A Leyton Orient fan’s view of Gavin Massey

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Gavin Massey from Leyton Orient. The 24 year old forward, 5 ft 8 in tall, was a free agent following the London club’s relegation from the EFL.

On signing Massey, Latics manager Paul Cook commented on the club’s website that: “Gavin is a player we feel can do really well for us. He played against Portsmouth twice last season and scored a great goal at Fratton Park. He’s quick, strong and committed and can operate anywhere across the front three. For a player of his age, he has a lot of experience and has played a lot in this division. He adds great competition to the squad.”

Gavin Massey was born in Watford and is a product of their Harefield Academy. The Watford manager at the time, Malky Mackay, gave him his first team debut as a 17 year old in May 2010 at Coventry, soon after which he signed his first professional contract. In March 2011, he was loaned out to Wealdstone. He went on to make 6 appearances for the Isthmian League side in the 6 weeks of the loan period, scoring one goal. After making an appearance for Watford in mid-August 2011 Massey was sent on loan to Yeovil Town in September. He went on to make 16 appearances for the West Country club, scoring 4 goals before returning to Watford in mid-January 2012. However, just over a week later he joined Colchester United on a one month loan.

After returning to Watford he was to be released on a free transfer to return to Colchester. Massey went on to make 158 appearances for the U’s, scoring 20 goals, in four years with them. In the summer of 2016 Leyton Orient paid Colchester an undisclosed fee to sign Massey. He went on to make 36 appearances, scoring 4 goals, last season.

In order to find out more about Massey’s performance over the last season we contacted Matt Simpson of the Leyton Orient blog View from the West Stand, who put us in touch with David Thompson (@DavidTh64301889).

Here are David’s responses to our questions:

What positions has he played in for Orient? Which is his best?

He started off playing right midfield and did quite well early on, even scoring 3 minutes into his debut.  He then had a slight knock and sort of disappeared in games for a little bit.  To be honest I think that was more to do with the complete circus surrounding the club at the time and him suddenly realising what he had got himself into!  Around Christmas time he came back into the side and was playing as a number 10, off of a front man and at times as a more advanced forward.  He was superb at this point and scored some great goals (check out his goal away at Portsmouth on YouTube).

What are his strengths and weaknesses as a player?

He’s actually quicker than he looks – he’s not a jet healed type winger but is quite fast.  He can put a decent cross in and has a decent touch.   He scored a few goals for us, a couple of which were crackers from distance.  It’s hard to call him out on weaknesses, as at times he was playing in a terrible side, put together by whatever sucker / idiot / victim was selected as manager that week.  He’s not the most defensive player you will see and can go missing a bit.

How does he relate to the fans? Is he a team player? Does he show commitment?

He was popular with the fans, especially around Christmas when he was putting on a one man show at times to try and keep us up. Personally, I think losing him around April time to injury was one of the major nails in the coffin of our relegation as he had been playing so well and teams were scared of him.  His effort from Christmas on was excellent and cannot be faulted.  If I was being cynical I could say he was playing for a move as he could see the writing on the wall for Orient, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was getting stuck in.

What kind of potential does he have? Would you have him back at the O’s?

He has a lot of potential.  He’s only 24/25 I think and could play at least Championship in my opinion.  He needs a decent run of games and a team that’s going to go on the offensive in games, allowing him to get in and around the box where he is a hand full.   Would I have him back?  Absolutely.  The rumour is we paid out around 200K for him.  On a free he’s a bargain.

 

 
Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

What Mackay can do for Latics

 

Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.

Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.

If you believe what some of the media tell you, Wigan Athletic have gone from being so many peoples’ second favourite football team to their least favourite. All in the space of a couple of weeks.

The furore surrounding Malky Mackay’s appointment and the roasting of Dave Whelan by the national media has changed the view of the club in the eyes of the public.

Without going into the moral rights and wrongs of the broader issues, it is clear that Whelan could have avoided this happening from the start.

Why did he choose Mackay over other candidates with good track records whose recruitment would not have caused such waves? Did Whelan have an inkling of the repercussions that Mackay’s appointment would cause?

