Watford (A) aftermath – how can Malky stop the rot?

Chris McCann's 45th minute goal gave Latics hope, but sloppy defence was their downfall.

Chris McCann’s 45th minute goal gave Latics hope, but sloppy defence was their downfall.

Another defeat by a single goal. The Darkside pessimists had suggested that Latics would get badly beaten at Watford. That was not the case, but it is another bad result for Malky Mackay. He has an unenviable record for a new manager of one point gained in four games in charge. Can Mackay turn things around or are Latics heading for League 1?

Seeing the lineup for today’s match gave many of us a sense of foreboding. Not a single recognized central striker on the field, but two on the bench. Was Mackay planning to keep things tight and maybe steal it from a set piece?

In the event Mackay chose to deploy James McClean in the lone striker role. McClean’s strengths are his energy and his pace, but finishing is not his forte. Has the manager already written off the other strikers at the club when he has not seen most of them play in the Championship during his time at the club? Andy Delort might well think that. The Frenchman was brought on in the 86th minute. It would seem rather late but at least it was two minutes earlier than his entrance against Norwich. It can hardly be good for the player’s self -confidence.

Once again Mackay relied on the old guard, shunning the Rosler signings with the exception of Don Cowie and Andrew Taylor who played for him at the two clubs he previously managed. Up to this point it is not bearing fruit and the fans’ patience is wearing thin.

Fans who had been unhappy about Uwe Rosler’s team selections and formations are now seeing a similar pattern with Mackay. Many will say that nothing seems to have changed since Mackay arrived. The team is playing in the same way as before so what was the point of dismissing Rosler? The central striker has continued to be “lone” in the true sense of the word and sloppy defence has given away games which Latics might have won.

In 2012 Wolves had come down to the Championship division after three years in the Premier League. Over the summer they had sold Steven Fletcher (£14m) and Matt Jarvis (£11m) and paid around £2.4m for Bjorn Siguroarson, £2.7m for Bakary Sakho and £2m for Tongo Doumbia. Stale Solbakken had been brought in as manager.

By early October Wolves were in third place, with promotion looking within their grasp. Keen to get rid of the culture remaining from the days of Mick McCarthy as manager, Solbakken had sought empower the players. However, over the next three months Wolves started to drop down the table. There was a lack of discipline, training had become less than stimulating and the manager was largely unprepared to read the riot act when things went wrong on the field of play. Solbakken was sacked in early January after his team got knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Luton. Dean Saunders was appointed to become Wolves’ fourth manager in twelve months, but he was unable to stop the slide and a 23rd place finish saw them relegated.

What happened to Wolves is a sobering prospect for Wigan Athletic followers. The situations differ but there are certain parallels. Unlike Wolves being relegated in their first season back in the Championship, Latics did well. Reaching the playoffs, the FA Cup semi-final and being robbed of progress in the Europa League by a dubious refereeing decision was quite an achievement. However, the rot was setting in in the latter stages of last season and it has continued up to now. Wolves had a wage bill of £25m with lots of players seasoned in the Premier League, but could not hack it in the Championship. Changing managers did not help Wolves, as Saunders could not better Solbakken in terms of results. Latics fans will be hoping that is not going to be the case with Mackay following Rosler.

In March 2013 ex-Wolves winger and BBC pundit Steve Froggatt was quoted as saying: “The team had been on an irreversible slide for a long period of time and Deano had identified what needed changing. I think the board must have thought: ‘If we can get by to the end of this season, then we’ll rebuild for next.’ But having seen the team all year, they should have seen that it was bereft of confidence and ideas. It’s almost that they’ve now decided to bring in one or two players well after the horse has bolted.”

It is to be hoped that Dave Whelan will take note of the board’s fateful decisions at Wolves. Mackay has already talked about offloading players in the January transfer window and bringing in at least a couple of new ones. More than anything else Mackay needs to build an organizational culture upon which he can bring things forward. Each of the previous managers – Martinez, Coyle and Rosler – had their own ideas about how football should be played. There has not only been turnover at managerial level but also in coaching and support staff. Latics are once again in the midst of a culture change within the club.

The result at Watford could have been a lot worse. Moreover Latics had been the more dominant team in the second half until sloppy defence enabled the Hornets’ winner after 82 minutes. But it is yet another defeat.

