Latics Folan on bad times

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After much wailing and gnashing of teeth on message boards across the borough, Latics have finally made their fourth signing of the January transfer window as Chesterfield’s Caleb Folan joins the cause. It would be easy to be cynical about his past record but at least we’ve got a striker in which gives us at least two to pick from against Reading.

Folan started off life as a trainee at the “champions of Europe” but after two years and no appearances the frontman realised that he was too old for David O’Leary’s team (did he forget to mention they were just kids?). He then wound his way to Derbyshire via loan deals at Rushden and Hull.

The frontman is still young enough, at 24, to fit into the ‘he’s got potential’ category but his career stats so far won’t inspire many hallelujahs from the expectant Latics fans. In his 110 games for the Spirites Folan has notched only 19 goals. Many of those appearances has been from the bench and 19 from 63 starts looks better for a relative youngster.

The most telling stat is that 12 of those goals have come this season and Chesterfield fans seem split over whether this is because the lad has hit a purple patch or has finally developed into the player that he’d previously only hinted that he could be.

Jewell seems to think that he’s onto a good thing, “I’ve always maintained that I will never buy a player unless I think he can add something to my squad, and Caleb is no different.” he told the official site, “I think the lad’s got it, simple as that”.

We could find out what he’s got as early as next Tuesday. Whilst it may take Folan time to adjust to the top flight, there are no issues with injury or pre-season that should prevent him being in the squad for the Reading game, if he is to play a part it seems most likely to be from the bench.

The £500,000 fee and 31/2 year contract suggest that this signing is one for the future, but if there’s a lot to be done for that to be a future in the Premier League. Folan has already managed 3 goals against top flight opposition this season, in League Cup ties against City, Charlton and West Ham, Latics will be looking for him to continue that run of form on a more regular basis.

There’s a big risk involved in signing a player from the lower leagues to save your Premier League season. There are some parallels with Blackburn’s signing of Jon Stead a few years back. That was a big step up for the young lad, but his goals helped Rovers to 21 points between February and the end of the season. Did he save them? It’s hard to tell but their final total of 44 points suggests a season that was as depressing as this one is for ours.

Of course there’s every chance that Jewell doesn’t see Folan as the man to save the day and there are suggestions that the manager is still on the look out for another striker. Being on the look out and actually signing a player are two completely different things for Latics and regardless of whether the lad has been signed as cover or not, there’s every chance that he’ll play a key part in the club’s future in this division.

Oops, it’s been so long I’ve forgotten the etiquette.  Welcome to Wigan Caleb, may your stay be long and your goals be plenty, failing that try hard and shout a lot, it’ll keep them off your back for a while.

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