A Wolves fan’s view of Nathan Byrne

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Nathan Byrne from Wolves for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be in the region of £400,000. The 24 year old usually plays as either a wing back or a winger.

On signing for Latics the 5 ft 10 in tall Byrne commented that “I’m energetic, I want to attack and run at people, provide crosses and have shots but overall I’m about energy and my pace.”

Nathan Byrne was born in St Albans and played for his home town club until joining Tottenham, signing professional forms for them as an 18 year old in June 2010. Byrne never went on to play for Spurs, but was sent on a series of loan moves. In February 2011 he went to Brentford where he was to make 11 appearances. In July 2011 he went to Bournemouth on a season-long loan which was cut short by an ankle injury in September which kept him out until January. Byrne went back to Tottenham in February 2012 after making 9 appearances for the Cherries.

Byrne spent the first half of the 2012-13 season at Crawley Town, making 12 appearances. In March 2013 he went on loan to Swindon for the remainder of the season, making 7 appearances. In summer 2013 he left Tottenham on a free transfer, signing for Swindon.

2014-15 was particularly successful for him, Swindon making the playoffs and Byrne making 43 appearances, scoring 3 goals and making 9 assists over the course of the season. He appeared in the League 1 team of the year. Byrne scored a hat trick against Bradford City in the first league game of the 2015-16 season in early August, but in early September he signed for Wolves for an undisclosed fee. In his time at Swindon he had made 83 league appearances, scoring 10 goals.

Byrne made 24 appearances for Wolves last season, scoring 2 goals.

In order to find out more about his performances at Wolverhampton we contacted Thomas Baugh at the Wolves Blog (http://www.wolvesblog.com).

Here’s over to Thomas:

We only signed Nathan Byrne a year ago (almost exactly) for a decent chunk of money, so in one sense it’s surprising to see him moving on.

But he always struggled to get near the team and when he did make an appearance he was usually back on the sidelines again a week later, leaving many to rightly ask ‘why did we bother getting him in the first place?’.

Kenny Jackett certainly didn’t seem too keen, choosing to ignore him even when we were crying out for width and pace. I suspect his diminutive stature is what ultimately counted against him, as he always seemed a decent player on the rare occasions he was selected.

I remember being particularly impressed in a derby victory at Birmingham last season. He got into pockets of space in between midfield and attack and looked a threat. In sporadic appearances he showed quick feet, a decent (but not lightning) turn of pace and an eye for a goal. He scored a nice one against Leeds last season and hit the bar with a free kick so he has a few tools in his armory.

I suspect in a more free flowing team with good technical players around him (e.g. Jacobs) he could be a good Championship player. He came highly rated from Swindon but we never truly got a decent enough look to make a fair judgment.

Good luck to him. It seems like a good move.

Check out these goals:

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Latics fire off a warning to Burton – form ratings for Swindon 1 Wigan Athletic 4

Will Grigg scores the first goal. Photo courtesy of the Swindon Advertiser.

Will Grigg scores the first goal.
Photo courtesy of the Swindon Advertiser.

If the scoreline was impressive, the performance was even more so. Wigan Athletic have sent warning shots across the bows of their close challengers Burton and Walsall.

It was possibly Wigan’s best performance of the season. They were well organised in defence, tenacious in midfield and dangerous in attack. More than anything else it was the style of football that impressed most. Latics played a brand of football way beyond that one can expect in League 1.

Gary Caldwell springing a surprise is really no surprise at all. But playing with twin strikers would hardly be expected from a manager who prefers a lone centre forward setup. Rather than use his typical 3-4-3, Caldwell opted for a 3-5-2 with Will Grigg and Yanic Wildschut up front. The presence of three central midfielders in front of a back line of three was to give the wing backs the licence to attack with vigour.

Caldwell got his tactics spot-on. The twin strikers were able to harry Swindon’s back line of three, forcing them into launching long passes which more often than not were gobbled up by the Wigan defence. Moreover Wigan’s midfield trio could swarm forward and swamp an overrun Swindon midfield. Wigan’s movement off the ball was a joy to behold.

Grigg took his 15th minute goal with aplomb, evading two close markers to hit home Chris McCann’s superb cross. The Wigan wingbacks, McCann in particular, continued to look lively. Swindon’s attack was largely innocuous.

Latics could have possibly killed the game off in the first 45 minutes, given the chances they squandered, but their opening to the second half was stunning. Their high pressing reduced Swindon’s defence to jelly. Max Power’s stunning right foot shot from the left hand side after 47 minutes will rank as one of the goals of the season. Three minutes later Grigg’s deflected shot gave the Swindon goalkeeper no chance, then Sam Morsy hit home a fine drive from the edge of the box after 51 minutes.

Wigan could have had more goals in the 39 minutes of normal time still remaining, but their finishing was to let them down. As the game progressed they eased their foot on the accelerator, with a home match against Rochdale weighing on their minds. It resulted in a well taken goal for the division’s top goalscorer, Nicky Ajose, after 79 minutes.

