Five talking points after football is the loser at Rotherham

Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 1

It was a truly awful game of football, but the result was one which helped Latics maintain a six-point lead over the Millers in the relegation dog fight.

Paul Cook opted to bring back Chey Dunkley in the centre of defence for Cedric Kipre. In the absence of Sam Morsy through suspension and Lee Evans through illness he brought in the on-loan Beni Baningime.

Rotherham started aggressively and Latics were under constant pressure. A head injury to Danny Fox after 25 minutes caused him to be replaced by Kipre. Rotherham were playing in a style akin to the Stoke City sides of the Pulis era, a constant stream of crosses being poured into Wigan’s box, aided by the long throw-ins of midfielder Will Vaulks.  It was no surprise when big centre half Craig Robertson headed the Millers in front after 28 minutes with Baningwe and Kipre ball watching. But it was a surprise four minutes later when Josh Windass took his chance with aplomb to level the scores. After being outplayed Latics were fortunate to go to the interval on level terms. They had been overwhelmed in midfield and the hoof dominated their play.

The second half was scarcely any better, although there were a few isolated moments when Latics did put some football together, making Rotherham’s defence look less self-assured.

We have seen some horrible football from Latics away from home this season, but this ranks among the ugliest. Are the defenders playing under orders to hoof the ball away at the smallest hint of danger or is the manager unable to get his players to follow his instructions?

After the game Cook commented: “First of all, I think Rotherham were not far off unplayable in the first-half; they were that good, they were that strong, they put the ball in all of the correct areas. We lost Danny Fox, Lee Evans pulled out ill this morning and we lost a bit of physicality with Lee going out and Beni [Baningime] going in. We knew we were going to have to defend. When Rotherham scored the goal, like most people I wondered if we would buckle under the pressure.”

Let’s take a look at some points arising:

Were Rotherham close to being unplayable in the first half?

Cook’s comment will surely haunt him for time to come. Rotherham have one of the lowest budgets in the division and their squad lacks quality.

Cook is to be commended for openness and honesty in his post-match comments, which so often contrasts to the one-sided, mindless stuff that founts from too many opposition managers.

But he shot himself in the foot with this one.

Rotherham had a game plan: did Wigan?

Rotherham’s game plan was simple, relying on crosses aimed towards the 6 ft 3 in Michael Smith, with the big central defenders coming up for set pieces. On a short and narrow pitch Vaulks’ long throws were akin to corner kicks.

Latics in comparison did not seem to have a plan. So often they played into Rotherham’s hands by kicking the ball out of play in their own half, giving Vaulks a pan-full of opportunities to launch his long throws. Moreover, they gave away too many unnecessary free kicks giving Rotherham the opportunity to bring forward their big guns.

That Latics came away with a point can be seen as a reflection of a willingness to fight, to dig in when under adversity. Effort has rarely been lacking in away games this season, but a genuine game plan has been seemingly absent. The bottom-line yesterday was that Rotherham did not have the quality to make their pressure count.

Latics had a good record against Pulis’ Stoke in the Martinez era. They did not lose any of the eight Premier League games against them. Martinez’ teams always had a plan and the players knew exactly what was expected of them. Aware of the rocket throw-ins of Rory Delap they were careful in possession in their own half, disciplined in their tackling.

Even the best of game plans can come unstuck as the game progresses. But it is disturbing to see Latics going into these away games without any obvious game plan other than gritty defence and hoofing upfield or out of play at the slightest danger.

Another Everton loanee makes his debut

Beni Baningime is 20-years-old and has had one Premier League start and seven substitute appearances for Everton. His first game in the Championship was a baptism of fire.

Baningime looked lost for most of the game, unable to stamp his mark on the play. It was only in the final quarter that he showed the confidence to seek out the ball.

His prior experience did not prepare him for this rough-and-tumble occasion. Only time will tell if Baningime will succeed in his half season at Wigan and make a better impression than previous loan players from Everton have made in recent years.

