Q&A: ‘The last five or six games he was superb’ - City new boy impressed Wigan fans during loan
PA Wire/PA Images
After Norwich City’s signing of Kieran Dowell from Everton, David Freezer spoke to Adam Pendlebury from the Progress With Unity podcast about the midfielder’s successful loan spell at Wigan Athletic.
It seems like Dowell was a big part of Wigan’s decent run of form towards the end of the season?
Absolutely. We signed him on loan in January and he made his debut in the FA Cup match at Leicester (a 2-0 loss in the third round), and didn’t really do anything. He struggled a bit in his first three or four matches and then got injured - and pretty much was out for the season. But obviously with lockdown he was available again for the restart. Again he sort of got off to a slow start but the last five or six games he really did come good, obviously the highlight being his hat-trick in the 8-0 win against Hull. His general performances over that course of time were very strong, very consistent, and you can see he’s got a talent. He’s come through at a very good club in Everton and I think it’s one of those were sometimes players take a little bit longer to mature. At Championship level I think he’s a decent player. Not sure about stepping up to the Premier League but in the Championship I think he’ll be a good signing.
Where did he fit into the team?
He struggled at the start because of other personnel we had in place. He was playing wide a bit and these players sometimes don’t get into the game much if they’re wide, whereas if they’re in that number 10 position they can pick the ball up on the half turn, which he likes doing, and he does see a pass very quickly. One of the problems I guess with Wigan at the start was that maybe he wasn’t getting those runners in but the wide players have come good. Kiefer Moore has improved a lot and the runs were being made, so if you’ve got a striker who makes runs, like a Teemu Pukki. I don’t know if Norwich will keep hold of Pukki or not but if they do it could work very well, just behind him and linking up. I know they have other personnel who would be challenging for that role but personally I think that’s where he has to play, either as a forward in a three-man midfield or just behind the striker. I think if you put him out wide, he becomes anonymous really - he’s not one of those who’s going to get to the bye-line and put crosses in. So if they can work him in somewhere centrally in their team, I think he’ll do a good job for Norwich.
So he should fit well into Daniel Farke’s usual 4-2-3-1 formation?
If you’ve got a couple of good, solid midfielders alongside him, like Morsy and Williams were superb for Wigan post-lockdown and if he’s got two solid players either side of him he can go and do his bit. The other thing that surprised me about him was his work rate was superb, so if you do a press, he’s happy to be up there helping with the press as well. So he’s not like a luxury player that sometimes as a number 10 don’t want to do the work, he looks like he’s willing to work as well. So if Norwich want to play that, press and stop teams playing out from the back, I think he can play a big part in the more defensive side as well.
Was he taken to the hearts of Wigan fans then?
I think so. Even after the first couple of games after lockdown there was a bit of a debate about whether he should be playing but I think a lot of players took a bit of time to get back into it. They hadn’t played football in three or four months. I spotted something in him, I thought he was a guy who is what I call a ‘Championship and a half’ player, where they don’t quite have it for the Premier League but they see things that your average Championship player doesn’t. As he started to get used to the other players and the runs that they were making, he could pick them out. So a lot of fans really did take to him, the last five or six games he was superb, probably a couple of man-of-the-match performances. Obviously his hat-trick was the obvious one but he had a good game against Fulham (a 1-1 home draw) on the last day of the season, against a quality opposition, and I guess they’re the sort of side that he’ll need to do well against if Norwich want to be pushing for promotion, you need your best players to perform in the big games. And his goals, the third he scored against Hull, I’m sure if your scout just saw that goal I’m sure that on its own is something that would attract them to him - it takes a quality sort of player to score that type of goal. But then his other goals as well, just how quickly he can shift the ball and get the shot away and as we all know, if you can shoot early it often puts the goalkeeper in a difficult position. I like him, I think you probably need to give him a bit of time, it depends how patient the fans are, I know it’s difficult when you come down from the Premier League because inevitably fans think you should be pushing for promotion but often there are quite a lot of changes and some players have to go.
- You can watch the conversation in full in the video above