Waggy helps out the unbending Mackay

Is Martyn Waghorn back in from the cold?

Is Martyn Waghorn back in from the cold?

“Martyn showed what forwards are for, they’re there to score goals.”

The words of Malky Mackay after Martyn Waghorn’s spectacular late equalizer saved a point against a poor Bolton side.

Mackay will win some journalistic praise for an inspired substitution. After all it helped Wigan share the points when it looked like the opportunity had passed.

But the truth is less palatable.

Mackay frequently shoots himself in the foot, not only in his team selections, but also with what he says to the media. This was another example.

Once more Mackay started the game with a striker who is way short of his best form and another who cannot score goals.

Despite Leon Clarke’s poor performance against Watford the big man retained his place. Inconsistency has dogged Clarke throughout his frustrating career. Although he has genuine physical presence and can score goals, his record should be enough to tell Mackay that he is not a man to rely on for goals on a regular basis. At 30 years of age he has been the ultimate journeyman. His history shows him joining new clubs but soon being sent out on loan. Clarke is now in his 11th loan period at a club, after Wolves manager Kenny Jackett decided he did not need him for his promotion push.

At his best Clarke can play the bustling centre forward role with distinction, as he did for Coventry City in 2012-13 when he scored 23 goals in 34 appearances for the League 1 team. The other side of the coin is a player who appears languid and disinterested, too often caught offside, at odds with management.

What is in Mackay’s head when he makes quotes like the one above? Even the most supportive of fans would have to ask him why he continues to play Marc-Antoine Fortune upfront. Is MAF there to score goals? If goalscoring is what forwards are for then the French Guianan should surely not be playing there.

Martyn Waghorn’s reaction to his goal might well have sent a message to Mackay. Since the Scot’s arrival Waghorn’s main role has been that of a bench warmer. He has not been given a single start despite his proven ability to score goals at Championship level. Given the woeful lack of fire power in the Wigan attack Mackay’s unbending approach and loyalty to some players at the expense of others gives great cause for concern.

Do divisions still remain within the camp? Once again Mackay named a lineup that did not have a single player in it who was signed by Uwe Rosler. William Kvist – perhaps Rosler’s most successful signing – remained on the bench until the 78th minute when he came on for Emmerson Boyce. Boyce is an icon, a hero of the heights that the club reached in the Premier League era. At his peak he could match many of the best right backs in the country. But now his speed has gone and it leaves him defensively vulnerable. Kvist should have been on from the start with James Perch playing at right back.

Waghorn was Rosler’s first permanent signing at the club. He was an integral part of a team that finished in 5th place last season. Waghorn does not have the height of Clarke or Fortune, neither is he particularly fast. However, he has a great left foot and has the ability to be in the right place at the right time in the penalty box. Last season his excellent delivery from corner kicks caused problems for opposition defences, something that has been lacking in Mackay’s Wigan teams.

Last week Mackay shot himself in the foot with what was perhaps a Freudian slip saying:

“We’ve managed to bring in another couple this week, young Jerome for a little bit of experience and Josh, who showed his potential in the second half against Watford”.

His signing of Jerome Sinclair in particular raised the eyebrows of many fans. Some welcomed the arrival of a young talent from Liverpool with a fine goalscoring record at youth and development squad levels. Sinclair made an inauspicious debut against Watford, coming on in the 82nd minute. He did not make the bench yesterday.

Sinclair’s signing must have sent shock waves in the direction of both Waghorn and Billy Mckay. The Scot did actually get a place on the bench, but Waghorn was totally omitted.

But the larger question remains as to why, with just 9 matches left and with League 1 getting closer and closer, Mackay wanted to give experience to an 18 year old Liverpool player who had played just 9 minutes of first team football, that being almost two years ago.

Liverpool must be delighted in Mackay giving their youngsters an opportunity for first team football. Since his first appearance against Bournemouth on February 7th the 17 year old Sheyi Ojo has now played in 10 matches, including 5 in the starting lineup.

Although clearly a talented player Ojo has not surprisingly struggled to assert himself against rugged Championship defences. He might well produce some match-winning magic before the end of the season, but he is there at the expense of other players.