If he had anticipated what might follow he must have believed that Mackay stood head and shoulders above the other candidates – that he was the right man to get Latics back to the Premier League. However, the fact that Whelan put a clause in Mackay’s contract “protecting the club” against possible FA action suggests that he had more than an inkling of what was going to happen and made a calculated gamble in the Scot’s appointment.

So what is it about Mackay that made Whelan take the risk to appoint him? Providing FA sanctions do not prevent him continuing at the club, can Mackay lead Latics back to the Promised Land?

Born in Bellshill, some ten miles from the Glasgow city centre, Mackay passed through the youth ranks at Queens Park where he made 70 first team appearances over a three year period. At the age of 21 the powerful young centre half joined Celtic. However, during a five year stay he struggled to command a regular place at Parkhead. In September 1998 he joined Norwich City for £350,000 and he went on to make 212 appearances for the Canaries over a period of six years.

Mackay went on to a one year stint at West Ham, followed by three years at Watford. In his first season playing for the Hornets he achieved the remarkable distinction of being promoted to the Premier League for the third time in three years.

Midway through his first season as a Premier League player in 2006-07, Mackay was appointed first team coach at Vicarage Road. He took over as caretaker manager in November 2008, following the departure of Aidy Boothroyd.  But it proved to be only for five games with Brendan Rodgers being brought in from Chelsea.

However, Rodgers’ reign proved to be short-lived and Mackay was to take over in the summer of 2009. His first season was a struggle. With just five games to go, Watford were in 21st position, but an end of season rally saw them finish in 16th place. Several players on higher salaries left the club over the summer of 2010 and Mackay eventually steered the Hornets into 14th place in the 2010-11 season.

In June 2011 Mackay joined Cardiff City, where he was to enjoy a successful first season. The Welsh club reached the League Cup final, only to be beaten 3-2 by Liverpool on penalties. They reached the Championship playoffs, only to be beaten by West Ham.

The 2012-13 season saw Cardiff win the Championship and Mackay receive the League Managers Association ‘Championship Manager of the Year’ award. However, Mackay and Cardiff owner, Vincent Tan, clearly did not see eye to eye. Being unhappy about Mackay’s transfer dealings over the summer, and with concerns about poor results and the style of play, Tan sacked Mackay in December 2013. The national press has kept us well aware of what happened between Tan and Mackay since then.

Mackay has certainly had his ups and downs in football. As a player he was released by two clubs after he had helped them get promotion to the Premier League. As a manager at Watford he had to deal with the departure of key players for financial reasons and fight against relegation. In his first two seasons at Cardiff he enjoyed considerable success, even if the style of play was not the most exciting to watch. Mackay knows the Championship division as well as any manager could.

Over the coming weeks we can expect Mackay to focus on making Latics a team that is hard to beat. As an ex-centre half he will demand a tight defence. To get goals he is not likely to flood the opposition penalty area with attackers, but will rely on set pieces and on his “flair players” delivering the goods.

With Latics currently second from bottom, Mackay has a task on his hands. However, he knows that he has enough quality in the squad to challenge the best in the division. Latics will surely rise out of the relegation zone, but it is more a question of how quickly they can do it. Promotion this year is not out of the question, but is a long way off at the moment.

Mackay will take things a step at a time and if promotion does not happen this season, he will be planning towards the next. He will surely be aware of the “player power” that helped dislodge his two predecessors at Wigan. He will look at downsizing the squad in the January transfer window and there could be some surprise names exiting the club.

Once again Wigan Athletic are at a turning point. Dave Whelan will be hoping he made the right move in appointing Malky Mackay.

Only time will tell if that is to be the case.

Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Don Cowie – a Cardiff City fan’s view

 

 

Cowie

With a shortage of midfield players available for the start of the season Uwe Rosler has moved wisely and snapped up Don Cowie from Cardiff City. Cowie’s contract had expired and Cardiff had made a new offer, but Cowie chose to join Latics.

On signing Cowie, Rosler remarked that “Don also played over 20 games last season in the Premier League; he’s 31 but he’s an extremely professional person and I’ve known about him for quite some time. From his training regime to the way he lives and breathes football he has the attributes to allow him to play football until his late 30’s. I think he knows the position, he has the ability to play a high-pressing game and an attacking forward game and I think he will add experience, reliability, a technical ability where all our players have to be so I look forward to working with him.

