Social media reacts to an awful goalless draw with Luton

Wigan Athletic 0 Luton Town 0

In the 89th minute with the score 0-0 Michael Jacobs put in a right footed centre from the left wing. It went way out of play, epitomising the final touches in Latics’ approach work.

Neither team played much football and a draw was a fair result. It will hurt Luton far more than Wigan, given their position. In the end Latics settled for a draw against the bottom-placed team, unwilling to push players forward to get a victory that could have put them clear of the relegation zone, at least temporarily.

Latics have a mediocre record against teams near them in the table, so it was not great surprise that this did not result in a Wigan win. Before the game started Latics had a record of W1 D2 L3 against teams below them in the table.

It was an awful game, with football the loser. Gone was the flowing football we have seen in recent games. Predictably, given past performance, it was largely long-ball from Latics, which put little pressure on Luton’s defence. Their centre backs had a comfortable time as they and Croatian goalkeeper, Simon Sluga, gobbled up the hopeful crosses that Latics put into the box.

This was an acid test for Paul Cook. Once again, his team selection, substitutions and tactics pointed to a “not to lose” approach. It was so depressing after the invigorating performances that preceded it.

Playing not to lose can be justifiable when playing against teams of higher technical level and achievement. Against the bottom-placed team it was not appropriate.

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.

FrancosLoveChild on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

That was as gutless as it can get. Horrible to watch. Players don’t seem to have the character to step up in 6 pointers. Players need to learn how to man up in pressure games. Only positive we didn’t lose and have not conceded in just over 360 minutes of football.

Hindleymonwafc on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Back to Lowe and Massey floating around with zero effect…. I really do blame the manager for this no energy, no pressing, sit back for the draw outlook. Overhit crosses and sh.t corners it was atrocious to watch. Only Morsy and the defence came out of that well.

Jocklatic on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

It felt like normal service at home had resumed…..very little threat on goal, carrying a few passengers, a distinctive lack of fight & desire given that this was a 6 pointer. We seemed to go into our shell despite the confidence that should be in abundance after our recent performances. Such a shame cos Luton have to be one of the worst sides I’ve seen at the DW this season & given what 3 points would have done for us is a big loss.

Jrfatfan on the Cockney LaticForum said:

Really disappointed with Luton, thought they would have come and give it a go. Probably worse we’ve played for 7-8 games, our final ball was awful from both flanks. Let’s put it down as a bad day at the office, probably best way to look at it.

I think Luton and Barnsley are doomed, its then one from about 8.

Made in Wigan on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

They often say the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. Today the scoreline told the whole story.

Whilst the performance was pretty much as I expected I thought we’d be narrowly be beaten so a draw was a bonus to a degree. I don’t buy that Luton did a job on us- they really needed to beat us and never looked like doing so. They were shite, so were we, but a point to maintain that gap is better for us.

As I thought beforehand we were too concentrated on not losing as opposed to having the desire to win, Typical Cook in a 6 pointer so whilst I’m not surprised I’m not too disappointed either. Balogun and Morsy played well but other than those two there wasn’t much to be enthusiastic about. Take a point and move on.

The_Pon on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Absolutely bloody awful game. I’d really struggle to think of anything to put in highlights.

Luton are the worst team I’ve seen. Literally no quality whatsoever… How we can beat Reading by three and best Leeds and WBA away, then not beat them is totally baffling. By what I saw today, they are a League Two calibre side. Not that we are stellar, but we should be beating dross like that at a canter.

That said, it’s kind of what I expected. We’ve played well in recent games, and the only thing we do consistently is be inconsistent, so we were more than due a poor showing. Just glad the opposition this time was so bad they couldn’t take advantage.

Grumpy on the Cockney LaticForum said:

Cook got out thought by Jones in that one and we are now back in the sh..t, it looked to me like he’s after 10 draws before today to get us over the line.

Exiled tic on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Not a good match at all but I am a lot happier than the Luton fans who could not understand why they seemed to be happy with a draw and wasted time all the match! Hull and Charlton seem to be on a steep downward spiral. Really think we will be more than alright come seasons end!!

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Will Wigan Athletic’s upsurge in results continue?