Martyn Waghorn was largely used in wide positions by Uwe Rosler. Moreover Mackay talks of the talent in his development squad, but has still not given any of them first team experience, apart from warming the bench. The bottom line is that Mackay is concentrating on young developing players from other clubs rather than his own.

Josh Murphy got his debut yesterday and might well be a regular feature in the upcoming matches. Despite his two superb free kicks at Rotherham, Jermaine Pennant is way past his sell-by date. He has started in 7 games so far and has not managed the full 90 in any of them. In fact he longest he has lasted has been 77 minutes and 84 minutes in his first two appearances. He went off after 66 minutes yesterday and 54 minutes in midweek.

Murphy is only 20 years old, more mature than Sinclair or Ojo, but sadly lacking in prior experience at senior level. He started in only one league game for Norwich this season. In fact most of his experience this season and last has been off the bench. Like Liverpool, Norwich must also be delighted that Latics are giving their young player invaluable first team experience.

To a large degree Mackay’s use of the loan market has been necessary. Losing 13 players in January left a big hole in the squad. However, bringing in young loanees with no real first team experience when relegation threatens smacks of desperation or trying to appease other clubs.

Moreover the young loanees have been brought in at the expense of players on long term contracts at the club who have been starved of first team opportunities, let alone the youngsters who have come through the club’s own academy.

Let us hope that Malky Mackay is not as unbending as he appears.

James McClean will return from suspension for the next game at Middlesbrough on April 3rd. Played on the left wing he could have a major role to play in keeping Latics afloat. But one has a sneaking suspicion that Mackay will once again play him in a striking role.

On the positive front Mackay has built a team with much more solidity in defence. However, his doggedness in persisting with a strike force impotent in its delivery could cost Latics their place in the division if it continues.

One hopes that Martyn Waghorn made a point with his brilliantly executed goal yesterday. The question is whether Mackay is willing to open his eyes, see the faults in his planning and take steps to rectify them.

Or is he going to be unbending?

 

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Sinclair to face Watford

Jerome Sinclair. Photo courtesy of Daily Telegraph.

Jerome Sinclair. Photo courtesy of Daily Telegraph.

The rumours have been circulating for days and must have been unsettling for at least a couple of members of the Wigan Athletic squad. With just nine games left in the season, Jerome Sinclair has signed for Wigan Athletic.

Sinclair is an 18 year old forward who has made one appearance in the Liverpool first team. That was in September 2012 when he came on as a substitute in a League Cup tie at West Bromwich, where coincidentally he had learned his early football under their youth academy. He was just 16 years and 6 days old at the time and holds the record of being Liverpool’s youngest-ever player.

Sinclair missed much of last season through injury, but has scored 24 goals at youth and under 21 levels this season.

Although Sinclair is highly rated at Liverpool, many Latics fans are already questioning the acquisition of such a young and inexperienced player so close to the end of the season, giving him little time to settle in with his teammates and the style of play.

Mackay had publicly stated that he was looking at the loan market for a player who could get on the end of those loose balls in the opposition penalty box. He clearly believes that the 18 year old might be that person.

In the meantime both Billy Mckay and Martyn Waghorn will surely be thinking their days at Wigan are numbered. McKay was only signed at the end of January, but has since not made a single start. Last week a seemingly crazy rumour was flying around about Waghorn going on loan to another club. Given the current developments it now remains within the realms of possibility.

Following James McClean’s tenth yellow card on Saturday he will be unavailable for the Watford game tomorrow night. Fans will have their fingers crossed that Leon Clarke will be back from injury to lead the line. The big striker adds physicality to the attack that will be needed against a strong Watford side, currently in second place.

Should Clarke not be available it is possible that Sinclair will start, assuming the paperwork of his loan move is completed in time. It is reported that he has been training with the Wigan squad today.

There remains a possibility that either Mckay or Waghorn may be involved. But Mackay has already thrown the 17 year old Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo into his starting lineups. Is he going to repeat it with Sinclair?

