How good is Will Grigg?

Grigg

In the past 20 years just four players have scored 20 goals in a season for Wigan Athletic. Nathan Ellington scored 24 and Jason Roberts got 21 when Latics were promoted from the Championship in 2004-05. Graeme Jones scored 31 when they gained promotion by winning Division 3 in 1996-97.

Will Grigg has scored 23 goals already this season, 20 in league games and 3 in cup competitions. His team is already practically odds-on for promotion. The goals of Ellington, Roberts and and Jones were key to their team’s promotion successes. It looks like those of Grigg could prove to be the same.

It is the third time that Grigg has exceeded the 20 goal per season mark with a League 1 club. He first did it for Walsall in 2012-13, leading him on to win their player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards. However, rather than build on his successes in the midlands Grigg moved on to Brentford, who at the time were then in League 1 under the management of Uwe Rosler.

The move from Walsall had been acrimonious. The player had been out of contract, but since he was under 24 a Football League tribunal required Brentford to pay a £325,000 fee plus add-ons. The Walsall manager Dean Smith said at the time that “If he were leaving to go to a better side I would have thought he would have done better than Brentford.” Ironically Smith now finds himself  manager at the West London club.

Given his success in League 1 it had seemed that Grigg would be moving up a level, to the Championship at least. His move to Brentford did not work out as he would have hoped and in the 2014-15 season he was sent off on loan to the MK Dons, an eventful move which put him in the limelight when he scored a brace to knock Manchester United out of the League Cup, scoring 20 goals in the league.

In June 2015 David Sharpe’s gave his guarantee that Wigan would have a 20 goal striker in their lineup this season.  In mid-July he got his man, paying Brentford  £900,000 for Grigg. It was a huge fee for a club in League 1 to splash out, particularly for a player who had never played at a level above League 1. Grigg was brought in to provide the firepower to get Latics out of League 1, but were Latics also looking beyond that? Were they expecting Grigg make it as a striker in the Championship?

At his best Grigg is a handful for any opposition defender. He has the ability to time his runs to create space when surrounded by the tightest of defences. His workrate cannot be faulted and he is a real team player. Grigg relies on his intelligent movement rather than sheer physical power to get past defenders. He is a genuine goal poacher, a dying breed in the modern game. Grigg also has a good temperament as evidenced by receiving just one yellow card in the season so far.  This is despite the rugged treatment he so often gets in a division where too much cynical and tactical fouling goes unpunished by referees.  Still only 24 years old his best is surely yet to come.

However, like any striker Grigg can have his off days. In the visit to Walsall in February he had at least five gilt-edged opportunities to score, but fluffed them all. Latics had to rely on a last minute winner from Yanic Wildschut to bring home the three points that their superior play had merited. But Grigg can opportunities with genuine aplomb, in the style of a “natural” goalscorer. There is finesse to Grigg’s game that suggests he can make it at a much higher level than the third tier of English football. As his confidence grows and he matures as a player he will put home an even higher proportion of the opportunities that come his way.

Grigg’s first season at Wigan did not start particularly well. In its first quarter Grigg had struggled to reach the goalscoring form that Caldwell would have hoped for. He had scored just three goals, two of which were penalties. After starting in the first six games he missed the match at Chesterfield through being on international duty for Northern Ireland. He came back as a 66th minute substitute at Port Vale, but was to pick up an elbow injury which kept him out of the next two games. He made his return as a 77th minute substitute, scoring the equalizer during added-on time against Millwall. Grigg returned to the starting lineup for the next game against Walsall, but was substituted after 70 minutes. However, international call up knocked on the door again and Grigg missed the last two matches at Crewe and Bury.

By Christmas Grigg had notched 8 goals for Latics. Since then he has scored 15 more. Grigg just does not seem to do so well in the earlier part of the season. In fact in his 20 goal season at Walsall he had only scored 5 by Christmas. At MK Dons he scored 9 by Christmas, followed by another 13 by time the season finished.

At Milton Keynes, Grigg had to play second fiddle to Benik Afobe until the latter’s 19 goals persuaded Wolves to pay serious money for him in January 2015. This and a loan move to Fleetwood of the Dons’ other main striker, Tom Hitchcock, opened up the door for Grigg to be the automatic choice as a lone centre forward. Grigg was to thrive on the consistency of having a regular first choice berth.

