Playing the league leaders was never going to be easy for a Latics team so short in confidence. Wigan started well, but once Callum Wilson scored a controversial first goal for the visitors it never seemed likely that they could win it. In the end Bournemouth had too much quality for a Latics who have sold off most of their technically-able players.
Malky Mackay has jettisoned ten players, but brought in eight new ones. He faces the challenge that helped bring down Uwe Rosler, that of bedding in new players in a struggling team. Yesterday he started with three of them – Chris Herd, Kim Bo-kyong and Leon Clarke. Two more – Sheyi Ojo and Billy Mckay – came on in the second half.
Mackay had had a difficult choice to make. If he brought in too many of his new signings he would face a lack of cohesion between players who would not know each others’ games. If he did not bring in the newbies, he would be persevering with the what remained of Rosler’s squad, players desperately low on confidence.
In the event it was a lack of cohesion that stood out yesterday, a Latics short of the kind of “team intelligence” that the visitors showed in abundance. Bournemouth played a brand of football reminiscent of Roberto Martinez’s time at Wigan. The central defenders would drop back to receive the ball, playing it calmly out of defence. All of their outfield players were comfortable on the ball. When they received it there was always someone moving in space to pass it to. They won the match without duly exerting themselves, with a crunch game at Derby coming up in midweek.
Bournemouth’s first goal was well taken by the exciting Callum Wilson, whose pace and movement was to give Leon Barnett and Liam Ridgewell a torrid afternoon. However, Wilson was clearly offside when he set off for that run. It was the kind of refereeing decision that struggling teams like Latics seem to invariably attract. Chris McCann’s loss of the ball on the edge of the penalty area soon after led to Yann Kermorgant scoring with a low shot that Ali Al-Habsi might have saved. Wilson once again evaded the centre of Latics’ defence for his second goal.
On a positive note all of the new players did enough to make them acceptable to the crowd. Clarke played the classic centre forward role and scored a headed goal. Kim worked hard for 45 minutes, showing some glimpses of skill, but was not fit enough to play for longer. Herd was gritty and tenacious in the right back role. Ojo is still only 17, but he immediately showed the silky skills that we had heard of. However, after an exciting start Bournemouth wised up to his moves and denied him space. Mckay formed a partnership with Clarke, but was well marked by a tight Cherries defence.
It will be interesting to see what kind of lineup Mackay chooses to face Nottingham Forest on Wednesday. Will he jump in at the deep end and throw in his other new players ? It will be Ridgewell’s last game before returning back to Portland, but will Mackay give Jason Pearce his first game in place of the nervy Barnett? Andrew Taylor has the crowd on his back after a series of indifferent displays and people will be keen to see if Gaetan Bong can do any better.
Sadly it looks like Emyr Huws could be out for some time after injuring his suspect ankle in training. Mackay’s resources in midfield are stretched and it is an injury that could be a major blow for Latics.
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