Cook was unfortunate to lose the experienced and physically more imposing Lee Evans prior to the game. Moreover, he did not have a central midfielder on the bench to replace Baningime if he had wanted to. Neither Shaun MacDonald nor Darron Gibson were in the squad. The latter has been off form of late, but why Cook did not opt for MacDonald’s experience in a tough fixture like that is hard to fathom.

When will Olsson be ready?

It was a surprise to see Jonas Olsson on the bench since the last time he played was for Djuurgardens on November 11. Was some thought given by Cook in bringing on the 6 ft 5 in Swede to counter the aerial threat of Michael Smith? Olsson will be 36 on March 10, but John Terry was playing for Aston Villa last season at 37.

In the event Cook chose to bring on Cedric Kipre who looked solid in defence with Chey Dunkley. However, Fox’s early departure surely had an effect on the football Wigan played. Fox has the skill and confidence to start moves from the back and he adds calm to the defence. Earlier in the season Kipre showed decent passing skills for a big centre half, but yesterday like Dunkley he so often chose to hoof the ball away. Again, the two had opportunities from set pieces which they could not convert. Last season Dunkley scored 7 goals for Latics and Kipre one for Motherwell. One wonders what position Latics would be in now if either had put away some of the chances they have had over these past months.

Kal Naismith had a hard time with Rotherham’s Jon Taylor yesterday and Cook surely needs to take another look at the left back position. Will Antonee Robinson be played there against Stoke on Wednesday? Or will Olsson be brought in to central defence with Fox moving to left back?

Playing to strengths

Creative and skilful players like Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey and Anthony Pilkington can stretch any Championship defence. They played at Rotherham but were largely wasted with the ball by-passing them so often.

However, with the prospect of Nick Powell returning on Wednesday will we see a change in approach from the manager? Cook has good players at his disposal but to get the best out of them he needs to insist on keeping the ball on the ground much more. Latics are ill-suited to a long ball approach yet they have continued with it despite the poor results.

Can Cook get his team’s head straight to strike a reasonable balance between possession football and a more direct approach?

The jury remains out on this one.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored,com

 

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Five talking points from an important win over QPR

Wigan Athletic 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

Wigan Athletic gained an important three points with a tight victory over QPR. Latics had been two goals up with a quarter of an hour to go but a deflected goal for the visitors changed the complexion of the game, Latics hanging on in grim defence until the final whistle. This time Wigan took their chances better than the opposition, having 7 shots on goal compared with 21 for the visitors.

Following the match Paul Cook commented: “I’m delighted with the lads, it’s been a tough week for the club with Will Grigg leaving but with the type of money that was offered there was nothing we could do, it was the correct thing to do. The new lads have come in and done great today, I’m delighted for the owners and for the chairman, for everyone. It was a big win for us today, a much-needed win and I’m delighted for the players. You need a bit of luck and fortune as well as the good players and we’ve done it so we will enjoy tonight, it’s a good night for us after a tough week for everyone but when you win football matches, football clubs are always happy places.”

 Let’s take look at some points arising:

A surprise in the team selection?

The inclusion in the starting lineup of new acquisitions Leon Clarke and Danny Fox came as no surprise. But playing the latter at centre back, leaving Chey Dunkley on the bench, was somewhat unexpected.

One of the frustrations of fans over the transfer window was the failure to sign a specialist left back. Although Fox played in that position so many times in his earlier career his more recent experience has been at centre back. So, Cook decided to continue with Kal Naismith at left back, not a universally popular decision with supporters. In the event, Naismith was one of the better performers on the day. Antonee Robinson is now back in training and will be challenging for a place over the coming weeks. Will Naismith and Robinson be the contenders for the left back position for the remainder of the season? Or will Cook opt for more experience by bringing in Jonas Olsson at centre back and pushing Fox across to full back?

Dunkley has so often been the stalwart of Latics’ defence, so it was a surprise to see him left out. However, his distribution in recent games had left much to be desired. It is the part of his game that he needs to work on, if he is to prove himself as a quality player at Championship level. Dunkley made his entrance after 77 minutes for Fox.

