wasn’t long until he was on the move to Merseyside.

 12 months on, Bogdan has a point to prove. Gone are ambitions of European football, replaced with cold midweek trips to Burton Albion and Barnsley.

 But if he gets his head in the right place and, crucially, manages to avoid injury, Wigan have signed a goalkeeper that, without any disrespect, should be turning out at bigger and better places on a weekly basis. This should prove to be a very smart deal for Latics.

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CONTEMPLATING LIFE WITHOUT BOB

After the joy and euphoria of recent weeks we are now rocked  by Liverpool’s approach to Roberto Martinez. How can we  contemplate a Wigan Athletic without Bob? What is going to happen if he leaves us for  Liverpool in the next 7 days?

Roberto Martinez came back as club manager in 2008, having been an old favourite of those fans who saw him play 188 matches for Latics from 1995-2001. His assistant was to be  Graeme Jones, who scored 44 goals in 96 appearances for Latics from 1996-1999. Another ex-Latics icon – Graham Barrow – was brought in as  coach. Barrow scored 35 goals in 179 appearances for Wigan Athletic from 1981-1986, not bad for a defensive midfield player. He later came back as manager in 1994-95, saving Latics from relegation to the Football Conference.  If you look at the backroom staff at the club you will find the names of other familiar names from yesteryear. Alex Cribley –  club physiotherapist – made 268 appearances for us in the 1980s and has been at the club for 30 years . We even have an executive manager, Jonathan Jackson, whose father was a great servant for the club at board level.

That all these people with strong previous associations  with the club are on the payroll is no coincidence. It is part of a concerted effort to recruit people who love the club. Roberto Martinez has been the orchestrator, melding together his staff to provide an infrastructure for the future. The model is not unlike that of Liverpool in the 1980’s when Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan moved up from the “bootroom” staff to take over the club after the departure of Bill Shankly. It was an incredibly successful model. Paisley won 6 league titles and 3 European Cups during his 9 years as manager.

Roberto Martinez might be offered the Liverpool job this week. If he does he might well take it. No Latics fan would begrudge him such an opportunity. Liverpool FC is not the club it was in the 1980s but its fans still often have unrealistically high expectations. Not an easy place to work, especially if John W. Henry wants instant success. Henry took over as principal owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in 2002. They won the coveted World Series in 2004. It is unlikely that Roberto Martinez – or any other manager – could perform a parallel feat at Liverpool FC in two years, given the squad of players currently at the club. What Martinez would do is build for the future and have the team play aesthetically pleasing football, something Liverpool have not been able to do for some time.

If the Liverpool thing does not work out – and we Latics fans have to admit we hope it doesn’t – we will probably have Martinez for another year. The problem is that the more success Wigan Athletic have under his direction, the more likely it is that he will be poached away by another club. We therefore need to think ahead. Are there people on the “bootroom” staff who are capable of replacing him? The obvious candidate is Graeme Jones, but we seldom get a glimpse of him through the media. Does he lack eloquence or is it that Martinez is a control freak and likes to deal with the media? Eric Black was a very well-spoken assistant to Steve Bruce and we saw more of him. If Martinez did move would he take Jones with him? Graham Barrow remains a capable force within the club and might even be a candidate. After the Heysel disaster in 1985 Kenny Dalglish took over as Liverpool player-manager, going on to win three league titles. Would it be within the realms of possibility that Gary Caldwell could perform that same dual role for Latics?

So let’s think ahead. Roberto Martinez will leave sometime, whether it be during the next week or the next year. He has built an infrastructure that we need to keep. If he were to leave he should not be allowed to take away key members of our coaching and backroom staff. The players he has recruited now know how to play the kind of champagne football we could not have dreamed about three years ago when he took over. We also have a tactical formation that really suits the players we have. We do not want a new manager to come in and put us back to square one. Let’s not revert to the physical, long-ball stuff that characterized Steve Bruce’s teams. Very few managers in England could step into this situation and build on what we already have. Only Swansea and Brighton come to mind as teams that play our style of football. Brendan Rodgers has done a great job at Swansea because he has built on the structure that Martinez provided during his time in Wales. Like Martinez he is now in the shop window, with the big clubs admiring the kind of football his team are playing. Gus Poyet has done a fantastic job in bringing Brighton to midway up the Championship playing our kind of football. He might well be a possibility for Latics.

Let’s hope that Roberto Martinez does not go to Liverpool and stays with us at least one more year. It is an exciting prospect! If he does go then we need to make the right appointment. Let’s not bring in somebody who tears apart the coaching and backroom staff to bring in his own men. We don’t need upheaval, we need continuity. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to keep it rolling. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Liverpool 1 Wigan Athletic 2: Captain Caldwell stars as Latics claim historic win

Wigan’s strong run of recent form finally yielded the three point return it deserved on Saturday, in the least likely of places, and from the least likely of sources. Captain Gary Caldwell was the hero with the sort of poacher’s finish Anfield-goers came to expect of Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen. Indeed, everyone looked a bit bemused when the Scot recovered from the initial shock of finding himself with the ball in the box to turn Andy Carroll the wrong way and coolly slot past Pepe Reina. The Scot epitomizes the the determination and grit that has been on display in the club’s recent matches and his strike was well worthy of its place in the history books.

