A couple of years ago to the week Dave Whelan said his goodbyes to the crowd before a home game with Leeds United. The man whose investment of time, money and belief had lifted a struggling club from the fourth tier to unbelievable success was stepping down as chairman. His 23 year old grandson was taking over.
There had been quite a buoyant mood before the match had started as Latics had won their previous two league games. There was some degree of belief that Malky Mackay would be able to salvage the season and pull Latics out of the relegation zone. Sadly it was not to be, Latics lost 1-0 and were nine points adrift of safety at the end of the day. It took another month to sack the hapless Mackay, but by then the rot was truly set in and new manager, Gary Caldwell, was unable to turn things around sufficiently in the handfull of games that remained.
Two years on from those dark days Wigan Athletic find themselves in a similar predicament. Another 1-0 defeat, this time against a poor Blackburn side. Sadly the credibility of the current manager, Warren Joyce, is at rock bottom. His woeful tactics and lack of positivity have taken the standard of football down to levels we have not seen for decades. It is hard to have belief in the manager given his negative approach and his unwillingness to embrace good football. I watched yesterday’s game on a live feed from Germany, where even the German commentator referred to Wigan’s approach as “kick and rush”.
It was sad to see Joyce with his face patched up, present but not giving orders from the front line. The cynics had suggested that the manager’s illness was simply a ruse to avoid attending the fan forum during the week. It was clearly not and we all must wish him a speedy recovery.
David Sharpe will need to make decisions about the manager’s position over the coming week. Last time he left it late to bring in someone new. Latics have only won one game out of the last six and are heading for League 1 unless something drastic happens very soon. Significantly, reports suggest that Dave Whelan was at the game yesterday against his old club. Sharpe and Whelan will surely need to do something about a situation where a manager has not only been struggling with his job but has a seemingly major health problem to cope with too. Should they opt to put Joyce on medical leave until the end of the season they would be helping both the club and the manager himself. In the meantime a temporary appointment could be made within the club to provide the kind of positivity and belief that is lacking at the moment.
We took a look at the social media following yesterday’s match and came up with a wide range of views. Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Facebook) and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.
Stuart Alker @stuartalker tweeted:
Embarrassing day for us. The chairman will surely now be questioning the change of manager. Looks more ridiculous with every game.
Hindleylatic on Latics Speyk said:
He has to go before training on Monday.
Paul Tymon on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
We are set up basically not to lose at all costs which isn’t working and as soon as we go 1-0 we struggle.
He also added:
Everybody knows wat we need to do apart from the manager which is worrying
Adgjlzcbm on Latics Speyk commented:
Didn’t the Blackburn announcer said “Finally Wigan have made a substitution”? Who overruled the sub as we were clapping when we thought Tunnicliffe was coming off?
Paul Kendrick @PKendrickWIG tweeted:
Carnage here. Seemingly a double change for Latics as Jacobs and Bogle replaced by Obertan and Grigg. Boos from the away end as Bogle off…
Dan Thompson @DanThompson_89 tweeted:
It’s that embarrassing we can’t even make a sub correctly!!!
Dean Chambers on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams said:
I thought it was a well balanced game: both teams were sh.it. Never heard an away following turn on the management before. That substitution could have been in a Carry On film. They’ll get shut with 5 games to go and stick the plumber in charge for the rest of the season. Might as well do it now as were boll..xed. MoM: Burn and Buxton with special mentions to Crackers, Morsy and Bogle
Whittleblue on Latics Speyk commented on the atmosphere at the match:
For those not there it was genuinely that bad, both the performance, effort and the full time reaction from the fans, it went beyond discontent it was pure venom. Rational part of me says it went beyond what was acceptable- in fact it did but on this occasion I can understand why.
Regarding that sub Tunicliffe actually left the pitch – in a strop – before being pushed back on – I’m not sure he should have been allowed back as the sub had been made. Grigg looked bemused, Bogle was not happy when they tried to hook him, fans were going berserk, other players were looking round wondering what was going on, it was an absolute joke.