The other surprise was to see Reece James replacing the suspended Sam Morsy in midfield, rather than Darron Gibson or newcomer Beni Baningime. But James had been pushed forward late in previous encounters and had looked comfortable there. After an uncertain start James grew into this match, showing his great range of skills.

The result of those selections was some degree of improvement in the passing of the ball from the back and added creativity and drive in midfield.

Clarke to be Cook’s first choice striker?

The departure of Will Grigg caused a lot of ripples among the Latics faithful. Grigg’s goals twice propelled Wigan out of League 1 and were a major feature in last season’s FA Cup run. But more than that it was his combination with players like Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey and Nick Powell that led to Latics playing their best football in recent years.

The signing of Leon Clarke for the second time and the departure of Grigg did not go down well with many fans. Clarke had been unimpressive in his previous spell under Malky Mackay in 2015, scoring just one goal in ten games. Earlier in the transfer window rumours had linked Latics with big target men such as Gary Madine and Tom Eaves. It was therefore no surprise that the 6 ft 2 in Clarke was signed. Neither was it a surprise that Grigg was sold, having been consistently snubbed by Cook in his team selections.

Clarke was arguably Wigan’s best performer against QPR, scoring a goal and providing an assist. Moreover, his hold-up play was excellent. Although we did see intermittent spells of good football from Latics in this game the approach was largely direct. It would not have suited Grigg.

With the departures of Grigg to Sunderland and James Vaughan to Portsmouth we can expect Clarke and Joe Garner to be the main choices for the central striker position, although Cook still has the option of using Nick Powell in that position when he is fit. For the moment it looks like Clarke will be the first-choice. His linking up with Josh Windass was a feature of this game and holds promise for the future.

Experience has been brought in

While the January 2019 transfer window will be immediately memorable for the departure of a Latics icon it might well prove to be successful in terms of bringing in experience. Leon Clarke (33), Danny Fox (32), Jonas Olsson (35) and Anthony Pilkington (30) are seasoned professionals at Premier League and Championship levels. Cook has talked about needing leaders in the dressing room. His choice of Fox as captain in his first game for the club underlines that.

Alex Bruce (34) departed for Kilmarnock, but despite that there is now a better balance in the squad in terms of youth and experience.

A nervy finish

Osayi-Samuels’ deflected 74th minute goal gave QPR new impetus. Cook’s reaction was to bring on Gibson and Garner for Pilkington and Clarke, then Dunkley for Fox three minutes later. The substitutions were most likely due to fitness issues. The outcome was Latics being very much under siege, frequently hoofing the ball away only for it to return very quickly.

In the end Latics did survive although the visitors hit the crossbar and had a strong penalty appeal turned down. The substitutions hardly improved things, Gibson in particular having a torrid time. But Latics’ confidence is still brittle, and they did not have the confidence to patiently build up moves from the back and manage the game more effectively. Nevertheless, aimless long balls to nobody in particular hardly help such game management.

Discipline on the field

Latics picked up three yellow cards to QPR’s one. It takes their yellow card tally to 66 for the league season so far, with 3 reds.

Only Nottingham Forest have a worse disciplinary record with 75 yellows and 5 reds. Neighbours Bolton closely follow Wigan with 61 yellows and 2 reds.

On the positive side it could be said that the stats indicate a team putting in lots of effort in a fight to avoid relegation. On the other hand, how many of those cards could have been avoided by a more controlled aggression?

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

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A volatile transfer window closure – a look at reactions on social media

It was always on the cards, but neverthless the sale of Will Grigg to Sunderland has sent shock waves across the Wigan Athletic faithful.

Let’s take a look at how fans have reacted to recent events through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams on Facebook and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

Chris Stafford on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

Well the board have revealed themselves to have absolutely no ambition at all on staying up . Sold Vaughan and Grigg and replace him with Leon Clarke . And don’t tell me all about how Clarke was top scorer last season . Grant Holt was top scorer at Norwich.

