The news that Andy Delort is scoring goals again is like music to the ears for Wigan Athletic fans. Delort scored two for the development squad against Morecambe last week and followed it up with another at Walsall yesterday. Is Delort at last showing the kinds of skills that we know he has in his repertoire? Can Malky Mackay get the best out of the 23 year old Frenchman?
Delort’s first appearance at the DW Stadium was on August 30. He was about to sign for Latics and was introduced to the crowd before the Birmingham City match. The transfer window was about to close and it looked like Latics had got a bargain on their hands. A goalscoring striker was desperately needed. Delort had scored 24 goals in 36 appearances for FC Tours in Ligue 1 last season.
Because of an international break, Delort had to wait a couple of weeks for his Latics debut. He played the lone centre forward role at Blackburn, which resulted in a 3-1 loss for Latics. Delort was full of effort but looked isolated up front. He started in the next two matches against Huddersfield and Ipswich. Delort was left on the bench for the game at Bournemouth, coming on as a 76th minute substitute. He was restored to the starting lineup against Nottingham Forest on September 30. That was the last time he started for Latics. His record up to this point reads four starts, three appearances off the bench, no goals and one yellow card.
Those games were quite miserable for Delort and he had looked nothing like the player that he had been for FC Tours. He looked out of touch and ill-suited to the lone centre forward role. The lack of service from midfield and lack of support up front did not help.
In those two matches for the development squad, Delort was playing up front, but with Oriel Riera close behind him. It could be a combination that would work for Latics in the Championship. But will Malky Mackay revert from his usual preference of playing a lone central striker to a system that plays two up front?
Last year Delort formed a formidable partnership with the 6 ft Ivorian striker Christian Kouakou. Although Tours were to finish 8th in Ligue 1 they scored 63 goals, second only to promoted FC Caen. Kouakou scored 9 of those in 34 appearances. Caen sold Delort because of financial difficulties and their squad is now the smallest in Ligue 1. Sadly they have dropped into the relegation zone, in 19th place, with only 19 goals scored in 16 games.
Latics made a substantial financial investment in signing Andy Delort. But had Uwe Rosler done his homework? If so he was gambling on a player used to playing in a twin striker system to adapt to playing a lone centre forward role. If it was a gamble then it has not yet paid off. Delort has not looked the same player that he was at Tours last season.
Mackay has made it clear that he will give all the players in his squad the chance to show what they can do.
Delort’s chance might well come on Saturday against Norwich. It would be wise to pair him up with another central striker.