Rob Murphy on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams stated:
16 defeats out of 18 by a single goal must be some kind of record
Craig Aspey @AS_caspey tweeted:
We hammered Blackburn 3-0 earlier in the season. We’re a completely different team to then. Going down with a whimper. Embarrassing
Victor Moses ;)on Latics Speyk was far from happy:
Truly dreadful setup. I don’t think we could play any less effective without trying to lose games. Asking Bogle to run the channels and come back on defense is a complete waste of his ability.
Playing with wide players so deep, looks like 4 fullbacks on the pitch. Their not forward enough to be considered wingbacks. Never a pass available for the ball carrier. Cant describe how bad that is in words.
This is against sides with weaker squads(even at best), this would never work against stronger opposition. It doesn’t work against any opposition. Yet Joyce must think under 20% win ratio is enough. Feels like an amateur vs a professional system, week in week out. 5 defenders in midfield and 4 defensive defenders. Bogle trying to play as a complete solo attack unit. Never going to work over a period of time.
Without doubt Joyces tactics today. This system will relegate us from league 1 next season.
Bernard Ramsdale @BernardTNS said:
Here’s an idea WJ. Why not start every game thinking we are 1-0 down? You can then get rid of the defensive sh.te. #eyeswideshut
Zeb2 on the Cockney Latic Forum summed up the performance:
Can’t argue … “nil” again and no more than we deserved…yet another game where their keeper could have played, sat in a deck chair. A bit of late huff and puff (to no avail) when they finally decided to field the line up they ought to have started with. Simply not enough attacking intent. My first and last away of the season
Charlz54 on Latics Speyk added:
Well, it was the same old same old same today and let’s face it we look like we are going to be relegated now. We keep hearing the same old same excuses but NOtHING changes….the fact is we can’t win football matches and that means relegation and league one again next season…..embarrassing
Bigroy on the Cockney Latic Forum summed up the season by saying:
With us only scoring a goal every other game this season its been a bloody awful season for supporters and most feel completely despondent I’m sure. Don’t think I’ve witnessed a latics team with such a lack of invention and it’s bloody pitiful to watch. Not one player can beat a player, create a killer pass, shoot well. It’s awful to watch and um surprised more haven’t boycotted what must be the worst Latics team in around 20 years.
Daryl Rogerson @darylrogerson tweeted:
Depending on other teams games in hand, we could be 6pts from safety which is twice the gap when Joyce took over.
Lazysid on Latics Speyk added:
I will take relegation now if it means I don’t have to put up with watching this sh.te every week in trying to survive in a league we don’t deserve to be in.
Truelatic4ever on Latics Speyk was not happy:
Time for Sharpe to admit he screwed up yet again. We are absolute garbage,negative sh.te,we are going down.
Paul Kendrick @PauKendrickWIG commented:
Graham Barrow: “Defence kept us in the game. I think the finger has to be pointed at those further up the pitch who have to do better”
MudhutsMedia @mudhutter responded:
@PKenrickWIG there wasn’t anyone further up the pitch apart from the Bogle, that’s the whole problem
Bickymon on the Cockney Latic Forum commented on the owners’ quietness:
We started preparing for league one when we sold yanic and brought in those league one type players in January. The owners are very quiet about the whole sorry mess we are in._.But then again its their fault just dont think they are interested anymore
NorthernSoul on Latics Speyk commented on the Wildschut transfer:
In the season was undoubtedly the sale of Wildschut, just after we’d won back to back league games, started creating chances and scoring and looking like climbing the table, we let our key attacking player leave.
4m upfront with over 1m going to Boro, with 3m in performance related installments, now Norwich have missed out on the play offs and are a total shambles and Yanic can’t get in the team and seems unsettled down in East Anglia, it’s unlikely to see us get anymore than 3m in the end.
Was losing 6/7m or so a season in revenue, with relegation worth this panic sale? Yanic may have been bang out of order but if we’d have kept him and and agreed to sell him in the Summer, it would probably have kept us up. Without his pace and power we have absolutely nothing at all creativity wise. Whoever sanctioned the deal should probably resign.
Donnyspage on the Cockney Latic Forum urged Dave Whelan to stop the downward spiral:
I for one have such a lot of gratitude for Dave Whelan and the journey we have been on but at the moment the journey seems to be going back to the lower leagues. There are the cynical amongst us who will think Dave has had other reasons than football too, like raising his own personal and business profile and having this profile shown to the world along the way. Who can blame him, the two have gone together. It could have cost a fortune to raise the business profile so much with stadium and shirt sponsorship alone. A huge chunk of money invested. Remember for all the money that he has put in Latics, Dave still owns millions in assets with the stadium and land etc and still the company name is flashed on TV every week.
