Fan Views – Part 4 – Stephen Crainey and Markus Holgersson

Given that we now have a wider readership than in our earlier days 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.

Click here for our previous fan views on Martyn Waghorn and Thomas Rogne.

Click here for our previous fan views on Uwe Rösler and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

 A Blackpool fan’s view of Stephen Crainey

Ex-Blackpool player Stephen Crainey thinks the game is massive for both clubs.



Written by: Dan Bennett of Vital Blackpool

Published: July 15, 2013



Although not one of the most exciting footballers to admire, Stephen Crainey certainly is one thing — consistent.

In total he has made 295 club appearances and had played for four different clubs before joining Wigan. He started his career at Celtic where he was never really first choice left back, and made 58 appearances over five years at Celtic Park before moving on to Southampton.

Crainey never truly found his feet at Southampton and only made 5 appearances for the club before a swift transfer move to Leeds United. It’s fair to say he did well at Leeds, his solid performances at left back won him many fans and in the 2005-2006 season made a total of 30 appearances for the club. This was the season Crainey had made the most appearances for any of his clubs until that point. 

However this was soon set to change as Crainey made his move to Blackpool, a club where his talents were truly appreciated. His ability never looked in doubt, and in the first season he spent with the club he made 43 appearances. His excellent work ethic and fantastic defensive play pleased many Tangerine fans and he soon became a favourite.

Crainey was part of the famous team that secured promotion to the Premier League with Blackpool, and featured many times the following year in the top division. Blackpool’s defence often came under scrutiny whilst Ian Holloway was manager of the club, and although Crainey was not the ‘perfect defender’ he rarely performed badly in a Pool shirt.

He’s certainly a player that Blackpool fans wanted to see back at the club next season; he was offered a fresh deal at the club but took the opportunity to move on. If he features frequently for Wigan next season, he’ll be a player that will always give his all in every game he plays. Even if he’s used as a squad man, Crainey’s performances are still likely to impress Latics fans.

He is certainly the solid and decent championship standard player that many of the clubs in this league desire. Luring Crainey to the club away from other potential suitors was certainly a great bit of business on behalf of Wigan Athletic. Latics fans will surely hope his championship experience can help you bounce back first time of asking.

A New York Red Bull fan’s view of Markus Holgerrson




Written by:Dan Ryazansky of, the  website for the MetroStars (now Red Bulls) of Major League Soccer since 2001.

Date: February 5, 2014.




It’s hard to think of a player whose lot with Red Bulls supporters changed as much as Markus Holgersson’s. He arrived in 2012 at the tail end of the team’s Scandinavian invasion: a group of players acquired by Norwegian Sporting Director Erik Soler and Swedish manager Hans Backe. A rather tepid show in preseason led to many question Holgersson’s inclusion in the starting lineup.

Yet there he was, from the get-go, starting in central defense and quickly becoming a liability. Too slow. Too awkward. Not able to keep up with MLS’s physical attackers. And — worst of all — poor clearances and defensive lapses that led to scoring opportunities and, alas, goals.

And then, with Thierry Henry absent due to injury, Backe gave Holgersson the captain’s armband. Was it a case of Swedish nepotism, the supporters thought?

But something happened to Holgersson. Thrust with new responsibility, the much-maligned defender started to improve. His ability to read the game trumped his slowness of feet. He became excellent in one-on-one situations. The mistakes started to disappear as well. Even the goalscoring came, as he became a threat on set pieces.

Then, the offseason came. With Soler and Backe fired, many thought that Holgersson would be gone as well. Not so; new head coach Mike Petke kept him on, but the Swede did manage to lose his starting job in preseason. He won it back after the first two matches and didn’t relinquish it afterwards, playing almost every minute the rest of the way. By the end of the season, he was the team’s most consistent defender. When called upon, he even played some at right back.

Unfortunately, Holgersson’s high salary (by MLS standards) made it very hard for the team to keep him. When his departure was announced, the same supporters that called for his head expressed concerns over his departure.

So, in summary: a solid central defender who should be able to hold his own on the Championship level. Might have difficulties adjusting early, but will be able to adjust. Good at reading the game. Can start the attack from the back. Can play right back if needed, but not an efficient crosser of the ball. Thrives when given responsibility. Passionate. Will be missed.

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A breath of fresh air from Coyle


Owen Coyle – a breath of fresh air

What a breath of fresh air Owen Coyle has brought to Wigan. Like him or loathe him he cannot be criticized for sitting on his backside and waiting for things to happen. Within the place of week he has signed two new players who look like a really good fit for the club. At a time of doom and gloom, when it looked like the heart was being ripped out if the club, he has come in and his positive outlook has already started to lift our spirits.

Wigan Athletic were stuck in limbo during the ”Will he stay or will he go “ saga with Roberto Martinez. Worse was to follow -even before the charismatic Spaniard had been unveiled as Everton manager – there were stories about him raiding his old club for playing and backroom staff. It seemed like he was going to be the main destroyer of the infrastructure he himself had painstakenly built in his four years at Wigan.

Reports suggest that Martinez is coming back from vacation and is ready to start forming his backroom staff at Everton. Graeme Jones is a probable departure to Goodison, but we will have to wait and see if Graham Barrow and other coaches and backroom staff will go too. Once again we seem to be waiting for Martinez and it is not an ideal situation for Coyle to come into as new manager.

At this stage it looks like each of James McCarthy and Arouna Kone already has a foot out of the door. However, there have been reports saying that Callum McManaman wants to stay and that could be of huge importance for a promotion push. Championship defences will not relish the prospect of dealing with McManaman’s speed, trickery and directness on one flank and the dangerous, curving crosses coming in from Jean Beausejour on the other.

There has been much said about Latics allowing players to run down their contracts over the past couple of years. Maynor Figueroa has already gone to Hull, Roman Golobart to Cologne and it looks odds-on that Antolin Alcaraz will go to Everton.

Figueroa was a real stalwart for Latics and will be missed. He has been reunited with Steve Bruce, the manager who brought him to Wigan.

Golobart was being carefully nurtured by Martinez and it looked like he might be a key player for the coming season. However, there were question marks whether he had the pace needed in the Premier League.

Alcaraz had three topsy turvy years at Wigan. In his first season he started in 34 Premier League games, but injuries hampered him after that. He made 25 league starts in his second season, but only 8 last year. Ironically his best performances came near the end of his time at Wigan, when he looked a class act.

However, freedom of contract is a double-edged sword and Latics are using it to their own advantage. Both Chris McCann and Stephen Crainey are highly experienced and capable Championship level players, who have also played in the Premier League. The signing of the 22 year old Thomas Rogne is being processed  – he would be one for the future and the 6’4” Norwegian would provide height and power that the Latics centre of defence has been lacking.

Coyle recently stated that he needed at least six new signings, but that looks like a conservative figure. It could be that he is looking at youngsters like Lee Nicholls, Jordan Mustoe, Eduard Campabadal, Daniel Redmond and Nouha Dicko stepping up to the plate, although we await confirmation on those who were at the end of previous contracts.

If Coyle can avoid a firesale and only McCarthy and Kone depart he will have a strong squad. However, he is going to have to get out the cheque book to sign those kinds of quality players who can add something special. Signing some of the best of the Championship’s younger players would appear to be the way to go forward. Latics have already been linked with two 25 year olds –  Derby County full back John Brayford and Bristol City winger Albert Adomah. However, if Kone were to go he would be hard to replace and it would be Coyle’s greatest challenge.

Coyne has inherited the backbone of a team that – with a few key additions and a minimum of departures – would be quite capable of pushing for promotion. His critical signings may be yet to come.

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