Up the tics on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Looking at our recent signings and lack of ambition can’t help feeling we are doomed for another relegation. So sad to see what is becoming of our club. First post out of sheer anger we buy a 33 year old striker who has scored 3 goals in 24 appearances let Vaughn go sort of understand that but Grigg with one leg is better than Clarke……how can we score another goal ….with Windass, Garner & Clarke with our new front line sounds like from bad to worse…..not to mention Callum sitting on the bench every week because he’s not one of PC boys…..pathetic.

 

Cup Winners on the Cockney Latic Forum added:

I’ll still go to the DW simply because I’ve seen this all before. No one can deny it’s a damn good price and no one would have blinked an eye if this had of happened in the summer.

The problem is, timing and unloading 2 out your 3 strikers and looking at our league position it just beggars belief. As for the Clarke signing and those who sing his praises? I hope he does. 21 club moves says it all for me. 1 swallow doesn’t make a summer.

Cook suits the IEC and the Royles.

And finally, the subject of Grigg can’t play no Massey Powell, he needs wide players ? We have them, They’re either out on loan or bench warmers. Some people are more bothered about teams below us in the hope that sh……r than us. That’s an excellent way to follow your side.

 

 

 

 

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A Nottingham Forest fan’s view of Danny Fox

 

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of Danny Fox from Nottingham Forest for a fee of around £300,000. The 32-year-old has been signed on an 18-month contract.

The 6 ft tall Fox can play at centre back or left back. Given Antonee Robinson’s continued unavailability we can expect Fox to be drafted in at left back against QPR on Saturday.

Following the signing Paul Cook commented:

“Danny has great experience in the Premier League and Championship and is a great addition to our squad. Great credit to Danny for joining us after captaining Nottingham Forest in their promotion push in the Championship. .I think our supporters would appreciate that leadership and experience amongst our very young back five has been something we have been searching for and we are delighted to have found it in Danny.”

Danny Fox was born In Winsford, Cheshire, and played in the Everton academy. As an 18-year-old in the 2004-05 season he was sent out on loan to Gateshead and Stranraer. In the summer of 2005 he signed for Walsall and went on to make 99 appearances over two and a half seasons for the Saddlers.

In January 2008 Fox joined Coventry City, then in the Championship. He went on to make 57 league appearances there before signing for Celtic for £1.5m in July 2009. Fox made 15 appearances before signing for Premier League Burnley in January 2010 for £1.8m. After making 49 league starts for Burnley he signed for Southampton, then in the Championship in August 2011. The Saints were promoted at the end of the season and Fox went on to make a total of 64 league appearances before joining Nottingham Forest on loan in January 2014. The loan became a permanent deal in the summer. He went on to make 101 league appearances for Forest.

Fox represented England at U-21 level but opted to play for Scotland at senior level, qualifying through having a Scottish grandfather.

In order to learn about Fox’s time at Forest we contacted a couple of their fan sites. Thanks to Matt at Forza Garibaldi (www.forzagaribaldi.com) and Rich Ferraro at his Forest Ramble site (www.forestramble.com) for their contributions.

Matt commented:

An injury crisis at centre half aside this is probably a deal that suits everyone. And I do genuinely wish Danny Fox all the very best.

 He had his knockers at Forest and for most of his time in Nottingham he was far from appreciated. He was signed as a left back, but it was his conversion to the middle of defence which brought about a rather surprising renaissance. For the last season and a half, he’s been a good player for us. Sometimes brilliant. And he demonstrated some much-missed leadership which may be exactly what Wigan are after I suspect.

 He took the captains armband for a period and found himself a fan favourite. We appreciated his desire and his tenacity and I for one admired how he had overcome a rough early few years at Forest and earned himself a bit of cult status.

 He has a tendency to be a little daft as demonstrated by his second yellow card at Reading for running 40 yards to partake in a melee. And he was part of a Forest defence that could not stop goals from crosses. But it will not surprise me at all if he is a terrific signing for you. He certainly still has something to offer and he is a dependable pro who won’t go missing in a battle.

 Good luck to Danny and Wigan for the rest of the season.

Rich wrote:

Danny Fox has been a curious figure at Nottingham Forest; signed as a left-back at a time when Forest were struggling to fill the position, he never really impressed. He became a target for the boo boys and the resident scapegoat at the City Ground (and let’s be honest, there were plenty of candidates at the time). Under Dougie Freedman he was frozen out of the team, but the local press went out of their way to praise Fox’s professionalism – apparently, he was training hard, not moaning about his lack of opportunities, and sure enough, other opportunities came his way.

 However, it has really been in the last twelve months that Fox has come into his own; a few years ago, Stuart Pearce had played him as an emergency centre-back, and we did comment that he looked better there than as a left-back. Aitor Karanka obviously thought the same, as Fox played as a central defender from his first match and has rarely been left on the bench since.

 Fox has captained Forest for much of this season and has been a warrior at the back. He is not scared of sticking his head in where it hurts, his reading of the game is much better in a central role, and he is capable of a good raking ball out of defence. I am surprised to see him leave the City Ground and wish him good luck at the Latics.

 

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Reactions on the social media to Latics’ defeat at Forest

Nottingham Forest 3 Wigan Athletic 1

 

The goals were scored by well-hit long-range shots. Unfortunately three were in favour of Forest. Josh Windass’ first half equaliser was not enough as once again Wigan caved in the second half. Hoofball prevailed and Latics now have just 5 points from their 15 away games. It is crisis time and relegation is looming.

After the game Paul Cook commented: “…. I’m looking at each and every one of my players and wondering whether they can give me any more – I’m not so sure they can do. They kept going for the full 90 minutes, but the mistakes we’re making are just repetitive ones, the same ones.”

Are Wigan Athletic good enough to stay up? Is their current plight due to a lack of quality and depth in the squad or inept management from Cook? Or is it both?

It is our norm to write a “Five Talking Points” reaction following a match. But that would mean going over things we have written before. In order to get a broader view than our own we trawled the social media and message boards, attempting to achieve some balance, by no means easy as emotions come into play.

Our overview is that Latics have a low wage budget for the Championship division and it does not look like things will change with the new ownership. They will struggle away from home to mid-table teams such as Forest, whose wage bill is at least double that of Wigan’s. However, with good management Latics can punch above their weight as they did for so many years in the Premier League. The FA Cup win was the prime example of that.

Paul Cook is a lucky man to still be in the job. But it is his first season as a Championship manager and his squad needs strengthening. At times the football we have seen has been no better than some of us saw in the pre-1978 era. But at other times, when the tactics are right and the players diligently follow them, Latics can beat top teams in the division, at home at least.

We continue to advocate for Cook staying on but he continues to frustrate in terms of team selection and tactics. Although the manager carries the can for poor results the players too must shoulder some burden. The physical effort is there for all to see there are too few who are willing to stick their necks out and not take the easy option of a pass backwards or a hoof forward. But Cook has marginalised too many players who have talent, stubbornly keeping faith in his chosen ones who are not delivering.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams on Facebook, and also Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

True Believer on Latics Speyk commented:

I will repeat what I said last week. We are still six points clear of the drop and the teams below us are as incapable of getting a win as we are, I know it is not what we want football wise but the reality is that we are still in the driving seat. I really cannot see Ipswich and Bolton reversing their form and I hope that we can pull off a result against Rotherham to pull us clear. We have just ticked another game off and with just seventeen games left I really don’t see the teams below us winning two games more than us. Survival was the aim for this season and is still in our grasp.

It was still a sh.t result today though.

SH on the Cockney Latic Forum commented:

Our form is indefensible.

It’s a red herring blaming injuries. Our style of play away from home is unrecognisable. Today the back four hit it long at the first opportunity. Not direct play, aimless play.

Windass and Garner started to form some understanding against Villa with nice link-up play. But Cook continues to shake things up and we end up looking like strangers on the field. Windass and Vaughan never once looked to play each other in, they operated like lone strikers, chasing down long-balls, isolated.

