Haris Vučkić – a Rotherham fan’s view

The 23 year old Slovenian Haris Vuckic has signed for Wigan Athletic on a one year loan from Newcastle United that will include any potential play-off games. He had recently signed a new contract for the Geordies.

The 6 ft 1 in tall Vuckic is a talented player, with a good left foot, who can play in a variety of attacking positions.He has represented Slovenia at all age levels, including  a senior debut against Scotland in February 2012. Vuckic is set to play an important part in Latics’ bid for promotion.

On signing Vuckic Gary Caldwell said: “Haris had a great season on loan at Rangers last season and he is a quality addition to our forward line, a creative player with an eye for goal.Newcastle rate him highly but he needs to keep progressing and is looking to play as regularly as possible. We are delighted he has chosen Wigan Athletic.

Haris Vučkić was born in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, but played for NK Domžale, some 9 miles away. Vuckic made his debut for NK in the Slovenian PrvaLiga when still only 15 years old, leading the club to be fined for fielding an underage player. On reaching his sixteenth birthday some three months later he went on to play another four games for NK before being signed by Newcastle.

Vuckic was soon to make his mark in Newcastle’s under-18 and reserve sides. He made his senior debut as a late substitute in a League Cup match in August 2009, less than a week after turning 17.  A few days later he made his league debut in a similar fashion against Leicester City. However,he was unable to gain a regular first team spot, his appearances being in pre-season games and the League Cup. He was to make his Premier League debut as a substitute in August 2011, with a  starting debut against West Bromwich Albion in December 2011.

In February 2012 he went on a one month loan to Cardiff City, making 5 appearances and scoring one goal. In late November 2013 Vuckic joined Rotherham United on a one month loan that was to be extended until the end of the season. He made 22 appearances for the Millers, including their victorious play-off final against Leyton Orient, scoring four goals during his stay.

In February 2014 Vuckic was one of five Newcastle players who joined Rangers on loan. He was to score 9 goals in 16 appearances for the Ibrox club.

Vuckic made 20 appearances for Newcastle in all competitions, scoring one goal.

In order to learn more about Vuckic’s time at Rotherham we reached out to It’s Millers Time @millerstimerufc).

Here’s over to them:

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.

 

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James Tavernier – a Rotherham fan’s view

Taverneir

Over the past week Uwe Rosler has taken his number of new signings to four, with the acquisition of James Tavernier and Oriel Riera.

On signing Tavernier the manager quoted: “James is a player I have been tracking for a long time, dating back to my days at Brentford. He proved last season what great potential he has by being part of a very successful Rotherham side throughout the season and also in the play-offs. He will bring great competition on that side of the field, he is still learning and, at just 22, I feel that we can provide the right sort of environment for him to grow and develop into a really important player for this club.”

The Bradford-born James Tavernier was part of the Leeds United youth system until moving to Newcastle United in 2008. He was to make his debut for Newcastle United at the age of 17 as a substitute in a League Cup game against Peterborough. The following season he started his first  game in another League Cup tie against Accrington Stanley. That same season he was to make his one single Premier League apperance, as a substitute against Reading. In January 2011 he was loaned out to Gateshead and further loan periods were to follow at Carlisle, Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, Shrewsbury and Rotherham United.

Tavernier’s track record is not impressive, but he is clearly a player who Rosler believes has the potential to develop into something special.

That last move, to Rotherham, was clearly his best and Tavernier made 27 appearances for the Millers, scoring five goals, despite predominantly playing at right back.

To find out more about Tavernier’s time at the New York Stadium we reached out to KCM North Stand @KCM_North _Stand) on Twitter, which is described as ‘the unofficial page for the KCM North Stand, New York Stadium and home to the supporters of the pride of South Yorkshire.’

22 year old Newcastle full back James Tavernier joined Rotherham United on an emergency loan deal in November which was later extended for the rest of the season. After relatively unsuccessful spells at MK Dons and Carlisle United among others South Yorkshire was where his career really took off.

