How good is Will Grigg?

Grigg

In the past 20 years just four players have scored 20 goals in a season for Wigan Athletic. Nathan Ellington scored 24 and Jason Roberts got 21 when Latics were promoted from the Championship in 2004-05. Graeme Jones scored 31 when they gained promotion by winning Division 3 in 1996-97.

Will Grigg has scored 23 goals already this season, 20 in league games and 3 in cup competitions. His team is already practically odds-on for promotion. The goals of Ellington, Roberts and and Jones were key to their team’s promotion successes. It looks like those of Grigg could prove to be the same.

It is the third time that Grigg has exceeded the 20 goal per season mark with a League 1 club. He first did it for Walsall in 2012-13, leading him on to win their player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards. However, rather than build on his successes in the midlands Grigg moved on to Brentford, who at the time were then in League 1 under the management of Uwe Rosler.

The move from Walsall had been acrimonious. The player had been out of contract, but since he was under 24 a Football League tribunal required Brentford to pay a £325,000 fee plus add-ons. The Walsall manager Dean Smith said at the time that “If he were leaving to go to a better side I would have thought he would have done better than Brentford.” Ironically Smith now finds himself  manager at the West London club.

Given his success in League 1 it had seemed that Grigg would be moving up a level, to the Championship at least. His move to Brentford did not work out as he would have hoped and in the 2014-15 season he was sent off on loan to the MK Dons, an eventful move which put him in the limelight when he scored a brace to knock Manchester United out of the League Cup, scoring 20 goals in the league.

In June 2015 David Sharpe’s gave his guarantee that Wigan would have a 20 goal striker in their lineup this season.  In mid-July he got his man, paying Brentford  £900,000 for Grigg. It was a huge fee for a club in League 1 to splash out, particularly for a player who had never played at a level above League 1. Grigg was brought in to provide the firepower to get Latics out of League 1, but were Latics also looking beyond that? Were they expecting Grigg make it as a striker in the Championship?

At his best Grigg is a handful for any opposition defender. He has the ability to time his runs to create space when surrounded by the tightest of defences. His workrate cannot be faulted and he is a real team player. Grigg relies on his intelligent movement rather than sheer physical power to get past defenders. He is a genuine goal poacher, a dying breed in the modern game. Grigg also has a good temperament as evidenced by receiving just one yellow card in the season so far.  This is despite the rugged treatment he so often gets in a division where too much cynical and tactical fouling goes unpunished by referees.  Still only 24 years old his best is surely yet to come.

However, like any striker Grigg can have his off days. In the visit to Walsall in February he had at least five gilt-edged opportunities to score, but fluffed them all. Latics had to rely on a last minute winner from Yanic Wildschut to bring home the three points that their superior play had merited. But Grigg can opportunities with genuine aplomb, in the style of a “natural” goalscorer. There is finesse to Grigg’s game that suggests he can make it at a much higher level than the third tier of English football. As his confidence grows and he matures as a player he will put home an even higher proportion of the opportunities that come his way.

Grigg’s first season at Wigan did not start particularly well. In its first quarter Grigg had struggled to reach the goalscoring form that Caldwell would have hoped for. He had scored just three goals, two of which were penalties. After starting in the first six games he missed the match at Chesterfield through being on international duty for Northern Ireland. He came back as a 66th minute substitute at Port Vale, but was to pick up an elbow injury which kept him out of the next two games. He made his return as a 77th minute substitute, scoring the equalizer during added-on time against Millwall. Grigg returned to the starting lineup for the next game against Walsall, but was substituted after 70 minutes. However, international call up knocked on the door again and Grigg missed the last two matches at Crewe and Bury.

By Christmas Grigg had notched 8 goals for Latics. Since then he has scored 15 more. Grigg just does not seem to do so well in the earlier part of the season. In fact in his 20 goal season at Walsall he had only scored 5 by Christmas. At MK Dons he scored 9 by Christmas, followed by another 13 by time the season finished.

At Milton Keynes, Grigg had to play second fiddle to Benik Afobe until the latter’s 19 goals persuaded Wolves to pay serious money for him in January 2015. This and a loan move to Fleetwood of the Dons’ other main striker, Tom Hitchcock, opened up the door for Grigg to be the automatic choice as a lone centre forward. Grigg was to thrive on the consistency of having a regular first choice berth.

At 24 years of age, Will Grigg has a bright future ahead. His immediate target will be to score goals in the remaining five matches to help propel Latics back to the Championship. But the irony is that should that promotion come into effect and should Grigg continue to score goals, he will surely arouse the interests of the big clubs that dominate the English game.

Despite a slow start Will Grigg has become a key player in Wigan Athletic’s promotion push. Fans will be hoping he will continue to knock in the goals for the Latics for years to come.

A Rotherham fan’s view of Craig Morgan

Morgan

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.

An MK Dons fan’s view of Will Grigg

Grigg

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 24 year old central striker Will Grigg from Brentford.

The 5 ft 11 in tall Grigg was born in Solihull and progressed through the Birmingham City youth system. At the age of 17 he joined Walsall where he was to spend five seasons. scoring 27 goals in 99 appearances. In July 2013 he signed for Brentford for a fee that was to rise to £405,000. However, Grigg did not have the successful time he would have hoped for at Griffin Park, often being played out of position by Uwe Rosler. Last season he went on a season long loan to MK Dons where he made a major contribution to a promotion winning team, scoring 22 goals in 50 appearances.

In order to learn more about Grigg’s time at MK Dons we reached out to Harry Wright the Cowshed Chronicles BlogSpot.