The 31 year old Cowie was born in Inverness and made his debut for Ross County as a 17 year old after coming through their youth system. Cowie was to go on to become captain for the Dingwall club, making 160 appearances, before joining Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2007. He adjusted quickly to the higher level of the SPL and was top scorer and Player of the Year in his first season at Inverness.

After two seasons at Inverness, Cowie signed for Watford in July 2009, under the management of Malky Mackay. He made 88 appearances for the Hornets, scoring 9 goals. When Mackay moved on to Cardiff he signed Cowie (and Andrew Taylor) for the Welsh club. From 2011-14 Cowie made 82 appearances for Cardiff, scoring 6 goals. Like Taylor, Cowie played in the League Cup final for the Bluebirds in 2012, when they were beaten on penalties by Liverpool. Cowie has been capped 10 times by Scotland.

In order to learn more about Taylor’s time at Cardiff we have one more reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site.

Here’s over to Benjamin.

Don Cowie was often seen as Malky’s son at Cardiff; no matter how well he was playing, he always got a game. But I think that is unfair to Don Cowie. He came in on a free and was absolutely committed to Cardiff from day one.

A player who can play all along the midfield, his biggest asset is his fitness. He genuinely doesn’t stop running and leaves everything on the pitch. He does pitch in with assists and the odd goal but his work rate is phenomenal. When we got the prem, I didn’t expect him to feature much but he played a big role in some of our biggest wins; particularly in the home win over Man City.

I’m sad to see him go. Never one to shirk or hide away and has a great cross on him. Thought he would be a big player for us next year but, instead, he will be a big player for Wigan instead.


Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Wigan Athletic 2 Watford 1 – a well-earned win for Latics

Waghorn celebrates Wigan's second goal.

Waghorn celebrates Wigan’s second goal.

Wigan Athletic’s undefeated run goes on, this time with a narrow, but well-earned win over a cultured Watford side. Despite a miserable away record and a position in mid-table the visitors proved to be worthy opposition, being well organized and playing good football. In Ikechi Anya – born in Scotland from a Nigerian father and Romanian mother – Watford were to have the outstanding performer on the day.

Uwe Rosler sprung a surprise in his starting lineup, bringing in Rob Kiernan to make his first league start for Latics against his former club. Kiernan formed a central defensive trio with Emmerson Boyce and Ivan Ramis. James Perch and Jean Beausejour occupied the wing back positions, with James McArthur and Jordi Gomez in the centre of midfield. James McClean and Martyn Waghorn played further forward supporting Marc Antoine Fortune.

The common misunderstanding about a team playing with three centre backs is that they are playing light on defence. The reality is that the wing backs typically come back to complete a back line of five. However, as soon as the game started Latics’ wing backs, Beausejour in particular, were pushed far forward. Rather than playing 3-4-3 it became more akin to 3-2-5.

With so many men pushed forward Latics were able to launch long passes, putting pressure on the visitor’s defence. McClean fired wide from a good position then Gomez put Beausejour through with a great ball but the Chilean could only fire straight at goalkeeper Almunia. McClean again failed to convert a chance shooting straight at the goalkeeper.  With a little more composure Latics could have been 3-0 up in the first fifteen minutes. In the 18th minute Ramis rose to Waghorn’s corner but header was cleared off the line.

At the other end Wigan’s defence had held firm, despite Anya looking a threat. The Scotland international had an effort go past the post, and then could not find the target after a swift counterattack caught out Latics’ defence. McClean had another shot saved by Almunia, then his final ball let him down with Waghorn waiting at the far post.

Wigan should have had the game done and dusted but their profligacy was letting them down. In a way it did not come as a surprise when the visitors took the lead with a beautifully struck low shot from Lewis McGugan in the 36th minute. But Latics were back in the game four minutes later when Ramis’ long pass found Beausejour whose volley was blocked by Almunia, but the Chilean headed home the rebound.

