Jordi Gomez is a footballer whose playing style can drive people to the extremes of both ecstasy and despair. Never before has a Wigan Athletic player polarized public opinion in the way he does.
Following his sumptuous free kick against Charlton his name has been bandied about the social media and fan forums. That last gasp goal really was something special, as were his celebrations following it. For once the neutrals who have reserved their judgement on the 28 year old Catalan are starting to openly praise him as Latics’ most skilful player.
What a turnaround for the man whose exit from the pitch was so loudly cheered in the home match against Rubin Kazan. Suddenly fans are realizing that Gomez’s contract expires at the end of the season. There are rumours of him going to the Major League soccer in the United States. Is it a case of realizing a player’s worth when it is too late?
Many of us thought that this might be Gomez’s best season at Wigan. He excelled in Swansea’s team when he played in the Championship before in 2008-09, getting 12 goals and 5 assists in 38 starts. The Championship just seems the best place for him to perform.
The speed and anticipation of Premier League midfields and defences made it difficult for him to stamp his mark on matches. He made a total of 61 starts in the Premier League with 35 appearances off the bench, scoring 10 goals. However, he made only 3 assists. Contrast that to the player’s performances in cup ties last year (FA and League cups) where in 9 starts and one appearance as a substitute he scored 5 goals and made 4 assists. The assist he made for Callum McManaman in the FA Cup Semi Final is the one that Latics fans will remember for years to come.
The arrival of Owen Coyle and his ‘’direct” approach to football was not to bring the best out of Gomez. Neither does he command a regular place in the team under Uwe Rosler. Up to this point he has started in 10 Championship matches, with 7 appearances off the bench, scoring four goals and making one assist.
Following that match winning goal last weekend there are many fans who feel Gomez should start in today’s game at Huddersfield. Although there are those who would argue that the player is more effective as an impact substitute, a “supersub”.
In order to play Gomez today Rosler would have to consider breaking up his preferred midfield trio of James McArthur, Chris McCann and Ben Watson. His other option would be to play with one wide player and play Gomez in a more advanced role.
In an interview this week Rosler said that he was actually planning to start Gomez in the Charlton game, but changed his mind at the last minute, expecting the game to be scrappy.
It will be interesting to see if Gomez starts today. If he does he can expect a much warmer welcome from the traveling Latics fans than he could have expected a couple of months ago.