Category Archives: Wigan Athletic

Who is Alfie Devine? Spurs’ Youngest Ever Player and Goalscorer Profiled

Debuts don’t come much better than Alfie Devine’s for Tottenham in their 5-0 thumping of non-league Marine in the FA Cup on Sunday.

The Warrington born midfielder, who is the son of former St Helen’s rugby player Sean Devine, wasn’t even born when Jose Moutinho was revealed as Chelsea boss in the summer of 2004.

At just 16 years and 163 days Devine broke his first record of the day when he was introduced by Mourinho at half time. His first appearance for the club, with Tottenham already 4-0 up and cruising, made him Spurs’ youngest ever player, overtaking his Under-18 teammate Dane Scarlett, who had held the record since his debut in November.

The second record he broke was the icing on the cake. After receiving a pass from Lucas Moura, the young midfielder cut inside and drilled a low effort inside the near post. His name was again written into the history books, this time as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer.

His huge grin after scoring shows just how much it meant to him, and he more than held his own in his cameo appearance, looking comfortable on the ball and strong in the tackle, attributes familiar to anyone who had watched Devine previously at youth level. The game marked the latest milestone in the creative midfielder’s rapid ascent since joining Tottenham in the summer.

Devine started out in Liverpool’s academy, but was released aged 11 and moved on to Wigan, where he really began to make a name for himself. Given his immense talent, which has been evident from a very young age, Devine’s development at Wigan was fast tracked, so much so that he made his debut for the Latics’ Under-23 side aged only 15.

He really caught the eye last year, as did many of his teammates involved in Wigan’s magnificent FA Youth Cup run which was halted by Manchester United at the quarter final stage. Devine started that game at Old Trafford, having appeared as a late sub in Wigan’s fourth round victory over Tottenham.

He signed a new deal with the club in June of last year, but was sold just a month later as a result of the club going into administration and needing to raise funds. The Athletic reported that Spurs had to tussle with the likes of, “Celtic, Rangers, Leeds, Brighton, West Ham and Chelsea” to secure Devine’s signature, evidently displaying that the midfielder was a wanted man.

They also revealed that whilst it was the club’s head scout who pursued the player, the move was, “rubber stamped by Jose Mourinho, who even went to Devine’s medical in the summer to meet him,” conveying just how highly the Portuguese boss rates the midfielder.

Spurs got their man last July, in a transfer which cost them around £300,000. Despite his young age, the club were keen to fast track at every opportunity, and he trained with the first team during pre season before appearing in friendlies against Ipswich and Reading.

He started with the Under-18s this season, scoring twice and assisting another in seven games before quickly moving up to the Under-23s, scoring on his debut against Derby County. He hit the headlines last month after a nasty challenge on Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater in an Under-23 game, which led to a mass brawl before both he and Drinkwater received their marching orders. He has played four games in total so far for the Under-23s.

That incident with Drinkwater hasn’t deterred Jose Mourinho however, as Devine has been a regular fixture in first team training alongside fellow youngsters Dane Scarlett and Harvey White. Coaches are said to be impressed with both his ability and attitude.

Devine has also caught the eye on the international stage, having represented England regularly at Under-16 level. He played in the Sportchain AGS Cup in December 2019, picking up the player of the tournament.

His former Wigan coach lavished praised on him last year stating:

“Alfie is one of the best players I have worked with; he has a mature head on young shoulders.”

Many Tottenham fans are already drawing comparisons between Devine and the likes of Oliver Skipp, who is currently on loan at Championship side Norwich, and Harry Winks, given his capability of playing as a deep lying playmaker.

His task now will be to establish himself at Under-23 level, and to continue to train well with the first team when presented with the opportunity. Given the condensed nature of this season, he could make his Premier League bow before the season is out and will definitely be in contention for the next FA Cup game depending on the quality of Spurs’ opposition.

The Guardian included Devine in their list of the best 20 talents at Premier League clubs, and on the evidence of his showing in Crosby, it seems justified as there is plenty more to come from the young midfielder.

