ADAM VIRGO

Peter­bor­ough, Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and QPR are all up for dis­cus­sion

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: -

WHEN Cal­lum McManaman left Wi­gan to be­come Tony Pulis’ first sign­ing for West Brom in 2015, he made a very big mis­take.

It was the wrong club, at the wrong time, for the wrong man­ager. Tony’s style is tried and tested, but it doesn’t suit an outand-out winger like Cal­lum.

That much is re­flected in his stats. Since ar­riv­ing at The Hawthorns ex­actly two years ago, the 25-year-old has man­aged just 20 Pre­mier League ap­pear­ances. Of those, only seven were starts.

This sea­son, McManaman’s soli­tary run-out came for the Un­der-23s in a Check­a­trade game against Lu­ton. His ca­reer has well and truly stalled un­der a man­ager who clearly doesn’t trust him.

Tal­ented

That’s why I was re­ally pleased to see him join Sh­effield Wed­nes­day on loan for the rest of the sea­son. It is a ter­rific sign­ing for both par­ties.

For Cal­lum, it is a chance to res­ur­rect a ca­reer that, by the age of 25, should boast a lot more than 130 pro games.

This move won’t make or break him. He’s too tal­ented for that, but it is a chance to re­mind every­one why West Brom paid al­most £5m for him.

It’s also a chance for Cal­lum to play in a side and style that suits him. The way Car­los Car­val­hal likes to set up – sit­ting deep, hit­ting at speed on the counter – is a per­fect way to re­pair dented con­fi­dence.

For Wed­nes­day, it’s a qual­ity sign­ing at a crit­i­cal time. On the face of it, the Owls have op­tions in wide ar­eas in Barry Ban­nan, Ross Wal­lace and Adam Reach. But they haven’t got any­one like Cal­lum.

He can play wide, he can play off the front-man. He’s di­rect and at­tacks play­ers. And, as good as Ban­nan and Wal­lace are, they don’t score enough goals. Used cor­rectly, Cal­lum will, as he proved in the Cham­pi­onship with Wi­gan. Also, think of him and Fer­nando Forestieri in the same team. At present, op­po­nents can get tight to the Ital­ian play­maker as no­body else on Wed­nes­day’s team pos­sesses the same level of craft, pace and skill.

Now, de­fend­ers have some­thing else to worry about and that should free Forestieri to wreak havoc.

Is McManaman Pre­mier League class? That’s dif­fi­cult to judge on the num­ber of games he’s played for West Brom. What I can say, with con­fi­dence, is that he’s an ex­cep­tional player at this level.

All man­agers crave op­tions and McManaman of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent, that bit of ag­gres­sion in wide ar­eas, that bit of Pre­mier League qual­ity. He’ll be rusty, I’m sure, but also ter­rific once he finds his feet.

Not that Wed­nes­day need much help as the im­pres­sive 1-0 vic­tory at ta­ble-top­ping New­cas­tle proved.

For­get the stut­ter­ing start to the sea­son. Every­one takes time to ad­just af­ter los­ing a play-off fi­nal. You’re now see­ing the real Wed­nes­day. One of the di­vi­sion’s best keep­ers in Kieren Westwood. One of the strong­est mid­fields, too. A solid back four that kept New­cas­tle at bay.

With McManaman on board, I don’t see any­one keep­ing them out of the top six.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

RE­TURN OF THE MAC: Cal­lum McManaman can re­vive his ca­reer at Sh­effied Wed­nes­day

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