Check out this interview with a Wigan fan about the brilliant talent that is Reece James and how good he was last season. A special thank you to @wiganfanfrank for helping us with this interview.
Wigan were in a difficult relegation battle last season, what did Reece James bring to the side that helped you in your fight?
Reece James came into Wigan’s squad as a back-up right back with no professional experience. He impressed our manager so much in just preseason, that he ended up our starting right back over the Player of the Year from our promotion season the year before(Nathan Byrne). It did not take long for the Wigan fans and opposition to start realize how good this kid really was. His physicality alone was impressive, not to mention his decision making, technical ability (first touch, short passes, switch balls, long driven balls, crossing ability) were all notable, especially ffor a player in his first pro year.) We had a very thin squad with a lot of veteran/loanee players as we were in the middle of an ownership switch midseason, on top of injuries to our main attacking threats, Reece James was a massive part of us staying up last season. In January, James actually slotted in a a center mid/ defensive mid, where he pretty much played the rest of the season and contributed to the goals as well.
What was his character like during difficult moments? How did he connect with fans?
Reece seemed a very focused young man when he came in and a lot of people were tipping him to be Premier League starter in a year’s time. To give the best example of his character and his time at Wigan, he was given the opportunity in the January transfer window to end his loan and go on loan to a Premier League club for the rest of the season. He declined and helped a struggling bottom half Championship stay in the league, it meant a lot to Wigan fans that he was loyal to the club for giving him his first chance and developing him further along.
We’ve all seen Reece to be aggressive against opponents, would you say he’s always like this or does he select his moments?
Reece is certainly a physical player by the way he built and plays. He is very good about throwing his body around and putting himself between the ball the opposing player. I think he still has a lot to learn at his young age and I’m sure opportunities to play in the Chelsea first squad will only improve his decision making and overall game.
I’m not sure how much you watch Chelsea, but how does he compare in your opinion to the likes of Mount/Abraham/Hudson-Odoi etc?
Chelsea certainly have a very exciting group of young players coming from the youth academy, which is something they are not know for, but with the transfer ban it could be blessing in disguise for the club. I think Abraham, James and Mount are all similar in that they went out on loan to a Championship club and all thrived, that is certainly a good sign of them being able to do it at the highest level.
Should Chelsea fans be cautious on the fact that he played in the Championship instead of the Premier League?
I do think that it’s a big step up from the Champ to the Prem and not everyone succeeds at the highest level. I think Reece has all the tools for him to succeed and under Frank Lampard he can still learn and improve drastically. Coming back from injury and his first year with Chelsea, he just needs to work his way into the team, which he has now played in the FA Cup and Champions League, and will push Azpilicueta for that right back position.
Where would you say his best qualities are and what did he improve the most at Wigan?
His best qualities in my opinion would be his physicality, his techincal ability and his footballing IQ. For me there are certainly players who just have IT, and Reece is just one of them. He definitely had to learn to play a new position, with not having as much time on the ball and the speed of the game when he stepped into the midfield, but he was a quick learner and became one of our most important players by the end of the season.