Here’s over to Harry:

When Will Grigg arrived in Milton Keynes on a season-long loan from newly promoted Brentford, the midlands-born striker was the second of three young, hungry strikers Karl Robinson was to employ for the 2014/15 season after Tom Hitchcock was acquired on a free transfer from QPR.  A week later Benik Afobe joined from Premier League Arsenal and the Dons front line, that was to score 101 league goals, was complete.
 
The Northern Ireland international was to make an instant impact at Stadium:MK, netting an equaliser in the Dons season opener as we came from 2-0 down to triumph 4-2, however it didn’t take long for Grigg to truly endear himself to the Dons faithful as the frontman scored the first two goals in our unforgettable 4-0 annihilation of Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, famously using his chest to caress the ball past a helpless David De Gea. 
 
Playing second fiddle to the prolific Afobe for the first half of the season, Grigg had to accept he was not going to be given a constant run of starts due to Karl Robinson’s rotation policy as Afobe grabbed himself 19 goals until Wolves decided to pay big money to lure the England u21 international to Molyneux in mid January.  The departure of Afobe was followed up by Tom Hitchcock’s loan move to fellow League One club Fleetwood Town and left the former Walsall forward as the lone striker at Stadium:MK and oh how he delivered.
 
A blistering second half of the season containing a crucial brace away at Swindon left Grigg with 20 league goals from 43 games taking his total tally for the season to 22, only the second ever player to reach the milestone of 20 league goals in a Dons jersey, finished off with a header against Yeovil in a 5-1 demolition resulting in the Dons automatic promotion to the Championship for the first time.
 
But it’s not just the goals Grigg gets that made him a fans favourite in Milton Keynes, despite not even being our player, it’s the manner in which he plays and the qualities he brings to the squad as a whole.
 
Without having much strength due to being just 5’11 Grigg is a very clever player, his movement and trickery to evade defenders often means he finds himself in acres of space.  A classy, natural goal scorer, Grigg is a poacher, frequently in the right place at the right time to finish off the hard work done by those supporting him. Effective yet unspectacular the forward will get goals wherever he plays for sure.
 
Grigg’s work rate his also very good, never giving up on chasing a lost cause, combining an element of comedy in his celebrations with a dance branded ‘the Griggle’ by Dons fans, the striker’s personality rubs off on the fans and team mates alike and will not only add quality to the squad but also lighten up the dressing room at the DW stadium.
 
Grigg is undoubtedly a brilliant signing at League One level with proven experience and quality. The only question will be, can Wigan get enough support up to him to the poacher to get the goals to fire Wigan back to the second tier?

The Dream refuses to die – but who will play?

Martinez

When Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup it really was a dream come true. Who could ever have imagined that they would be within close distance of making it come true again just eleven months later?

Just like last year Latics had a difficult time disposing of a team a division below them in the early rounds. Last season it was Bournemouth, this time around it was MK Dons. Martinez’s team had an amazing 3-0 win at Everton in the sixth round, while Rosler’s side also shocked the pundits with a 2-1 win at Manchester City.

However, Martinez’s team were to meet Millwall in the semi-final. Arsenal present a different proposition.

Whatever happens at Wembley tomorrow this team has done the club proud. They have got to the semi-final on merit following three successive victories over Premier League teams.

Latics had gone into the match at the Etihad following a series of good results, having won 4-1 at promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest in the previous game. Nevertheless they were facing a City team that had won 12 of its 13 home games in the Premier League and had already thrashed Latics 5-0 in the League cup.

As with the FA Cup Final last year against the same club, Latics’ manager got his tactics spot-on. Rosler’s team plays a more pragmatic style of football than that of Martinez. From the start they went at City, their high pressing game stemming the flow of the Citizens’ play. When Latics’ went 2-0 up not long after half time they dug in to conserve the result. City were to get a controversial goal that should have been disallowed for offside, but they were to pummel Wigan’s defence. With grim determination and a tiny bit of luck on their side Latics held on to get their victory.

At the Etihad, Rosler played a conservative 3-5-2 system, with Marc-Antoine Fortune and Callum McManaman upfront. However, the midfielders – Jordi Gomez in particular – pushed forward in the first half. He had surprised us by playing Chris McCann in the left of the backline trio. Leon Barnett was to take over that role after half time, due to the unfortunate injury to the Irishman.

Rosler will almost certainly adopt a similar approach tomorrow. Arsenal tend to pack their midfield with a lot of players and Wigan will need strength in numbers there to compete. James McArthur and Jordi Gomez will play in central midfield with James Perch and Jean Beausejour playing wide. However, it is that third central midfield position that will be up for grabs.

Jack Collison has the most experience, but played a full game in midweek plus most of the second half last Saturday. Would his knee stand up to him taking a starting role tomorrow? Josh McEachran played there at the Etihad, but has not figured much recently and was taken off at half time on Tuesday. However, this is an entirely different kind of match to the league encounter against Millwall and might well suit the young Chelsea loanee.

The lineup could well be that which began the second half at the Etihad, with the exception of Jean Beausejour for Stephen Crainey at left wing back : Carson ; Boyce, Ramis, Barnett; Perch, McArthur, Gomez, McEachran, Beausejour; McManaman, Fortune.

The 29 year old Michael Oliver has been named as referee for the encounter. Coincidentally he officiated last year’s semi-final against Millwall. One of the features of Rosler’s regime has been in the discipline shown by his players, with no red cards received. They will need to show that same kind of resolve tomorrow against a skilful Arsenal team whose supporters will be in the large majority at the Stadium, ready to pressurize the young referee.

The fourth placed team in the Premier League is playing against the fifth placed team from the division below, which has already played 55 matches this season. So once again the odds are heavily stacked against the Latics. However, only a fool would count them out.

The dream is still alive.

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