Earlier in the game, his compatriot Shaun Maloney had put Wigan 1-0 up from the penalty spot. Martin Skrtel, a bad choice for a babysitter, thwacked Victor Moses across the chest and face as he was trying to head a looping Gary Caldwell ball over Pepe Reina. It was clearly a penalty, but the type of decision Wigan too frequently don’t get awarded away against the big boys. Maloney took his opportunity perfectly, blasting low and left to claim his first goal for the club.

Moses, meanwhile, spent about 10 minutes on the sidelines, concussed, before it was determined he would not return. Reduced to ten men, Latics were forced to weather some Liverpool pressure, with Ali Al-Habsi making two fantastic saves from Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard to keep things even before Albert Crusat was introduced to make numbers even again.

Kenny Dalglish must have done a fair bit of shouting in the dressing room at half time because Liverpool returned with urgency and dynamism. The second half had hardly gotten under way when good link-up play between Suarez and Gerrard led to an equalizer. Gerrard was in acres of space on the left when he squared for Suarez, who deposited the ball neatly into the same corner of the net Maloney had minutes earlier. Latics were shaken, and a pivotal moment would soon follow.

Suarez wriggled past Figueroa on the right wing, the Honduran tugged him back, earning a yellow card for his troubles. Steven Gerrard whipped in a trademark far post cross, which Martin Skrtel headed into the ground, over Al-Habsi, toward the Wigan goal. Luis Suarez ploughed into Gary Caldwell, ramming his knees into the Scot’s chest, and appeared to use his arm to send the ball across the line. Caldwell hit the ground, the ball went into the back of the net, and Liverpool celebrated. After a good 15 seconds of celebration, referee Lee Mason called the goal back, booking Suarez in the process.

The decision, once again, was clearly correct, but one suspects it might have gone differently at Old Trafford. The incident killed Liverpool’s momentum and let Wigan back into the match. Having struggled for possession in the second half, Martinez gambled by removing Jean Beausejour and introducing Ben Watson, changed the team’s shape to his more traditional 4-5-1. The tactical rethink was immediately effective, with Latics controlling possession for a sustained period before Caldwell struck the winner. It worked so well, in fact, that Latics went closer to a third through Conor Sammon, after a terrific diagonal through ball from Maloney, than Liverpool went to an equalizer.

Ali Al-Habsi was called to attention once or twice more but looked sharp. Exciting 17-year-old Raheem Sterling and his pace was a bright note for Liverpool but Wigan held on for three points of gold.

The Good:

The result, and the confidence and belief that should follow it. There was some sloppy passing in the first half, a backs-to-the-wall sequence at the start of the second half, but the defending was generally solid and four clear cut goal-scoring opportunities were created.

The Scots. Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell scored the goals and enjoyed strong performances. But James McArthur and James McCarthy (almost/arguably Scottish) have been instrumental to the Wigan revival of late. Their work ethic is second to none. Even Maloney, more of a flair player, showed he is willing to get stuck in with a lunging tackle in the build-up to the first goal.

The Bad:

Victor Moses’ selfish streak. Again, when presented with the opportunity to lay the ball off to a teammate for a tap-in, he decided to go it alone. That said — lets hope he recovers after his concussion,  there were no fractures or lasting effects, and we see him back on the pitch next week.

Conclusions:

Having spent the previous weekend peppering Ben Foster and West Brom’s goalposts only to emerge with a single point, this was a deeply satisfying reversal in which Latics converted two of their four  chances, were composed and solid in the lead, and came closer to a third than Liverpool did to an equalizer. Wins like this instill real belief in players. We’ve now only lost one in seven, and it shows. Jean Beausejour is starting to show tricks down the left wing. Shaun Maloney looks fitter. James McCarthy has started shooting again. Gary Caldwell scored a goal with his feet! These are all signs that our players are starting to believe, to regain their confidence. It is a shame, in a way, that the Stoke match is next, given the club’s historical difficulty winning two games in a row. Another huge match beckons.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 8 — Made two or three top class saves to keep the Latics in the lead. Such an agile shot stopper, a pleasure to watch.

Antolin Alcaraz: 8 — Strong, solid, coped well.

Gary Caldwell: 9 — Another excellent performance, capped off with an unlikely goal none of us will forget anytime soon.

Maynor Figueroa: 6 — Struggled with Suarez. The goal came down his side, although not his fault entirely. He gave away the free-kick that led to the disallowed second goal.

Emmerson Boyce: 7 — Decent, hard-working shift down the right.

Jean Beausejour: 7 — Very neat footwork, looked confident but only had the chance to deliver two or three crosses. Substituted in the second half to allow for tactical re-shape.