Same can be said for midfield, not that they had much to do today, with the ball flying over their heads. Morsy and Evans should always be paired up. Ideally allowing the former to drive upto the edge of the box and help out in attack. On the right Byrne is wasted, outmuscled, and lacks guile. Stick him in his familiar right-back role and push James into midfield. At least when Pilkington and Massey are unavailable.

This long-ball crap away from home has been going on since October. No one can explain why Cook persists with it. Well, some try, but our points return says it all. And for those hanging onto that 6pt gap to the relegation spots. Let’s focus on ourselves and up expectations. I want us as a club to fulfill our potential and not target one place better than the three worst sides in the division. We all know many clubs in this division have greater resources. But 2pts from 39, away from home, shows we are massively underperforming.

C_Latic on Latics Speyk commented:

The Jones experiment was fun while it lasted, Walton back in for QPR please.

Recruitment team can be blamed for that loss, two goals coming from our LB’s defensive unawareness. Of course if they’d signed a LB that could have been prevented.

Oh and I’m certainly not Grigg’s biggest fan but let’s just allow it to sink in that we’re about it sell him in favour of Vaughan and Garner! Both attempting to outdo each other with how big a sitter each can miss.

Fair play to Jacobs, best player on the pitch, James and Windass not bad either, rest are awful. Dunkley awful long ball passes aside was alright as well, unlike Kipre he actually wins his aerial battles.

 Oi on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Shame on cooky for not sticking to his word at the beginning of the season. These tactics he’s employing at the moment are awful. I fear we will not win another game this season of cook is allowed to carry on with these tactics. Is it just me or is Gibson one of the worst midfielders we have ever had. How can our defenders “pass” the ball out more than our midfielder. I hate to say it as I really do rate Cook, but I think he has lost his mind with this shite football. Maybe time for management change?

Dave Carter on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

With five days left till the window shuts, it’s looking likely that there will be no significant money spent. It’s also looking likely that any change of manager will come in May, if that’s the case. Large amounts spent in the next few days will probably mean that Cook’s here for a while. None, or very little, that he’s just keeping the seat warm.

Mr Brownbill on the Cockney Latic Forum opined:

Should have been potted 3 weeks ago….but new man would have had to rework what we have cos looks like we have 1 out 0 in policy. Thank god Bolton and Ipswich really look destined to drop …we are on a par with these at present.He is showing zero signs of getting to grips with the mess and with the form at present how can anyone want to suffer this shit any longer is beyond me……get rid.

The Egg on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

If a salesman is given a target of 100 sales in a year and after 60% of the year has made 60 sales will he get sacked? No because despite not hitting target yet he is in line to do so.

Granted if he had only made 10 sales after 60% they probably would.

Cook was given the task to keep us up. We still haven’t been in the bottom 3 yet and until we are I can’t them pulling the trigger. Think it will be the new man with 7 or 8 games to go scenario.

Made in Wigan on Latics Speyk commented:

Did anyone expect anything but a loss at Forest? Didn’t go, but mate who did said we were absolutely useless again against a woeful forest team.

We are now between a rock and a hard place. Personally I thought the time to change manager was at the start of the month. Would be strange timing to do so now when the window is closing. Regardless I think there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. It’s like Groundhog Day every away game and I’m struggling to see where the next result is coming from. Bar a couple of home victories our form has nose dived. After the Villa game I was hoping it would be a catalyst but understand today’s game was more of the same dross. Couple that with an intent to sell our best striker for relative peanuts, reluctance to sign a specialist left back and general ineptitude in the transfer which shows no signs of abating I am no longer convinced. It seems our hopes of survival are resting on other teams being worse than us and relying on other teams isn’t a good position to be in.

Despite the odd timing to change managers reluctantly I think Cooks position is now virtually untenable. I say reluctantly as I like him and think he is a better manager than what we are currently witnessing despite the shite he has signed. The dilemma is do we stick or twist before the next block of 4 or 5 fixtures in which we have to pick up a decent points haul from? I think the answer is dependent on who we had lined up to replace him.

Chris Stafford on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams added:

Let’s just limp to the end of the season . I have a feeling this is what the board are thinking . Cook will go at end of season I think and they will get there own man in.