Mackay has hardly impressed in his brief stay up to this point. However, changing the mentality of a group of players who have got used to not winning is not an easy matter. It is going to take time. It is to be hoped that arrivals and departures over the January transfer window will catalyse the change in culture that Mackay seeks.

In the meantime we will have to see if Mackay will continue to rely on an old guard which has largely let him down.

Not another false dawn for Latics

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On August 30th Wigan Athletic destroyed Birmingham City 4-0. The performance was a revelation, far removed from the mediocrity of the displays that had preceded it. Moreover Andy Delort was introduced to the Latics faithful before the match started and within a couple of days Adam Forshaw and William Kvist were to be snapped up.

It was such a hopeful time. It looked like Latics were back on the promotion trail.

But the international break meant that the momentum was lost and Latics were to go eight games and eight weeks without a win. The buoyant optimism was replaced by sheer frustration on the part of so many fans. A manager who had enjoyed almost iconic status in early-August was now an object of derision among many. Slogans such as ‘In Uwe We Trust’ and ‘Vorsprung Durch Uwe’ had melted away and #RoslerOut was rearing its head on the social media.

There were some Latics fans who would not have been unhappy for their team to lose at Derby on Saturday, hoping it would precipitate Uwe Rosler’s demise. Most fans wanted them to win, but doubted that it would happen. Then there were the brave few who quoted tales of Latics showing their resilience in bygone times of adversity, boldly predicting an away win.

The display at Derby on Saturday was a throwback to those days last season when Latics were on a great run and Rosler was viewed as the saviour. It was not pretty to watch and Latics picked up five yellow cards compared with the home team’s one. Nevertheless the victory was well deserved. The players battled to get that result, something they had not done in the midweek game against Millwall, in which incidentally no Wigan player got a yellow card. Why was there such a different attitude from the players on Saturday?

It could be said that the inclusion of Roger Espinoza in midfield was the catalyst. Espinoza is not the most technically gifted player in the squad, but he is surely one of the most committed when he gets on the pitch. Playing in the more advanced midfield role he was a livewire in closing down opposition defenders and midfielders, then running at them when in possession.

Emyr Huws and Adam Forshaw close behind Espinoza played with that same kind of passion. Both have the technical ability to do great things in the future. But on Saturday they showed the necessary level of commitment to complement their abilities. Something that had been missing in midfield since James McArthur’s departure.

The conspiracy theorists will say that something changed at the club following that insipid display against Millwall. Perhaps the manager really did clear the air through a heart-to-heart discussion with his players. Or perhaps some of the senior pros helped stifle dissent within the squad. Are there really players who want to leave in January? All this may be speculation and hearsay. Football clubs are masters at keeping such things secret and as fans we can only surmise.

At this moment in time many people are wary of a false dawn. After the Birmingham game there was so much buoyant optimism but it was to be sunk in a tide of indifferent displays.  Four weeks ago against Nottingham Forest the players played with real commitment, which dissipated in the matches that followed. Will the same happen again?

The next three matches are against teams below Latics in the table. However, both Bolton and Fulham have responded to changes in manager and are  on their way up the table. Moreover Brighton, like Latics, have been punching well below their weight this season and will surely get better.

However, the positives from the win at Derby outweigh those from that victory against Birmingham. There was some lovely football in that 4-0 result, but three of the goals came in the first half and Latics went off the boil in the second. The display at Derby showed that the players now have the levels of fitness to play the high tempo, high pressing game that Rosler has wanted all along. Their legs did not go in the second half and they finished as strong as the home side. Moreover since the return of the powerhouse Leon Barnett to the starting lineup Latics have had three shutouts in four games.

Another big plus on Saturday was seeing James McClean getting in there where it hurts to score two opportunist goals. The 4-4-2 system saw first Callum McManaman, then McClean, partner the centre forward upfront. Although McManaman was largely shackled by the Derby defence he thrives on the licence provided by the support striker role. McClean is more used to playing as an orthodox left winger, but he too has the potential to make a success of that role. He is fast and strong, with a powerful left foot, good qualities for that position.

Despite some colourless displays in recent weeks, Latics’ defence has tightened up, conceding only three goals in the last five matches. The absence of James Perch for domestic reasons has meant that James Tavernier has been given three straight starts and he will benefit from the experience. He has the best delivery of crosses and set pieces in the club. He and Perch are different types of players, but having the two available to play at right back gives Rosler good options.

