A Bradford City fan’s view of Reece Burke

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The 20 year old West Ham United defender Reece Burke joined Wigan Athletic last week on a season long loan. The 6 ft 2 12 in Burke is essentially a central defender but can also play right back.

Latics manager Gary Caldwell clearly has a high opinion of Burke, commenting that:

As soon as we were made aware of Reece’s availability, we worked hard to get him here as we knew there was interest from a number of Championship clubs. He’s about to turn 20 and the experience he has already is impressive, having played in the Premier League for West Ham and also his successful spell with Bradford last season.

The fact West Ham have signed him up to a four-year-deal tells you how highly they rate him and we are pleased that they believe the best place for him to develop now is with us here at Wigan Athletic. He brings good quality on the ball, but most importantly he’s a solid defender who can deal with big crowds and the league environment, as he proved at Bradford.”

Reece Burke was born in Newham and joined West Ham when he was nine years old. He has represented England at under 18, under 19 and under 20 levels. He made his senior debut for the Hammers in January 2014, in an FA Cup match at Nottingham Forest. His next appearance came the following August in a League Cup tie at home to Sheffield United. He had to wait until April 2015 to make his Premier League debut in a goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers. This season he played for the Hammers in their ill-fated Europa League match up with Astra Giurgiu at the London Stadium.

Last season Burke was loaned out to Bradford City, where he made a major impact, winning the Player of the Year award.

In order to learn more about Burke’s time at Bradford we contacted Bantams’ fan Stuart Black through Twitter  (@blackmeister).

Here’s over to Stuart:

We made a poor start to last season. Late player recruitment had damaged our summer plans, caused by the protracted and ultimately failed takeover of Bradford City by Gianni Paladini. The alarm bells were ringing amongst the fans after a weak pre-season, a poor start to the League and being dumped out of the Capital One Cup by York City.

Reece made his debut in the Yorkshire Derby away at Barnsley on 25th August 2015 where City drew 0-0 gaining us only our second point of the season. From then on he played in 34 fixtures at Centre half and was named as our Player of the season.

Reece settled in well next to experienced Rory McArdle and as the season progressed and as our performances improved he certainly gained confidence.

He has a fantastic coolness about him on the ball that not many centre halves have and on many occasions he would take the ball forward skilfully beating opponents reminding us of a Bobby Moore/ Rio Ferdinand type.  The last player I can remember being so cool in possession from that position for Bradford was the late Dean Richards who ended up at Spurs.  His modern day comparison would be John Stones.

He is fairly quick and athletic but strong for his age. With further improvement in his heading and tackling ability he will be playing Premier League football within 1-2 years without a doubt. 

It was widely suggested by City fans that we will one day see Reece Burke in an England Shirt as a full international as he has all the ability in the world to do so. Let’s hope his career continues to blossom at Wigan and he becomes as much of a favourite with your fans as he is endeared by ours.  

A Dundee United fan’s view of Kyle Knoyle

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The 19 year old Kyle Knoyle has joined Wigan Athletic on loan from West Ham United for the whole of the coming season.Knoyle is a right back, a position which was problematic for Latics last season.

Last summer Caldwell signed Kevin McNaughton on a one year contract and Jonjoe Kenny on a two month loan. Unfortunately things did not work out with McNaughton making only three appearances before picking up an injury that effectively kept him out for the rest of the season. Moreover Kenny was recalled by Everton when his loan spell expired. Donervon Daniels was moved across from the centre of defence and showed promise in the right back position, if not being entirely convincing. Donald Love was brought in from Manchester United for a short term loan, with Reece Wabara being signed as a replacement in January. Wabara’s short term contract terminated in summer and it appears that Latics were not willing to meet his wage expectations for staying.

With Knoyle and Daniels available it could be that Gary Caldwell will not be seeking another right back. The signing of Knoyle could therefore prove crucial.

On signing the Newham-born youngster Caldwell said Kyle is a young player with potential, one who has been identified as having the qualities we are looking for and was watched last season. We are optimistic he can develop here with us and make a positive contribution to the squad and we’re happy to have him on board.”

The 5 ft 9 in Kyle Knoyle is a product of the West Ham academy with three caps for the England under 18 team. He has made just one appearance for the Hammers’ senior team, playing the full 90 minutes against Astra Girgiu in Romania in the Europa League last August. He was an unused substitute on three occasions last season.

In January Knoyle went on loan to Dundee United, where he was to play alongside Billy Mckay. He made his debut for the Tangerines as an 82nd minute substitute in a 3-0 win at Ross County in late February. He repeated this with a 66th minute substitution against the same side a week later in the Scottish Cup, which United won 3-2. Knoyle had to wait until early April to make his first start in a 1-0 victory over St Johnstone. Despite poor team results in the rest of April and May he was a regular starter. Knoyle made a total of 9 starts for United.

In order to get more information on Knoyle’s time at Tannadice we reached out to the Dundee United fan forum on www.arableague.co.uk.

I hasten to add that United have been referred to as “the Arabs” since the 1962-63 season when the harsh winter led to the cancellation of many matches. However, on one occasion they were due to play at home to Albion Rovers and the club hired a tar burner to melt the snow and ice on the pitch, which they covered with tons and tons of sand. The team played so well on the sandy surface, virtually devoid of grass, that they became known as the Arabs.

The feedback we received through the forum:

Setenza commented that:

He only really started getting a game towards the end of his loan period for us. Once he did, most people wondered why he didn’t start before.

We were a pretty dreadful team last season, playing mostly long ball football, but he did show plenty of willingness to get forward from full back and attack, and in my view was one of our better performers. Worked hard and usually tried the right thing in possession. Defensively, maybe a few more slip ups, but was playing in an awful defence.

Certainly wouldn’t have been unhappy if we’d signed him for another loan spell. Seemed to have the right attitude to be a decent player in time.

Micky added that:

Can’t add anything more than what Set said, seems a good attacking option from full back..

Naebody responded:

For a couple of games, he looked the best player in the worst United team for 50 years. Everything Set says is fair. But it’s impossible to know whether the awful quality of players around him were making him look better or worse.

We also got feedback from the Dundee United Mad forum:

TerryTheTerror commented:

Signed on loan in January then never given a chance in the team. Once he did get that chance he was a fixture and ended up probably being our best and most consistent performer. Fast, athletic, hard in the tackle, and good with the ball. Everything a full back should be.

Weedude83 supported Terry’s comments:

Once our idiotic manager decided to play him, was regularly our best player.

Quick, strong and likes to get forward and help the attack.

Defensively, strong in the tackle, very tenacious and won his share of headers – sometimes caught out of position but that’s to be expected at his age/experience.

Genuinely wish we had him for next season.

Smirky4 was less positive:

I thought he was very average, I think people hyped him up on here and everyone looked at him with rose tinted glasses, often caught out of position, not a flying wing back bombing forward getting crosses in or indeed playing that killer pass…..