A Cardiff fan’s view of David Marshall

 

Wigan Athletic yesterday announced the signing of goalkeeper David Marshall from Hull City. The 34-year-old was a free agent and joins Latics on a two-year contract.

The 6ft 3in tall Glaswegian is a product of the Celtic academy. He made his senior debut at 17 as a substitute in a Scottish Cup tie against St Johnstone in February 2003. In December 2003 he made his first start in a 3-0 win at Partick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup. Marshall went on to make 18 appearances in that 2003-04 season, including an outstanding performance in keeping a clean sheet at Nou Camp, knocking Barcelona out of the UEFA Cup. He made his Scotland debut in August 2004 in a friendly against Hungary. In the next month Celtic met Barcelona again, this time in the Champions League, Marshall giving an excellent performance in a home loss to the Catalan club, saving a Ronaldinho penalty. However, after conceding nine goals in the first two games of the 2005-06 season Marshall fell out of favour with new manager Gordon Strachan. In January 2007 he joined Norwich City on loan, although his season was curtailed following an ankle injury in a 4-0 defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup in February.

Marshall joined Norwich on three-year contract in summer 2007, the fee being undisclosed. He went on to make 100 appearances for the Canaries until joining Cardiff City in summer 2009 for £500,000. Marshall was to spend 6 seasons with the Bluebirds, making 281 appearances, with 81 clean sheets. On August 30, 2016 Cardiff accepted an offer for Marshall adding up to £5m from Hull City, recently promoted to the Premier League. He went on to make 61 appearances for the Tigers.

With some 500 appearances in Scotland and England and 28 caps for Scotland, Marshall looks a fine signing for Latics.

In order to learn more about Marshall’s time at Cardiff we reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site (http://www.viewfromtheninian.com/).

Here’s over to Benjamin:

When we signed David Marshall, we weren’t sure what we were going to get. All we hoped was that we signed a keeper who could stop the rot of a run of goalies who weren’t so great. What we didn’t anticipate is that he would become, probably, our best goalie for a few decades. 

 A truly fantastic shot stopper, there have been times where fans were reduced to awed gasps as he pulled out another world class saves. During our first, ill-fated, Premier League season, he kept us in many games with brilliant saves. He was vital in playoff semi-finals, stopping penalties brilliantly. He would pull last minute saves out of nowhere and if a ball was deflected, he’d find a way to get back to the ball.

 There was talk earlier this summer that we were going to sell Etheridge, our number one, and the only player I would have replaced him with is Marshy. He’s a brilliant, brilliant, keeper. Vocal, adept at crosses, shot-stopping, and decent distribution.

 

A Cardiff fan’s view of Anthony Pilkington

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of the 30-year-old Anthony Pilkington on an 18-month contract. The winger was signed as a free agent, having left Cardiff City by mutual agreement.

Although Pilkington has not played first team football this season, he has made over 300 career appearances in league football, with three full seasons in the Premier League. Although Pilkington was born in Blackburn, he has made 9 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, qualifying through having an Irish grandparent. He has an impressive goalscoring record for a wide player and can score spectacular goals with either foot. He can also play as a central striker.

On signing the player Paul Cook commented: “Anthony has good experience in the Championship and Premier League, I am delighted to bring him to Wigan Athletic. He won promotion with Cardiff City last season, so he knows what it takes to do well at this level and I am sure he will be a big asset to us for the rest of this campaign and beyond.”

The 6 ft tall Pilkington was part of the youth programs at Preston, Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but joined Atherton Collieries as a 17-year-old in November 2005 whilst attending Myerscough College, where the Collieries manager, Alan Lord, was a lecturer. After making a strong impression, scoring 19 goals in 35 games, he signed for Stockport County in December 2006. County were in League 2 at the time. Pilkington made 80 appearances for County over three seasons, scoring 17 goals, one of them helping them to win the League 2 playoffs in 2008.

Pilkington signed for Huddersfield Town, then in League 1, in January 2009. He went on to make 92 appearances for the Terriers, scoring 19 goals.

In the summer of 2011 he joined Norwich City for a fee of £2 m. He went on to make 58 Premier League starts, with 17 appearances off the bench, scoring 14 goals in three seasons with the Canaries.

In July 2014 Pilkington signed for Cardiff City for a fee of £1 m. He went on to make 111 appearances, scoring 23 goals and contributing eight assists. Last season he scored 5 goals in 13 appearances in the Bluebird’s promotion campaign.

In order to learn more about Pilkington’s time at Cardiff we reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site (http://www.viewfromtheninian.com/).

Here’s over to Benjamin:

Pilks is a Cardiff player who deserved more from his time at Cardiff. He came in the season after we got relegated and was a bright light for us. Committed, scored and assisted and was pretty reliable. When Warnock came in, his space in the team became less of a guarantee and by the start of last year, he was out of the squad consistently.

But he was a model pro and worked hard and clawed his way back into contention. He wasn’t a regular, but he scored some important goals – none more so than his late equaliser at Sheffield United that went a long way to helping us get promoted.

There’s certainly a feeling that he should have had more of a say this season. It was perhaps a little unfair that he was left out the 25 for the Premier League when he could have been in the squad on merit – plus for his lengthy service.

 You’ve got a good player and a top pro on your hands.

 

 

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!

Wigan 1 Norwich 1: Could have been worse, should have been much better

Match Report: Wigan Athletic 1 Norwich City 1

It is widely accepted that newly promoted teams are at their most dangerous in the first half of the season. Wigan Athletic was not the only club to discover that last year, with Arsenal losing at home to Blackpool and United being humbled at Burnley the year before that. Supporters are out in droves in the stands (the brighter their kits the greater odds of success, apparently), and on the pitch, sheer energy, belief and that winning attitude that comes from promotion, tends to mask inadequacies that so often prove the downfall later in the year.

Yesterday was another example. Though at  times sloppy and indecisive, Latics were a league above Norwich in terms of quality and pace, but the newly promoted side gave it all and got their reward. Poor finishing (two Di Santo headers, Sammon), some brave last ditch defending (De Laet from Rodallega and Moses), the Norwich keeper’s right post (denying Watson a sublime strike from the outside of his right boot), and an uncharacteristic blunder from keeper Ali Al-Habsi kept Latics from taking three points in this one, but sometimes you create your luck, and Norwich did just that.

You can read a more traditional match report here, along with Roberto’s post-match comments (more on those later), but for the time being here are the positives, the negatives, and some player ratings:

Positives:

Lots of goal-scoring chances. Victor Moses must have set a record with the amount of times he went past defenders. He is fantastic to watch and will only get better. Finishing needs work, although he did provide a sublime cross that Di Santo somehow managed to head over the bar. Moses needs to keep a cooler head when stepping into the box. N’Zogbia had that ability to pick out a corner, take his time, curl the ball rather than blast it. Moses tends to snatch at the ball, rushing hit shot. He’s a work in progress, but Norwich certainly couldn’t handle him.

Ben Watson gets better and better. Roberto tipped him for an England call-up this season. He’s an odd player, deceptively skillful;  he took his penalty very well, hit the post with a lovely strike in the second half, and almost set up a winner from the left wing after uncharacteristically beating the Norwich right-back for pace and sliding a cross in.

Maynor Figueroa looked lively, bursting forward and delivering two fantastic crosses, one of which Sammon should have done better with. He looked a bit tired toward the end with a few stray passes, but the side will need him joining the attack as he did yesterday. Probably benefited from Norwich’s concern with Victor Moses down that left flank. Theirs should prove an important partnership as the season goes on.

Negatives:

Poor finishing. Di Santo and Sammon both should have put the game to sleep, but Mo Diame also had a golden chance and went for a Hollywood lob from 4o yards out when he could have waltzed in and laid the ball of for Di Santo or finished himself. Moses might have done better with his final pass or shot on several occasions. Rodallega, on as a sub, looked lively, but you wonder if he would have scored at least one of those crosses had he been in the center-forward role rather than out wide.

Adrian Lopez had an absolute nightmare. Out-muscled, out of position and dodgy in possesion, you had to feel sorry for the guy after missing 10 minutes of the first half getting stitches after a collision with Norwich’s Morison, who by the looks of things has a very hard head. I assume, though haven’t confirmed that  neither Alcaraz nor Gohouri were fit enough to play, but based on this performance, it might be a better option to play Emmerson Boyce in the center with Caldwell, and give Stam another chance at right back.

Poor Al-Habsi. Bad mistake, cost the team two points. I hope, and doubt, it will happen again.

Player Ratings:

Al-Habsi:  4 — Didn’t have much to do, but made a fatal mistake and it visibly affected him for the rest of the match.

Boyce: 5 — Solid, but didn’t get forward much. If Jordi Gomez is going to be playing on the right wing, he will need to make overlapping runs, or that side of the pitch will be completely wasted.

Caldwell: 6 — Solid enough as well, can’t fault him for much, though it appeared he and Lopez had met in a bar the night before the match. But he did make some important blocks.

Lopez: 3 — Really dreadful. A liability. Had to get stitches early in the match, but he’d made a mistake before that, in the buildup to the collision. Looked uncomfortable, too slight against battering rams like Holt and Morison, and it was a relief when Martinez finally withdrew him.