Sam Morsy’s well-taken blast into the West Bromwich net has given Wigan Athletic a massive boost. Three wins in the space of a week have propelled them up the Championship table. They now stand in 19th place, two points above the relegation zone. A win against lowly Luton Town on Saturday could see them climb further out of trouble, but there are fans who question whether that will happen despite the recent upturn in performances and results.

Paul Cook must certainly take credit for the upsurge in results. The seeds of the revival were sown following an abject defeat at Kenilworth Road in early December. Following a winless November, it had looked that Latics could get an uplift by picking up three points against a bottom-placed Luton side.

But students of Cook’s Wigan were already citing mediocre results over the previous 16 months against teams in the lower rungs of the table. It was hardly a surprise to them when Luton scored two late goals to secure their win. Once again, we had seen Wigan Athletic players in an away game looking both clueless and legless in the closing minutes. There was only one team trying to play football in this game: it wasn’t Wigan. Fightball/longball once again failed under Cook’s tutelage.

Cook made seven changes for the next game against league leaders West Bromwich Albion. With Chey Dunkley suspended and Charlie Mulgrew injured Cedric Kipre was brought in with Kal Naismith reverting to the centre of defence and Josh Windass was played at centre forward. Naismith’s passing out of defence was a feature of that game, and the long ball approach hardly reared its ugly head in the absence of a combative target man upfront. Kipre  made a succedssful return to the centre of defence.  Latics had to settle for a draw largely due to a goalkeeping error, but they had been the better team throughout.

Although results remained disappointing in the rest of December the performances were much better. Passing the ball out from the back had become more normal, even if the long ball had not disappeared entirely.

Following the memorable victory at the Hawthorns on Saturday captain Sam Morsy commented:

“People will say there has been a change but all season – I know you can’t – but if you take the last five or ten minutes from some of the games, we would be right up the league. It is not a dramatic or drastic change that we have made…. It has been fine margins and we can’t look back, this isn’t drastic change, we have played well for the majority of the season, but if you don’t win games then things get looked at, the reality is that we have done well and not got the points but this week has been a great week.”

What Morsy did not mention was that the transition from longball/hoofball to a more possession-based approach. The long ball remains a feature of Cook’s football philosophy, but it is being counterbalanced by an emphasis on retaining possession. As a result, the players no longer visibly wilt in the closing minutes after constantly having to chase the opposition to regain possession which has been squandered. Moreover, the change in emphasis has given the players more opportunity to express themselves and so many of them look better as a result.

Morsy himself has looked a far better player over the past couple of months. He has not only cut out the unnecessary yellow cards that had been so prevalent but is playing a much more constructive role going forward. His surging runs from deep in midfield have helped open opposition defences and he is showing much more ambition in his passing.

Following a run of games at centre forward Josh Windass left for a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in January. With Windass’ departure some of us wondered if it would signal a return to a long ball with Joe Garner and Kieffer Moore on the receiving end. But it was not to be the case, with Moore looking a much better player as a result. With Latics defenders constantly looking to launch long balls in his general direction he was struggling in his first season in the Championship. But over the past couple of months he has received better service, scoring goals, holding the ball up with strength and intelligence.

Cook’s action of putting Naismith and Kipre together in the centre of defence in December was perhaps one of desperation at the time. Naismith had performed admirably in that position in the landmark 2-1 win at Leeds in April 2019, but he had hardly been considered as a centre back since then. Kipre’s performances earlier in the season had been disappointing and the promise he had shown since his arrival from Motherwell in the summer of 2018 seemed to have evaporated. However, playing together the two players really gelled: the passing out of the ball from the centre of defence became much improved and their reading of the game was as good as any we had seen from central defenders all season.

In the last five games loan signing Leon Balogun has played with Kipre in the centre of defence. Despite a patchy career record where he never found himself an automatic starter in the Bundesliga, with Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz, the 31-year-old has looked so impressive, with some fans even calling him the Wigan Van Dijk. Kipre has continued to blossom with his new central defensive partner and has been excellent of late.

Since that low point at Luton there has been a gradual improvement in performance, if not always in results. The centre of defence has become increasingly more solid, the midfield more involved in linking up play between defence and attack. The centre forward is getting better service and Latics are pushing more men forward into the opposition penalty box. Moreover, the “rub of the green” has been more in Wigan’s favour, after being against them for so long.

