Wigan Athletic 1 Burnley 5: Amigo and Social Media reaction

Wigan Athletic once again showed their fighting qualities, pulling back Burnley’s two goal lead with a Will Keane penalty after 42 minutes. The visitors had been far superior in the opening half hour, their silky football contrasting with repititious long balls launched from defence by Latics.

Early in the second half Keane squandered a golden opportunity. Soon after the visitors made it 3-1 with a goal that had offside written all over it. It was a hammer blow from which Latics were never going to recover and Burnley’s superiority was emphasized with two more goals in the final minutes.

Leam Richardson chose a cautious starting line-up, opting for three at the back but with a 3-5-2 formation, rather than the usual 3-4-3. With three holding midfielders was he trying to nullify the effect of Brownhill, Cork and Cullen in Burnley’s engine room? In the event Brownhill had an excellent game, finding the freedom to score two well-taken goals. Callum Lang and Will Keane received poor service, mainly spending their energy chasing hopeful long balls or aimless punts up field.

Burnley lost many of their best players over the summer following their relegation from the Premier League. However, both Brownhill and defender Charlie Taylor were regulars in their top tier side last season and played yesterday. Burnley have spent some £13 on new acquisitions over the summer. New manager Vincent Kompany has imposed a possession-based style of play. However, their record prior to this game was W1D3L1.

Following a valiant performance at Norwich, Latics were found wanting in this encounter against another team coming down from the top tier. The gulf in class between the two teams in this game looked huge, not only in Burnley’s clinical finishing, but in the flowing football they played.

But Richardson’s teams show resilience and a good performance against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday would not be a surprise. Wigan’s primary goal this season is to avoid relegation. Providing the manager can continue to keep up his squad’s morale they can probably accomplish that goal.

However, the long-ball style of play that helped Latics get out of League 1 is not the best approach for consolidation at this level. At some point flair players need to be nurtured and a more sophisticated style of play developed. Wigan defenders, facing an opposition press, launch “hopeful” long balls. Most teams in this division better handle the high press.

Our thanks go to 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 included:

FormbyLatic opined:

I think Leam got the starting formation completely wrong. Far too defensive and too much respect shown to the opposition. THREE strikers and TWO excellent attacking midfielders on the bench.

When he made the changes, albeit far too late, we looked a much better team. We need a big reaction on Tuesday. Today was probably the worst performance for over two years and was very, very hard to watch, not least the repeated missing of clear cut chances……

HudwiganFan commented:

To write it off as ‘Premier League vs League One’ is a bit demeaning and selling us massively short to be honest. Burnley had only won one of their first five, and that was only 1-0 against a Huddersfield team who’ve had an awful start. They’ve failed to win any of their last four and shipped 3 at home against Blackpool last week. Nowhere near good enough and I’m sure Leam and the staff will be communicating that to the players behind closed doors.

I’d rather Leam make changes than be a manager who’s too stubborn but today was a tinker too far. Five at the back and no target-man was just bizarre. We setup and started playing like we were already 4-0 down and it showed in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Leam’s loyalty to Lang and Keane is admirable – and I can see why he’d want to reward them for their contributions last season – but how many more largely anonymous performances can they put in before some others get a go? Likes of Broadhead, Wyke, Aasgaard, Fletcher (who wasn’t even in the squad again) and even Humphrys must be sat there wondering what they have to do to get a start. Zero room for sentiment at this level if we’re serious about stopping up and Lang in particular needs to be told “you’ve got to get going otherwise you won’t get a look-in.”


I’d drop them both on Tuesday, start one of Magennis or Wyke with Broadhead in there and Fletcher as an option off the bench (if fit). Need to go back to the flat back-four with Bennett back at LB because McClean is a much better attacker than defender at this level and Whatmough-Kerr-Tilt was simply took many cooks in the kitchen today. They were getting in each other’s way and you can tell they’re not used to playing all at once.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong today. It will be fascinating to see how they respond against another ‘promotion candidate off to a slow start’ on Tuesday. Can’t just dismiss it as ‘well they’ve got lots of money and a really good squad’ or we’ll get smashed again. The type of negative mindset that Jewell used to trot out in the press before we played top 4 sides in the first couple of Prem seasons and it felt like we’d already been beaten before the games had even started.

True Believer wrote:

TBH I am not overly worried about today’s loss as it is still very early in the season and it was against one of the teams that I would imagine will not be in the bottom half of the division and therefore not a direct opponent.