The midfield situation is suddenly looking much rosier. Forshaw and Huws will surely form the midfield for years to come providing they stay injury-free and are not snapped up by bigger clubs. Espinoza’s comeback may be short-lived, given Rosler’s previous reluctance to include him, but his enthusiasm will surely rub off on those around him while he remains. The eventual return of Chris McCann and Ben Watson will add further competition for midfield places.

There are still players in the squad who have not yet hit form. They include not only the ‘new boys’ such as Andy Delort and Oriel Riera, but also such as Shaun Maloney. Part of Rosler’s problem is that his squad is too big and he is going to continue to face difficulties in keeping a happy ship.

The results over the next few games may well be patchy, but if Latics can get to a mid-table position by Christmas they will be within striking distance of the playoffs. With more time the newer acquisitions will become more settled in and we will see them perform closer to their best.

The Birmingham display proved to be a false dawn, but the performance at Derby could set the tone for the rest of the season. If Latics can maintain that level of passion and determination they will quickly rise up the table.

Playing at that level of intensity can be draining for players. However, Rosler has a strong and well balanced squad at his disposal. Squad rotation will continue to be his policy, of necessity.

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Can Rosler turn it around?

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Dave Whelan needs to avoid another managerial merry-go-round.

Another poor display, this time a goalless draw at home to Brentford, and the winless run now stretches to seven matches. The pressure on Uwe Rosler intensifies.

But it is not the first time that Rosler has faced such pressure, being under siege by those who want him out.

In August of last year Rosler’s Brentford side had seemed destined for better things. They had lost an automatic promotion spot in the last match of the previous season, Marcelo Trotta missing a last minute penalty, then Doncaster scoring a last gasp winner at the other end. They failed in the playoffs. However, the Bees started the 2013-14 season well, with two wins and two draws, but they were to lose four of their next seven games, winning only two. When they lost to lowly Stevenage in the next game the call for him to be sacked reached a crescendo.

The story of Rosler locking his team in the dressing room after the game for a heart-to-heart discussion is folklore at Brentford. The end result was a turnaround in fortunes as the Bees won seven and drew one of the eight games that followed, before his departure to Wigan.

Can Rosler turn it around at Wigan as he did at Brentford? How much more time will Dave Whelan give him if the results of this week’s games against Millwall and Derby are adverse? Can Latics afford to change their manager again? If so, what kind of appointment could we expect?

Rosler is by no means a conventional manager. His team selections and tactical approaches can be baffling. Moreover the marginalization of some of the players in his squad reeks of poor man-management skills. His pre-season programme just did not work, with the result that his team was at a physical disadvantage and would collapse in the second half. Poor results against teams with less talented players have been too often the norm this season. He has not got the best out of his players this season and their confidence is approaching rock bottom.

What has happened up to this point of the season hardly merits further debate, except maybe for the way he has ostracized certain players. That is something he still has time to put right.

Grant Holt is one of the least popular players that Latics have ever signed. However, Rosler’s reported treatment of him beggars belief. Every story has two sides, but what Holt has recently revealed to the press remains disturbing.

Moreover the marginalization of Roger Espinoza is also incomprehensible to fans. So many times this season the midfield has looked ineffective and lethargic. Espinoza may not be the most skilled footballer in the squad, but whenever he comes on to the pitch he shows an infectious dynamism that few can match. Juan Carlos Garcia was sent on loan to Tenerife after spending a year at the club and not playing in a single league game. Fraser Fyvie and Thomas Rogne now find themselves regularly outside the match day squads.

However, Rosler’s history as a manager in Norway and England shows that he has had his downs and still bounced back. He did an exceptional job last season and surely deserves more time to show that he can put things right. A fascinating analysis by Sam Whyte on that excellent site, Vital Wigan Athletic, compares the proportion of wins that the club’s managers have enjoyed over the last decade or so. Rosler’s record of 21 wins in 50 games gives him a 42% win ratio, almost the same as Paul Jewell who won 127 out of 291, a 43% ratio. Owen Coyle won 7 out of 23, a 30% ratio.

Rosler’s critics have been keen to show that at the same point last year, after 12 league games, Coyle’s team had amassed 16 points, five more than this season. However, Coyle had the likes of Jean Beausejour, Jordi Gomez, James McArthur, Chris McCann, Nick Powell and Ben Watson at his disposal. Rosler has had to deal with the departures of so many of his more skilful players, plus serious injuries to others.

