A lifeline for Malky? Reading 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Jason Pearce celebrates hsi goal with james Perch.  Photo courtsey of Daily Mail.

Jason Pearce celebrates his goal with James Perch. Photo courtesy of Daily Mail.

‘It’s a brand new group over the last three weeks. It closes the gap. There are a lot of points to play for. It’s about personality and character and we’re beginning to show that”.

So said Malky Mackay after his team of scrappers had thrown him a lifeline, with the reemergence of Dave Whelan breathing down his neck. The beleaguered Wigan Athletic manager was delighted – not just with the 1-0 win, but with the fight that his players showed.

After seven games without a win it had looked like Latics were going to be marooned in that relegation zone, with little indication that a lifeline would appear. They are now six points behind Brighton in 21st place and the Seagulls are due to visit the DW on April 18th. Will that be a crunch match or will things have changed significantly by then?

There are now 15 games remaining. They include four away ties for Wigan against clubs hovering close to them in the relegation zone – Blackpool, Fulham, Millwall and Rotherham.

Once again Mackay did not include new striker Billy McKay in the starting lineup, the goal-shy Marco Fortune being preferred. Another hamstring injury to Leon Barnett and the departure of Liam Ridgewell led him to introduce a new central defensive pairing in the combative Harry Maguire and Jason Pearce. They are the types of uncompromising defenders that bless so many Championship clubs. At 6 ft 4 in the 21 year old Maguire is not surprisingly good in the air and he was given lots of practice last night. For once the centre of defence looked solid.

Ironically Latics’ other 6 ft 4 in central defender, Thomas Rogne, has not played in a single league game this season. Rogne might not be as physically imposing as Maguire, but he is certainly good in the air and his presence might have prevented some of the “soft” goals that Latics have given away to high crosses. One wonders what the Norwegian has done to upset the powers that be at the club. He continues to languish in the development squad

Maguire and Pearce are not going to allow burly opposition strikers to dictate play, as has been too often the case for Latics this year. One wonders if Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson would have been able to run round them in the way he did at the DW ten days prior. The test for the partnership will come when they play the more skillful teams and Latics have a home encounter with Derby County and an away game at Middlesbrough to negotiate still.

McKay was once again brought on in the second half, this time in the 81st minute. What is it at the club that has them treat their strikers this way? Fortune has his attributes and plays his part as a tireless worker. However, goal scorer he is not and never has been. However, he has already seen off the challenges of Andy Delort and Oriol Riera. Will McKay be the latest in the line of Wigan Athletic strikers who have been badly handled? He has come into the club in good goalscoring form in the SPL, as did Delort and Riera in France and Spain, so why not put him in the starting lineup?

The victory at Reading still leaves Latics a steep hill to climb. A win against Charlton at the DW on Friday night would give cause for genuine hope of avoiding relegation. Last time Latics won a game – a 2-0 win at Leeds on Boxing Day – they followed it up with an abject 1-0 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday.

Fans will therefore be wary of building up their hopes too high for Friday. However, the win at Leeds could be described as somewhat fortuitous, with a bizarre own goal putting Latics ahead. Most Latics fans who saw last night’s match would say that the victory was well earned, despite some of the reports on national media. They hope it will be the springboard for a genuine rally.

Who knows – another win on Friday might even provide the impetus for the “Believe” motto to blossom again.

But at the same time it could be another false dawn. Let’s hope not.

 

A calmness in the centre of defence

 

He is a centre back who stays cool under pressure, waiting for the right moment to intervene. He exudes a calmness that helps to gel the back line of defence. If it were not for the cruciate knee injury he probably would not be at Wigan.

The classy Ivan Ramis is the one most Latics fans would think of when reading that description. Probably the best centre back in the Championship division, the Spaniard’s career was hit by a cruciate knee injury at Fulham in January 2013.

Ramis had been signed by Roberto Martinez in summer of 2012 to shore up a centre of defence that was leaking goals. He had a wealth of previous experience in La Liga with Real Mallorca and looked every inch a Premier League player until that injury set back. Many Latics fans still ponder – what if Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz had both stayed fit? Surely with such a capable central defensive pairing they would not have conceded so many of the ‘soft’ goals that led to relegation.