AFC Wimbledon HIT BY COVID

AFC Wimbledon, literally a few days after celebrating their momentous return to Plough Lane, have been hit by the COVID Bug.

Following the game against Doncaster Rovers, a number of the first team squad, returned positive tests.

As a result of this the weekends FA Cup first round tie at Barrow was postponed, to allow the affected players time to self isolate and recover.

24 Hours after this news was announced, the club then implemented a 14 day Fire Breaker, and everyone at AFC Wimbledon, is now isolating as a precaution

What this means is that the clubs next home game at Wigan, has also been postponed, till the results are known.

It isn’t known how the players contracted the virus, though in the games previously to being back at Plough Lane, the club were playing fixtures in the North, which as is known at this time, is where the majority of the worst cases are.

How Does This Affect The FA CUP for Wimbledon

Because this is a different competition to the EFL and as it was the the first round, it means that the club will treat the game as if were a replay and it will take place on a later date

So Both Barrow and AFC Wimbledon will be in the draw taking place tonight on BBC2, with them both having the Number 30 ball.

AFC Wimbledon’s next scheduled league game, ironically, is back in the north against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena. At this time the game is planned to go ahead

Wigan 8-0 Hull- What are the repercussions for both sides and the other teams involved in the battle to avoid the drop?

Wigan recorded their biggest ever league victory on Tuesday night as they dismantled a sorry Hull side to move 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

Paul Cook’s side were 7-0 up at half time, thanks to strikes from Naismith, Lowe and Williams, as well as doubles from Moore and Dowell, as Hull capitulated.

Dowell completed his hat-trick in the second half as the Latics recorded their eighth victory in their last eleven games, a run which has included 10 clean sheets.

This is a mightily impressive run of form when you factor in that they have a 12 point deduction looming, after the club were placed into administration last month.

It is the impending deduction, which leaves Wigan in danger of dropping down to League One. At the minute they sit 13th on 57 points but when the deduction is applied their points total falls to 45, which would take them to 21st, level on points with both Luton and Hull, ahead by only goal difference.

The EFL, according to the Evening Standard, have stated that the points deduction will only come into play this season if Wigan finish outside the relegation zone. It is therefore key that the club win their final two games to have any chance of staying up.

Buoyed by their recent performances, Paul Cook’s men will be full of confidence for their next game against fellow strugglers Charlton and their last fixture against promotion chasing Fulham. Win those two games, and it is likely that Wigan could remain in the Championship, even with the deduction coming in to play.

Wigan are just one of eight clubs that could face demotion to the third tier, as the bottom of the Championship table is incredibly tight with just two games left to play.

Hull City, who were pummelled by the Latics on Tuesday, Luton Town and yo-yo club Barnsley currently occupy the three relegation places. Barnsley are rock bottom, two points adrift of Luton and Hull who are level on 45 points, but with a game in hand on their relegation rivals.

Lingering above the drop zone by a single point are Charlton, who also boast a game in hand. Huddersfield, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, are nervously looking over their shoulder as they are two points ahead of Charlton, having played a game more.

Birmingham and Stoke City are next, level on 49 points they sit 18th and 19th, again having played a game less than the likes of Huddersfield, Luton and Hull.

Barnsley, who won promotion to the Championship last season, are likely to go straight back down to League One, as they have the hardest run in of any of those fighting relegation.

Gerhard Struber’s men face table toppers Leeds tomorrow night before entertaining in form Nottingham Forest in their penultimate game. They end the season with a trip to Griffin Park to play Brentford, and it is hard to see the Tykes getting anything from those games given their mixed form since the restart.

They have won two, drawn three and lost one of their six games since they returned from the break, but given how well the teams they are coming up against have fared they are in real trouble of going down.

Luton had looked nailed on for a swift return to League One before the break as they sat bottom of the table having endured a tough season, their first at Championship level in 12 years.

The reappointment of Nathan Jones, after he was sacked by Stoke has no doubt aided their fortunes, as the Hatters have defeated Swansea and Huddersfield since the restart, as well as picking up points against Leeds, Preston, Barnsley and QPR.