Tavs instantly became a fans favourite after his debut goal and performance in the 4-1 victory over Gillingham. With bags of pace and a rocket of a shot he can play in right and centre midfield as well as his preferred right back slot. What I liked about Tavs is he always gave 100% and he really seemed to care about the club, which is something loanees often lack.

His brilliant work rate and stamina allow him to make regular surging runs upfield and he really is exciting to watch. A set piece and long shot specialist, he scored a few beauties during his time with us (most notably a brace against Bristol City if you want to have a look on YouTube).

He has tremendous amounts of energy and his overlapping runs caused a lot of problems for opposition defences this season and led to many goals. His crossing at times can be wild, but that’s the case with most full backs these days. I can’t recall him having a bad game last season and his consistency was rewarded with two Player of the Month nominations and many people thinking he was worth a place in the League 1 Team of the Year.

He very rarely missed a game for us and was an integral part in the best season in our club’s history. He and the fans got on like a house on fire, with mutual respect seemingly remaining between the two, despite his choice to turn us down.

His attacking nature can often leave the defence exposed and he has a tendency to get caught out of position. To be honest, I believe he’s far better going forward than he is defensively and may be suited to a more advanced role. Also his decision making at times can be slightly suspect, with him regularly blazing ambitious 40 yard strikes into the crowd.

However, Tavs came on leaps and bounds in his first year of consistent game time and I’m sure he’ll continue to do so. He will be a Premier League player in the not too distant future – either with or without Wigan – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him represent England one day. That’s how highly rated he is around Rotherham.

There are no hard feelings between Tavs and the Millers and I am sure he’ll get a standing ovation when he visits the New York Stadium, with a rendition of his song “Ohhh we’re half way there, ohh James Tavernier” ringing out from the North Stand.

Fantastic signing for Wigan and a massive mistake by Alan Pardew. If you want to see him in action check out this montage of his performances last season, which highlights how good he was for the Millers.

I can only thank him for his part in a season that was beyond our wildest dreams. All the best, Tavs.

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Down to the last match again?

Leaguetable

‘Remember that our last game is against Aston Villa at home. It could easily go to the last day of the season.’  These were the words of Roberto Martinez in a recent interview.

Wigan Athletic are not strangers to the concept of surviving on the last day of the season. They have done it twice before.

Goals from Paul Scharner and David Unsworth helped Wigan keep afloat in 2006-2007, when they won their last game at Sheffield United. The win put them level on points with the Blades, but Wigan prevailed by a margin of just one in goal difference. In 2010-2011 it was Hugo Rodallega’s header that gave them a win in their last game at Stoke, although a draw would have sufficed, given the eventual results of other teams at the bottom.

Is it again going to come down to that last match? Or will it be all over before then?

Monday night’s 3-0 defeat for Aston Villa at Old Trafford opens up that possibility. Wigan Athletic – with a  match in hand – have 31 points to Villa’s 34. Reading and QPR remain anchored at the bottom with 24 points. If either club were to win all of its remaining four games – most unlikely, but not impossible –  it could reach 36 points.

The probability is therefore that Reading and QPR will get relegated, together with either Latics or Aston Villa. However, there  remains a possibility  that one of those clubs currently on 37 points – Sunderland, Stoke and Newcastle – could also go down if their last four matches were to produce no yield. Very unlikely, given the squads at their disposal, but stranger things have happened.

Aston Villa’s next game is scheduled for Monday at Sunderland, when they will play knowing the result of Latics’ game with Tottenham on Saturday. If Wigan could manage a positive result against Tottenham it would put a lot of psychological pressure on Villa prior to the Sunderland game. Conversely a defeat on Saturday, followed by a win for Villa,  would open up a 6 point gap, which would be hard to surmount.

Martinez  has talked about the need for Wigan to win three out of their last five matches, not an easy matter when two of those are against teams in the top five. But not impossible.  If Wigan and Villa were to eventually finish level on points it would get down to goal difference. Latics currently hold the advantage at -23, compared with Villa’s -27.

For the moment Wigan are waiting anxiously to get an assessment of the damage done to Antolin Alcaraz’ hamstring, which caused him to limp off at West Ham after only 15 minutes. The return of the big Paraguayan after a long-term groin injury has really helped shore up a leaky defence. A prompt return from Alcaraz could make a big difference to Latics’ chances of survival.

The pressure is on for all the teams in the relegation zone, but especially so for Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa. It is the time of the season where you are looking for a little luck to go your way. Just one lucky goal or one bad refereeing decision could tip the balance.

Given the horrendous injuries Latics have had this season they are due some luck. It’s never too late for a bit of luck to come your way.

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CAPITULATION OR SURPRISE? A PREVIEW OF WIGAN ATHLETIC –CHELSEA

“ Beam me up Scottie” said Captain Kirk. Scottie was an Aberdonian with the skill of beaming people out of difficult situations in the original iconic “Startrek” series.  One only wishes  that Kirk and Scottie were here to help us now. As a Latic fanatic I would like to be beamed out of the upcoming fixtures. How unfortunate to be playing Chelsea after their high of defeating previously unbeaten  Man City, on the back of qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League with their victory over Valencia .

To be frank I am worried about Wigan Athletic going down this season.  We have better players than many of the teams near the bottom, but our luck leaves something to be desired.  What is “luck”? Is it when  the ball hits the woodwork and bounces out? Or is it a defensive inability to cope as a unit?     Or is it the bizarre  refereeing  decision such as the one that killed us in the Blackburn match? Or is it meeting other teams at the wrong time? Look at our fixture list. Having to play  the three newly promoted teams in the first three games, then getting this stuff that is coming up? Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U   and away at Stoke?

Sometimes it is the timing that you need on your side. The timing was right for  Norwich City last weekend.  A  potential challenger for relegation they gained an invaluable  three points  against a Newcastle team  “in a bad moment”, as a familiar Spanish football manager  might put it.  This was not the same Newcastle team brimming with confidence that we were unlucky to lose to in October. The Norwich  victory came through  traditional English football, by scoring from crosses. This was aided by the lack of any genuine centre half in the injury-hit Newcastle defence. You could say that Norwich played to Newcastle’s weaknesses, but to be honest, that is all you usually get from them. They are a typically English side – albeit with a Scottish manager – playing on the confidence  of success in the Championship. Their play is simple: get wide and put crosses in. They don’t play the passing game of Latics, but they are above us in the league. Let’s hope that will not be the case at the end of the season.

Let’s try to be positive about the Chelsea game. A couple of years ago Latics beat Chelsea 3-1. It was their first win against a top four team in 34 attempts in the Premier League. Chelsea had Petr  Cech sent  off that day, but the consensus was that Wigan deserved their victory. On paper the current Wigan Athletic team is at least as strong as the one of two seasons ago. Chelsea can be beaten! However, we are going to have to be at our best against a  team who have scored 15 goals without reply against us the last three times we have played them.

What a pity Antolin Alcaraz had to go off with a rib injury against West Brom. He played an excellent role in the position of right-sided  centre  back in a block of three.  When Latics were playing with an orthodox back four it was Alcaraz who had to play on the left of centre. Being a right footed player he looks more comfortable on the right hand side. Besides Maynor Figueroa, naturally left footed,  has regained his form and is currently playing well in his new role of left hand centre back. If Alcaraz is unable to play Steve Gohouri will probably take his place, although Emmerson Boyce might be fit enough to step in after six weeks out through injury. A good understanding between those three centre halves is going to be crucial if we are to keep Chelsea out.  I expect that the rest of the team will remain unchanged from the West Brom lineup.

Whatever happens I just hope we won’t get into the capitulation mode against Chelsea. Let’s go in with a positive team lineup and show some steel. So will it be capitulation or surprise? The latter is by no means impossible – go for it Wigan! Let’s give them an unpleasant surprise!