After such a long injury layoff Ramis struggled for fitness on his return last season. He was picking up the telltale kind of niggling injuries that often happen after being out of action for so long. Uwe Rosler had to use him sparingly as the games came in thick and fast in a hectic end of season. Ramis played in the last league match at Blackburn but picked up an injury and had to go off at half time. The injury was to prevent him participating in the playoff games with QPR. Once again one can only ponder as to whether the London team would have got their two soft goals if the Spaniard had been playing.

It is possible that the 29 year old Ramis will leave the club over the coming weeks. He is one of the highest earners at the club and there are question marks about his physical ability to play week in, week out. In January he almost went to both Crystal Palace and Cardiff City, but both clubs backed out after he received medical examinations.

As far as Latics’ promotion chances this season are concerned the regular presence of the big Spaniard could be critical. Not only is his defending of high quality, but his passing out of defence is a joy to watch and he is a danger to the opposition on set pieces. Should Latics achieve promotion they are going to need players of Ramis’ quality. Many of us will be hoping that he will not be not successful in finding a new club and his injury problems are a thing of the past.

Although Ramis would be the first name to roll off the tongue when thinking of that calmness in defence and problems with injuries, there is another who could fit that description. Thomas Rogne’s career has been cruelly blighted by injury but he is still only 24 years old and can play a major role for Latics this season.

The towering Norwegian international suffered the cruciate injury when he was just 18. He was playing for Oslo club, Stabaek, in a pre-season game in Spain against Russian side, Krylia Sovetov, when it happened. The injury forced him to miss the whole season, but he was to return and play in the Champions and Europa Leagues for the Norwegian club. Rogne joined Celtic in January 2010 and made 50 appearances for the Parkhead club. However, as noted in our fan view post of July 2013 he was to receive a series of niggling injuries during his time in Scotland.

At 6’4” Rogne is commanding in the air. Moreover he maintains a calm presence when under pressure. Distribution is not his strongest point and this is something he needs to work on. The player himself will surely be praying for an injury-free season and be hoping that Latics’ physical fitness team can help him overcome his previous problems. Should he manage to stay fit he will mount a strong challenge for a regular spot in the centre of defence.

Last season Ivan Ramis made 18 appearances for Wigan and Thomas Rogne made 16. Providing both stay at the club and steer clear of injuries they could form a key defensive partnership for Latics’ promotion push.

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Blackburn Preview – Latics to rest key players

A trip to Ewood Park has been known to fill Wigan Athletic supporters with a sense of foreboding. Latics have only won there once and that was at the end of the 2011-12 season when they were miraculously staying up and Blackburn were being relegated from the Premier League. An Antolin Alcaraz header gave Latics a 1-0 win. The next best result was Paul Jewell’s side getting a 1-1 draw there in the 2005-06 season. The other seven confrontations went Blackburn’s way.

But this time around Latics fans will not worry too much about the result. Wigan are already assured of a playoff place and will want to rest their key players ahead of the home game against either Derby or QPR next Thursday or Friday. Blackburn will be hoping that Latics put out their second string, praying that they can get an avalanche of goals and that Brighton and Reading both lose. That far-fetched scenario would be enough for them to leapfrog into a playoff place.

Latics will certainly look at resting key players, but still have enough strength in depth to ensure a fair contest tomorrow. Rosler might well give Honduran left back Juan Carlos Garcia his league debut. Thomas Rogne is also likely to feature in the centre of defence. The big Swede Markus Holgersson still has not featured in the first team and has not played for the development squad for some time. If he is fit will he make his debut at right back?

Nicky Maynard is due to return at centre forward. Jack Collison will step into central midfield. James McClean, Josh McEachran and Nick Powell might reappear, despite not having even made the bench for the match at Birmingham.

The pressure if off Latics, but on Blackburn tomorrow. However, Lancashire derbies can be full-blooded affairs and strange things can happen. Rosler will want his players to stay clear of injuries and disciplinary sanctions, but nevertheless represent their club with pride.