A heavy 5-0 defeat to Reading hasn’t helped their goal difference, which stands at -30, the highest in the league, which could be a determining factor in the race against the drop.

They face two cup finals to preserve their Championship status, the first a monumental clash with Hull at the weekend and the second against mid table Blackburn.

It will be a big ask, as Luton will also need others to slip up, but Nathan Jones’ men shouldn’t be written of just yet, especially given their recent revival.

Their opponents this weekend Hull have endured a tumultuous few months, and are in serious danger of dropping down to the third division for the first time since 2005.

Grant McCann will demand a response from his side in this weekend’s encounter with Luton and again against Cardiff after their dismal display on Tuesday night. They lacked any real fight and merely rolled over against the Latics.

They have won just one game since New Year’s Day, as their abysmal form in 2020 has seen them slide alarmingly down the table.

It is no surprise that their disastrous form has coincided with them selling their best two players, Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki in the January transfer window, and failing to bring in suitable replacements for them.

Wigan’s impending point deduction has given them an olive branch but if they don’t collect any points from their final two games, which given their current state of affairs will be a tough ask, they could still go down.

Last season’s League One Playoff winners Charlton are also involved in the relegation scrap. They won back to back games straight after the restart, but are since winless in four to leave them hovering over the dreaded drop zone with three games left to play.

They face off against Birmingham tonight in a must win clash, before hosting Wigan and travelling to Leeds on the last day of the season.

A return of four points from those games should be enough to keep Lee Bowyer’s side in the division, but it is going to be a struggle given their lack of goals recently amidst the departure of their star striker Lyle Taylor.

Although very much still in trouble, a win this evening should ease fears of relegation for the Addicks.

A team in dire need of a victory are Huddersfield, who are in serious danger of suffering back to back relegations, given their poor form since the restart. They have won just one game since the break and have failed to hit the target in their last four games.

A 0-0 draw last night against Sheffield Wednesday, coupled with a Charlton victory tonight would leave the Terriers just three points above the drop zone. They have West Brom and Millwall in their last two games, a difficult run in compared to others around them.

With goals hard to come by, they really have to dig deep to grind out some results, as they will need to avoid defeat in both those fixtures to stay up.

Birmingham are another team who have been pulled into the relegation battle, as results since the restart haven’t come their way. They have lost four of six games, drawing the other two, the form of a club in real trouble which cost manager Pep Clotet his job.

They have three games left, against Charlton, Preston and Derby, and with four points separating them and Hull, and Wigan’s impending deduction, their early season form has probably saved them from falling out of the division.

A major rebuild will have to commence at St Andrews next season however, with Clotet gone and talented youngster Bellingham set to join Borussia Dortmund for £22.5 million.

Stoke City are also fighting for survival, after an inconsistent season. Their form since the restart has encapsulated this notion. Michael O’Neill’s men drew with Reading before losing to Middlesbrough and Wigan. They then thumped Barnsley 4-0, lost to Leeds 5-0 and beat Birmingham 2-0, to distance themselves from the drop zone.

They had an awful start to the season under Nathan Jones, winning just 2 of their 14 games to sit in the relegation zone. Michael O’Neill’s arrival at the bet365 Stadium mid season helped to steady the ship, and the win over Birmingham helped them take huge strides towards securing safety, something which looked impossible in November.

They face Bristol City tonight, knowing a win will all but guarantee safety, helping them break into the 50 points bracket with two tough games left against Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

Given the erratic nature of the Championship predicting who will go down is arguably one of the most difficult tasks in football. Yet, it is hard to look past Barnsley and Hull to be relegated, given their remaining fixtures and poor form.

Who will join them is where it gets interesting as Luton, Charlton, Huddersfield and Birmingham are all scrapping to avoid falling into the final relegation place.

Throw in Wigan’s impending points deduction and the Championship relegation battle becomes even more complicated and simultaneously intriguing for a neutral watching on.