Rosler has had to replace too many key players and it is taking time for the replacements time to settle in. This time last year fans were unimpressed by Chris McCann, signed from Burnley as a free agent. However, McCann was to become a key player in Rosler’s setup in an excellent midfield. His serious injury in the FA Cup win at Manchester City was a body blow for the manager.

It is far too early to write off players Rosler has brought to the club. In Don Cowie and Andrew Taylor he signed experienced players who have had played not only in the Premier League but were key players for the Cardiff team that gained promotion from the Championship. He also signed the Denmark national team captain, William Kvist, who played in the Premier League last season. Oriel Riera scored 13 goals in La Liga last year and is clearly capable of doing so in the Championship, providing he receives a modicum of service.

Moreover Rosler has started to sow the seeds for the future. In the second half of last season he signed Martyn Waghorn who was to gain the club’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ award. Midfielders Emyr Huws, 21 years old and Adam Forshaw, 23, are players of real technical ability with work rates to match. Andy Delort, 23, banged in 24 goals for Tours last season, and like Riera, will score goals at Wigan when the service improves. Full backs, James Tavernier, 22, and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, 23, are both talented players who will be carefully groomed for Championship football.

Rosler had little choice in  the departures of Beausejour, Gomez and McArthur because of financial constraints imposed upon him. However, he has been financially astute in the transfer market,  signing players who were free agents and others at close to bargain prices. He has brought in ten new players with his outlay being only marginally more than the money that has come in.

Millwall come to the DW Stadium tomorrow night having done the double over Latics last season. Will it be the turning point, when Rosler’s team embarks on a successful run of results? Lady Luck has hardly shined on Latics so far this season. Will this be the match in which it does? A deflected shot going in or a soft penalty decision in Latics’ favour – the kind of “luck” that this team needs.

If the results against Millwall and Derby were to go against Latics and Whelan were to step in to replace Rosler, what would happen next?

The prospect of a new manager coming in and the whole merry-go-round that tends to follow is not what the club needs. The transition from Coyle to Rosler brought in ten new players, but the German brought only Chris Haslam from his backroom staff at Brentford. However, most managers prefer to bring in their own men and it would involve more upheaval at a time when the club does not need it.

It would be more likely a change from within. The names of Eric Black and Gary Caldwell are already being put forward on the social media.

Despite the poor results so far this season, Rosler has built a strong and well balanced squad. Fitness issues now seem to be resolved and with time the new players will settle in.The challenge for whoever is in charge over these coming months will be to get the best out of those players.

Uwe Rosler has shown before how he can overcome adversity. Who could say with certainly at this stage that he will not bring Latics back into contention for a return to the Premier League?

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Rosler is the man to take Latics forward

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What a difference results make. A couple of weeks ago Uwe Rosler was the flavour of the month and had almost universal support from the Latics faithful. But now after three disappointing performances dissent is becoming rife.

This is not unusual at a football club in England or any other part of the world. The manager is only as good as the team’s next performance and his time in the job is finite. If the results do not improve, he goes, as was the case with Owen Coyle at Wigan last year. But there are exceptions.

The long-term reigns of such as Ferguson and Wenger and their triumphs are well documented. You can add to that the likes of the unsung Dario Gradi and the miracles he worked at humble Crewe.  All three had enough support from their chairmen to be undeterred by the naysayers and snipers who would undermine most managers at football clubs.

So it was with Roberto Martinez at Wigan. Martinez had to shield all kinds of criticism from a hostile minority who were uncomfortable with him as manager. The criticism came forth in his early days as in charge and continued for four years. It was based on the team’s style of play, but if the results had been better would there have been so much dissatisfaction?

Martinez was courageous and strong in his beliefs about the way football should be played. He never let the naysayers sway him, although it must have been tough for him. He had taken over at a time of austerity within the club after Steve Bruce had done a fine job at stabilizing Latics’ position in the Premier League, but at a financial cost. His achievement in winning the FA Cup will be hard for any future Latics manager to emulate.

It was Dave Whelan’s spoken and unspoken support that gave Martinez the backing to go ahead and continue to do what he considered right. Martinez not only won the cup, but kept Latics in the elite league until a cruel injury situation proved his undoing and led to him moving on from the club.

Dave Whelan has made Wigan Athletic into a dream come true. Who could have dreamed twenty years ago that Latics would have a superb stadium and compete with teams that were household names? Whelan’s success has been through appointing the right man at the right time and giving him support. Without Paul Jewell, Steve Bruce and Roberto Martinez where would Latics be now?