King_dezeeuw06 on Latics Speyk said:

Garner, Evans and Roberts dropped Vaughan, Byrne (on wing) and Gibson in?!

Cook said Garner would score goals if we gave him a run of starts – he has improved a bit in reccent weeks and then gets dropped what are we supposed to make of that?

Byrne on the wing again – why? it has failed miserably every time to offer any threat we tried it and have Macca available or even Roberts better than him for midfield. I rate Byrne as a full back but as a winger Walker who wasn’t ripping up trees in L1 deserves a chance ahead of giving Byrne another start there.

Gibson literally can’t run and has been responsible for so many crap goals. He shouldn’t even be on the bench let alone in before MacDonald.

Before a ball was kicked you knew Bryne would offer zero threat and be subbed or moved into defence, Gibson would stand off everyone and come off knackered and Vaughan would get subbed off after posing zero threat. And all 3 happened like clockwork – how can our management not see this and avoid it?

Jones can’t save a shot if it’s outside the box. He is turning into as much of a liability as Walton but in different ways. Need a new keeper asap neither of ours are good enough. Our midfield can’t not realise this but make no attempt to stop the shot.

Our defensive organisation is all over the place and every time they get the ball down and play we look wide open. Our midfield pressing was so poor we back off and give them time and space to pick a pass or shoot – which is suicidal with Jones in goal.

Our set pieces are just pointless we pose zero threat and most of the time don’t even manage to get the ball into the box. What do we do in training all week?

Morsy is the ball carrier in our team that makes us tick but he was pushed up to accomodate Gibson in a 4-1-4-1 and it nullified his main attributes – bonkers decision. He now misses the QPR and Rotherham game through suspension for yellows too. We are f—ed without him in centre mid for those games. We desperately need another def mid to play with Morsy all 3 summer signings – Evans, Connolly and Gibson are varying degrees of not good enough and not even better than Max was.

Vaughan just not good enough every time he gets anywhere near a decent position he miscontrols the ball or falls over. All he does is run around and foul people. I respect his effort but he’s just not got the ability it shouldn’t be a shock since he hasn’t performed at this level in 5 or so years for Huddersfield, Birmingham, Sunderland or us. Could the taller, stronger and faster Cole really offer less? Despite not doing much in L1 I’d still give him a go ahead of Vaughan at this point.

Thought Dunks and Kipre threw themselves in front of everything and they had to as they had minimal protection it prob would’ve been worse if it wasn’t for them. Jacobs and Windass tried to take some responsibility and run with the ball but had no support if they broke and often mucked up the final ball when they rarely got in great positions. Windass shot prob should’ve been saved by their keeper but at least he had a go which hardly anyone else does. He also won us another penalty that Garner mucked up – why take an identical penalty to the one you took 2 weeks ago?! Especially when the last one only just went in and the Forest keeper is 6’7 and more likely to stretch across if you go the same place and put no power on it.

Forest were crap and easily there for the taking, but we were worse. It was too much long ball and no one getting forward. There is just no tempo, no organisation, no urgency or intensity. So poor again – Villa was clearly a fluke rather than a turning point where lessons were learned – we have been gifted enough teams playing poorly enough to get points but every time we get a bad side we manage to play badly enough to still lose to them. When other teams often go behind they pile on pressure and push the other team back when we go behind the other team ends up pushing us back further.

We stuck with Cook when we had the best opportunity to make the change so we probably arent going to change now. But we are just so poor with no signs of improving our flaws or learning from our mistakes. He should’ve gone by now but he’ll get the next 2 must win games no matter what just got to pray we scrape 4th bottom due to our good start giving us enough of a cushion to somehow keep 3 teams below us. But if you’re best hope is not you being good enough but pray others conspire to be worse than us is a sign what you are doing is not good enough. Staying up this season should be easy with the amount of awful teams and we are going to at best scrape it by the skin our our teeth and I don’t think we may even be good enough to do that. We look a beaten team who’s ran out of ideas who are too afraid to attack and just hoping for the outside chance to not lose.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com