Figueroa: 7 — Very positive attacking play. Used his pace well and looked dangerous. Norwich eventually started fouling him. Delivered a couple crosses that should have led to match-winners.

Watson: 7 — Looked a little rusty, but it promises to be a breakthrough season for him. What a shame his shot didn’t bounce in off the post.

Diame: 5 — Good on the ball, and went on some trademark mazy runs, but ultimately wasted the ball, and faded out of the match for minutes at a time. So much potential, but needs to keep his focus.

McCarthy: 5 — Clearly bothered by the ankle injury sustained against Villareal, James was very quiet by his standards. Played two very classy balls that could have led to goals, but the team will need him fit and firing this season.

Jordi Gomez: 5 — Not a right winger. You can’t really say he did much wrong, but his lack of pace makes that part of the field a non-threat. I suppose he could have been dangerous on set plays if there had been any, but there weren’t.

Moses: 8 — They didn’t know how to handle him. Just needs to work on his finishing, but constantly went past defenders as though they were training cones.

Di Santo: 6 — An infuriating player. Looked energetic and won the penalty (and then made a meal of what might have been a second penalty at the end of the first half), but showed again his lack of finishing. That said, Latics looked less of a threat when he went off.

Subs:

Rodallega: 6 — Looked lively and had one decent effort, and another blocked by about five Norwich defenders. But might have won the match if he’d been playing centrally. Why not put Di Santo out on the left for a bit and move Roda inside?

Sammon: 4 — Uncomfortable on the ball, he ran around a lot but squandered his only chance.

Stam: 5 — Not on the pitch too long, he was Ok.

In Conclusion:

Roberto said after the match that the squad needs two more faces. He also clarified that the recent bid for Peter Odemwingie, West Brom’s excellent striker, was not intended as a replacement for Rodaellega but as an addition. (Phew). Unfortunately, we won’t get him anyway. But assuming at least one of the new arrivals is a decent winger able to play on the left and allowing Rodallega to move inside, I think things look alright. McCarthy will become a key player once his ankle heals. Alcaraz should be back soon, and how he was missed yesterday. Al-Habsi will hopefully bounce back as he did after his only other costly blunder against Man City last year. This should have been three points, but there are enough positives to give hope. And it’s one more point at this stage than last year.

En Español:

Al-Habsi: 4 – No tuvo mucho que hacer, pero cometió un error fatal que visiblemente lo afectó durante el resto del partido.

Boyce: 5 – Solido, pero no consiguió avanzar mucho por esa banda derecha. Si Jordi Gómez va a jugar de puntero derecho, Boyce tendrá que tomar mas riesgos para evitar que ese pasillo derecho se pierda por completo.

Caldwell: 6 – Tambien solido, cumplio.

López: 3 – Realmente terrible. Incómodo con la pelota, perdio el duelo con el delantero Morison, y casi le regala el segundo a Norwich con un pase inexplicable a Ali Al-Habsi. Tiene que mejorar. Sustuvo un fuerte golpe a la cabeza empezando el partido y volvio a la cancha con diez puntos.

Figueroa: 7 – Muy positivo, se lanzo al ataque con peligro. Mando un par de centros que debieron haber terminado en gol.

Watson: 7 – Este promete ser una gran temporada para él. Cobro su penal con autoridad, y por poco gana el partido con un tremendo derechazo.

Diáme: 5 – Vivo y con buena gambeta, pero desaprovecho una exelente oportunidad en la primera parte intentando un tiro espectacular, y se luego se perdio. Mucho potencial, pero le falta concentracion.

McCarthy: 5 – Un poco callado, probablemente por la lesión en el tobillo que sufrio contra el Villareal. Puso dos pases esplendidos que podrían haber marcardo la diferencia. Pero se espera mas de el.

Jordi Gómez: 5 – No es un puntero derecho. No es que alla hecho algo malo — incluso no perdio la bola ni una sola vez — pero su falta de velocidad significa que por costado no hay amenaza.

Moses: 8 – Un crack. Sólo le falta frialdad a la hora de definir, pero tiene fuerza, velocidad, y un dribbling espectacular. Norwich no pudo con el.

Di Santo: 6 – Un jugador exasperante. Corrio, lucho, se gano el penal, pero mostró de nuevo que no tiene definicion. Pero le hizo falta al equipo cuando lo sustituyeron.

Subs:

Rodallega: 6 – Peligroso cuando entro, pero es mejor como centro delantero. Sigue siendo el mejor definidor del equipo. Ya recuperado, tiene que ser titular contra Swansea.

Sammon: 4 – Incómodo con la bola a sus pies, corrió y lucho, pero desperdició su única oportunidad.

Stam: 5 – Solo jugo diez minutos.