At 24 years of age, Will Grigg has a bright future ahead. His immediate target will be to score goals in the remaining five matches to help propel Latics back to the Championship. But the irony is that should that promotion come into effect and should Grigg continue to score goals, he will surely arouse the interests of the big clubs that dominate the English game.

Despite a slow start Will Grigg has become a key player in Wigan Athletic’s promotion push. Fans will be hoping he will continue to knock in the goals for the Latics for years to come.

Fan views – Part 1: Yanic Wildschut and Jordy Hiwula

Given that we now have a wider readership than in our earlier days we will occasionally republish articles from our archives, that some 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.

Yanic Wildschut – a Middlesbrough fan’s view

wildschut

Written by: Robert Nichols, Fly Me To The Moon fanzine fmttm.com.

Date: October 2, 2105.

 

 

Yanic Wildschut is the kind of player that draws the fans to games. He is fast, strong, powerful and direct. 

 When I say he is fast, let me qualify that by saying Yanic wears athletes compression socks under his football socks. He can give defenders ten yards start and tear past them. A good span of games at Wigan will help him sort out his weak spot, the finished product. Although get him running into the box and it doesn’t matter what he does with his final delivery he will cause mayhem and bag free kicks and penalties by the bucket load.

 If defenders can knock him off the ball. He is, as they used to say in Mark Lawrenson circles, a very big unit.

 Wildcshut has been desperately unlucky at Boro. He helped destroy Oldham away in the 1st round of the League cup. He scored a superb break away goal and was generally far too hot for the other Latics to handle. His promotion to first team action was only a matter of time and indeed we saw more of the same from him at home to Bristol City. Every time he got the ball and went on the run Bristol City were running scared. Yanic was subbed at half time in a tactical switch to allow Stewy Downing to go wide. It didn’t work but we have such a surplus of good wide players, wingers and overlapping full backs that no less than three are out on loan at present. 

 It was expected that Albert Adomah would be leaving but he settled his differences with the manager yet in the meantime we had brought in a talented Uruguayan called De Pena. Thus Carayol, Adam Reach and Wildschut have been allowed on loan. They need first team football rather than Development side starts.

 Wildschut’s debut was as sub at Anfield in the League Cup last season. He was thrown on as a centre forward. And he caused Liverpool threats running through the centre. He scored in League action in a win away at Rotherham. But needs more starts to get consistency.

I would be very excited right now if I was a Wigan fan. Wildschut will destroy defences with pace. He might need a few games to find a level of consistency to impact through 90 minutes. But he is worth the wait because he can split and sprint through a defence in a minute.

Watch him go. And watch Yanic grow.

 

 

Jordy’s arrival at Banks’s Stadium was greeted with something of a whimper, he’d had an nine game, almost goal-less loan spell with Yeovil Town which gave the impression of a player that wasn’t about to turn our campaign around.

However just three minutes into his debut Jordy proved all the doubters wrong as he slotted home, helping the Saddlers to a 2-0 win over Doncaster Rovers.

Following several solid displays Jordy went on to have his initial one-month loan deal extended to the end of the campaign and finished with nine goals in twenty appearances, including netting twice against Crawley Town and Bristol City.

Jordy is a very capable player, with bags of pace and, given the right formation will surely be a good acquisition for the Latics.

Click here to get a Manchester City view on Hiwula via the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jordy Hiwula – a Walsall fan’s view

Hiwula

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the arrival of 20 year old striker Jordy Hiwula from Huddersfield Town on a season-long loan.

Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila is a Mancunian who came through the Manchester City youth system. In 2013-14 he scored 20 goals in 31 appearances for City’s development squad, leading to him signing a two year contract at the end of the season.

In October 2014 he joined Yeovil Town on a three month loan, but he returned to City at the end of November having scored one goal in nine appearances for the Somerset club. Hiwula was to comment “I enjoyed my first spell with Yeovil and even though I don’t think I did that well. I learned a lot because it was the first time I’d been away from home and also played senior football, all of which made the second spell that much better.”