I think we have to be realistic about this season and be looking to win the games against teams with a similar target as ourselves (avoiding relegation). Any points we pick up against any of the top teams should be viewed as a bonus and losses put down to experienc
e.

JockLatic stated:

Definitely going to be knee jerk comments here. Clearly different class in attacking areas at the moment. They scored all 5 out of 6 on target. Our finishing was terrible.

At 85 minutes we had 3 times as many shots as Burnley. Aside from the 3 goals they struggled to create anything. The first goal was clearly a foul and the 3rd was miles offside and then we are chasing a 2 goal deficit wrongly.

Liam made a mistake going from 3 centre backs to 2 for the last 15 minutes as it left us wide open to the counter as we overcommitted men forward to desperately tried to get a goal back. 2 goals when we were exposed defensively numbers wise and their pace and our sloppy play allowed the scoreline to be something the game didn’t reflect. Would imagine if it was level with 15 minutes to go, Liam doesn’t make those subs and have more players back in defence.

Frustrating as people will just look at the scoreline and think we got battered for 90 minutes, which absolutely wasn’t the case.

C_McNamara added:

Always going to be days like this, even if we signed 11 new players in summer, all who are championship standard, your going to have a bad game or two at some point in a season.

I found Burnley impressive to be honest, liked the rotation in possession, Cullen moving into left back allowing Vitinho and Tella to essentially go 1v1 against Kerr and Darikwa then Gudmundsson staying wide on the other side. Roberts and Brownhill’s positioning themselves in the inside channel as well just dragged us over isolating Tilt. I don’t we will see many teams coming to us this year with this sort of setup. Shades of a City setup with arguably two different sorts of attack going on.

I did feel from our point of view, looking to turn their centre halves was a good idea. Neither were dominating however we just didn’t manage to execute it well enough bar probably the last 10/15 of the first half. Keane not taking that chance early in the 2nd half turned out to be massive in hindsight.

5 down 41 to go I suppose, review it and narrow the focus on what we didn’t do or perhaps something Burnley did well which we could evolve/adapt our system or approach

Disappointed about today however looking forward to Tuesday night now.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a heavy defeat against Burnley

Wigan Athletic once again showed their fighting qualities, pulling back Burnley’s two goal lead with a Will Keane penalty after 42 minutes. The visitors had been far superior in the opening half hour, their silky football contrasting with repititious long balls launched from defence by Latics.

Early in the second half Keane squandered a golden opportunity. Soon after the visitors made it 3-1 with a goal that had offside written all over it. It was a hammer blow from which Latics were never going to recover and Burnley’s superiority was emphasized with two more goals in the final minutes.

Leam Richardson chose a cautious starting line-up, opting for three at the back but with a 3-5-2 formation, rather than the usual 3-4-3. With three holding midfielders was he trying to nullify the effect of Brownhill, Cork and Cullen in Burnley’s engine room? In the event Brownhill had an excellent game, finding the freedom to score two well-taken goals. Callum Lang and Will Keane received poor service, mainly spending their energy chasing hopeful long balls or aimless punts up field.

Burnley lost many of their best players over the summer following their relegation from the Premier League. However, both Brownhill and defender Charlie Taylor were regulars in their top tier side last season and played yesterday. Burnley have spent some £13 on new acquisitions over the summer. New manager Vincent Kompany has imposed a possession-based style of play. However, their record prior to this game was W1D3L1.

Following a valiant performance at Norwich, Latics were found wanting in this encounter against another team coming down from the top tier. The gulf in class between the two teams in this game looked huge, not only in Burnley’s clinical finishing, but in the flowing football they played.

But Richardson’s teams show resilience and a good performance against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday would not be a surprise. Wigan’s primary goal this season is to avoid relegation. Providing the manager can continue to keep up his squad’s morale they can probably accomplish that goal.

However, the long-ball style of play that helped Latics get out of League 1 is not the best approach for consolidation at this level. At some point flair players need to be nurtured and a more sophisticated style of play developed. Wigan defenders, facing an opposition press, launch “hopeful” long balls. Most teams in this division better handle the high press.

Our thanks go to 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 included:

FormbyLatic opined:

I think Leam got the starting formation completely wrong. Far too defensive and too much respect shown to the opposition. THREE strikers and TWO excellent attacking midfielders on the bench.

