Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a stunning win at Bolton

October 16, 2021: Bolton Wanderers 0 Wigan Athletic 4

What a scintillating performance from Wigan! They bossed this game from start to finish, outplaying the home team. Will Keane’s 6th minute goal got Latics off to a flying start. The home team’s main threat was from inverted left winger Dapo Ofolayan, a capable player, but one who has the ability to fall to the ground after the mildest of challenges. His threat was nullified by crowding him out and the tactic seriously hindered Bolton’s attacks. Wigan’s defence was rock solid and they were full of energy in midfield and up front, with the line superbly led by Charlie Wyke.

James McClean had his best match ever for Latics, scoring two and providing the assist for the first goal. A very experienced Premier League and Championship player he is revelling in playing in the third tier. His rocket shot put Latics two up in the 50th minute and he showed good composure to add a fourth in the 80th minute. McClean’s best goalscoring record in league games is 7 goals for Stoke City in the Championship in 2019-20. He already has 3 goals this season and looks like he will go on to eclipse that previous record.

In a post-match interview McClean remarked on his first goal: “It was a great strike. I had a couple in the first half on my right foot which was more Row Z rather than the top corner. To get that away and see it fly into the top corner was a great feeling. It was absolutely fantastic.” He added that Latics have a side that “can pretty much do anything”, being able to play football and match opponents on a physical level when the going gets tough.

It was a memorable performance from Latics, marred only by crowd trouble. The local  police superintendent commented; “I am saddened that a group of individuals took it upon themselves to ruin the game today for the rest of the fans. The game had to be paused several times due to objects being thrown on to the pitch and one of our officers was assaulted, as well as rival supporters causing disorder following the game. This is quite frankly disgusting behaviour and will not be tolerated in any shape or form. We will continue to work closely with the football clubs to carry out a full investigation into the criminal activity that occurred today and bring those involved to justice.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

JockLatic commented:

Absolutely brilliant performance, best I’ve seen in a while, from Amos all the way to Wyke who worked his socks off. MoM was JM closely followed by Naylor who mopped up everything that came his way but the rest of the team were top drawer as well. From kick off we didn’t let them settle & at 1 nil we missed a few chance which had me thinking will this come back & bite us in the ar.e – no need to worry once JM screamed the second in much to the dismay of the ‘crazy corner’ ….JM doing what he does best, winding up the opposition fans. Couldn’t go without saying that our fans today played their part with a brilliant atmosphere from start to finish & I’ve no doubt that ‘Bolton get battered everywhere they go’ will be ringing in them Bolton fans ears for some time to come. Coming away from the ground wasn’t too bad but there was certainly a fair few looking for it from both sides…luckily we didn’t see any. Onwards to MK Dons n hopefully a similar performance.

WalgarthJohn said:

The way this fixture is going it’s attracting every trouble maker from both sides. And over the last few times we have played these lot it gets worse every game. our fans. Ripping down hoardings. Was not nice to see. Wigan Athletic has always been a family club. Shameful behaviour from both sets of fans.

KingdeZeeuw summed up:

After the last international break we saw a big improvement in our style of play and we saw another big step forward today. By far our best performance of the season we retained the foundations of out working, out running and out battling the opposition but were far more composed in possession and playing more football. There were long balls but very few of were hopeful punts that came straight back at us they were more targeted into areas that hurt Bolton and helped us. Centre mid is now getting involved in the build up play all the time and it’s made the world of difference. Cousins I felt had his best game for us and was far more positive on the ball so it was a real shame he went off injured – hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’ll not miss any time.

It was a very balanced performance where we looked dangerous every time we had the ball and every time we broke up play we were rapid to counter in numbers. We’ve said all season that we have been very effective without playing great and we hadn’t really seen the finished article yet in terms of style of play. But today all of the hard work and tweaking we’ve done from game to game really started to pay off and it was superb.

Bolton have a lot of method in the way they play and that type of football earlier in the season was causing us issues but today our high press and pressing all over the pitch killed them and they had no plan B. We just forced them into error after error. When you look at the stats they had more possession and lots more passes but it was all possession in non dangerous areas and passes that didn’t really help them – compared to us who were ruthlessly efficient in and out of possession. Evatt I’m sure will do some mental gymnastics to say that their possession and passing proves they’re a better side but we looked a class above them. We’ll be playing MK Dons next who are very much in the same camp of possession based football and playing out from the back. So hopefully we can’t repeat this performance.

Hard to pick anyone out as MOTM as everyone was excellent but special mention to Wyke. He may not have got on the score sheet but he was playing against a much larger centre half in Santos most of the time and he was winning so many balls in the air. His work rate is always high and his hold and link up were great. He looked a proper target man today and it made everything we did so much more dangerous with Lang and Keane anticipating the flick ons.

