Celtic supporter dishes on new Latics signing Shaun Maloney

Few people are better positioned to provide insight on new Wiganer Shaun Maloney than David Harper, of Celtic fansite Lost Bhoys. The little winger spent the better part of 10 years wearing hoops over two separate stints. What you are about to read is Harper’s assessment of Maloney — his two spells at Celtic, his playing style and attitude, and his chances of success with Wigan. David has also kindly agreed to answer questions about Maloney in the comments section below this story, so please do take him up on the offer!

Shaun Maloney aka Bupa

Howdy Wiganites, sorry I have no idea what you call someone from Wigan please excuse my ignorance. Ned asked me to put together a small piece about former Bhoy and new Latic Shaun Maloney. Iʼm a regular blogger and editor on http://www.LostBhoys.com and co-host of the weekly HomeBhoys Celtic fans phone-in show. I started following Celtic home and away from the age of 14 in 1987 so Iʼm pretty well placed to give you a brief rundown on the last of the Seville team to leave Celtic (management team excluded).

Shaun broke into the 1st team in 2001 and if I recall correctly he made his debut at Ibrox against ʻthemʼ. Originally he was deployed as an out and out striker and for the next couple of seasons mostly made appearances from the substitutes bench. It wasnʼt until Gordon Strachan took over the reigns that Shaun found his best position as an attacking left-midfielder which is still his natural position to this day.

Thatʼs when heʼs fit of course and those occasions have been few and far between in his second spell at the club. Heʼs a player that has divided fans ever since his return up north from Aston Villa. Many many fans myself included didnʼt think Maloney should be afforded a return to Celtic after the way we felt he had let us done badly when he left for Villa Park.

Shaun had suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury and despite the fact nobody was sure if he would return the same player Gordon Strachan fought to get the board to offer him a new contract. Celtic were very good to Shaun in this time and when he came back from injury he had his best spell winning both Scottish footballs player and young player of the year.

The disharmony came to be when Shaun played hardball over a new contract and eventually left under a cloud for Martin OʼNeillʼs Villains. Personally I think Maloney was due us a bit more loyalty considering we had taken a chance on him while injured and this was the reason many eyebrows were raised upon his ʻgloriousʼ return. His second spell has been a disaster for the player and a quick check shows he only played 55 games in the last 3 years. Maloney is constantly injured. Iʼll be absolutely astonished if he plays 20 games this season. Actually whenever I hear his name David Bowie singing China Doll creeps into my head. It would seem his hamstring is made of glass.

On his game heʼs a fantastic player who loves to drift in from the left onto his right foot and has a good eye for goal. He certainly isnʼt an out and out winger and isnʼt the kind of guy who will hit the byeline but rather step inside and play neat one-twoʼs around the box. Heʼs often been described as a buzzbomb as he is very busy but heʼs lost a bit of the pace he had when he was younger. Heʼs by no means a slouch though. Ned asked me if heʼs the kind of guy that will get stuck in. Flying into tackles no but heʼll certainly track back and has a good engine to get up and down the flank. I would say one of his biggest assets is heʼs a very intelligent player and reads the game extremely well.

There is no doubt in my mind if he can stay fit and if this is the position Wigan are looking to fill heʼll be a great signing but again I canʼt stress enough his fitness is a major problem.

There is also a myth surrounding him being a dead ball specialist. In his first spell he was quite prolific with free-kicks but this ability seems to have alluded him on his return. Frustratingly his seniority in the team (was stand in captain for a period) often seen him push better candidates to the side before he sailed one harmlessly over the bar. Most notably when Nakamura was in the side who was a real free-kick expert.

You may think reading this that Iʼm being overly harsh and my opinion has been tainted from my disdain at him letting us down. Believe me itʼs not Iʼm being as honest as I can. I think youʼll find most fans have actually forgiven him his sins but at the same time everyone knew it was time for him to move on. Money is tight in the Scottish game and Maloney being one of the larger earners at the club who spent the majority of his time in the physio room was a pay packet that could be better utilised. In saying that heʼs fit and raring to go at the minute so weʼll see how he goes.

