He is among the most eloquent of footballers, a real professional and an inspiration in Wigan Athletic’s fight against relegation. William Kvist finally got the recognition he deserved on Saturday, when he was named captain of the team that lined up against league leaders Bournemouth.
But why did it take so long for Kvist to get a regular place in the starting lineup? What was in the minds of managers Uwe Rosler and Malky Mackay in leaving him out for so long? The Denmark captain has played in the Bundesliga and the Premier League, let alone making 53 appearances for his country over the past eight years.
The cynics might say that Mackay has brought the Dane in from the cold mainly because of his ability to launch long throws. But Kvist is much more than that. He brings stability to a midfield that had struggled to maintain possession. You will invariably see him as the last man in front of the back four, strong in the tackle and his reading of the game allowing him to make important interceptions. Kvist is not the kind of player who will play box-to-box and it is rare that he scores a goal. He keeps things simple, organizing the midfield from behind, rarely wasting the ball.
Kvist has been part of the rollercoaster ride that has characterized Wigan Athletic’s season. His signing at the end of the summer transfer window was overshadowed by those of Andy Delort and Adam Forshaw, plus the announcement of Emyr Huws being signed on a permanent basis. However, it looked like Rosler had done a good job in the transfer market and hopes of promotion were once again on the table.
Five months on and Latics are in a dire situation. Second from bottom and seven points adrift of safety. Many fans blame Rosler’s signings for what has happened. After all, last season’s team was good enough to reach the FA Cup semi-final and the Championship playoffs. Surely it was the arrival of Rosler’s new men that brought the club down?
There may well be some truth in their assertion. Rosler had inherited players from the Martinez and Coyle eras, who had adopted his “high pressing” philosophy to some degree. Latics took a lot of teams by surprise last season by that tactic, even if they weren’t able to hold it for more than the first thirty minutes in most games. It was often enough to get ahead in the first half and hold on to that lead by the skin of their teeth. But it produced results, at least until the other teams got wise to it.
Ironically Rosler brought in ten players of his own, but neither they nor the others seemed willing to buy into the high pressing approach. In the absence of high pressing there was little else remaining as Latics were then lacking a consistency in approach. Bouts of nervy defenders playing the ball across the back were interceded by hoofs from the goalkeeper to the lone front man.
Sadly Rosler’s new men did not appear to be supporting him on the field. Many of those from previous managerial regimes at Wigan certainly weren’t.
Many of those fans who blame Latics’ current demise on Rosler’s signings will say that most of them simply were not good enough. Delort, Forshaw, Oriol Riera and James Tavernier have all gone, having been unable to establish themselves in the starting lineup. Huws is out injured for the rest of the season. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair has been injured for some time and it looks like he is now way down on the totem pole with the arrival of Gaetan Bong. Martyn Waghorn has been only on the fringes, despite having made a good impression last season.
But Andrew Taylor has started in 25 of the 29 league matches this season, and Don Cowie in 21. The cynics will say that the two are automatic choices for Mackay, having played under him at Cardiff and Watford. Neither has a high popularity rating with the DW crowd.
That is not the case with William Kvist. His recent all-action performances, together with his leadership skills and positivity about Latics getting out of their current predicament, are making him into the kind of player that fans really appreciate.
If Latics do avoid relegation then they would do well in securing a contract extension for the Dane, who clearly has much to offer.
At this point in time he looks like the best of Rosler’s signings.
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