Wigan took the lead on 55 minutes, Waghorn turning and firing home after McArthur had scuffed his shot. Latics brought on Jack Collison for Waghorn after 61 minutes, then Nick Powell for McClean eight minutes later. Gomez and Beausejour had efforts go wide before Watford started to apply concerted pressure in the last 15 minutes with Latics tiring. Anya had a chance go narrowly wide of the post, then could not finish a good opportunity after getting behind Thomas Rogne who had come on for Kiernan.

McArthur was to miss a sitter near the end as the ball had been pulled back to him.

Despite having to play five minutes of added time Wigan held on for a deserved win.

The Good

Rosler launched Latics into this game with their guns a blazing. Rarely over these past years have we seen Latics push so many men forward from the very start. His tactic of pushing the wing backs well forward led to Beausejour finding himself practically in  a centre forward position on a couple of occasions.  Unfortunately the wing back does not have the clinical finishing abilities of a good centre forward, being unable to put away his first opportunity, but scoring his second from the rebound.

With the wing backs coming forward McClean and Waghorn were given the opportunity to play more central roles, supporting Fortune. We have seen great improvements in the Irishman’s finishing over these past weeks, but in this match it was lacking. However, he remained a threat to the Watford defence before being taken off midway into the second half. Fortune was his usual self, full of endeavour, linking up well with teammates.

Gomez proved that he can do a good job in a midfield holding role, together with the industrious McArthur. The Spaniard must have covered every blade of grass on the pitch, tackling, intercepting, and receiving. He is benefitting from as long a run of matches as he has received in his five years at the club. Apart from his industry, his touch was excellent and he sprayed out some great passes.

Kiernan looked comfortable in the role on the left hand side of the line of centre backs. He made a few misplaced passes in the first half but showed his worth defensively. Collison came off the bench and soon looked at ease. He could prove a valuable loan signing.

The Bad

Once again Latics flagged in the last 15 minutes and were put under pressure by Watford. Powell came on to play in a wide position, where he overindulged at times. Hopefully Rosler will use him in a central striking position over the coming matches.

Player Ratings

Ali Al-Habsi: 7 – did all that was asked of him. Could not be faulted for the goal.

James Perch: 7 – as hard working and dependable as ever.

Emmerson Boyce: 7 – he and Ramis formed a formidable partnership in the centre of defence.

Ivan Ramis: 7.5 – see above. Unlucky with his header on goal and his passing as good as ever, including the pass for Latics’ first goal.

Rob Kiernan: 6 – solid in defence.

Jean Beausejour: 8 – an excellent performance in his favourite position as wing back. Must have impressed his family who were over from Chile and at the game.

James McArthur: 7 – a model of consistency in the middle of the park.

Jordi Gomez: 8.5 – superb in midfield.

Martyn Waghorn: 6 – took his goal well, but otherwise rather subdued.

Marc Antoine Fortune: 7 – full of running and endeavour.

James McClean: 6 – got himself in great positions but could not deliver. Nevertheless a handful for the Watford defence. Substituted after 61 minutes.

Substitutes:

Jack Collison: -came on after 61 minutes. Looked the part.

Nick Powell: – came on after 69 minutes. Frustrating.

Thomas Rogne: – came on after 79 minutes.

Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Watford and beyond – Latics and promotion

HPIM6466

At half time during the Ipswich match last Saturday the Wigan Athletic substitutes came on the pitch to play ‘Piggy in the Middle’. Latics had gone into half time 2-1 ahead  after James McClean’s well taken equalizer and Leon Barnett’s header .

The quality of players in that group was impressive . Carson, Crainey, Kiernan, McEachran, Maynard, McManaman, Powell – a strong bench that most Championship clubs would envy. But it was more than that – there was an almost tangible atmosphere of camaraderie among those players. Football clubs these days are experts in telling fans that there is a team spirit among their players. In fact even Owen Coyle would tell us the same thing, although one seriously doubted that was the case.

However, there can be no doubt that Uwe Rosler has built up a strong team spirit at Wigan. The German’s preferred style of football is as physically demanding as it could possibly be for the players. But the players have adjusted and since his arrival fitness levels have improved.

