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.



A Rotherham fan’s view of Craig 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.

Latics can beat Bolton if…..

Defeat to Wigan Athletic is something that Bolton Wanderers supporters find hard to bear. After all their local rivals are nothing but young upstarts compared with the glorious history of their Trotters.

Wanderers were founder members of the first Football League in 1888, one of the 6 Lancashire clubs that formed that initial division of 12. Since then they have spent more time in the top tier (Premier League/First Division) than out of it, 73 seasons to be precise. Their highest placing in the top tier was 3rd in 1920-21 and 1924-25 seasons. By the time Latics entered the Football League in 1978, Bolton had won the FA Cup four times, being runners-up on three occasions.

Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers had their first-ever encounter in the Football League on Boxing Day in 1983. That was in the old Third Division and Wanderers won 1-0, but Latics went on to win by the same score in the return match at Burnden Park. Things have remained fairly even ever since. Bolton have won 17 and Wigan 16, with 11 draws in league and cup matches between the two clubs.

No matter what situation of either club the result of the derby is always of paramount importance. But a win it is so much more important to Latics than Bolton this time around. The 2-0 home defeat to Watford in midweek was depressing in that it was a repeat of what has happened on too many occasions this season. Wigan seeming to match their opponents, but once a goal has gone against them they have not been able to get back into the game.

However, the 2-0 defeat of Rotherham at Nottingham Forest and a 3-0 home reverse for Fulham against Leeds United means that Latics remain at 6 points behind the two. Moreover the London team’s collapse continued with Leeds scoring with the only genuine chances they had.  Fulham strikers Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, who had a combined total of 42 goals for Leeds last season, just could not find the net. Like Wigan, Fulham were among the bookmakers’ favourites for promotion this season. They are caught in a downward spiral, having won only one of their last thirteen games.

Latics’ miserable home record – their last win was against Birmingham City on August 30 – will surely come to an end soon. The pundits have tried to explain how a team can win four consecutive games on the road, but lose their last six at the DW Stadium. Their approach to matches appears similar, be they home or away, but they have so often been caught by surprise at the DW.

The away victories have been characterized by them getting goals relatively early in the proceedings and hanging on to their lead with grim determination. Most of those goals have come from set pieces, which clearly have not worked at home where they have not scored a goal for four matches.

However, football is rarely as scientific as we sometimes think. The difference between winning and losing games in the Championship can so often depend on a slice of fortune – a deflection or a misplaced pass finding a teammate for whom it was not intended. Latics have enough height to be a danger at set pieces, but too often the delivery at home games has been found wanting.

However, the law of averages tells us that you are more likely to score goals if you have players in the penalty box. Even better if they are in the right place at the right time. Some players have a knack of being in such positions. Some do not. Given Mackay’s choice of strikers over recent months it is sadly no surprise that Latics have not been scoring goals.

Latics can certainly beat Bolton tomorrow if…………….

  1. Mackay plays strikers who have track records of goalscoring.
  2. They are organised, work hard and “win that second ball”, as ex-Latics captain Neil Rimmer says so often in his Wish FM commentaries.
  3. The rub of the green goes their way.

This is the least accomplished group of players the club has had for at least a decade. Most are loanees or on short term contracts. They lack the mutual understanding gained through playing as a collective unit over a long period of time. As a result the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

However, Mackay has largely succeeded in getting levels of commitment that were not apparent earlier in the season. He has stabilized the defence. The central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Jason Pearce is rugged and determined, well suited to the division. Mackay will look towards playing with a solid defence and scoring from set pieces.

However, Bolton do not have a particularly good team. They are out of the relegation zone due to the “new manager effect” after Neil Lennon was appointed, something that Latics crucially missed with Mackay. That effect has since faded and their squad is not overburdened with talent. They have lost their last six away games and have difficulty scoring goals. Their leading scorer is Zach Clough with just 6 goals, although Adam Le Fondre has scored 5 in his 10 matches so far.

Wigan Athletic fans have learned to keep their expectations low for results in home games over the past six months. Maybe the time has come for them to see the victory they have been waiting for so long. It would be particularly sweet against a local rival which considers itself a step above.

James Tavernier – a Rotherham fan’s view


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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