But then again, Whelan also appointed Chris Hutchings and Owen Coyle, both of whom he dispatched when he realized he had made the wrong decision.

So what of Rosler? Will he get the support from Whelan that Jewell and Martinez enjoyed?

Rosler maintains the support of the majority of fans who are not fazed by indifferent early season results. He did a remarkable job last season, lifting a team that was drifting down towards the lower layers of the league table. To go into extra time in an FA Cup Semi Final and reach a playoff spot would have beggared belief months before.

Like Martinez, Rosler has a clear view how football should be played. If he had been appointed to take over from the Spaniard the changeover might have been easier to handle. In appointing Coyle, Whelan damaged much of the legacy left by Martinez in one fell swoop. Football at Wigan took a nosedive and it still has not fully recovered.

At the risk of repeating myself from a previous article, it took Martinez some two and a half seasons to get his players to fully respond to his ideas. Fans will remember those wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United for years to come, as they will Ben Watson’s header at Wembley. But it is not just the results, but the style in which Latics gained those victories.

Injuries in the pre-season have severely hampered Rosler’s plans. Critics will say the players were “overtrained”, leading to niggling injuries for too many. But only time will tell if Chris Haslam’s routines pay dividends over the coming weeks, with Latics physically outperforming the opposition.

The loss of free agents Jean Beausejour and Jordi Gomez over summer was a body blow for the German. Both were able to provide a certain poise that has been lacking since their departure. The lack of creativity in midfield is a cause for concern, although a fit Shaun Maloney would go a long way to solving those problems. It remains to be seen whether the Adam Forshaw saga will be resolved, but the Brentford player would also add creativity if Rosler could get him.

Rosler continues to scour the market for central strikers to add a third to his squad. Marc-Antoine Fortune remains an option in attack despite his poor goalscoring record. Oriel Riera just could not get into the game in the first half at Charlton, where there was a disconnect between midfield and the big forwards. One hopes he will not go the way of Mauro Boselli who was starved of service with Charles N’Zogbia on the right flank and Hugo Rodallega on the left, both of whom were going to go for goal themselves, rather than supply the central striker. Boselli’s demise is a chilling reminder of what can happen to central strikers at Wigan.

Rosler’s new signings will take time to settle in. Andrew Taylor was troubled by injury in pre-season and is clearly not at his best. Don Cowie made a useful contribution at Charlton and with time he will become an important player. Despite having a good technique, Cowie keeps things simple, harrying the opposition, tacking, intercepting, and making sure his passes reach his teammates. Emyr Huws has already made a positive impression. Strong in the tackle, with a cultured left foot, he is playing in the Chris McCann position. The young full backs, James Tavernier and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair will be gradually eased in, more often used as wing backs where the defensive duties are less onerous.

Rosler will continue to demand that his players embrace his high tempo, high pressing game. It has been unrealistic to expect a team that has been palpably unfit up to this point to perform at that level of intensity. The end result has too often been hoofing the ball out of defence, although football returned to their play at The Valley.  The team was clearly playing under orders to play the ball out of defence and build up through midfield. With two new players in the middle of the park it is going to take time to develop the mutual understanding that will make the midfield tick like a well-oiled machine. Cutting out the hoofing is the important step.

Only two teams in the division – Bournemouth and Millwall – have won both of their opening league games. There are four teams who are pointless. Latics have not made the worst start, but expectations are high and they have disappointed so far. But there are another 44 matches to go.

Like any manager Rosler will be judged on results. With the signing of another creative midfielder and another central striker he will have a squad that will be the envy of most other clubs in the division. As the squad gets fitter and his key players raise their levels of performance the results will surely come.

For the moment Rosler needs the continued support of the fans and the owner. Latics are lucky to have such a talented and bright manager.

Despite the poor start, promotion remains a distinct possibility. Uwe Rosler is the man to lead Latics back into the Premier League.

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Are Latics a one half team?

Fitness

It reared its ugly head again. It is nothing new, but Latics fans had surely hoped that it had gone away. Unfortunately it is still there and it is something Uwe Rosler has met, not just at Wigan, but at Brentford before.

The pattern goes like this. Latics are sharp and competitive in the first half, playing better football than their opponents and deservedly going in front. In the second half it is a different scenario. Latics look lethargic. Playing hoof ball out of defence does not help because the opposition retain the ball and it seems a matter of time until they score.