Interestingly enough at 5 ft 8 in Sinclair is of a similar height as Mckay and Waghorn. Let’s hope that if he does come on at some stage in the match, the ball does not continually fly over his head as the defenders hoof the ball forwards, as has happened so often to Latics strikers this season.

Bringing in Sinclair at this stage of the season can be considered either a bold move or smacking of desperation.

Check Mackay’s comments on Sinclair by clicking here.

Maybe Mackay will have the last laugh if the young man helps Latics avoid relegation.

Getting the best out of the strike force

Will Billy Mckay go the same way as his predecessors, Delort and Riera?  Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.,

Will Billy Mckay go the same way as his predecessors, Delort and Riera?
Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.,

When the lineup was announced prior to the Leeds match on Saturday it was a sadly depressing moment. The mood had been positive and people had started to “Believe” again. But a look at the team sheet was enough to send many of us into despair. How can you keep faith in a manager who just does not seem to realize that some things just do not work?

The dampener on the proceedings was the selection of a strike force of Marc-Antoine Fortune and James McClean.

This is not to suggest that the two players do not have their merits.

Despite scoring only one league goal in 24 appearances the controversial MAF continues to get his place in the team. His holding up of the ball, commitment and willingness to sacrifice for the team make him a good team player. He has played under three managers at Wigan, all of whom have appreciated his attributes. In fact since signing in summer 2013 he has made 35 league starts and 25 appearances off the bench, scoring 5 goals.

McClean is on his way to be being voted “Player of the Season”. Fans have been impressed by his willingness to run himself into the ground for the cause, in a season when so many of his teammates have not shown that level of desire and commitment. Malky Mackay clearly believes he can become a bona fide central striker, through his speed, physicality, a powerful left foot and willingness to run at defences. As a left winger he has always been a committed team player, so often running back to help out his left full back. He is the club’s top scorer with six goals.

However, McClean has always had his critics. They will say he lacks the “trickery skills” that the best wingers possess, that he runs around like a headless chicken, not lifting his head, not providing the level of assists to be expected of an experienced Premier League practitioner. As a central striker he is too often caught offside and does not make the kind kinds of runs off the ball that are needed.

The Derry-raised forward deserves commendation for his commitment and enthusiasm to help the cause. He is the leading scorer with 6 goals this season, but as a central striker he has a lot to learn.On Saturday he was to be switched to the left flank during the course of the game.

Neither Fortune nor McClean are what might be called “natural strikers”. Those are the kinds of players who are in the right place at the right time to get the tap-ins to those balls fizzing across the box. Moreover their combined goalscoring records do not suggest they are going to do so.

The likelihood is that neither will be at the club at the end of the season. Fortune is now 33 and it would be a surprise if he were given a further contract. According to reports, McClean is one of the highest wage earners at the club (some suggest he is on £30k per week) and is likely to be released whether or not Latics stay in the Championship.

However, Latics do have other strikers. The big centre forward Leon Clarke – who has played for 14 clubs – is very much a “journeyman”. Nevertheless his physical presence has added to the forward line and his commitment has been excellent. Add to that a debut goal against Bournemouth.

Billy Mckay and Martyn Waghorn continue to be marginalized by Mackay.

Waghorn was Uwe Rosler’s first permanent signing and made a positive impact in the latter half of last season. Often played wide he nevertheless scored 5 goals in 15 appearances. Moreover he was a consummate team player, strong defensively, so often dropping back to defence to help his full back. During that period Waghorn was never a spectacular player, but one who fitted into the framework of the team, a very useful asset. Many of us expected Waghorn to continue to be one of Rosler’s mainstay players, but injury combined with the signing of new strikers pushed him out of contention. He has made just 6 starts this season, with 12 appearances as a substitute, scoring 2 goals.

Like Oriol Riera and Andy Delort who preceded him, Mckay is a proven goalscorer. He had scored 10 goals in 23 appearances for Inverness Caledonian Thistle this season, prior to joining Latics. In his two previous seasons in the SPL he scored 18 and 22 goals respectively.

Sadly it looks like Mckay is going the same way as his predecessors. The woeful treatment of Delort and Riera has continued with Mckay, albeit under a different manager. Is there a disconnect between recruiting and coaching at the club? Under Rosler good performance in training was paramount to his process of team selection. It continues with Mackay. Is Mckay not fit enough for the demands of the Championship or does he just not impress the coaching staff on the training field?