I bet Evatt wishes he hadn’t talked so much as i got the impression a few of our lads had a little extra spring in their step to put one up him. Evatt has done well for Bolton but he’s firing up other teams and lumping extra pressure on his players with his comments and today should’ve humbled him. But I get the impression he isn’t the type to learn from his mistakes.

No doubt Richardson was backed in the market to bring in a squad better than most in the division but to get them so organised, so fit, so hard working and fight so hard is a massive testament to him and the coaching staff he brought in. It’s still early days so you can’t get too carried away but it feels like they are building something special.

C_Latic commented:

Simply wonderful and the best thing was that wasn’t even the best we’ve played this season. We were better against Wycombe. An absolute pasting and credit to Ian Evatt for the assist with his pre match team talk. Well in Jimmy Mc!

Bolton fan WarrenBluffit commented:

No complaints today guys you were head and shoulders better.

No apologies necessary Becky and no excuses you were head and shoulders better than us today in every area of the pitch. I just don’t know what our lot we’re on today, that’s the worst I’ve seen since the first half of last season, nervous, slow, clumsy and lacking in any kind of passion. I say that without taking anything away from Wigan, you were excellent, won every 50/50 ball, forced us into mistakes and kept your shape for the whole game.

You were clinical where it mattered and defensively in the second half you totally shut us down. You’ll know better your own players but for me Wyke was outstanding, totally dominating Santos and Johnson and nobody else has bullied Santos that way. On that performance I can’t see anyone stopping you going up and it rammed Evatt’s stupid comments right back where the sun don’t shine!! Good luck for the rest of the season and apologies for some of our moron fans who resorted to chucking things.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Wigan Athletic DO have strength in depth, despite poor EFL trophy performances

Image courtesy of the EFL

“Physically, it’s better than training. The lads got some good minutes in there because they’ve gone weeks without match sharpness.”

So said Leam Richardson following a dull 2-0 defeat at Crewe in an EFL Trophy fixture on Tuesday. Crewe were so much better than Wigan, the scoreline not reflecting the superiority of the home team. A fine display by 19-year-old debutant goalkeeper Sam Tickle had helped keep the score down. Crewe had made 8 changes to their team, Latics making 11. The home team had looked cohesive, Wigan disjointed.

The EFL Trophy is not a priority for most managers these days. Richardson used the fixture to give seven of his first team squad a run-out with players from the U23 squad.

The EFL Trophy was launched as the “Associate Members’ Cup” in the 1983-84 season, when it was won by Bournemouth. The following season Bryan Hamilton’s Wigan Athletic won it (as the Freight Rover Trophy), beating Brentford 3-1 at Wembley in front of a crowd of 39,897.

In 1999 Latics won it again (as the Auto Windscreens Shield), with 55,349 spectators watching Ray Matthias’ side beat Millwall 1-0 at Wembley.

Despite constantly poor attendances in the early rounds the competition’s final has always drawn big crowds, the record being the massive 85,021 for the Portsmouth-Sunderland encounter in 2019.

The introduction of U21 teams to the competition has not gone down well with the fans of clubs in Leagues 1 and 2. Attendances reached an all time low on Tuesday and Latics’ game at Crewe was one of eight matches that night with less than 1,000 paying spectators. Some 185 Latics fans travelled to watch a game in which their team just did not show the kind of commitment that wins games. Wigan still have a chance of qualifying from if they win their last group game at Shrewsbury, but on the evidence of the commitment shown in the games against Wolves U21 and Crewe it would be a surprise.

Richardson’s prime goal this season is to secure promotion. The League Cup and EFL Trophy have been secondary considerations and there are few fans who would argue against that. However, the performances of the second string in the EFL Trophy games and in the Sunderland game in the League Cup have been so below par that some fans are questioning the quality of the first team squad players who were involved. If those games have provided an opportunity for fringe players to stake a claim for a place in the senior team starting line-up, then it has not happened. Wigan’s best player at Crewe was Tickle and Kieran Lloyd, Scott Smith and Chris Sze looked as comfortable as any of the senior players.

However, looking at the first team squad analytically there is lots of depth. There are experienced players who have already been successful at League 1 level or above. However, they may be lacking sharpness due to lack of playing time with the manager keeping faith in a group of players who have got the club off to a fine start to the campaign. In the old days those players would have been sent to get game time in the reserve team. Such entities no longer exist in the modern era, having been replaced by development squads, with the emphasis of grooming young players.