James McArthur: 7 — I wouldn’t like to play against him, he’s like the energizer bunny, only tougher.

James McCarthy: 8 — See James McArthur, but gets an extra point for one or two lovely positive attacking passes.

Shaun Maloney: 8 — Took his penalty expertly, created a clear chance for Conor Sammon late on, neat with his passing. A breath of fresh air.

Victor Moses: 7 — Created and then missed a chance in the opening minutes, when he could have easily laid the ball off. Fouled and injured for the penalty. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Franco Di Santo: 7 — The lad doesn’t score many goals but you have to appreciate his work rate and sacrifice. Often isolated, he ran his socks off for the cause.

Subs:

Albert Crusat: 7 — Not much opportunity to show his attacking skill, and out of position for large chunks of time on the right, he tracked back dutifully and didn’t waste the ball.

Ben Watson: 8 — His introduction saw Latics regain possession. Nice to see him back.

Conor Sammon: n/a — Not on the pitch very long. Had a chance late on. Hard to say that he “missed it” but “might have done better”.

Better late than never: a look back at Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd results

Having found ourselves internet-less during the festive period, we look back on two of the best performances of the season, and another the standard treatment from an intimidated referee at Old Trafford. Overall, a pleasing festive period during which Roberto’s team has started to show its real potential.

Wigan Athletic 1 Chelsea 1

The home side were more than a match for Chelsea, who had strung several wins together before this fixture. Daniel Sturridge scored a beautifully taken goal early in the second half against the run of play, but Latics persistence paid off when Petr Cech fumbled Rodallega’s shot straight to Jordi Gomez for the equalizer.

The Good:

The entire performance, but special mention to the tackling in midfield, defensive solidity, and Jordi for being in the right place at the right time at the end of a very tiring match.

The Bad:

Shame it couldn’t have been three points.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 7; Antolin Alcaraz: 8.5; Gary Caldwell: 8; Maynor Figueroa: 8; Ronnie Stam: 7; Dave Jones: 7; James McCarthy: 8.8; Mo Diame: 7; Jordi Gomez: 7; Victor Moses: 8; Conor Sammon: 6

Wigan Athletic 0 Liverpool 0

After surviving an early period of intense pressure, Latics were unlucky not to take the lead. Ali Al-Habsi proved the savior with a penalty stop, but both teams might have gotten on the scoresheet in an exciting match.

The Good:

Jordi Gomez and Victor Moses looked absolute quality against a very good team. Sure, Liverpool played an attacking game, allowing them a bit more space on the break. But in their very different styles, they were outstanding. Maynor Figueroa put in an excellent defensive performance but also managed to get forward with some dangerous shooting. Ali Al-Habsi takes man of the match for his well earned clean sheet and penalty save.

The Bad:

Dave Jones is an excellent footballer, but not a left wing back. Time and time again, he was beaten for pace. Got better as the match went on, but surely Patrick Van Aanholt — so exciting when he made his first appearance against Everton back in autumn — will be considered for this position sooner than later.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 9; Antonlin Alcaraz: 7.5; Gary Caldwell: 7.5; Maynor Figueroa: 8.5; Ronnie Stam: 8; Dave Jones: 6; James McCarthy: 8; Mo Diame: 8; Jordi Gomez: 8; Victor Moses: 8; Conor Sammon: 7

Manchester United 5 Wigan Athletic 0

Park Ji-Sung gave United an early lead after Patrice Evra skipped through Latics defense in the opening minutes of the game. Wigan passed the ball well, however, and went close through a couple excellent Ronnie Stam crosses before Conor Sammon was inexplicably sent off for colliding with Michael Carrick. The FA would later rescind the suspension, but that damage in this game was done. Berbatov went on to score a hat-trick, Phil Dowd would award a penalty for a foul that occurred outside the box, and the game would finish 5-0.

The Good:

Ronnie Stam’s crossing when the game was still 11 vs. 11. He delivered three or four delicious crosses from the right wing that had Hugo Rodallega’s name all over them. Unfortunately, Hugo was not on the field and Conor Sammon was unable to make contact.

The Bad:

Unlike the previous two matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, Latics’ midfield pressure was absent, and they let United play. Once again the team was afraid of United, which is a shame, because both Chelsea and Liverpool had fielded stronger lineups against us. Conor Sammon should never have been sent off but would likely have been substituted anyway. He will always endear himself to the Latics faithful with his hard-working displays, but he appears to need an extra touch to get his shot away, and does not look comfortable attacking Stam’s crosses with his head. That said, it was the referee that killed this tie.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 6; Antolin Alcaraz: 6; Gary Caldwell: 6; Maynor Figueroa: 7; Ronnie Stam: 7; Dave Jones: 6; James McCarthy: 6; Mo Diame: 6; Jordi Gomez: 6; Victor Moses: 7; Conor Sammon: 5 (Franco Di Santo: 5)