Iʼm not sorry to see Shaun go but I wish him the very best of luck in the rest of his career. Heʼs a pretty laid back guy with no billy big boots airs or graces about him and I pray he can get a real run of games under his belt for you. Iʼll watch his career now from afar with interest.

I hope this has been a decent insight into what you have bought and hope I havenʼt panicked you too much with the injury woeʼs. If anyone would like any further info I can be contacted at LostBhoys@gmail.com.

Iʼd like to wish Wigan and Maloney all the best for the season ahead, most sincerely.

Hail Hail

David Harper

http://www.LostBhoys.com

The lowdown on Wigan’s new signing, Shaun Maloney

Wigan has agreed a 1 million pound fee for the transfer of Celtic winger Shaun Maloney, who spent a season and a half at Aston Villa under Martin O’Neill before returning to Glasgow. He’s had his share of injury problems but is a skillful, right-footed winger who should suit the Martinez style of play. Roberto calls him “magical.” He’s also a dead ball specialist, scoring numerous free-kicks during his time at Celtic. At a million pounds, you can’t go far wrong for a really talented player about to hit the peak of his career at 28.

Below are some comments from Celtic supporters upon hearing the news that Celtic and Wigan had agreed a fee:

“He was a great little talent and I thought he could take the mantle from Moravcik. However, injuries and playing in industrious sides that didn’t suit his play has resulted in a rather unfulfilled career. I don’t know what was more badly advised – his move to Villa or us buying him back. However, I won’t forget the season when he won his awards, linked up beautifully with Nakamura and swept us to the title. Good luck wee man…”

“With regards to the national team, hopefully Shaun Maloney gets a regular game for Wigan. When he’s fit and in the mood he can be a game changer…”

“I really rated Maloney, when fit I always said a better player than McGeady, but that’s at least two years now he’s struggled with injury.”

And this very impressive YouTube compilation:

Waiting on a Winger — Transfer Window Diary

As Peter Odemwingie put his name to a contract extension that will see him a West Brom player through the summer of 2014, the curtains closed on Wigan’s latest failed attempt in the transfer window.

There has been plenty to smile about this summer — Al-Habsi’s permanent deal, the release of wage drainers like Jason Koumas and Daniel De Ridder, and the retention of all but one of the club’s crop of talented young players.

But as we approach match day number two, the club appears no closer to the signing of a winger it so desperately needs. Nouha Dicko was apparently quite useful for the “development squad” in their 3-1 win the other day over Fulham, but is clearly one for the future. And Callum McManaman is back from the u-20 World Cup and will hopefully be available in the coming weeks. But it was quite clear against Norwich that while not doing anything wrong (or much of anything at all), Jordi Gomez is not dynamic enough for that position on the right wing. When the opposition wises up and starts kicking Moses on the left side of the pitch, we’ll have a problem.

And so West Brom rejected the Latics offer of 4 million pounds, a weak bid that was never going to tempt them. Odemwingie was a revelation last year, scoring 15 goals. He only cost West Brom 2.5 million, but who in their right mind would sell 15 Premier League goals for a profit of 1.5 million? That’s the difference between mid-table security and relegation.

Meanwhile, Sean Wright-Phillips is apparently close to joining Bolton. Roy Beerens (who?) snubbed Latics for AZ Alkmaar. Carlos Vela joined Real Sociedad on a year-long loan. Everton’s injury-prone forward Yakubu was linked a few days ago but nothing further on that one. Which probably means the best bet at this point is another season-long loan signing, ala Cleverley last year. But who else is there? Milner or Johnson from City would be great but their wages will be prohibitive. Diouf and Macheda of United may be available but haven’t shown too much in previous loan spells. Gio Dos Santos would be a loan possibility but it sounds at though Spurs want to sell. Arsenal don’t really have too much to spare. Maybe Pablo Barrera from West Ham’s bench? Someone from the Spanish market?

Overall, I’m a very happy supporter with Roberto Martinez at the helm. The team is financially stable, he’s building for the future, they’re playing decent football, and he genuinely cares. But one thing Steve Bruce had — and continues to have at Sunderland — is a big enough football name to convince proven Premiership players to join the club. At this stage, it looks like any signings are going to be from weaker leagues, who will take time to settle in and find their feet. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think the team can afford to wait too much longer — the relegation six-pointers have already started.