For more reaction to Wigan Athletic entering administration see video below:

Said Benrahma: The Algerian whose taken the Championship by Storm

Said Benrahma is the name on every Championship fan’s lips this season as a series of sparkling displays have highlighted just how talented the 24 year old is.

A quick search of his name on YouTube and you’ll find some of the finest highlight reels in football, including an ingenious double nutmeg on Middlesbrough’s Lewis Wimg this term.

He is so good at sliding the ball through a player’s legs that Brentford B coach Sam Saunders recently told the Guardian:

“He could nutmeg a mermaid.”

Yet, Benrahma is so much more than just a tricky winger.

He has been the Bees creative force this season, forming an impressive attacking trio alongside Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins (who have been christened Brentford’s BMW) netting fifteen goals and providing six assists in the league.

Routinely deployed on the left wing, Benrahma loves to cut inside on his right foot and deliver a cross or have a shot on goal. He is one of the most technically gifted players in the division, with his dribbling often leaving defenders in knots.

His contribution to Brentford’s promotion push since the restart has underlined his importance to the Bees, scoring five and assisting one as Thomas Frank’s side have won all of their games since the break to sit just two points behind second place West Brom.

Three of those strikes came in the weekend’s game against Wigan, with the winger clinically dispatching the relegation threatened side with relative ease. His first was a well timed volley, the second an inch perfect cross come shot after he had tormented Byrne and the third a well placed shot into the far corner giving Marshall in goal, no chance.

Manager Thomas Frank was full of praise for the winger’s display, stating in his post match press conference:

“I think in general he has had a good season so far, but he has absolutely hit the ground running after this coronavirus break.

“He has added extra to his game, such as arriving in the box, and these last four games he has been getting better and better,  with his passing and his finishing.

“I have to praise him for his work ethic. He worked extremely hard. He has been good, he needs to keep it up.”

A Benrahma inspired Brentford then came from behind against Charlton at Griffin Park to continue their march towards promotion with a 2-1 win. Benrahma won and coolly converted a penalty to equalise before the Bees scored a second to pick up all three points.

He caused problems for Charlton all evening as he occupied a more central role, picking the ball up in between the lines and playing neat interchanges with Watkins.

His form this season will come as no great surprise to those who watched him at Griffin Park in his maiden campaign in England last season. He managed ten goals and fifteen assists last year as Brentford finished 11th but Benrahma has taken his game to new levels this year.

He represents another shrewd bit of business from the London club, as he was picked up in the summer of 2018 from Nice for a fee of £2.8 million, after catching the eye on loan in Ligue 2.

Having come through the youth ranks at Algerian side NRB Bethioua, Benrahma moved to France, linking up with Balma SC Colomiers and then moving on to Nice. He made his debut for the first team in 2013, aged just 18 but spent the majority of his time at the club in the reserve side before going out on loan. He left Nice having made 17 appearances, scoring three goals.

His first loan spell came in Ligue 1 with Angers, then he dropped down to Ligue 2 and had stints with Gazélec Ajaccio and Chateauroux. It was at the latter, which he first started to show his undoubted potential and came to Brentford’s attention. He scored nine goals in 31 appearances, aged just 22 and Brentford decided to take a risk and snap him up that summer.

He hasn’t looked back since and the Algerian is now surely worth at least ten times the fee Brentford paid for him. With a host of Premier League clubs sniffing around him, Benrahma is likely to leave if the Bees don’t make it out of the Championship this time around, having already talked of his desire to play in the top flight.

A full Algerian international, Benrahma has won three caps for his country and comparisons are often drawn between him and compatriot Riyad Mahrez. Both started their journey in Ligue 2 before lighting up the Championship and both are silky wingers who enjoy nutmegging opponents and creating chances.

If Benrahma, who was nominated for the Championship Player of the Year, manages to emulate Mahrez’s career trajectory he may well go down as one of the best bargain signings the Championship has ever seen.

For now, his focus will be on finishing the campaign strongly and propelling Brentford to the big time.

With just four games left of the regular season and potential play off dates to come if Brentford can’t pop West Brom to second place, now is the time for Benrahma to show his quality and provide for Brentford when they really need him.