However, first team squad players are sometimes drafted into U23 games from time to time. Both Curtis Tilt and Thelo Aasgaard played against Charlton U23s on September 13. Adam Long and Luke Robinson have played in the last four U23 games. Up this point Richardson has used the cup games, rather than U23 games, to help senior players to keep up their match fitness. The next EFL trophy game is on November 9 at Shrewsbury.

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

The indifferent performances of senior players in the recent cup games is hard to fathom. There was surely enough ability and experience in those line-ups to put up better performances against the second strings of Sunderland and Crewe and the Wolves U21s. One could not expect those Latics XI’s to gel, but despite the lack of cohesion we might have expected some more memorable individual performances.

But the bottom line is that Wigan do have considerable strength in depth. It can only be truly tested when those fringe players are given the opportunity to play in a first team which has already gelled, making it easy for replacements to slot in.

Wigan Athletic: is it time for more squad rotation?

Alex Ferguson liked to use squad rotation as a means of freshening his starting line-up fresh and sending a message to his players that none of them had a guaranteed place there. For each game he would typically change one or two players, often central midfielders. From late 2008 until March 2011, he went 165 games without naming an unchanged starting XI.

On Tuesday night Sunderland manager Lee Johnson made five changes to the line-up that had beaten Bolton 1-0 the previous Saturday. They went on to beat Cheltenham 5-0. That same night Leam Richardson typically made no changes to his starting line-up for the encounter with Sheffield Wednesday. It was a line-up that had been producing a series of good results and the Latics manager saw no need to tamper with it.

Wigan Athletic have seven players who have started in all 9 league matches played this season, with two more players who have played in 8. Having such a backbone of regulars in the starting line-up has enabled the team to gel more quickly than might have been expected. Gary Caldwell’s League 1 title winning team of 2015-16 also had a large influx of new players and initially took time to gel with a record of W4 D2 L3, gaining 11 points in their first 9 games. Latics currently have a record of W6 D1 L2, amassing 19 points.

Leam Richardson has done a terrific job since taking over as manager in November 2020. Keeping Latics out of the relegation zone at the end of last season was a great achievement given the challenging conditions he faced.  He also deserves credit for the start his new squad have made this season.

There has been much conjecture on the social media regarding the splitting of the Cook/Richardson partnership. The former has had a hard time at Ipswich since joining them in March, winning only 22% of games played up to this point. It contrasts with his former assistant’s stats of 35% since last September.  

For so many years the names of Cook and Richardson had been synonymous: they were seemingly joined from the hip. But despite their parting the football Latics have continued to play has been pretty much like we saw in the Cook era. Moreover, Richardson has stuck with that familiar 4-2-3-1 system, being conservative with the introduction of substitutes, loyal to his senior professionals.

Among the strengths of the Latics team this season has been in winning “second balls” and in being dangerous from set pieces. They are a physically imposing team and have the height to trouble the opposition from corners and free kicks. They have proven able to grind down the opposition to the extent of becoming stronger in the latter part of the proceedings. The stats show that on first half goals alone their record is W2 D6 L1, opposed to W6 D2 L1 for the second halves.

Richardson has a squad that is the envy of most of the other clubs in the division. However, the challenge for the manager is to keep players happy who are not getting regular game time. He has a wealth of talent and experience in reserve, either on the bench or not even in the match day squad. He has a big squad with three players whose specialist position is left back, three for the left wing and five central defenders.

The manager has been reluctant, up to this point, to rotate his squad in a manner akin to that practiced by Alex Ferguson. Unless an unprecedented wave of injuries hits the squad there are likely to be players who will be starved of opportunities. Lowest in the pecking order is likely to be the young talent: homegrown players Thelo Aasgaard, Adam Long and Luke Robinson. It would be no surprise to see some of them being sent out on loan at some time during the season.

Will Richardson name an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to Gillingham? Or will he make some small adjustments?

A Cardiff fan’s view of Joe Bennett

Courtesy of Wales News Service

Wigan Athletic last week announced the signing of 31-year-old Joe Bennett from Cardiff City. The left back has over 300 appearances in the Premier League and Championship and looks an outstanding signing for Latics in League 1.

Bennett had been offered a new contract at Cardiff prior to Mick McCarthy’s arrival in January, the player suffering a serious ACL injury in March. By early August Bennett was still training with Cardiff although no new contract had been offered, prompting McCarthy to comment:

“He is in the building and he is going to train. I am more than happy for him to train, he has been a great servant to the club. I think there was an offer made to him prior to me coming in and it didn’t get signed. That’s just the way it is. Contracts run out. Sadly for him he got injured.

If he hadn’t have been injured he would have left, played for someone else and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I was quite sad about it because I spoke to Benno when I came in, I knew his contract was running out. I discussed with him about staying, then injury comes and it changed it all.”

