As part of our continuing effort to keep Latics supporters informed about new recruits, we have invited a New York Red Bulls supporter to guest write an article about new centre-half Markus Holgersson.
Holgerrson’s signing, subject to international clearance, was confirmed by the club today. His initial contract will be until the end of the current season.
Hello Wigan supporters, my name is Dan Ryazansky. I have run MetroFanatic.com, the premier website for the MetroStars (now Red Bulls) of Major League Soccer since 2001.
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.
Best of luck for him at Wigan!