A glimpse of the footballing world through covid-19

As football came to a standstill, with the last football fixtures played over a month ago, clubs submerged into circumstances which would cut revenue and throw thousands upon thousands of jobs into jeopardy. Uncertainty of cash flow has seen various individuals sacrifice a wage percentage to ensure non-playing staff receive income. In one example, Reading manager Mark Bowen and chief executive Nigel Howe took a ”substantial percentage” wage cut in order to pay staff at the Berkshire club.

In the uncertain times of today, football clubs and their players have not been short of ideas in helping out and keeping busy. Social media has been flooded with entertainment courtesy of the biggest stars in football, whether that be Cristiano Ronaldo using his children as weights in his home gym or Nottingham Forest winger, Joe Lolley throwing a pan over his house. We have certainly seen a variety!

Premier League Season Extends Hiatus Indefinitely Because of COVID ...
As Coronavirus causes disruptions across the globe, we gain insight to how the footballing world is reacting.

With recognition that a football club is a colossal source of employment relative to a small town or community, it has become crystal clear just how important the football industry has become to towns and cities across the country. Fears of small clubs being disabled in recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic puts whole communities in a dismal situation. Despite this pressing thought, the football clubs we know and love are giving back through support in the community.

In regards to the 2019/2020 football season as a whole key decisions certainly need to be made. After all, with so much money at stake and livelihoods of many at risk, should there in fact be any relegation’s this season? Dropping down a league is a deeply emotional as well as a troubling financial affair and in the current situation may we see the Premier League and the Football Leagues decide to stop the drop?  Perhaps the most likely of the options is to finish the season – when safe for players, immediate staff and reporters to do so- behind close doors. This option is certainly the safest and potentially most sensible option, but both players and fans alike will argue this does not allow for a true representation of the season considering how atmospheres in stadiums can affect the game.

As for promotions and league titles this has to be concluded, not only because the whole team, fans included, have been building towards that target, but have also pledged large amounts of their budget on the basis of gaining promotion. Suddenly having that taken away could have dire financial consequences. When it is safe to do this is still unknown,however some reports say that the start of June is a possibility.

Another thing to consider is how will contracts and the transfer window work? Players and staff contracts usually run until the end of June/July in order to cover the season. Will contracts have to be extended to see out the current season or will a general rule be brought in? How will the Transfer Window work with Social Distancing rules? Could deals be done via video calls, potentially yes, but will everyone be satisfied by this ?

On a large scale, we’ve seen in the space of two weeks players unite with #PlayersTogether. A charity set up amongst the Premier League club captains in order to fund and provide PPE, vital equipment for NHS staff and key workers on the front line of the pandemic.

At a local level, many clubs have delivered for those wonderful individuals of the NHS. In Watford, Vicarage Road has been opened to allow a place of rest and recovery for Doctors and Nurses and Watford General Hospital.

While up north, Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook has transferred managerial skills to supermarket delivery skills, signing up as a key worker to deliver shopping to those in self-isolation.  

Manchester United and England striker, Marcus Rashford has also continued his work within the community by partnering with FareShare, a charity which is reaching out to school children who would usually benefit from free school meals. Rashford’s involvement has helped the charity raise over £20 million which is directly bettering lives through distribution of meals to over 400,000 school children.

Arguably social media has been poignant in lifting spirits of everyone bound to their homes, giving us an insight to the lives of footballers and also allowing engagement between clubs and community. Various footballers from all teams have been video calling with young fans and we even had an insight to the Liverpool side having their morning meeting via today’s technology.

Furthermore, the Match Of The Days boys are ever present on social media and also completing one of many football podcasts. In the time slot of the regular highlights programme the show continues to add some routine to football fans across the country.

In a time of little positivity, it is these small gestures that are welcomed to bring light to the situation.

To hear more about football during isolation please listen to our podcast below.

The Isolation Pod: When will football return and Newcastle to be taken over?

https://247-football.com/2020/04/21/blades-players-take-partial-wage-bonus-deferrals-due-to-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic/