When Martyn Waghorn was announced as Mark Warburton’s fifth signing for the club, many eyebrows were raised as to why he was the man to spearhead our attack.
Described by our many, most notably our rivals, as a “Wigan reject”, Waghorn was unfairly written off before a ball was kicked. Now having scored 14 goals in 14 games, the 25-year-old looks to have his best years in front of him. Signed until 2018, Waghorn wants to play in the Champions League within that period and has big ambitions with the club.
But it’s not always been plain sailing for the big Gerordie. Playing for his boyhood club Sunderland rom the age of 8, he made his first team debut aged only 17 against Manchester Utd. Manager at the time Roy Keane said at the time that Martyn would have a “long and successful career.” Unfortunately it wouldn’t be with Sunderland.
After failing to establish himself in the Blackcats first team, Waghorn was shipped out on loan to first Charlton, where he failed to make an impact and then Leicester City where he impressed – scoring 12 goals and winning Young Player of the Year. His reputation as an impact player resulted in manager Paulo Sousa splashing £3million on the forward despite still playing in the Championship.
After a number of unfortunate inuuries, Waghorn failed to fit into the plans of Sven Goran Erikson and was sent out on loan to Hull City, Millwall and eventually Wigan where he signed in 2014. Wahgorn had mixed reports at the Latics. Some said he just wasn’t clinical enough in front of goal where others sympathised with him being played out of position. Regardless of his scoring record, most supporters recognized that Waghorn was a good footballer and his link up play never called into question. This was one of the reasons he enjoyed an England U21 call up in 2011 – playing alongside Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.
At Brentford, Mark Warburton signed striker Andre Gray from Luton Town who went onto score 20 goals in a brilliant campaign. Like Waghorn, Gray is a strong, tidy player on the ball and stands at 5ft 10 inches – the exact same as Waghorn. Despite playing at a lower level, it looks like Waghorn will emulates Gray’s success under Warburton and if we can get a fraction of the £6 million Burnley paid for Gray then we’d be delighted.
English strikers haven’t been awe inspiring in recent years – James Beattie and Franny Jeffers spring to mind but Waghorn looks well up for the challenge. He said last week: “I was desperate to come here. When Rangers came in for me I couldn’t say no. It’s an exciting time to be at this club and I love being a part of it.” A great attitude no doubt. He’s not just all talk either. A hatrick agaisnt Morton last week and Man of The Match agasint Falkirk Yestarday, Waghorn is going from strength to strength in the royal Blue.
Last season under three different managers – Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller scored 5 league goals between them. Waghorn has 11 already – enough said.
Not blessed with a lot of pace – Waghorn can be a frustrating player at times but can turn a defender in the blink of an eye. (See first goal vs Livi and second against Morton.) He holds the all up brilliantly for his midfield runners but has to patient at times with the ball possession mainly being with the middle three. He is the perfect example that a players previous form can go out the window with the right manager in charge. Like Tavernier, Warburton has clearly revitalised both players who look focussed on the job in hand.
It’s not just upfront where he can be useful either. Deployed on the wing, Waghorn’s cultured left peg is very effective when cutting in from the right. His goal against Airdrie is a fine example of this.
I said at the start of the season he won’t be a 20 goal a season striker for us which was obviously premature but that was before I knew he was taking penalties (and how many we’d get!) He isn’t the finished article by any means but is definitely improving every week. It’s unlikely he’ll be our main man when we get promotion but could definitely be a useful player over the next three seasons.
“This is Waghorn I’ve waited for.”