View from the away end – Wigan Athletic.

Ryan Taylor...over the wall. Although he's in Wigan colors- it must of been against us!
As I mentioned in my previous View thread the articles will be coming fairly thick and fast now as I work my way through the remaining Premier League clubs.

I’ll be honest and say that Wigan was a club I really struggled with in terms of finding a fan who would take part in an interview. Luckily I was able to turn to the wonderful world of social networking to find my guy to talk to.

It’s amazing what you can do on Twitter these days using a football club’s hash tag. I advertised for a Wigan fan to take part in an interview for the ‘blog and luckily I heard back from someone at TNS WAFC, a fan page on Twitter who were more than happy to take part.

Wigan survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, Martinez’s men looked destined for the dreaded drop at times. Wigan do play some nice football, it’s what Martinez believes in, but we all know football is a results game. But wins against West Ham and then an impressive away win at Stoke on the last day of the season saw The Latics survive and they were able to retain their top flight status.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez proved in pre-season that there is still a bit loyalty in football by rejecting the chance to manage Aston Villa. Martinez was keen to stay and take care of unfinished business at the DW Stadium, despite an approach from elsewhere that would of probably seen his wages increase dramatically. No disrespect to Wigan but it would have given Roberto the chance to manage a bigger club that would have inevitably backed him financially in the transfer market too.

I really respect Martinez for turning the Villa job down. His love and loyalty for Wigan kept him at the club and that has to be admired. Especially with the way football has evolved, where seemingly it’s all about money and the passion and dedication seems to come second to most players and managers these days. Roberto obviously has ambitions and plans at Wigan and it’s excellent to see that he wants to honour that.

The Wigan fan base is at times criticized by the neutral. The DW is rarely full and a few football fans I have spoken to have questioned the fans and have debated whether Wigan really deserve to be a Premier League team. A touch harsh perhaps as of course you earn your top flight status by getting results and if at the end of the season your one of the best seventeen teams in the division then by all accounts you deserve your spot in the Premier League.

I was very impressed actually by the lad I spoke to. He certainly knows his football. I think he has some interesting points and slightly different opinions have been given in this edition of the series. Here’s what was said:

What do you think of Newcastle fans?

The problem with Newcastle fans is less with the fans themselves and more with the way the media portray them. The whole “bestest, loyalist, craziest fans in the world” thing is a bit of a put down to other fans and I don’t think they take to well to it, especially when you come across the whoppers (usually on the internet) who believe the hype. And then you meet real, in the flesh fans, and my experience is of blokes who are witty, generous and who don’t take the whole thing too seriously. People who you’d be quite happy to have a pint with, if only you could understand a word they were saying…

If you could have any Newcastle player at Wigan who would it be and why?

The obvious two would be (a fit) Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote. From what I’ve seen both would really fit in with our style of play. Tiote would really add to our midfield and, at the moment, there’s a bit of an unknown quality to our wingers that Ben Arfa would help us get over. Ask me again after I’ve seen our new signings, Albert Crusat and Shaun Maloney, play a few games and you might get a different answer.

Less obviously, is old boy Ryan Taylor. I’m not sure how you’ve found him, but he never really seemed to get to the pace of the Premier League for us. I’d take him back tomorrow though if only for his knack to grab the points against you guys. Every little helps when you’re facing an inevitable relegation battle.

Who is your favourite NUFC player of all time and why?

As a kid, Kevin Keegan would have won this one hands down, but as a manager and now as a pundit I’ve gradually gone right off him. I’d be tempted to go with Charles N’Zogbia but, if I’m
honest, I’d just be trying to wind you up over the opportunity that you missed with him.

After a bit of thought, I think that I’d have to go with David Ginola. A real top player who made it all look so effortless. Class on a stick.

What do you make of St James’ Park?

Personally, I’ve only ever gone past your ground. Our time in the Premier League has coincided with the start of my family and I don’t get away that often. From what I’ve heard though, it’s pretty impressive if you take your own oxygen and binoculars.

What do you make of our business in the transfer market- the departures of Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton. Will we cope without them?

You tell me. I think you’re well rid of Barton. He might be keen to present himself as a changed man, but his antics in your first couple of games were enough to show that he’s probably not.
Nolan was a real shocker for me but I guess that he’s getting to the age where needs to think about his financial future (you can translate that as I think that he’s proved himself a greedy so and so) and if that’s his mind set then you may also be better off without.

I’d be disappointed that after sticking with Enrique for so long, after his shaky start but I assume he was going into the last year of his contract and you’re still in credit with Liverpool after Andy Carroll’s move in January.

What are your opinions of Mike Ashley and how does he compare to Dave Whelan?

The comparisons between Whelan and Ashley probably stop with discount polyester. The biggest difference for me is that Whelan doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not (yes, he really is a caricature of the Victorian business man). Ashley’s “look at me, I’m a man of the people” act
marked him out as a whopper for me from day one and anyone who trusts Dennis Wise and would offer Alan Pardew a five year contract has obviously got issues somewhere, or other.

Martinez has demonstrated that in some cases there is loyalty in football by rejecting Villa and remaining at Wigan, but what do you think of our manager Alan Pardew?

Pardew and Latics have a long history stemming back to his time at Reading, who were our main competitors for a few seasons a while back. They usually got the upper hand at the time and Pardew proved himself to be smug, smarmy and a little bit snide. I’ve not seen anything that has changed my mind since.

Bobby (Martinez) is by no means universally popular with our fans and there are those who would have been glad to see him go to Villa. I’m not one of them, but I’m not so sure how much of his decision was down to pure loyalty. He’s in the middle of a long term project with us and I think he wanted to see it through plus Villa would have represented the start of another long term project and I’m not sure their fans would prove patient enough for them to reap the benefits.

Who will finish higher in the league out the two of us this season?

I never bet on Latics, for superstitious reasons, so you.

Seriously though, I suspect that we may find ourselves more comfortable in the second half of this season than we did last and we’ll probably end up in the same part of the table with maybe a couple of places between us. Which way around, is probably too close for me to call right now.

Score predictions for this season?

At St James’ – 2-2
At The DW – 2-0.

Ryan Taylor, a former player of yours is certainly doing the business for us thus far this season. You mentioned him earlier. What are your views on Ryan?

I liked Ryan as a player, but he just didn’t seem to be developing into a Premier League player. He was a level headed lad with the right attitude on the pitch and I remember saying at the time that I’d rather be playing in the Championship if it meant that we could have a squad full of players like Ryan rather than some of the egos we seemed to be collecting back then.

The Joey Barton affair was a bit of a saga at NUFC. What are your opinions on the situation and Joey himself? Would you have had him at Wigan?

Quite a few people would have taken Joey at Wigan, but not me. I just can’t take to the fellow and even if he could redeem himself for everything that has happened, the best he could hope for is to become some kind of quasi Scott Parker which would still make him easy to despise.

The situation leading to him leaving was badly managed all around and whilst it must be shit for the fans to watch things like that happen at their club, I do wonder whether Ashley, Pardew and Barton deserve each other.

Who’s your danger man at Wigan? Who should we most fear when we play you boys?

It sounds like a cliché but the honest answer is that Latics are now completely about the collective rather than one individual. The likes of N’Zogbia and Rodallega have stood out over the past couple of seasons but have only shone when the team has gelled behind them. At any time though, the measure of how well the team is playing is how much Ben Watson appears to be influencing the game. But as I said, that’s just a reflection of how the team is doing and it would be a folly to try and cut him out of the game.

Rather than trying to single out players, my advice would be for any opposition to try and keep a high tempo we’ve struggled to get control of games like that in the past however (hopefully) our midfield is starting to look like it’s learnt from its experiences and that might not be so much of a problem this year.

Finally I like to finish these interviews by discussing a player that has represented both clubs. We have spoken a bit about Ryan but let’s talk a bit more about N’Zogbia? He was your star man last year yes?

And the one before. For me, it’s a toss-up between Charlie and Antonio Valencia for our best player of the last seven seasons. N’Zogbia was a Steve Bruce January signing, made in full knowledge that Valencia was off in the summer but I think it’s true to say that Bruce didn’t use either of the players too imaginatively. Charlie blossomed when Roberto Martinez took over the reins and excelled in an “inside-out” role. Comparisons to Messi sound ridiculous, but only so much as comparisons between Latics and Barcelona are. We aspire to play in a similar style and he filled the Messi role for us. You’ve no doubt seen the stat that he completed the second highest number of dribbles in Europe last season? Second to the diminutive Argentinian no less, so maybe the comparisons aren’t that daft?

Despite all that, I’m sort of happy to see him go. Just like teams that have a big lad up front, Charlie had become a bit of a crutch for the rest of the team. Without him we’ll have to have a bit more collective responsibility. The other reason that I’m not that sad he‟s left is the constant, and I mean constant, speculation about him leaving. There are suspicions that he courted that, but his actions on the pitch say otherwise and I think it comes down to a mixture of mischievous managers of other clubs (I’m looking at Sunderland), greedy agents and the press thinking he was too good for us. Hopefully we can get some peace and quiet for a bit now.

Some interesting views there. I think every other fan has strongly questioned the sale of Nolan, where as Alan has mentioned that Kev could have been off for the extra dollar. Something that a few Newcastle fans have suggested themselves. That was one of the responses that stood out for me.

I was really impressed by the quality of interview to be honest, well answered and very honest about how he sees things at both his club and ours. Big thank you to Alan for taking part and the best of luck to Wigan next season.

What do you lot think of the Wigan perspective on things? If anyone wants to see more of Alan and Co’s opinions you can follow them on Twitter at @TNS_WAFC.

About MarkToon

I’m Mark, I live in a little town called Rugby. I go back a long way with Toonsy, we have traveled the country together watching the lads. I eat, breath and sleep Newcastle United! Follow me on [email protected] MRStockers or add me on Facebook- Mark Stockley.

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