Social media reaction to a sadly predictable defeat at Swansea

Swansea City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Nathan Byrne’s well taken first half goal gave Latics a lift, but Swansea were to score three minutes later. Swans’ manager Steve Cooper had clearly done his homework and employed a high press to stop Latics building up moves from the back. The under-pressure defenders resisted the easy-hoof way out, but most of the time the ball came back to keeper David Marshall who would look for a defender willing to receive, but often had to play it long.

Paul Cook had brought Joe Garner into the starting line-up for Josh Windass, who did not even appear on the bench. He persisted with the out of form Jamal Lowe, keeping Kieran Dowell on the left with Joe Williams continuing in the number 10 position.

Going in 1-1 at half time, given previous performances, it was hard to see Wigan coming away with even a point. In the event Swansea laid siege on Latics who held out until Paul Cook made two substitutions after 64 minutes. Gavin Massey came on for the hapless Lowe, but sadly Cook sent Massey to the left wing, which is a position where he has so often looked like a duck out of water. Playing a number 10 on the left wing was hard enough to understand, although Dowell had linked up well with Antonee Robinson, but when Massey came on he was switched to the right flank. Square pegs in round holes yet again.

It was no surprise when Swansea scored what proved to be the winning goal just three minutes after the substitutions.

Despite the result Latics played with lots of enthusiasm and tried hard to get back into the game in the closing minutes.

But spirit is not enough: Swansea clearly had a game-plan and their players knew their roles. If Latics did have a plan it dissolved following Cook’s substitutions.

Unless Cook’s team selections and substitutions show a radical change, Latics are heading for the abyss. How many more square pegs in round holes will we see? The depressing scene of Cook berating the fourth official, rather than focus on the pattern of play on the pitch, is getting tired.

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

Jeffs right on the Latics Speyk Forum referred to Kieran Dowell’s position:

Signed as a number 10 as he plays behind the striker. So Cook plays him as one of the so called wide players with the inept Lowe on the other side and a defensive midfielder behind the striker. He really does want this pay off badly.

JRTfatfan on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

The point is we lose a goal EVERY time he makes changes. Was neither attacking or playing for point change, like for like both players. Garner was doing Ok, Lowe was pants. This is just about the worst performance of the season.

Garswood Latic on the Cockney Latic Forum responded:

The point that John makes is spot on, as I have mentioned elsewhere. This isn’t just bad luck. The only way I can rationalise it is that the team aren’t really understanding the changes and what that means for them individually. There is obviously confusion, and until they understand what is required we remain vulnerable. Why?

Three options:
1. These things and possibilities aren’t being discussed and planned and plotted during the week (“if we are down we will have an attacking formation and X and Y will do this etc”)
2. If a change is made that falls outside these pre-planned changes (and there will be many times that happens) then no-one on the pitch is being informed what it means (when we’re making changes is Morsy there finding out what the thinking is particularly if we’re changing formation other than like-for-like changes? Does anyone ever see players being given instructions?
3. A possibility that can also be alongside 1 and 2 – the players are too thick to understand what is required.

A fascinating post from King_dezeuww06 prior to the game on the Latics Speyk Forum:

For anyone interested here are the stats for the the Championship teams since they changed their managers this season (mostly in relegation fight) league games only:

Cardiff – Harris
Played 11
Won 4
Drew 5
Lost 2
Win ratio 37%
Points 17 out of 33

Barnsley – Struber
Played 12
Won 4
Lost 4
Drew 4
Win ratio 33%
Points 16 out of 36

Millwall – Rowett
Played 14
Won 7
Drew 5
Lost 2
Win ratio 50%
Points 26 out of 42

Stoke – O’Neill
Played 15
Won 5
Drew 2
Lost 5
Win ratio 33%
Points 17 out of 45

Reading – Bowen
Played 17
Won 8
Drew 4
Lost 3
Win ratio 47%
Points 28 out of 51

Huddersfield – Crowley
Played 21
Won 7
Drew 6
Lost 8
Win ratio 33%
Points 27 out of 63

————————–

Results of teams who kept manager in relegation fight

Boro – Woodgate
Played 27
Won 8
Drew 10
Lost 9
Win ratio 30%
Points 34 out of 81

Luton – Jones
Played 27
Won 6
Drew 3
Lost 18
Win ratio 22%
Points 21 out of 81

Wigan – Cook
Played 27
Won 5
Drew 8
Lost 14
Win ratio 19%
Points 23 out of 81

I knew Rowett was going to work wonders at Millwall but really impressive with how well Bowen has done at Reading they have a good team with a goals in them but you never know how a number 2 will step up in his first job. Other changes all yielded that 1 in 3 win ratio which is what most teams are looking for without being spectacular, unforunately no one seems to have got in a Joyce unfortunately that had zero impact.

Boro were doing terrible until they suddenly went on a run of 5 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 games pulled them clear.

Naismith gives Latics inspiration and hope

Naismith gives Latics inspiration and hope. Photo courtesy of WiganAthletic.com

Players in teams that are struggling in the relegation mire tend to play safety-first, being afraid to make mistakes or draw derision from the fans for a shot goes miles wide or a pass that seems to go nowhere.

We saw that in the Bristol City game on Saturday, as we have so often since Latics returned to the Championship under Paul Cook. Things are better now than a few weeks ago. At least the central defenders no longer hoof the ball when under the slightest pressure.

When a team is low on confidence, as Latics are, despite the propaganda to the contrary, it takes courage to stick one’s neck out and not take the easy way out, putting the onus on someone else.

The reborn Kal Naismith bucks the trend. When Cook put the Glaswegian at centre back following Cedric Kipre’s red card at Leeds in April 2019, who would have thought that he could do so well? A flash in the pan most of us were probably thinking.

Naismith had been used at left back in the injury-enforced absence of Antonee Robinson and had played with enthusiasm but was looking suspect when genuine right wingers faced him. It was reminiscent of Kevin Kilbane in the Steve Bruce days: a left sided midfielder playing at left back.

But Naismith is clearly a learner.

Since then Naismith has established himself as a first-choice central defender the quality of football played by the team has really improved. The hoof has disappeared and there has been a huge improvement in the play of Cedric Kipre, his central defensive partner. The Frenchman had fallen way down the pecking order of central defenders at Cook’s disposal. His early promise on arrival from Motherwell at the beginning of last season had seemed to evaporate.

But it is not only Naismith’s ability to move forward and play meaningful passes to the midfield and forwards that has impressed. His reading of the game, the timing of his tackles and interceptions have been a revelation. Some said he would have a hard time facing the more physical centre forwards, but that has not been the case.

Naismith has had real lows at Wigan in his 18 month stay. Having followed the manager from Portsmouth some of the crowd frustration at the manager has fallen on him. Nominally a left winger he rarely had a run of games to make his mark, so often being brought off the bench at difficult times or played out of position.

Some fans compare Naismith with Jordi Gomez, who was the whipping boy for too many so-called fans but went on the win “Player of the Year”. It would be no surprise to see Naismith follow in the same way.

This site was set up by my son, Ned, in 2011.

He invited me to write alongside him. I had never written football stuff before. He asked me what nickname I would like to use I suggested “Jakarta Jack”, living in Indonesia at the time. After a quiet start Three Amigos Wigan took off. With Latics in the Premier League the top media companies were interested.

It was a surprise to me when ESPN, the world’s top sports media site, invited us to join them, giving feedback on Roberto Martinez’ Latics. We had to write 3-4 articles per week, published on their site and we also put it on Amigos.

Since those early days Ned has had a change in circumstances, with a young family and a demanding job. I am in regular contact with him and he so often gives me ideas for my articles. I asked him to give me his thoughts on Kal Naismith and here they are:

I think he is fascinating, and I love watching him — particularly now that his transformation is complete from winger to centre back. I didn’t like him as a winger; I did like him as a wingback, and full-back, after his performances in the second half of last season. And now I love him as a centre-back.

Cook has made some appalling tactical decisions over the years, but he actually deserves giant praise for Naismith. The same criticism that has been levelled at his recently for sticking by senior pros out of stubbornness and loyalty, was levelled at him in the early days of Naismith. That was largely because he was being deployed as a left-winger and proving largely ineffective.

You can make an argument that Cook only discovered Naismith’s best position (at this level) by accident. First, Antonee Robinson’s injury last season, forcing him into deploying Naismith as an emergency left wing-back and left-back; and then as a centre-half, to most famous effect in that incredible away with at Leeds. But Cook had seen something in him, to warrant signing him for the Championship despite unimpressive statistical contribution at L2 level. And he has been proven right, eventually. He was a good signing.

In retrospect, I think he clearly lacked pace and dribbling to be a successful winger in the modern game. It’s easy to make comparisons in terms of playing style to David Beckham to justify his existence as a winger, but the game has changed dramatically since Beckham’s days, and there are few players of his kind playing on the wing these days. In fact, many are playing at full-back. It makes David Moyes look quite astute in his deployment of Leighton Baines as a playmaker from that position. Baines too, never had fantastic pace — but sublime technique, poise and intelligence.

So where does he go from here? The sky is the limit, in his new position. He has the athleticism and physique to cope as a centre back. The poise and passing range to play a modern game. And the versatility to prove incredibly useful to managers looking to rotate between a back four and back five, a bit like how Emmerson Boyce gradually became a vital cog in Roberto’s machine. He has the added benefit of being a model pro; content to sit on the side-lines, but performing to a high level when called upon, in a variety of positions.

He’s due a mistake at some point, but his transformation has been dramatic.

Without wanting to write Jamal Lowe off — I do believe think with better man-management and a more gradual introduction he’d be thriving as an impact player off the bench at this stage — Kal is in some ways the anti-Jamal Lowe. He is not blessed with pace or trickery on the ball, or bells and whistles. But he exudes calm and presence of mind. And the impact on those around him is very positive. Instead of rushing or panicking, he is thoughtful and cultured. Those, slightly more intangible skills, should in theory help his further development, should a team higher up the league(s) take note and come calling.

 

 

 

 

Social Media Reaction to a home defeat by Bristol City

Wigan Athletic 0 Bristol City 2

Latics looked at least as good as the much more expensively assembled Bristol City until 77 minutes when the visitors scored. Given what we have seen before it was not a surprise when City scored their second two minutes later.

Paul Cook once again, to his credit, insisted his team try to play football, rather than hoofball. Latics had around 70% possession in the first half. Unfortunately, most of it was passing the ball around in their own half and they were lacking a cutting edge going forward. The central defensive partnership of Kipre and Naismith had been excellent. When Latics did attack they rarely threw enough players in the box to cause concern for the visitors.

The second half saw a solid Bristol City come more into it, with Latics looking less assured. But until that first goal they were certainly up for the fight. Despite Wigan’s approach play they looked unlikely to score. It was only when Joe Gelhardt came on that they had someone willing so shoot, rather than pass the buck.

Paul Cook is one of the luckiest managers in English football to still be in his job. Let’s hope Darren Royle and IEC are proven right to keep faith in him. He has set himself on a better direction by putting out line-ups that help avoid that awful hoofball.

But he continues to put round square pegs in round holes. Today he played a defensive midfielder, Joe Williams, at number 10 yet again, playing the natural first choice, Kieran Dowell on the left.

Despite his impressive riposte in the local press to people suggesting Gelhardt should be an automatic starter in a mediocre advanced midfield, the jury among fans remains divided. Is Cook shielding Gelhardt from pressure or merely currying favour with his senior pros?

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

NorthernSoul on the Latics Speyk Forum said

Should have won that but shot ourselves in the foot once again. Our inability to score is a disgrace for professional footballers. The front 4 were once again a terrible selection from Cook. Apart from one hit and hope chance that Marshall tipped over, Bristol City did absolutely nothing and then get a lucky offside goal and then it’s game over as we can’t score.

How many times are we going to dominate and fail to win until Cook realise his line ups are so wrong. Lowe should not be playing, 3 tap ins all missed again. Williams is not an AM, Dowell is not a wide player.

JrfatFan on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

I lost count of the number of balls whipped into the box only to see a red shirt on the end of um to hoof it away. Bristol City clearly came for a point and plundered 3.

It all seems to go pear shaped when Cook makes his subs. Its no reflection on the subs, it just keeps on happening week in week out. We need to follow Gelhardt’s lead and start having a few punts at goal. We spend an eternity passing the ball sideways 30 yards from goal, nobody wants to have a pop, yet we have players who can strike the ball well.

As we keep saying it’s time for a change but it won’t happen.

Lowey on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Too many midfielders and not enough attackers. That’s why we dominate possession but never look like scoring. Cook may notice this if he hadn’t spent the entire game arguing with the fourth official over feck all.

ManchesterLatic89 on the Latics Speyk Forum said

He has struggled this season since signing this summer, but I have remained patient in the hope that he would come good for us and replicate his form over last two seasons for Pompey eventually.

Today however, remaining patience and faith i once had have evaporated, Lowe has had some poor performances so far but that was utterly abysmal.

Spent the entire first half wandering around like a lost child and three moments in the second half summed up his career for us so far in a nutshell. The two guilt edged chances he missed and the pass around halfway that was intercepted by a Bristol City player.

Sadly Lowe is another Grigg/Jacobs, good in League One but just not up to it in the Championship. I’m willing to forgive Moore as the system Cook plays just doesn’t suit his strengths. Lowe however has no excuses.

If ever you need proof that our scouting system and where we do our scouting for fresh talent needs a major rethink, 5 million pounds spent on Lowe and Moore is the answer. It would have been cheaper to have a scout based in Belgium / Switzerland / Scandinavia for a few months and sign 4 players from those markets than the crazy sums frittered away on the two aforementioned players.

 

 

A Forest fan’s view of Kieran Dowell (Part 2)

 

Following on from previous fan views of Kieran Dowell we later received a further one from Rich Ferraro at his Forest Ramble site (www.forestramble.com)


As for Dowell, we just didn’t see enough of him in a red shirt, and neither did Derby. This doesn’t seem to be down to lack of ability, he obviously has loads of talent, and when he got a chance he showed flashes of brilliance (including nine goals in league and cup), but without ever being the first name on the team sheet.

 However, it says a lot that he seemed to do ok at Sheffield United – maybe he needs a manager who is able to put an arm around his shoulder, rather than a kick up the bum.

 Dowell left Forest when Mark Warburton left and Aitor Karanka came in, so maybe he was a victim of the new gaffer having less faith in youth (other victims included Joe Worrall).

 Can he do a job for you? Yes, he provides a good through ball, skills and goals; but you will need to get your enforcers to do some of the donkey work around him.

 All the best for the rest of the season.

 


			

A Derby County fan’s view of Kieran Dowell

 

Kieran Dowell made his debut for Wigan Athletic yesterday at Leicester, starting in a wide left midfield role. Dowell can be a very important player for Latics in the second half of the season, a natural number 10, with the ability to make incisive passes and score goals.

In order to get more information on Dowell’s performances at his previous club, Derby County, we contacted Ollie Wright of the @derbycountyblog

This is what Ollie had to say:

I feel sorry for Dowell, because he was the victim of circumstances.  Phillip Cocu only arrived at Derby very late on in the summer, after the whole ‘will-he-won’t-he-of-course-he-bloody-will-get-it-over-with’ nonsense over Frank Lampard and Chelsea.  Cocu didn’t really have any time to assess his squad and what he needed to bring in before the start of the season.  

 Several loan signings were made quickly, the first of which was Dowell, just after Cocu had landed in Florida to take over pre-season training.  I’m guessing that Cocu spoke to Marcel Brands – the Everton director of football, who had worked with him at PSV – and Brands recommended that Cocu take Dowell, who was reportedly weighing up offers from yourselves and Huddersfield at the time.  

Dowell played the first few games of the season in an advanced midfield role, but after we were humiliated 3-0 at Brentford, Dowell paid a heavy price and lost his place in the team.  After that, he only started two more games, defeats at Blackburn and Hull, and whispers started to circulate that his loan would be cancelled last month. He was left out of the 18 for the win against Barnsley this week and that was widely seen as confirmation that he would leave the club.

An element of the Derby fanbase wrote Dowell off very quickly and he will certainly not be missed  However, in his defence, it was a tall order for any attacking midfielder to come in and try to replace the elite talents who left the club last summer – Mason Mount and Harry Wilson – and there have been plenty of poor performances since the Brentford defeat in which Dowell was not involved at all, so it’s not as if he could be scapegoated for our difficulties this season.  He did not impress here, to put it kindly, but there’s definitely a talent in there, if somebody can unlock it.  

From the limited time he spent on the pitch, my assessment would be that he is best used as a number ten, without being asked to take care of much (any) defensive duty.  It’s obvious that Wigan are in need of creativity and, if played in a relatively free role, Dowell does have the potential to make things happen – he was the best Derby player for key passes per 90 minutes this season, with 1.9 – but he was unable to replicate the burst of brilliant goals he scored for Nottingham Forest and I wouldn’t expect him to win you many duels in the midfield hurly burly.
Given the difficult position Wigan find themselves in and the lack of goals in the Latics’ side, I think this is a loan move which is definitely worth a shot.  
Wishing you all the best for the rest of the season.  Good luck!