It started during Owen Coyle’s reign last year. When Latics got tired in the second half we said they were not fit. What kind of training regime was Coyle running after all?

By the time the derby game with Bolton came around Latics had a new manager. It was Rosler’s first league match in charge. Latics got off to a storming start scoring two goals in the first half hour. But Bolton came back strongly in the second half, leveling the score. Callum McManaman then got a third for Latics, who hung on for victory.

After the match fans accepted that the players were just not up to the level of fitness that Rosler sought. It was clearly Coyle’s fault and we would have to wait until next season to see the players get the kind of fitness level Rosler required for his high pressing, high tempo football.

That same pattern recurred frequently in the games that were to follow during the second half of last season. Many times Latics hung in there, backs to the wall, holding on defensively to their lead. Even the best of teams will go on to the defensive after taking a lead, inviting the opposition to push forward and leave holes at the back that can be exploited. But Rosler’s Latics have rarely looked comfortable in such a situation. Rather than calmly organize themselves back in their own half, ready to launch counterattacks they are prone to simply hoof the ball away.

The cynics will say that Rosler prefers Scott Carson over Ali Al Habsi because he can kick the ball further. Both are top goalkeepers and opinion is divided as to which of the two is better. Fans will say Al Habsi is a better penalty saver, but his kicking is poor. Carson has a very powerful kick, but it is rare that he makes a long throw to set off an attack. During Coyle’s time Carson repeatedly sent long kicks on to the opposition’s central defenders’ heads. He has continued to do it under Rosler and one can only assume he has the German’s approval for doing so.

Who would want to be a lone centre forward with the ball being hoofed in their general direction so often? It could have even contributed to Grant Holt’s demise. Put simply, if the central striker spends most of his energy chasing hopeful punts it detracts from his role as a goalscorer. To score goals you need a degree of mental and physical sharpness, but if you are using most of your energy chasing lost causes your sharpness will be blunted.

Is Rosler’s team any fitter than that of his predecessor, Coyle? Defenders are more likely to hoof the ball when there is nobody moving to receive it. A fully functioning central midfield will be ready to receive the ball from defence to build up attacks. Moreover they will get into the box to support that lone centre forward.

It is early days to talk about fitness levels. On Saturday Rosler chose a lineup that was strong on paper, but several players had had minimal preparation through the pre-season games. That James McArthur could go the full match and still find the energy to get in the box and score a last-gasp equalizer, given so little playing time in pre-season, is impressive. He was joined in midfield by Don Cowie and Emyr Huws, who had almost as little playing time. Moreover it was a midfield trio that had never played together before. Add to that the appearance of Shaun Maloney off the bench in the second half, with zero pre-season playing time.

Last season the two teams who were to gain automatic promotion, Leicester City and Burnley, drew their first games of the season, both playing at home. There are another 45 league games remaining. That said, there are things that Rosler needs to look at minimizing the use of the hoof. Measured long passing is one thing, but the hoof has become an ugly and ineffective part of Latics’ play under the German.

Ex-Latics goalkeeper and now Reading manager, Nigel Adkins,  clearly did his homework for Saturday and he was unlucky not to come away with a win. Reading are not a side known for their passing football, but the stats show that in a game truncated by 33 fouls, Reading made 379 passes, Wigan 281. Rosler will often change the shape of his teams when things are not going well, but in this case he did not react. Ivan Ramis was sat on the bench and bringing him on, with a switch to 3-5-2 when Reading were in the ascendency, might have made a difference.

When Rosler chose his midfield he would surely have given consideration to Fraser Fyvie, who played more minutes in the pre-season than any other player. Sadly Fyvie did not even come off the bench, despite the fact that Latics were losing the midfield battle. However, Rosler will certainly persevere with Don Cowie and Emyr Huws, who are possible replacements for Ben Watson and Chris McCann, until they are fit to return. The German might well have used Roger Espinoza if it were not for injury. Shaun Maloney needs several more games under his belt before he will be effective. Sometimes we can expect too much from him.

Rosler has built up a good squad, with a couple more additions likely. The scary part of it is not who might come in, but who might leave.

Rosler remains in his honeymoon period at the club, with strong approval ratings from the fans. However, that will soon be over unless he addresses the hoof. Wiganers expect their team to try to play good football. The jury is out in this case.

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