Rosler made five changes for the midweek match against Yeovil, but the team spirit was still there when they were 2-1 down five minutes from the end. It led to two goals before the end of regular time and it reminded one of that late comeback against Charlton when the three points seemed to be lost. However, this time it was not to be as Yeovil got a scrambled equaliser in the last minute of added time.

Over the last couple of weekends Latics had been full of running and energy in victories at Manchester City and Ipswich. However, in the midweek games against Sheffield Wednesday and Yeovil they have looked jaded and lethargic. Which Wigan Athletic will we see against Watford tomorrow?

In the next six weeks Wigan Athletic have to play twelve matches. That kind of schedule needs a strong squad with a rotation policy that involves adjustments, rather than wholesale changes. Much of Latics’ defensive stability in recent weeks has been underpinned by the presence of James Perch on the right, with various combinations of Leon Barnett, Emmerson Boyce and Ivan Ramis in the centre of defence. The mutual understanding among those players has helped to them to play as a very solid unit.

When Perch went off injured after 27 minutes on Tuesday it caused a disruption to that smooth running unit. With no recognized right back on the bench Rosler was forced to move Boyce across. Thomas Rogne, who had not played since December, paired up with Ivan Ramis in their first game as a central defensive partnership. Rogne is a fine young player and Ramis possibly the best central defender in the division, but Yeovil centre forward Ishmael Miller proved too much for them on the night, scoring two well taken goals and missing an easier chance before that.

Even if Perch is available tomorrow Rosler will have to think hard about playing Boyce. Although 34 years old the captain has already played 46 matches this season, more than any other player. Boyce is a key player for Rosler and has been in great form, but badly needs a rest. Playing too many matches in a condensed period of time puts the player at higher risk of receiving an injury, let alone burnout.

Rosler has been unlucky with long term injuries to Ben Watson and Chris McCann, who were part of the nucleus around which his team was built. Moreover the consistent and reliable Leon Barnett is out with a hamstring injury, hopefully for not too long.

A strong defence has been the key to Wigan Athletic’s surge under Rosler. He now has to shuffle his pack and some coherence in defence will be lost. Thomas Rogne and Markus Holgersson will probably have a part to play over the coming weeks. Jean Beausejour continues to play at left back, not his natural position, but outstanding in attack.

In the absence of Watson and McCann in midfield much of the pressure will be on the admirable James McArthur. A midfield without the Scot is hardly worth contemplating, as like Boyce in defence, he is a lynchpin of the team.

Jordi Gomez has been excellent in recent matches and deserves his place. He has adjusted to Rosler’s style of play. Josh McEachran is a quality player, but has struggled to meet the physical demands of Rosler’s pressing style over 90 minutes. But watch out for him in the coming weeks. Ryan Tunniciffe has struggled to adjust to that system, but has high ratings from Ipswich fans from his time there. He is clearly not short of confidence and should get better. New loan signing Jack Collison could have a major part to play, although playing  multiple games in a week is probably beyond what his knee can withstand.

Rosler has a wealth of players available to him upfront, although he lacks a natural goalscorer. Both Marc-Antoine Fortune and Nicky Maynard are capable centre forwards, of differing styles. Callum McManaman remains a potential match winner, despite his indifferent form so far. Martyn Waghorn has a great left foot, is excellent in the delivery of corner kicks, and a team player who complies at both ends of the pitch. James McClean is a much better player under Rosler. He is now lifting his head at key moments and becoming a more mature player. If he continues in his current vein of form he will attract interest from the big clubs. Nick Powell remains a wild card, the position in which he will play being uncertain. Being played wide is not his best position, but Rosler has the option to play him at centre forward or in the hole in midfield, which might be his best position.

Latics have the luxury of quality goalkeepers with not only the excellent Ali Al-Habsi and Scott Carson, but the exciting young Lee Nicholls waiting for another chance. Al-Habsi and Carson can be expected to rotate over coming weeks.

Given the injuries and the hectic schedule, Latics are likely to experience some ups and downs before the end of the season. It will be hard to maintain the level already established by the German.

Rosler has built up a fine team spirit and a strong squad. The aim is for Latics to be in the top six at the end of the season. If they can do that they have the players to take them back to the Premier League.

Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.