Mckay will have arrived with confidence, after banging in the goals in Scotland. But being given no starts and six appearances off the bench, his confidence will surely have already dissipated. Granted, he has failed to impress so far, but players need a run of games in the starting lineup to show their worth. Surely he must soon be given that opportunity?

Since Malky Mackay’s arrival Latics have not won a single home game, drawing two and losing eight. They have only scored 5 goals in those 10 matches at the DW Stadium.

Given his woeful record, it is a wonder that Mackay continues to be employed by the club. But it looks like he will continue at least until the end of the season.

In the meantime his coaching staff need to take a long hard look at themselves to explain how so many players with genuine talent have fallen by the wayside this season. It is their role to help players adjust, to make them into effective performers at the appropriate level.

Let’s hope that Mckay does not get consigned to the same level of mismanagement as Delort and Riera.

Where will Latics’ goals come from?

goalcartoon

The transfer market is destroyed this year, in terms of the money that has been paid for certain positions. We have a strong team but where we lack is up front so we need to strengthen in that area. It’s not easy, especially when you’re driving a football club in a responsible way like we do.”

Uwe Rosler was making a valid point. Fulham recently paid £11m for Ross McCormack , a 28 year old forward who has never played in the Premier League. Then Nottingham Forest paid £5.5m for League 1 striker Britt Assombalonga.

As Rosler said, Wigan Athletic are certainly being driven in a responsible way. Fulham have clearly decided to splash a significant portion of their parachute payments on McCormack in an effort to get back to the Premier League as soon as possible.

In Wigan’s case the parachute payments have been used to payroll a large squad. Despite not being involved in the Europa League this year, Latics maintain a squad size comparable with that of last year. With so many players having been out of action over the past couple of years, maintaining a large squad can be seen as a safeguard in case the abnormal injury load continues.

A lack of funding continues to stymie Rosler in his efforts to provide balance to his squad. He is overburdened in the areas of goalkeepers and central defenders, but short on creative midfield players and strikers.

It appears that Latics have now given up their quest of signing creative midfielder Adam Forshaw from Brentford, with the London club continuing to ask £6m for a player who is unproven outside League 1. Wigan already have Shaun Maloney, who is as good as any creative player in the Championship division. However, to rest the main responsibility for the creation of goals on the shoulders of someone with Maloney’s injury record would be folly.

Wigan Athletic are not the only club who need a goal scoring centre forward and those who are available from English clubs are either prohibitively expensive or no better than what Latics already have.

Should Rosler not be able to get the new striker he seeks he will have to persevere with those already at the club. What kind of conversion rates (goals per appearance) do they have?

Looking at a player’s conversion rate through the course of his career and comparing it with that at Wigan provides food for thought.

Up until the start of the current season, Grant Holt had scored 180 goals in 467 appearances throughout his career, a conversion rate of 39%. Last season he scored 2 goals in 16 appearances for Latics, a conversion rate of 13%. Holt has played in all four divisions, but his conversion rate stayed around the same level in each. In two seasons of Premier League football with Norwich he scored 25 goals in 76 appearances, a conversion rate of 33%.

Holt tops the chart of career conversion rates for the current Wigan squad. But like Marc-Antoine  Fortune and James McClean his figures at Wigan compare unfavourably:

Goalchart3

Stats from Wikipedia. McManaman’s career stats include his loan spell at Blackpool.

It was rumoured that Latics were interested in Cameron Jerome from Stoke City, but the player has now signed for Norwich for a fee of around £2m. He has a career conversion rate of 22%.

Grant Holt is now 33 years old and although he is probably past his best he is a proven goalscorer. But not only has he become the object of abuse among fans on the social media, but he has been ostracized by his manager. Despite being among the highest wage earners at the club he has been sent to train with the under 21 squad and has no assigned team shirt number according to the club’s official website.

With his financial constraints Rosler may be unable to secure the services of a new player who has a proven goal scoring record. He may also be unable to offload Holt to another club before the transfer window ends at the end of the month.