On signing for Latics, Bennett commented:

Im delighted to get a chance to come to a massive club like this and get the opportunity to play. Hopefully I can come here, help the team and get promoted and thats why Ive come here – to get promoted and Im sure a lot of the lads and staff want that as well.

For me there was a good feel about the club and we’ve had a good start. We’ve got a good squad and a good team. If I can add my experience and some of my attributes to the team as well, then itll bode well. I think I fit into that, and I want to help the team and help the squad if I get the opportunity to play. Ive come here to get promoted and hopefully thats what we can do.”

Born in Rochdale, Joseph Bennett graduated through the Middlesbrough academy, signing a professional contract as a 19-year-old in the summer of 2008. He went on to make 78 starts and 7 appearances off the bench over four seasons in the Premier League and Championship. Bennett signed for Aston Villa for £2.75m in August 2012. He made 25 appearances in the Premier League in 2012-13. He had injury problems in his second season, limiting him to 7 appearances in all competitions. In 2014-15 Bennett played for Brighton and Hove Albion on loan, making 45 appearances. Following further loan spells at Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday he left Aston Villa for Cardiff after amassing 30 league appearances for Villa.

Joining Cardiff City in August 2016 he went on to make 164 league appearances for the Bluebirds over 5 seasons, scoring 5 goals.

In order to learn more about Marshall’s time at Cardiff we reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site (http://www.viewfromtheninian.com/).

Here’s over to Benjamin:

Joe Bennett has great teeth and is a great left back. He joined Cardiff, unheralded, in 2016 and we no longer needed to worry about the left back position. It was like he was what we had always been looking for.

Solid, good going forward, even better at defending. When we got promoted to the premier league, he was a key player in the promotion run and in the year at the top where he really didn’t look out of place. 

If I’d had my choice, we would have kept him but a difference in opinion on wages and then his injury put paid to that. It feels like a changing of the guard for us. A player who had spent five years with us and was a big part of our successes during that time is moving on.

No offence to Wigan, but I’m surprised he’s dropped down to league one. Maybe he’s not sure his body is up to the rigours of the Championship after an ACL injury but I won’t doubt his ability. He’s a quality, consistent left back and you’ve got a gem. 

A St Johnstone fan view of Jason Kerr

Wigan Athletic yesterday announced the signing of St Johnstone centre half and captain Jason Kerr for a fee of around £600,000. The six-foot tall, 24-year-old was a key player in the Perth club’s historic achievements in winning both the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup last season.

Jason Kerr was born in Edinburgh and joined St Johnstone in 2014. In summer 2015 he was loaned East Fife, then in the Scottish League 2, as an 18-year-old, making 33 appearances to help the Methil club gain promotion to the Championship.  He stayed there in the 2016-17 season, making 43 appearances. Kerr then spent a half season loan period at Queen of the South, making 18 appearances for the Dumfries club in the Scottish Championship, returning in January to Perth to appear 15 times for St Johnstone by the end of the season. Having established himself he went on to become club captain from summer 2019 and to make a further 100 appearances in the next 3 and a bit seasons for The Saints.

Kerr has 6 caps for the Scotland at U23 level.

In order to learn more about Kerr’s time at St Johnstone we contacted Jamie Beatson from the We Are Perth fan site (www.weareperth.co.uk).

Here’s over to Jamie:

First things first – £600k is a bargain. For that you’re getting a 24-year-old who is vastly experienced for his age, has captained a small club to unprecedented success and who has shown up extremely well against very good European teams – Galatasaray and LASK – in the past few weeks. In any just world he’d have multiple Scotland caps by now, but, alas, the SFA have their heads firmly in their ar..s.

See for example Jack Hendry – a recent Celtic flop who just sold for £8m to a Belgian side. As far as I’m concerned Kerr is every bit as good a defender as Hendry – better in many aspects. But Hendry played for Celtic so was rewarded for caps, despite his crap form. Kerr excelled for Saints and got nothing.

At the price quoted I’m amazed a current championship side hasn’t taken him. He could easily play at that level right now – and I guess the hope for you guys is that he will be next season!

You’ll want to know what type of player he is. Very much a modern centre back – comfortable with the ball but, crucially, still a good defender. Strong and good in the air, but also clever with his feet and always picking the right moment to set out of defence. His underlapping runs from RCB last season were a joy to watch and will be missed.

I’d be amazed if a good year or two with you doesn’t see him in the sights of bigger clubs higher up the food chain. He has all the attributes and his best years are well and truly in front of him. He will forever be a St Johnstone legend for leading us to an unprecedented cup double and for that we’ll always be grateful.

Enjoy him, and I hope he leads you to similar success as he had up here!