The likelihood is a Blackburn victory, but Latics’ fringe players are a talented bunch who might surprise us tomorrow. It will depend on their willingness to slug it out with the opposition in the true tradition of a Lancashire derby.

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Fan Views – Part 2 – Martyn Waghorn and Thomas Rogne

The first posting on our Amigos site was made by Ned on August 11, 2011. It received less than 10 views that first day. But by the end of the month the site had received over 700 views.

Our readership has continued to steadily grow. In this current month of April the site has already received more than ten times the number of views than in that inaugural month, from viewers in more than fifty countries. The growth has been particularly significant in recent months.

Given that we now have a wider readership 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.

A Leicester fan’s view of Martyn Waghorn

Martyn Waghorn celebrated his permanent contract with his fourth goal in Latics colours.

 

 

Written by: Mark_w.James fan’s forum on the Leicester City fansite http://www.foxestalk.co.uk/.

Published: February 3, 2014

 

For the benefit of lurking Wigan fans (I ventured over to their forum and some have decided he’s rubbish based on posts in here and his goal scoring record so) I’m going to repeat what I’ve been saying for the last few years. Feel free to skip it.

Martyn Waghorn did a very good job during his loan spell at the club, in the Championship. Injury and misuse (being played on the wing when he isn’t a winger) has prevented him from performing to the level we saw during his loan spell. However his performances in the run of around ten games he had for us last year and the reception from the Millwall fans on their forum after his loan spell would suggest that he is very capable of recapturing that form.

It’s not going to be for us because this season Jamie Vardy has proven that he offers as much as in terms of work rate with a superior goal scoring record and with Nugent and Wood as well, it’s pretty clear that  Waghorn isn’t going to get a look in and it would be a very silly decision on his part to sign a new contract with the club.

His commitment and passion for football rather than his ability are the reason he’s revered by a surprisingly large number of Leicester fans, myself included. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of becoming a very good footballer.  If he is given a prolonged run as a striker by a team in the Championship, for the first time since his loan spell, then there’s every chance that he can perform to level he did during his loan spell and at the age of 24 there’s still plenty of time for him to develop and improve.

Unfairly written off by some of our fans, I imagine because of impatience, an inability to recognize that he simply hasn’t started enough games to make the same impact he did while on loan (fewer starts since signing permanently than he made during his loan spell and those have been in short bursts rather than one prolonged run) and increased expectation because we pretty clearly paid way too much for him.

Will be an incredible free signing for anyone who takes him on in the summer and gives him game time, if he gets that I’m sure we will see the Waggy of old, I think we’ll be at a level where we won’t need to kick ourselves about it, but if he does succeed elsewhere then I’m sure that many people will be saddened that circumstances have conspired against him time and time again since he signed permanently.

I really hope he gets his career back on track and is given the opportunity to show to those who have written him off that he is capable of once again reaching the level he was at three years ago and there’s no reason he can’t surpass it in the future. Good luck to him, clearly cares about playing football and gave me a lot of great memories during what was probably my favourite season supporting Leicester City until this year (I’m young).

If Pearson hadn’t left and we had still been able to sign him then I’m sure things would have been very different, I’m delighted that we’ve got Pearson back and are on the up again. Hope that the same can happen for Waggy on loan at Wigan and in the future, hopefully at a club that isn’t Millwall.

Not the greatest player to play for Leicester City during my life time but easily one of the most likeable.

 

A Celtic fan’s view of Thomas Rogne

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Written by: Liam Power, aka Brummie Bhoy of Celtic  blog, Lost Bhoys

Published: July 1, 2013

 

 

I think it is reasonable to say that Wigan were not one of the more glamorous Premiership clubs during their spell in the top league so they would generally slip under the radar of most Celtic fans. However, this changed in recent years as we have seen a number of ex Celts and SPL players move to the club under the tenure of Roberto Martinez.