If this becomes the case will Rosler consider waving an olive branch in Holt’s direction?

The big Cumbrian might not fit into the mould that Rosler requires, but a few goals over the coming months might well make him a target for other clubs in the January transfer window. Holt has made efforts to lose weight and surely would not want to be left out in the cold indefinitely.

Could Holt have a part to play over the coming months, even if only as an impact substitute?

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Fan Views – Part 2 – Martyn Waghorn and Thomas Rogne

The first posting on our Amigos site was made by Ned on August 11, 2011. It received less than 10 views that first day. But by the end of the month the site had received over 700 views.

Our readership has continued to steadily grow. In this current month of April the site has already received more than ten times the number of views than in that inaugural month, from viewers in more than fifty countries. The growth has been particularly significant in recent months.

Given that we now have a wider readership we plan to occasionally republish articles from our archives, that many 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 Roger Espinoza and James McClean.

A Leicester fan’s view of Martyn Waghorn

Martyn Waghorn celebrated his permanent contract with his fourth goal in Latics colours.

 

 

Written by: Mark_w.James fan’s forum on the Leicester City fansite http://www.foxestalk.co.uk/.

Published: February 3, 2014

 

For the benefit of lurking Wigan fans (I ventured over to their forum and some have decided he’s rubbish based on posts in here and his goal scoring record so) I’m going to repeat what I’ve been saying for the last few years. Feel free to skip it.

Martyn Waghorn did a very good job during his loan spell at the club, in the Championship. Injury and misuse (being played on the wing when he isn’t a winger) has prevented him from performing to the level we saw during his loan spell. However his performances in the run of around ten games he had for us last year and the reception from the Millwall fans on their forum after his loan spell would suggest that he is very capable of recapturing that form.

It’s not going to be for us because this season Jamie Vardy has proven that he offers as much as in terms of work rate with a superior goal scoring record and with Nugent and Wood as well, it’s pretty clear that  Waghorn isn’t going to get a look in and it would be a very silly decision on his part to sign a new contract with the club.

His commitment and passion for football rather than his ability are the reason he’s revered by a surprisingly large number of Leicester fans, myself included. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of becoming a very good footballer.  If he is given a prolonged run as a striker by a team in the Championship, for the first time since his loan spell, then there’s every chance that he can perform to level he did during his loan spell and at the age of 24 there’s still plenty of time for him to develop and improve.

Unfairly written off by some of our fans, I imagine because of impatience, an inability to recognize that he simply hasn’t started enough games to make the same impact he did while on loan (fewer starts since signing permanently than he made during his loan spell and those have been in short bursts rather than one prolonged run) and increased expectation because we pretty clearly paid way too much for him.

Will be an incredible free signing for anyone who takes him on in the summer and gives him game time, if he gets that I’m sure we will see the Waggy of old, I think we’ll be at a level where we won’t need to kick ourselves about it, but if he does succeed elsewhere then I’m sure that many people will be saddened that circumstances have conspired against him time and time again since he signed permanently.

I really hope he gets his career back on track and is given the opportunity to show to those who have written him off that he is capable of once again reaching the level he was at three years ago and there’s no reason he can’t surpass it in the future. Good luck to him, clearly cares about playing football and gave me a lot of great memories during what was probably my favourite season supporting Leicester City until this year (I’m young).

If Pearson hadn’t left and we had still been able to sign him then I’m sure things would have been very different, I’m delighted that we’ve got Pearson back and are on the up again. Hope that the same can happen for Waggy on loan at Wigan and in the future, hopefully at a club that isn’t Millwall.

Not the greatest player to play for Leicester City during my life time but easily one of the most likeable.

 

A Celtic fan’s view of Thomas Rogne

2013-rogne

 

Written by: Liam Power, aka Brummie Bhoy of Celtic  blog, Lost Bhoys

Published: July 1, 2013

 

 

I think it is reasonable to say that Wigan were not one of the more glamorous Premiership clubs during their spell in the top league so they would generally slip under the radar of most Celtic fans. However, this changed in recent years as we have seen a number of ex Celts and SPL players move to the club under the tenure of Roberto Martinez.

My former boss is a Wigan season ticket holder so we have had many amusing conversations over the last few seasons when discussing the contribution of Gary Caldwell and more serious chats about the continued development of Maloney, McArthur and McCarthy as they become integral to the Wigan team in the last season, culminating in your magnificent FA Cup victory.

Wigan now also has lifelong Celtic supporter Owen Coyle in charge and have just acquired the services of Celtic’s out of contract defender Thomas Rogne.  As a season ticket holder for most of the last 9 seasons and as a weekly blogger for the LostBhoys on www.hailhailmedia.com I can provide an insight into Rogne’s time at Celtic, what sort of player he is and what you can expect from him in the seasons ahead.

Rogne turned 23 last week but still features regularly for the Norway under-21 team despite being capped at full International level. He joined Celtic as a 19 year old on the 20th January 2010 and was described by former Celtic favourite Vidar Riseth as the hottest young talent in Norway.

Rogne was signed by Tony Mowbray whose single season in charge at Parkhead can most politely be described as a disaster, culminating in a 4-0 defeat to St Mirren that signalled the end of his reign. Rogne only managed 4 appearances during the second half of season 2009/10 but would have been encouraged by the appointment of Neil Lennon who has always been happy to give young players opportunities within the team.

Rogne didn’t start a game in the following season until 30th October 2010 as an injury interrupted pre-season prevented him from establishing himself in the manager’s plans. However, he then featured 15 times in the following three months, including an outstanding performance at Ibrox in a 2-0 win over our former rivals.

Further injuries took him out of the team and he only featured intermittently during the rest of the season. This was to become the story of his time at Celtic as he could rarely muster a run of games in the team without picking up knocks that would require spells on the sidelines. As an 18 year old Rogne damaged his cruciate ligaments and missed the entire 2008/09 season, which may explain his continual injury problems.

The following season 2011/12 saw a depressingly similar pattern as injury disrupted his pre-season and he didn’t make his first start until 26th October 2011. He played 3 times before injury sidelined him again but once back in the team in December Rogne managed to establish himself and struck up a good partnership with Scottish Player of the season Charlie Mulgrew.

He featured in 17 league games during the remainder of the season and was considered as a first choice pick for the first time in his Celtic career, keeping out new signing Kelvin Wilson who had experienced a difficult start to his Celtic career.

This should have signalled better times for Rogne at Celtic but the signing of Efe Ambrose and the re-birth of Kelvin Wilson produced a solid partnership that was not going to be split up. This partnership, added to more niggling injuries for the player meant that he had drifted out of the first team picture.

He only made 8 league starts last season, a situation that was not helped with his ongoing contract dispute with the club. Rogne was looking for a deal that would put him in with the high earners at the club but he had done nothing during his 4 seasons to justify such a position.

The club expressed their desire to keep him but no compromise could be reached so the player allowed his contract to expire and today he becomes a free agent meaning that Wigan will not have to pay any compensation to Celtic.

There is no doubting the ability of Rogne as a footballer. He is a tall player who enjoys doing the basics of good defending.   He is good in the air and reads the game well which enables him to win a fair amount of challenges staying on his feet without over committing himself.

He has reasonable pace and his positional sense is good although he can suffer from lapses in concentration. He is not a ball playing defender and is happy winning possession and giving the ball to his more talented colleagues.

What he desperately needs is a run of 20-30 games in a side without injury so that he can establish himself as a first choice. He is easily good enough to play in the Championship but needs to contribute much more in terms of appearances. As a free transfer on relatively modest wages he fits the bill for Wigan’s transfer policy and would be deemed as a low risk signing.

Wigan have the best chance of promotion from all the three clubs who were relegated as they should manage to retain a decent nucleus of last seasons squad, unlike QPR who have huge financial implications to deal with.

Providing he can stay fit then Rogne will be a good addition to the squad and should be a success at Wigan. He is familiar with British football and knows Caldwell and Maloney well from his time at Celtic, so his transition to Wigan should be relatively straight forward.

Good luck to you for the forthcoming season and I will definitely continue to keep an eye on our former bhoys

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