A Brentford fan’s view of Rösler – Uwe will go far

Billy and Uwe at Brentford

Billy and Uwe at Brentford

Uwe Rosler has made a very positive start to his Wigan Athletic career. Since his arrival good football has returned to Wigan and the future now looks much brighter.

Rosler spent his formative years as a coach in Norway, where he learned the trade. However, it is at Brentford that he made a major impact.

We reached out to Billy of the excellent Brentford fan site www.beesotted.co.uk to get his insight on Rosler’s time there.

Thanks to him for this superb article.

I remember exactly where I was when Wigan made an approach for Uwe Rosler. I was setting up the equipment at Hounslow Civic Centre for Beesotted fanzine’s first ever live YouTube video broadcast.

 It may sound like a dull show – a council planning meeting. But it was our new stadium decision and was possibly one of the most important events in the Brentford calendar this century.  
 
The news soon drifted around the room that Rosler was almost definitely out the door. Five hours later, the council had rubber-stamped Brentford’s move to a new stadium. There were cheers all around. 
 
Everything was finally beginning to go right for Brentford this season after a stuttering start. We were on a 9 match unbeaten streak – 8 of them being wins. We were well on the way to getting a new stadium. 
 
Then there was this. 
 
Many fans I spoke to that night tried to remain upbeat. But deep down there was a niggling worry that everything would fall apart now the manager was leaving. Personally, I thought Whelan could have held it down for at least another 24 or 48 hrs, negotiated with Brentford in private and given the club their night of victory and Uwe time to settle the team before an important FA Cup match. But he had to go public before the deal was done as obviously no one else matters. 
 
Should Rosler have gone? To be fair he had spent over two years living away from his family so a move closer to his home in Stockport was a no brainer really. We just had to accept and move on.
 
Uwe Rosler was personally one of my top 3 favourite managers ever to manage Brentford. And that’s above Steve Coppell, who managed one of the best Brentford teams ever (Sidwell, Ingermarrson, Stephen Hunt, Owusu, Rowlands etc), and Phil ‘Noddy’ Holder, who was the last manager to have got us promoted to what is now the championship. Why was that? Rosler never actually won anything with Brentford. 
 
Rosler was very much a fans’ manager. He understood football fan culture and truly believed that fans were incredibly important to the game. He admired clubs like St Pauli as he felt they were a club who has great liaison with their supporters.
 
He regularly held fans forums and even organised a pre-season friendlies in Germany encouraging fans to stay at the players’ hotel and hang with the players during the trip. 
 
When visiting Wembley for a Man City cup final, he decided to swap the glitz of Club Wembley with drinking with Man City fans in the Green Man pub before the match. 
 
He would often call our fanzine Beesotted to discuss issues and even volunteered to do a video interview for us after we had missed that final day penalty against Doncaster to help motivate the fans. 
 
And despite the wee spat he had with some Brentford fans during our dodgy spell at the beginning of this season when a small section of supporters sang “You’re gonna get sacked in the morning”, Uwe has had a brilliant rapport with the majority of supporters who saw him as being open, welcoming, honest and humble. 
 
On the pitch, Rosler got Brentford to play some of the best football we have ever seen at Griffin Park. 
 
We’ve had some glorious moments under him. We were a mere 7 minutes from victory against West London neighbours Chelsea in a day out that many Brentford fans will remember for years to come.
 
When Rosler arrived his catchphrase was “pass them to death” and that’s just what we did. We quite simply outplayed our opponents week after week – in some games we would have over 80% possession. 
 
He instilled a never-say-die spirit into the team which saw Brentford score a ridiculous amount of goals in the last minutes and injury time – Sheffield United away (with 9 men) , Portsmouth at home and Swindon away in the playoffs being three thrillers in which we scored last minute goals. 
 
And he orchestrated pre-season friendlies in and around Leipzig, Germany which will be talked about in Brentford for many a year – Brentford fans’ first foray into Europe since the Anglo Italian Cup in 1992. 
 
Uwe did have his detractors though. Although the majority of Brentford fans stuck with Uwe through thick and thin, there was a small minority who thought his tactics were often negative and he played too safe too often. 
 
His tactic of always having 11 men back to defend a corner frustrated some fans no end. And another thing that did frustrate folk was – despite often having the lions share of possession and creating 20 or 30 or even 40 chances per game – our goalscoring ratio was low, scoring at times one … or maybe two goals after creating a hatful of chances. There is an argument that if we had put away the numerous chances we had created, no one would be blaming Marcello Trotta for missing the penalty against Doncaster on the final day of the season as we would have long been promoted. 
 
All that aside, Wigan are lucky as they have got hold of a young ambitious manager who will have learned from his mistakes at Brentford. Hopefully, this will be to Wigan’s benefit.
 
Uwe was always learning on his toes and realised after a season in Division one that ‘total football’ does not get you out of that division and we needed to have players and tactics that could mix and match between different styles. And so we did. 
 
He was brilliant at switching the game up. If we were looking poor in the first half, he would often change the tactics in the 2nd half and make a substitution that would completely change the game around. 
 
The counter argument to this was some believed that Uwe was too cautious in the first place and should have been taking the game to the opposition from the start. 
 
Uwe was also humble enough to acknowledge his mistakes. As a manager with a set plan, he would unsurprisingly try to stick with it and try and get the team to deliver his vision. 
 
When things were going wrong at the beginning of the season and Brentford were on a three match losing streak, Uwe decided to have a clear the air session with his players in the dressing room after a defeat away to lowly Stevenage. The players were locked in the dressing room for 90 minutes and apparently it was a real ‘air your dirty washing’ session. 
 
As a result of the meeting, Uwe then decided to switch to a fixed team week on week as opposed to the team rotation system that he favoured from when he had arrived. He also dropped ever-present and highly popular right back Logan for midfielder McCormack as apparently his defensive errors were raised in the meeting (as an attacking right back he was awesome). The result – Brentford won all nine subsequent games before Wigan poached him. 
 
All in all I wish Uwe well at Wigan. He will have learned from his mistakes at Griffin Park and will hopefully go on to make great strides. Our biggest fear is that he may try and take some of our young hopefuls with him – Adam Forshaw being the most likely to leave in the near future but we fear for losing Harlee Dean and Jake Bidwell too amongst others. 
 
Hopefully with him understanding the true meaning of loyalty, Uwe won’t leave us in the lurch. We would be gutted if any of our players left but if the inevitable happens, the least he can do is to sort us out with a decent fee and give us someone in exchange. 
 
I have no doubt that Uwe will not forget that Brentford’s owner Matthew Benham took a great risk in employing him from Norway as a left-field option when he was completely off the radar from clubs on their ‘manager hunt’. He put him firmly on the map by giving him time to develop as well as adequate finances to assemble a decent squad. 
 
It hasn’t gone un-noticed that Uwe has already done us a favour by recalling Nouha Dicko from Rotherham right in the middle of him banging in the goals down there left, right and centre. Where Dicko may now end up in January who knows? But no doubt Uwe has got a master-plan in place
 
And on the plus side, from Brentford’s end, things haven’t fallen apart. New manager Mark Warburton (who was in fact Uwe’s technical director and has been at the club even longer than Uwe) has won his first two games – both difficult ones at that against potential promotion rivals. We are continuing to play attractive football so Uwe Rosler’s legacy continues at Brentford. 
 
With any luck, Mark Warburton will finish off the job that Uwe Rosler came soooooo close to finishing last season come May this year. And finally, Brentford fans can lay to rest the ghost of constant failure that started way way back in 1985 at Wembley in the Leyland Daf Final against …… Oh ….. it was Wigan. 
 
Cheers!!!!!!
 
BillytheBee (@billythebee99) writes for Beesotted fanzine. Check out our articles and videos at www.beesotted.co.uk (@beesotted)

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Evolution over revolution as Wigan welcomes Uwe Rosler

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Despite an awful run of form resulting in the club’s lowest league position in the better part of a decade, the formal unveiling of new boss Uwe Rosler at the DW Stadium earlier today appears to have injected a welcome breath of positivity at Wigan Athletic.

Flanked by chief executive Jonathan Jackson and club chairman Dave Whelan, the German hit all the right notes during an insightful half hour press conference. His approach serious and considered, Rosler did much to suggest he will embrace the groundwork set in place at the club by Roberto Martinez, while tweaking the finer details in playing style to suit his own brand of football.

He referenced a high-tempo passing and pressing game employing a 4-3-3 formation, similar in some ways to the Spaniard’s preferred system, but different in others — hinting that there would be an emphasis on pace and energy, and a commitment to pushing bodies forward in attack. Although we will have to wait and see exactly how these changes manifest themselves, the comparison between the Martinez and Rosler blueprints does not sound far off the transition Swansea underwent from Brendan Rodgers tikki-takka to Michael Laudrup’s skill-based but more direct approach.

Whelan once again commented on the hiring process, reiterating the goal of a Premier League return as soon as possible, and backing his new man to be a huge success at Wigan. When asked about specifically about Callum McManaman and James McLean, Rosler described them each as exciting, fast and direct players that would fit his system, while reserving a diplomatic word about room for improvement in McLean’s final pass. He also opined that the change in management and style, plus the fixture congestion with the club taking part in the Europa League group stages, posed huge challenges to the club earlier this season.

There was a quiet resolve and confidence about Rosler’s delivery that is already generating optimism amongst supporters on social media outlets. The hope is that he will be able to swiftly convey it to his new players and that such desire will manifest itself on the pitch in coming weeks. His description of the opportunity as a “dream” to join “such a big club” will likely please many but also felt genuine, while his long-term views and discussion of player development suggest he is in it for the long haul.

More immediately, he made it clear that next weekend’s Championship fixture against Bolton will be the priority, but that the midweek trip to Maribor was a winnable contest. It should also provide him a good chance to get to know some of the personalities in the squad as the Latics embark on their final Europa League group stage adventure as a squad.

Interestingly, the new manager spoke about having developed a relationship with Martinez since Rob Kiernan joined Brentford on loan in 2012, but confirmed that he had not consulted the Spaniard before taking the position over the weekend. In a curious twist of fate, Martinez himself was today in Wigan being honoured at Wigan’s “walk of stars” for his achievement in winning the FA Cup last season. Chairman Whelan, also being honoured at the event, was several minutes late to the press conference as a result.

All of which may have been pure coincidence, but you do get the sense that this was an appointment made with Martinez in mind. Whelan was displeased by Coyle’s rejection of the style his predecessor had spent three years implementing from the youth teams all the way up through the first team. With this appointment, the chairman has made clear his hope for a period of evolution rather than revolution at Wigan Athletic.

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Five things the new man must get right

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It has been a whirlwind couple of days since the news broke that Dave Whelan had sacked Owen Coyle (sort of), and the rumour mill has been churning out names ever since.

Football certainly has both a sense of timing and humour, after the eventful week that led to Coyle losing his job also saw Rene Meluensteen accept the Fulham position and Steve McClaren supply the damage that ultimately sealed the former Bolton and Burnley manager’s fate.

There have been murmurs that Whelan regrets the short-term mentality of his latest appointment, after witnessing how little time it took Coyle to dismantle the three years of club ethos-building groundwork of his predecessor. One newspaper stretched this rumour to suggest he is specifically looking for his “next Roberto Martinez” — a young and ambitious manager with a long-term view and a twinkle in his eye. What seems more likely is the appointment of someone who, regardless of age, is thinking not just of how to get Wigan out of the Championship, but stay out of the Championship. The popular favourite at the moment is Mike Phelan — more on that here.

In the meantime, our top five recommendations for the new man:

1) No need for a revolution

Coyle could be forgiven for feeling that he was inheriting a disjointed squad after the relegation-fueled exodus at the end of last season. He acted swiftly and admirably to bring in a number of new faces, most of whom on paper, were excellent Championship signings. But it was a huge mistake to try and re-invent the club’s ethos and actively reject the work Martinez had done before him. Even if he felt the tikki-takka stuff wasn’t for him, there was simply not enough time to completely transform the way the team played, gel new signings, and obtain results. In Jordi Gomez, Ben Watson, James McArthur, Emmerson Boyce, Roger Espinoza, Callum McManaman, Jean Beausejour, and Sean Maloney before his injury, he had a set of players who performed key roles in an FA Cup winning squad. He also had Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis and Ali Al-Habsi to return from injury, and settled young talents Frazer Fyvie and Nouha Dicko ready to push for first team football. In the end, he rotated the squad so much that the established players at the club who knew each other and had chemistry on the pitch, were rarely in the lineup together.

If there is a concrete lesson for the new man in charge, it is to embrace the strengths the club already possesses and tweak rather than rebuild. Swansea is fantastic example when it comes to such smooth transitions, from Martinez to Paulo Sousa, to Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup.

2) Get the fans back onside

Injuries or not, one got the sense that fan favourites such as Ali Al-Habsi and Sean Maloney were on their way out of the club. Add to this the limited playing time afforded to Roger Espinoza, despite repeated clamouring from the crowd to see him, and it was clear he was losing the supporters.

It would be a very good move to publicly talk up the returns of Al-Habsi and Maloney, give Espinoza a chance, and focus on getting the best out of the club’s established players such as Emmerson Boyce, James McArthur, Ben Watson, Jean Beausejour and the returning Ivan Ramis, who himself was gaining something of a cult following before that terrible knee injury at Fulham last January.

It would also be wise to praise the work of his predecessors. Coyle deserves immense credit for his work assembling a strong squad of players in a short period of time. Even more important, however, is public acknowledgement of what Martinez did, not only delivered the club’s greatest achievement, but investing hugely in the club’s long-term future. It is difficult to replace an icon, but acknowledging his work puts everyone on the same side.

3) Get the best out of Grant Holt

He was the marquee summer signing — the proven goalscorer at this, and just about every other level in English football — but it all seems to have gone wrong. An instinctive finish against Barnsley on day one promised great things, and he’s shown flashes of talent (his setup play for Marc-Antoine Fortune’s winner at Yeovil stands out), but it’s largely been frustrating for the big centre-forward, and in recent weeks, Wigan Athletic supporters. His confidence is clearly low, and he doesn’t appear fully fit after being rushed back from a knee injury several games back, but the biggest problem was tactical.

A striker who scores the vast majority of his goals from crosses was all too frequently playing with the wrong supporting cast. Beausejour — the finest crosser of the ball at the club — was rarely in the lineup at the same time. His starts seemed to coincide with matches in which Latics failed to control possession of the ball, limiting him to counter attacks for which his talents were ill-suited.

With the less-than-prolific Fortune and young, unproven Will Keane the other options in the striking department, it is clear that the new manager needs to get the best out of Holt if Wigan are to stand a chance of being promoted this season. That means providing service.

4) Fill the gaps

The other option, of course, is to spend time and money on another proven striker.

And a left-back, assuming Juan Carlos Garcia needs more time to adapt and Stephen Crainey doesn’t dramatically improve under new leadership.

If Graham Barrow’s 3-5-2 formation in yesterday’s loss against Leeds was anything to go by, neither is deemed one of the club’s best XI. If the new manager goes the same route, a backup for Boyce on the right flank will be a priority.

5) Improve away form

Another loss, this time to Leeds, means Latics have now lost five out of eight away games — the same number as Yeovil and more than Sheffield Wednesday, both in relegation places. Only Barnsley, bottom of the league, have lost more.

Think we missed one? Please leave us a comment below.

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A Stoke fan’s view of Ryan Shotton

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Ryan Shotton has made a promising start to his career at Wigan Athletic. The big 24 year old defender arrived at Wigan only three weeks ago, on loan from Stoke City until January.

We reached out to a father and son team who are lifelong Stoke City fanatics for their views on the player. Our thanks go to Will Condliffe, and his dad Paul Condliffe, for this interesting article.

Local lad Ryan Shotton came through the ranks at Stoke City and was the first youngster to progress through the club’s new academy set-up

He signed professional terms in 2007 and went out on loan to Altrincham, Tranmere Rovers and Barnsley to gain first team experience before breaking into the Stoke squad towards the end of the 2010-11.

Under the leadership of then manager Tony Pulis, Stoke fans thought that another ‘Stokie’ would at long-last follow in the footsteps of the likes of Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks, Denis Smith and Jimmy Greenhoff and go on to regularly wear the red and white stripes in the top flight of English football. Indeed he went on to make 50 appearances for The Potters, scoring in the UEFA League in 2011-12 against Hajduk Split and Maccabi Tel Aviv. .

However, although Shotton was developed through the youth set-up as a centre-back he was used by Pulis as a full-back, a wide midfielder and even as a stand-in forward on several occasions. Unable to break the partnership of the impressive Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, Shotton never had an opportunity in his most natural position and perhaps this is where the route of his problems, and his demise, lie.

Towards the end of last season, as the Potters’ form slumped and the club was dragged into a relegation battle, many his own fans turned on him – jeering his name when the starting line-up was announced and cheering as his number went up on the substitute’s board. This was cruel and harsh and certainly impacted on his confidence, if not his enthusiasm. He certainly wasn’t the only player under-performing at the time. That said, he did look like a fish out of water, or perhaps more aptly, a centre-back out of position. He doesn’t quite posses the pace, skill and guile to be a ‘modern’ overlapping full-back (let alone a right midfielder) and all too often gets caught out defensively there too.

It can’t be denied that Ryan gives his all but sadly he lacks that special something that makes a top classplayer. Possessing a long throw not exactly as bullet-like as Rory Delap’s but effective nonetheless, Shotton is a worker and will give 100% to the cause and maybe in the Championship will find his level.

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Stateside Latics fanatics savo(u)r US tour

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Wigan Athletic’s first ever USA tour is not just proving a success in terms of conditioning and team bonding — it has set the perfect stage for the beginnings of a US-based supporters club, as fans from all over the country communicated on Twitter and Facebook to meet up, get to know one another, and support the team.

Jon Sicotte, known on Twitter as @spikechiquet, is one of them. A sports copy editor at the Toledo Blade in Ohio and a freelance writer for TheCup.us, he started following the Latics three years ago after some web and FIFA-gaming based research, and hasn’t looked back since. He traveled to both Columbus Crew and Dayton Dutch Lions matches, and was kind enough to contribute a write-up and photos of each experience for the Amigos. Thanks Jon!

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Columbus Crew 1 Wigan Athletic 2

Although this Wigan trip was about the new squad limbering up for the Football Championship campaign, it really was a chance for Latics fans to find out that they are not alone. Through Twitter and Facebook, fans from all over the United States connected and got together to share stories, laughs (a few ales) and talk of their love of WAFC. Last Saturday, a group of us decided to go to the 4th St. Grill in Columbus, about a mile from Crew Stadium. It’s a Crew bar, but we were welcomed and had a great time (the bar’s Two-Hearted Ale/Chipotle sauce on boneless wings is fantastic).

The backgrounds of the fans were all over the board: a retiree from Illinois who has lived in the States for 35 years; a Texan who has been in the U.S. since 2005; a Canadian; an American with Wiganers in his family; and even some born-and-bred Americans that just happened to pick the Latics. A few of us tailgated right before the game and met a girl who lived in the area and was wearing a Liverpool kit, although she was from Wigan originally and was happy to see her town’s team playing in Columbus. She was waving a Union Jack proudly out of her car.

Crew fans and staff welcomed us with open arms and event security looked the other way as our group sat together despite having tickets all over the stadium. We may have been small, but we were mighty and we let the Crew know we were there! The array of kits was fun to watch. We met QPR fans, a few Manchester United, Man City and England National team fans in our journey. Michael, one of the guys I met while there, grew up playing youth games under Graham Barrow and the two got to catch up on old times before the match as well.

After the match, Ben Watson and Emmerson Boyce stopped by to chat with fans along with Roger Espinoza. Some of the other guys were down by the bench. A Wigan assistant coach handed up Wigan FA Cup posters as well. It was nice to meet Ben, I remarked I was happy to get to take a picture of the forehead that won Wigan the cup.

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Dayton Dutch Lions 1 Wigan Athletic 6

A few days later, I ventured to Piqua High School’s soccer field and assumed I would be alone since many of my “Twitter Crew” couldn’t make the second game. I was happily wrong. I was tapped on the shoulder by a teen named Chole. She, her mum, brother and boyfriend had been in Columbus, but also made it to Piqua for the Dayton vs. Wigan match…a three-hour trip from Louisville. They introduced me to Joe, who believe it or not, lives just down the road from me here in Perrysburg, Ohio. I also met a few more fans around us (I believe our crew stood eight strong or so) and we all braved the 90+ degree heat and humidity.

The players felt the heat as well. In fact, they stopped to take a water break at the 30th minute. The pitch’s grass seemed long and dry and dead, making it slow playing. Wigan was sloppy as well and tried to fool around at times instead of trying to be technically sound. Still, the second half was full of exciting goals and a few good shows of sportsmanship. Late in the match, after scoring a goal already, newcomer Grant Holt collided with Dayton’s keeper nearly outside the box. The goalie fell and was in pain near his knee. Instead of driving to the net, Grant kicked the ball out of bound and let the team tend to their keeper. A minute later, after a penalty kick was awarded, Wigan offered the services of Lee Nicholls to play the penalty instead of the injured keeper. (Dayton only had one keeper at the match). After Holt scored against his teammate, Nicholls stayed and finished the match for Dayton (I wonder if Mr. Whelan will get a few bucks for the transfer fee).

After the match, the players came up to our little group to take pictures and sign autographs. We caught a few more guys before they got on the bus to head back to Columbus. The team even brought out a few boxes of pizza to share with us and many young kids hanging around to meet some true professionals of the beautiful game.

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