The tide really does seem to have turned and some fans are already talking about a final placing in mid-table. Others question whether the revival will continue under a manager who has struggled at this level. They accept that Cook will be at the club until summer at least, but question whether he has learned from his mistakes. The hoofball may have largely disappeared and the players are showing better game management when holding on to leads, but there are other aspects upon which they remain to be convinced.

Under Cook’s tenure as manager Latics have had poor results against clubs close to them in the standings. The League 1 title winning team of 2018-19 had a less than stellar record against promotion rivals and last season’s team performed poorly against teams near the bottom of the table. The manager’s critics will say that he has gone into such games with too much caution, allowing the opposition too much respect.

This season’s team also has a less than impressive record in that respect. Their record against clubs currently below them in the table reads W1 D2 L3. It is for these reasons that there are fans who are not convinced that an in-form Latics will put Luton to the sword of Saturday.

The Luton game is an acid test and could be a turning point in Cook’s tenure as Latics manager. A win would relieve relegation fears but anything less than that would suggest that the manager had still not addressed the issue of poor results against relegation rivals.

Stats courtesy of Soccerstats.com

The wingers need to deliver if Latics are to avoid relegation

Les Campbell front extreme left, Harry Lyon centre, Allan Brown second right, Walter Stanley front extreme right

In the mid 1960’s Allan Brown’s Wigan Athletic team played a really entertaining brand of football. The excellent wingers, Les Campbell and Walter Stanley, would put over a stream of tantalizing crosses for the twin strikers to feed on. No wonder that Latics scored 121 goals in the 1964-65 season, when they won the Cheshire County League. Centre forward Harry Lyon led the scoring with 67 goals in all competitions.

How would a player like Lyon do these days in the era of the inverted winger? Lyon was a superb header of the ball, who could shoot with both feet. Sometimes one seemed to know that a goal was coming as soon as a cross was launched from the wing.

Playing on the widest position on the pitch, wingers must have near perfect ball control and the ability to make plays in tight spaces without playing the ball out of play. The winger spends much of his time running down balls played ahead of him, racing by fullbacks with the ball at his feet and tracking back down the wing to defend.

A good winger will also have a consistent and threatening cross. After passing a fullback, the winger needs a quick and accurate trigger foot to feed the strikers. Many of the great wingers have been great dribblers, but there are effective wingers who are not necessarily world class dribblers but have lightning speed. Others are somehow able to squeeze out crosses in the tightest of spaces without beating their man.

Given  the above it appears logical to play a winger on his ‘natural foot’.  Having the strong foot closest to the sideline provides more control and enables the delivery of dangerous outswinging crosses. Strikers with a physical presence, who are strong in the air and know where to position themselves for crosses are best served by natural wingers.

The role of the winger has changed in recent years, and gone are the days when all the winger had to do was make runs up and down the lines as they try to outmanoeuvre the full-back and cross into the penalty area.

An inverted winger (inside-out winger) shows more diagonal movement than a natural winger. A left-footed player will occupy a position on the right flank and a right-footer will play off the left. The tactic that has become commonplace in football over the past decade or so.

With the centres of defences so heavily policed, players Gareth Bale and Arjen Robben on the right and Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez on the left have been so effective. The frequent attack pattern of an inverted winger is cutting inside from the wing, which can be completed by shooting with the strong foot or an accurate through ball played at an angle of ninety degrees. Scrappy, poaching strikers content to drop back and pick up loose balls in the box can thrive playing alongside inverted wingers.

hold back and pick up loose balls in the box can thrive playing alongside inverted wingers.

In Paul Cook’s first season as manager at Wigan wingers played key roles in both attack and defence. With natural wingers Gavin Massey or Ryan Colclough on the right and inverted winger Michael Jacobs on the left Latics had a real cutting edge. Jacobs went on to score 13 goals, Colclough and Massey each notching 5 in that 2017-18 season in League 1.

Colclough left at the summer of 2018 and Jacobs and Massey both had injury problems in the course of the 2018-19 season. But Jacobs went on to score 4 goals in 22 appearances in the Championship, Massey notching 5 from 17.