The Good

Latics worked liked a well-oiled machine, for once the whole equaling the sum of its parts. They made Swindon look poor in comparison, remarkable in that the home side had lost only one of its previous eight games.

So often teams have tried to stifle Wigan’s playing out from the back by high pressing. This time Latics used it to their own advantage, Swindon being stymied by that tactic.

David Sharpe promised the fans a 20 goal per season striker before the start of the season. Will Grigg reached that mark yesterday, with 17 in the league and 3 in cup matches.

The Bad

With better finishing from Grigg and Wildschut, the scoreline would have been even more emphatic.

It is the norm in modern football for teams to take their foot off the gas when they have a comfortable lead, with another game looming closer. In particular Grigg looked less than delighted to be taken off in the 75th minute with a hat trick a distinct possibility.

It could be argued that a third goal for the centre forward could have been a big confidence boost for him. But Caldwell would surely counter that by saying that he needed a fully fit Grigg for the game on Monday. Such debates occur in all levels of today’s football.

Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen: 8 – solid and dependable, sound in distribution. Made an excellent save from an Ajose free kick  in the second half.

Reece Wabara: 7 – getting better. Worked hard running up and down the right flank.

Donervon Daniels: 7.5 – his physical presence proved important in keeping the home side at bay.

Craig Morgan: 7.5 – solid in defence and pragmatic with his passing.

Stephen Warnock: 7.5 – another very professional performance from a full back playing in a back line of three.

Chris McCann: 8 – excellent. A constant threat to the right hand side of the Swindon defence.

Sam Morsy: 8.5 – not only adds steel to the midfield, but intelligent in his passing and movement.

Max Power: 7.5 – an all-round player with the class to play at a level well above League 1. Showed superb technique in his goal. Taken off after 64 minutes.

David Perkins: 8.5 – a complete performance, tenacious in his covering. His performance made a mockery of criticisms that he cannot pass the ball.

Will Grigg: 8 – a danger throughout. He has scored 12 goals in his last 13 games. Once again squandered opportunities, but the good news is that he is getting into the right positions to score.

Yanic Wildschut: 7 – worked hard and was a headache for the home defence with his speed and physical presence. But finishing is not always his strong point. Substituted after 71 minutes.

Substitutes:

Tim Chow –  came on for Power after 64 minutes. Worked hard.

Craig Davies – came on for Wildschut after 71 minutes. A physical presence as always.

Haris Vuckic – on for Grigg after 75 minutes. Showed some nice touches.

Swindon (H) Preview – beware of the banana skin

Man looking the other way while slipping on a banana peel

Swindon Town finished fourth in League 1 last season. They currently sit second from bottom, with only three wins so far. They are at low ebb. Surely it is a good time for Latics to play them? Or perhaps not.

It is the end of October and Gary Caldwell’s “new era” team are in the playoff zone, not having suffered a defeat in nine matches. They are unbeaten in league games at the DW Stadium. In contrast Swindon sacked their manager, Mark Cooper, a couple of weeks ago. Moreover their chairman has taken over as manager. His first game saw a 2-1 home loss to Oldham Athletic, followed by a 2-2 home draw with Coventry City.

However, the Robins’ chairman is an ex-professional footballer, with previous managerial experience. Lee Power started off at Norwich City before playing for ten more clubs in a career spanning a decade. Two broken legs helped finish his footballing career at the age of 28. Power became chairman of Cambridge United in August 2006 and within a month he took over as caretaker manager following the dismissal of Ron Newman. In April 2013 he bought into Swindon and became chairman seven months later.

Swindon’s poor start to the season can be largely attributed to the selling of key assets over the summer together with injury problems. Nathan Byrne went to Wolves and Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo to QPR before the season started. At one stage they had 12 players out of action through injury.

Wigan’s new weapon, Yanic Wildschut, is likely to be a marked man tomorrow. Swindon will do their best to stop him using his blistering pace to effect. The Dutchman has made a huge impression at Latics over the past month and management want to keep him long term, but that will not only depend on Middlesbrough’s willingness to let him go, but also on competing with other clubs for his signing.

Teams are starting to realise the danger that Latics pose as an attacking unit. Not only is the three pronged attack of Wildschut, Grigg and Jacobs a potent force, but Caldwell can also change things to playing the two big men – Davies and Holt – as twin strikers. Moreover he will shortly have the cultured left foot of Haris Vuckic available to provide balance. In each of the last two matches the opposition received five yellow cards to Wigan’s one, an indication of the tactics some managers will use to nullify Latics’ good football and attacking flair.

Providing there are no injuries we can expect Caldwell to field an unchanged starting lineup tomorrow. He now has such a wealth of players at his disposal that he will have to think hard not only about those who will start, but also those who will make the bench.

Power regards tomorrow’s match as the hardest away league game of the season for his team. Early next week he expects to step back to the boardroom, with the appointment of a new manager. He will be hoping for a surprise result tomorrow.

Caldwell will be aware of the banana skin that the game with Swindon represents and will be hoping for an early goal to set the tone. Should that happen then more would surely come, but should it not Latics will need to be patient and disciplined.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter.