Previous articles on Oriol Riera:
An Osasuna fan’s view of Oriol Riera
It looked distinctly possible that Oriol Riera might go back to Spain within the month of January. His ex-manager from his time at Cordoba, Lucas Alvarez, is in charge at Levante and reportedly wants Riera on loan. Levante are currently in 15th place in La Liga, having scored just 12 goals in their 16 matches.
The Valencia club have done business with Latics before, Arouna Kone arriving at Wigan in August 2012 for a fee of €3.5m. Allowing Riera to go on loan would reduce Latics’ wage bill, with the possibility of a permanent deal to follow.
However, the cruciate knee ligament injury suffered by Grant Holt could force Malky Mackay’s hand into retaining Riera.
Mackay’s credibility as Latics manager continues to plummet. His record in seven games in charge reads W1 D1 L5. The arrival of a new manager so often coincides with an immediate upturn in results, but it has not been the case for Mackay at Wigan. Uwe Rosler was dismissed because of a run of bad results, but in his last seven games in charge he had a record of W1 D4 L2.
Mackay’s credibility has been undermined in the eyes of fans by his team selections. Marc-Antoine Fortune has many attributes, not least his ability to salvage something out of long punts from the defence. However, he has scored only 5 goals in 53 appearances for the club. James McClean too has attributes – his enthusiasm is important in a struggling team and his direct running can trouble opposition defences. But McClean is essentially a winger, not a lone centre forward in a 4-3-3 formation or a twin striker in 3-5-2.
Fortune and McClean make a hardworking front two, but both lack the instinct to make the incisive runs needed to split opposing defences. Neither are they the type to be in the right place to put away the tap-ins.
Mackay went some way to appeasing fan pressure by switching to a 3-5-2 formation with twin strikers.
Would he even consider using Riera and Andy Delort as an upfront partnership? Or could it be that one or both will have departed the club by the end of the month?
Of the two, Riera is the more experienced and has proved himself in the Primera Division of Spain. Delort is a raw diamond from Ligue 2 of France.
Has Mackay already passed judgement on the two? Are they still in his plans?
I think Riera and Delort up front together would be good, but I would stick to a tried and tested formula for Latics in McManaman playing up front as a second striker. Riera is a good centre-forward, and although he is used to playing up front alone he will be good as the man furthest forward while Macca plays in the second striker role that he played so well in last season.