It has been sad to see the wingers struggle this season. Massey was injured when the season started and found his place occupied by new signing Jamal Lowe. Since his return he has not been able to reach the levels he attained previously. Being played so often on the left wing, where he looks like a fish out of water, has hardly helped.

Jacobs has once again been bugged by injuries and has looked a pale shadow of what we have seen before. His critics will say that he is a League 1 player who is not up to it at Championship level. However, under Gary Caldwell and Warren Joyce in the Championship in 2016-17 he was one of the first names on the team sheet, going on to make 46 appearances.

Lowe has certainly enjoyed the backing of the manager. Despite his indifferent form he has made 33 appearances up to this point. Lowe arrived with some hype, having scored 15 goals for Portsmouth last season. His critics consider him too lightweight in possession and he has not yet made the transition to the second tier.

Anthony Pilkington has proved himself in the Premier League and his quality is there for all to see. But fitness is a major issue for the player. Pilkington was signed after making just one start in the 2017-18 Championship season for Cardiff.  He has made only 13 starts in the Championship since joining Latics in the summer of 2018. Pilkington is rare among modern wingers in that he is genuinely two footed and can look as effective on the left as the right.

Kal Naismith originally joined Latics as a left winger but his versatility has seen him being used as a left back and centre back. It is in the latter position that he has impressed most and was becoming one of the most consistent performers until the Preston game when things did not go well for him, among others. With the inclusion of Leon Balogun at Cardiff and the impending return of Chey Dunkley from suspension it appears that Naismith’s chances of resuming his blossoming partnership in the centre of defence with Cedric Kipre are numbered. Will Cook return him to his original left wing role?

Kieffer Moore’s signing last summer was met with general approval by Latics fans last summer, although there some who questioned whether the manager’s intention was to sign a player who would further enable him to continue with his long ball tactics. Moore has had a torrid time with the lack of service from the wings hardly helping. Moore is the kind of old-fashioned centre forward who would have thrived in the era of natural wingers. But his tally of one headed goal in 23 appearances indicates the quality of crosses he has received. With the wingers frequently moving diagonally it has often been the full backs who have made the crosses into the box.Moreover too much of Moore’s effort has been wasted in chasing long balls some thirty yards from the opposition goal with his back to it.

The wingers should be playing key roles in not only creating chances but scoring too.

Last season wingers scored 13 league goals for Latics, at an average of one every 3.5 games. So far this season wingers have scored 5 league goals in 33 games, an average of one every 6.6 games.

Cook needs wingers who are fully fit, played in their best positions and in-form. Given the indifferent form of so many of them there is a case for giving Bournemouth loan player Alex Dobre an opportunity.

Social Media Reaction as controversial refereeing causes damage against Middlesbrough

Wigan Athletic 2 Middlesbrough 2

In the end it was a disappointing result and it puts Latics in serious trouble in the bottom three. But after Sam Morsy had put Wigan ahead with a very well-taken goal after 29 minutes they matched the visitors until two controversial incidents in the second half.

After an hour Joe Gelhardt put Kieffer Moore through for a clear run on goal only to be fouled from behind by Harold Makoudi. It looked like a red card, but referee Oliver Langford gave the Frenchman a yellow. Within a couple of minutes Chey Dunkley received his marching orders on receiving a second yellow card. Lewis Wing went on to score a deflected free kick followed by another from a long shot that seemed to go through David Marshall. Ten man Latics salvaged a point from Makoudi’s own goal from an excellent Nathan Byrne cross.

Not only were Langford’s sending off decisions hugely influential in changing the balance of the game but his judgement in so many other occasions was sadly lacking, doing Wigan Athletic no favours at all.

Refereeing decisions have so often gone against Latics this season. VAR may not be popular in England, but where would Latics now be in the table if it had been operating this season? Are Latics games more difficult than most to referee?

Some interesting statistics on fouls and cards given are available on Footstats.co.uk.

Prior to last night more fouls have been awarded in games involving Wigan Athletic than any other team in the division. Latics committed an average of 13.9 fouls per match, second highest after Sheffield Wednesday with 15.4. However, Wigan had 13.2 fouls committed against them. Wigan lie in mid-table with an average of 7.4 fouls committed per card, around average for the division. The opposition have 8.5 fouls per game for a card. In contrast Brentford average 9.6 cards per foul, their opposition 6.4.