My former boss is a Wigan season ticket holder so we have had many amusing conversations over the last few seasons when discussing the contribution of Gary Caldwell and more serious chats about the continued development of Maloney, McArthur and McCarthy as they become integral to the Wigan team in the last season, culminating in your magnificent FA Cup victory.

Wigan now also has lifelong Celtic supporter Owen Coyle in charge and have just acquired the services of Celtic’s out of contract defender Thomas Rogne.  As a season ticket holder for most of the last 9 seasons and as a weekly blogger for the LostBhoys on www.hailhailmedia.com I can provide an insight into Rogne’s time at Celtic, what sort of player he is and what you can expect from him in the seasons ahead.

Rogne turned 23 last week but still features regularly for the Norway under-21 team despite being capped at full International level. He joined Celtic as a 19 year old on the 20th January 2010 and was described by former Celtic favourite Vidar Riseth as the hottest young talent in Norway.

Rogne was signed by Tony Mowbray whose single season in charge at Parkhead can most politely be described as a disaster, culminating in a 4-0 defeat to St Mirren that signalled the end of his reign. Rogne only managed 4 appearances during the second half of season 2009/10 but would have been encouraged by the appointment of Neil Lennon who has always been happy to give young players opportunities within the team.

Rogne didn’t start a game in the following season until 30th October 2010 as an injury interrupted pre-season prevented him from establishing himself in the manager’s plans. However, he then featured 15 times in the following three months, including an outstanding performance at Ibrox in a 2-0 win over our former rivals.

Further injuries took him out of the team and he only featured intermittently during the rest of the season. This was to become the story of his time at Celtic as he could rarely muster a run of games in the team without picking up knocks that would require spells on the sidelines. As an 18 year old Rogne damaged his cruciate ligaments and missed the entire 2008/09 season, which may explain his continual injury problems.

The following season 2011/12 saw a depressingly similar pattern as injury disrupted his pre-season and he didn’t make his first start until 26th October 2011. He played 3 times before injury sidelined him again but once back in the team in December Rogne managed to establish himself and struck up a good partnership with Scottish Player of the season Charlie Mulgrew.

He featured in 17 league games during the remainder of the season and was considered as a first choice pick for the first time in his Celtic career, keeping out new signing Kelvin Wilson who had experienced a difficult start to his Celtic career.

This should have signalled better times for Rogne at Celtic but the signing of Efe Ambrose and the re-birth of Kelvin Wilson produced a solid partnership that was not going to be split up. This partnership, added to more niggling injuries for the player meant that he had drifted out of the first team picture.

He only made 8 league starts last season, a situation that was not helped with his ongoing contract dispute with the club. Rogne was looking for a deal that would put him in with the high earners at the club but he had done nothing during his 4 seasons to justify such a position.

The club expressed their desire to keep him but no compromise could be reached so the player allowed his contract to expire and today he becomes a free agent meaning that Wigan will not have to pay any compensation to Celtic.

There is no doubting the ability of Rogne as a footballer. He is a tall player who enjoys doing the basics of good defending.   He is good in the air and reads the game well which enables him to win a fair amount of challenges staying on his feet without over committing himself.

He has reasonable pace and his positional sense is good although he can suffer from lapses in concentration. He is not a ball playing defender and is happy winning possession and giving the ball to his more talented colleagues.

What he desperately needs is a run of 20-30 games in a side without injury so that he can establish himself as a first choice. He is easily good enough to play in the Championship but needs to contribute much more in terms of appearances. As a free transfer on relatively modest wages he fits the bill for Wigan’s transfer policy and would be deemed as a low risk signing.

Wigan have the best chance of promotion from all the three clubs who were relegated as they should manage to retain a decent nucleus of last seasons squad, unlike QPR who have huge financial implications to deal with.

Providing he can stay fit then Rogne will be a good addition to the squad and should be a success at Wigan. He is familiar with British football and knows Caldwell and Maloney well from his time at Celtic, so his transition to Wigan should be relatively straight forward.

Good luck to you for the forthcoming season and I will definitely continue to keep an eye on our former bhoys

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A breath of fresh air from Coyle

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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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