In February 2015 Hiwula joined Walsall on a one month loan. He scored after just three minutes in his first appearance, a 2-0 win at Doncaster. Hiwula’s loan was extended for another month after he had scored a couple more goals. He scored again in a 1-0 win over Yeovil in early March, later to come on as a substitute for Tom Bradshaw in the Football League Trophy final, which saw Walsall defeated 2-0 by Bristol City. Hiwula’s loan had been extended until the end of the season. He had scored 9 goals in 17 starts and two appearances off the bench for the Saddlers.

In July 2015 Hiwula signed a three year contract for Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed fee. He made his debut for the Terriers as a 65th minute substitute in a League Cup game against Notts County.

Hiwula has represented England at both under 18 and under 19 levels.

In order to find out more about Hiwula’s time at Walsall we reached out to the BescotBanter.net fan site (@BescotBanter). Our thanks to them for the fan’s view that follows:

Jordy’s arrival at Banks’s Stadium was greeted with something of a whimper, he’d had an nine game, almost goal-less loan spell with Yeovil Town which gave the impression of a player that wasn’t about to turn our campaign around.

However just three minutes into his debut Jordy proved all the doubters wrong as he slotted home, helping the Saddlers to a 2-0 win over Doncaster Rovers.

Following several solid displays Jordy went on to have his initial one-month loan deal extended to the end of the campaign and finished with nine goals in twenty appearances, including netting twice against Crawley Town and Bristol City.

Jordy is a very capable player, with bags of pace and, given the right formation will surely be a good acquisition for the Latics.

 

 

Click here to get a Manchester City view on Hiwula via the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

 

A Walsall fan’s view of Richard O’Donnell

Richard-ODonnell

“Delighted to have agreed a deal to join @LaticsOfficial for next season. Can’t wait to start and help get them back where they should be….”

So said new Latics acquisition Richard O’Donnell on Twitter today.

O’Donnell is a 6 ft 2 in goalkeeper, born in Sheffield, who will sign Wigan Athletic as a free agent from League 1 club Walsall. He is 26 years old, a product of the Sheffield Wednesday academy.

As a young player from O’Donnell was sent on loan to seven clubs in the lower divisions and non-league from 2007-11. He made his Football League debut as a 19 year old for Oldham Athletic against Luton Town in March 2008. It was three years later to the month that he made his debut for Wednesday in a match at Southampton. After making 19 appearances for the Owls he was released in May 2012.

O’Donnell then signed a one year contract for League 2 side Chesterfield. Covering for the absence of regular goalkeeper Tommy Lee he made 14 starts, but lost his place on Lee’s return from injury. In January he was loaned out to Stockport County in the Conference where he made 20 starts. He returned to Chesterfield for the last game of the season in a 4-0 win over Exeter.

In summer of 2013 he joined Walsall where he was to establish himself as the first choice goalkeeper, making 90 appearances in his two seasons there. He kept 21 clean sheets last season.

In order to learn more about O’Donnell’s time at Walsall we reached out to the BescotBanter.net fan site (@BescotBanter). Our thanks to them for the fan’s view that follows:

Following the Saddlers’ acquisition of goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, Richard joined the club in the summer of 2013 and quickly went on to establish himself as first-choice, bringing his brand of committed stopping to the side.

A player who is willing to put his body on the line, Richard made over fifty first team appearances during his debut season with the club and penned a new eighteen-month contract in January 2014.

Following his debut season Richard continued as first-choice goalkeeper and went on to make his one hundredth consecutive first-team appearance for the club as the Saddlers played host to Notts County on 3rd April.

Richard established himself as a clear fan favourite during his time with the club and went on to be named both the Fans and Players’ Player of the Season at the 2014/15 End of Season Awards.

O’Donnell also came close to single-handedly breaking a club record for most clean sheets in a season, which was held by former Trinidad and Tobago international Clayton Ince, who was unbeaten on twenty-two occasions during the 2006/07 campaign.

The record was ultimately collected by Craig MacGillivray, as he kept a clean sheet during his debut against Oldham Athletic.

 Following a lengthy spell of contract negotiations, which began in November 2014, Richard made the decision to leave the club and join Wigan Athletic on a three-year deal, the move seems to have come down to a length of contact issue, with the Saddlers either unable or unwilling to match the Latics’ three-year offering.

When the dust of his move settles Richard will go down as one of the best stoppers in the club’s recent history, and will always be welcome at Banks’s Stadium.