Although the stats do not suggest an obvious bias against Latics, they nevertheless suggest that decisions have not favoured them overall. What factors might have impacted?

Paul Cook’s Wigan are one of the more physical sides in the Championship, with a very different style of play to Brentford, whose foul and card count is so much more favourable. .

Cook is very careful in post-match interviews not to directly criticise the opposition’s tactics or the referee. However, his remonstrations aimed at the fourth official and match referee have become more and more ugly. It was no surprise to see him receive a yellow card last night. Is the manager getting a bad name in refereeing circles for his poor behaviour?

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.

Zeb2 on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Ref made 10 (TEN) bookings in the second half and to be fair maybe two or three were warranted …..staggeringly inept.

I didn’t fancy Moore to finish that chance that Gelhardt set him up for, so the bloke that cleaned him out did us a favour, free kick in a great position and them down to ten men…..oh hang on …what the fuck is he doing?…a yellow? Absolute bollocks

5 minutes later WE are down to ten men and are losing the game.
Keeper no chance with the free kick …hit Jacobs in the wall and completely wrong footed Marshall…..second goal looked like a calamity but it was a horrible night with a strong wind swirling about….couldn’t tell from the West stand whether the shot moved a great deal or not ?

Still it shows what can happen when you have a pop from distance instead of trying to walk it in ,,that said…Pilkington should have “walked us home” from 4 yards if he’d committed to Naismith’s great ball across the 6 yard box.

All very frustrating especially with Charlton winning at Forest, which based on the Forest we’ve seen this season especially away, shouldn’t have been that great a surprise given Forest are actually very mediocre along with virtually all of the rest of this ordinary division. The poor quality in the Championship this season will of itself make relegation from it a tad more shameful than usual. I can’t see any of the promotion contenders ‘doing a Sheffield United’ next season.

Laticssince1978 on the Cockney LaticForum said:

The ref knows the rules a clear one on one opportunity is a red card.That decision changed the game and I’m confident we would of gone on to win.

Gosh he got so much wrong tonight he embarrassed himself yes the referee has a lot to take blame for on this instance.

Studs88 on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

It was a real kick in the guts tonight. For the first time in an age it felt like the team, manager & fans came together. Albeit due to the injustices of the ref.

That said we still made basic errors and didn’t finish the game off. Gelhardt and Pilkington added a lot to our attacking prowess. Even though neither had an outstanding game. I still do feel we need to shake things up further and get Garner on alongside Moore.

Given results elsewhere we could realistically be all but down before the end of the month. That’s a damning indictment on the management team and boardroom. Especially when you consider the dreadful quality up and down this division.

This is it now. No more excuses from Cook about it being a ‘tough division’. We have to pull out results against top teams and relegation rivals. We need to target wins. It’s going to take an average not far off 2pts per game for the rest of the season. Anything less and relegation beckons.

You are my sunshine on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

I’ve never been as angry at a ref at a home tics game in my life! He was an absolute disgrace and cost us 2 crucial points. Moore was through on goal and their last man fouled him on the edge of the box, it should of been a straight red. Then moments later Dunkley got an extremely soft 2nd yellow,only after the Boro players put pressure on the spineless ref. Unbelievable.In those 2 vital moments the game then turned on it’s head thanks to a lucky deflected goal from the free kick and a Marshall error.

The referee after those 2 horrendous game changing decisions then completely lost the plot for the rest of the game. In the end credit to the players for then battling back and getting a point, but we needed the win tonight, which I feel we would of got if that incompetent p**** had done his job properly. I hope we never see him again.

I was satisfied in how the game was going at that point. Cook had picked a much more attacking line up with 4 attacking players and a back 4.Yes our end product and decision making in the final third let us down several times, but at least the intent of getting into those positions was there.
We were 1-0 up and for all Boro’s decent pass and move and threat from wide areas, they never really threatened our goal and we seemed to have the game under control till the ref ruined it.

The bottom line is we should of been 1-0 up playing against 10 men and I’m confident at that point we go on to win the game.To have about 11 yellows in that game which was nowhere near a dirty game shows what a complete pigs ear the ref made of the game! I’m absolutely disgusted and feel robbed tonight!

 

Walgarthjohn on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Refs must be sick of that clown on the touch line calling them every match it’s embarrassing.

 

Donnyspage on the Cockney LaticForum said:

Boro were absolutely dire. We have no cutting edge stemming from attacking midfield. If we had we may not have had to worry about the refs decisions or going a goal down. Basically we huffed and puffed but to not much avail.

Watching Cook remonstrating with the officials was embarrasing. The salary of a surgeon but the attitude and manners of a Liverpool Sunday League pub team coach. He was arguing with everone around him before the controversy started. Agree that their man should have gone for bringing down the last man but Dunks foul was also a second bookable offence which was also punished with the goal.

It’s not looking too good again really.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

 

 

The player Cook must start against Middlesbrough

Photo courtesy of the Sun newspaper

The Sun newspaper reports that Jude Bellingham could on his way to Manchester United for a fee of £30m. Bellingham made his debut for Birmingham City’s under-23 team as a 15-year-old in October 2018. He became their youngest-ever first team player at the age of 16 years, 38 days in an EFL Cup game at Portsmouth in August 2019. Under manager Pep Clotet he has now made 20 starts in the Championship this season.

Photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic

Joe Gelhardt too is a prodigious young talent, although a year older than Bellingham. He made his Wigan Athletic debut as a 16-year-old in an EFL Cup game against Rotherham in August 2018. Under manager Paul Cook he has since made 13 appearances in the Championship, with just one start in the 2-1 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday a couple of weeks ago.

The approaches of Clotet and Cook are certainly contrasting. Clotet has given Bellingham every opportunity to showcase his talents. Cook has used Gelhardt as an impact substitute, although in less than half of the games Latics have played in the Championship this season.

Cook has constantly talked about the need to shield Gelhardt from too much pressure at an early age. His most recent comment was that: “I think all Wigan fans probably want him to start, and the hard thing for me as a manager is trying to protect the young man – as good as he is.” However, he did add that: “He’s only 17, he’s a fantastic talent who makes things happen on a football pitch. His time is coming, that’s for sure.”

Cook got his starting lineup woefully wrong in Saturday’s home match against Preston. Playing with a back five and three defensive midfielders, reminiscent of the Warren Joyce era, was a valid tactic against a Leeds side which was technically superior. However, facing a Preston side that had won only 3 times in 14 away games, it was the wrong ploy. It was only after Preston went 2-0 up that Cook changed his formation and took off a defender to bring on Gelhardt. The youngster went on to provide the pass leading to Chey Dunkley’s goal after 57 minutes, looked dangerous and forced a good save from the Preston keeper in the last minute. As Cook said: Gelhardt makes things happen.

Since the departure of Nick Powell, the manager has experimented with different players in the number 10 position behind the centre forward, none of whom has been able to establish himself there. His recent preference has been to use Joe Williams, a holding midfielder, in that position. Williams is an all-action player who has been one of Latics’ best performers this season, but a number 10 he is not. The player needs to be restored to his best position.

Using Williams or Lee Evans at number 10 has been an option that has given Cook more midfield tackling cover, but there has been a crying-out need for a naturally creative player in that position. It looked like we might have had that kind of player when Kieran Dowell signed on loan from Everton. However, Cook dispatched Dowell to play wide, preferring to continue with Williams as a 10.

In the absence of Dowell through injury there remains one prime candidate for the number 10 position – Joe Gelhardt.

At Wigan, Cook has mentors who had illustrious careers after making their debuts at a tender age. Peter Reid started for Bolton as an 18-year-old while Joe Royle was only 16 when he first played for Everton. It makes the manager’s reluctance to immerse Gelhardt hard to understand.

Middlesbrough have only won two games away from home this season. They can certainly be beaten if Wigan go in with a positive approach.

Playing Gelhardt from the start is paramount. Moreover, he should not be dispatched to a wide position, but played behind the centre forward. The creativity and dynamism that Gelhardt can provide is something that has been so lacking over the course of the season.