I just think it is a shame after taking us up there to be on the slide which could have been prevented with a fraction of investment again rather than perennial fire sales. Someone somewhere should be accountable for this ridiculous and downward spiraling of Latics and let us hope Mr Whelan can find them, stop them and do something about this slide. I hope he is patient because it is looking like he will have to start this process from league 1 and without a parachute payment which will need the right personnel and investment from the off. It will also require the ruthless side of his business life with a full clear out of most players, the chairman and board, the manager, all the coaching staff, all the hanger ons. Let the upward journey begin again Dave.
Whelan runs the latics like he runs his business. Buy cheap sell dear. He always finds the cheapest managers. How come there are managers avaliable with championship experience, yet we get a” coach” with no championship experience. We get him bacause he is cheaper than an experienced manager. Look at the managers we’ve had and where they finished up after us. Just a thought.
Too early to press the panic button
Let’s be clear Warren Joyce knows a bit about football. You don’t survive in any successful organisation for as long as he did at MU and you don’t earn the respect of so many players without having a degree of insight and ability and a broad knowledge of the game. In the short period he has been Wigan he hasn’t become less able or less knowledgeable if anything he had developed. He’s had to, the results have gone against the side and luck has not favoured us, a young team has lost confidence in a division where there are no easy matches and creative options have been limited.
When he arrived the first thing he talked about was how to play football when you don’t have the ball, how you make it difficult for sides to play almost as the prerequisite for your own game to take shape. There’s no denying he’s worked on killing the opposition’s opportunities. He’s been so successful that on occasions he’s strangled the life out of the opposition and his own team. The games have been woeful to watch.
Good teams have struggled to break Wigan down and have been lucky to score the odd goal and snatch victory. So if his first job was to make us difficult to score against then he’s made progress. It’s creatively where we have struggled. But this naturally will take longer, and will only come when the new players gel with the old and the team have a confidence that such attacks won’t leave an exposed backline. Last season it took half the season for Latics to start to fire against much worse opposition, Joyce’s new men have not had 3 months yet and this season’s easy games are against teams like Burton which were top of the table clashes last time.
But even now we forget there have been periods when Latics have been on top, the first half tonight being a case in point, we have dominated but not scored.
The fans will forgive a team that wins ugly and will give more time to a team that loses but is easy on the eye (the Wigan Way) but they won’t stomach losing ugly for long. But losing pretty is still just losing and the Wigan Way seems to have its pockets lined with lead taking us incrementally lower with each cycle.
Realism is called for and realism is what we are being served, ugly as it is. This is not Mackay’s fire sale repeated, this is economics. Youth has been bought, experience has been hired and it looks like a long term plan is being followed, one that is not dependent on the Whelans’ largesse but is self supporting.
If we are really honest with ourselves if Mr Whelan has tired of pouring money into a bucket with a hole in it then what are the options for a club with a limited fan base and tiny amounts of other income? Certainly sacking the manager is an expensive luxury and to what end? Even if a new manager could keep us up with a raft of loan signings, where to then? More churn of players, more cost, less cogency and ultimately we’ll be dropping out of the Championship next year, just when a revitalised Latics under Joyce would be coming up, this year’s young crop of players leading the way.
In no other profession would we contemplate sacking an individual in such a short period because we would acknowledge that even the simplest job takes time to pick up the reins, but here, in a job as complex as this, we are suggesting the manager should go. Surely it is the fans that should be sacked if the view from beyond the end if their nose is so myopic!
Now is not the time for change, now is the time to batten down the hatches and hold tough. If we stay up all the better, but the horizon isn’t this year it’s 3, 5 years away only by looking that far can we ever hope to get back to the Premier League. If we only look 3 months ahead then we deserve to fail, let’s hope Sharpe and Whelan are more able to see that future and have the guts to see it through.
Thanks, Phrilly, for your interesting insight.
Its a view JJ, it doesn’t make it any easier to watch right now, but it’s too soon to give up on what has to be a bigger, longer term project!