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?