When he made the changes, albeit far too late, we looked a much better team. We need a big reaction on Tuesday. Today was probably the worst performance for over two years and was very, very hard to watch, not least the repeated missing of clear cut chances……

HudwiganFan commented:

To write it off as ‘Premier League vs League One’ is a bit demeaning and selling us massively short to be honest. Burnley had only won one of their first five, and that was only 1-0 against a Huddersfield team who’ve had an awful start. They’ve failed to win any of their last four and shipped 3 at home against Blackpool last week. Nowhere near good enough and I’m sure Leam and the staff will be communicating that to the players behind closed doors.

I’d rather Leam make changes than be a manager who’s too stubborn but today was a tinker too far. Five at the back and no target-man was just bizarre. We setup and started playing like we were already 4-0 down and it showed in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Leam’s loyalty to Lang and Keane is admirable – and I can see why he’d want to reward them for their contributions last season – but how many more largely anonymous performances can they put in before some others get a go? Likes of Broadhead, Wyke, Aasgaard, Fletcher (who wasn’t even in the squad again) and even Humphrys must be sat there wondering what they have to do to get a start. Zero room for sentiment at this level if we’re serious about stopping up and Lang in particular needs to be told “you’ve got to get going otherwise you won’t get a look-in.”


I’d drop them both on Tuesday, start one of Magennis or Wyke with Broadhead in there and Fletcher as an option off the bench (if fit). Need to go back to the flat back-four with Bennett back at LB because McClean is a much better attacker than defender at this level and Whatmough-Kerr-Tilt was simply took many cooks in the kitchen today. They were getting in each other’s way and you can tell they’re not used to playing all at once.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong today. It will be fascinating to see how they respond against another ‘promotion candidate off to a slow start’ on Tuesday. Can’t just dismiss it as ‘well they’ve got lots of money and a really good squad’ or we’ll get smashed again. The type of negative mindset that Jewell used to trot out in the press before we played top 4 sides in the first couple of Prem seasons and it felt like we’d already been beaten before the games had even started.

True Believer wrote:

TBH I am not overly worried about today’s loss as it is still very early in the season and it was against one of the teams that I would imagine will not be in the bottom half of the division and therefore not a direct opponent.

I think we have to be realistic about this season and be looking to win the games against teams with a similar target as ourselves (avoiding relegation). Any points we pick up against any of the top teams should be viewed as a bonus and losses put down to experienc
e.

JockLatic stated:

Definitely going to be knee jerk comments here. Clearly different class in attacking areas at the moment. They scored all 5 out of 6 on target. Our finishing was terrible.

At 85 minutes we had 3 times as many shots as Burnley. Aside from the 3 goals they struggled to create anything. The first goal was clearly a foul and the 3rd was miles offside and then we are chasing a 2 goal deficit wrongly.

Liam made a mistake going from 3 centre backs to 2 for the last 15 minutes as it left us wide open to the counter as we overcommitted men forward to desperately tried to get a goal back. 2 goals when we were exposed defensively numbers wise and their pace and our sloppy play allowed the scoreline to be something the game didn’t reflect. Would imagine if it was level with 15 minutes to go, Liam doesn’t make those subs and have more players back in defence.

Frustrating as people will just look at the scoreline and think we got battered for 90 minutes, which absolutely wasn’t the case.

C_McNamara added:

Always going to be days like this, even if we signed 11 new players in summer, all who are championship standard, your going to have a bad game or two at some point in a season.

I found Burnley impressive to be honest, liked the rotation in possession, Cullen moving into left back allowing Vitinho and Tella to essentially go 1v1 against Kerr and Darikwa then Gudmundsson staying wide on the other side. Roberts and Brownhill’s positioning themselves in the inside channel as well just dragged us over isolating Tilt. I don’t we will see many teams coming to us this year with this sort of setup. Shades of a City setup with arguably two different sorts of attack going on.

I did feel from our point of view, looking to turn their centre halves was a good idea. Neither were dominating however we just didn’t manage to execute it well enough bar probably the last 10/15 of the first half. Keane not taking that chance early in the 2nd half turned out to be massive in hindsight.

5 down 41 to go I suppose, review it and narrow the focus on what we didn’t do or perhaps something Burnley did well which we could evolve/adapt our system or approach

Disappointed about today however looking forward to Tuesday night now.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 1 – five talking points

August 13, 2022: Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 1

It was a “game of two halves” but much credit is due to Wigan Athletic for the way they clawed themselves back into the game following an early reverse.

 With Curtis Tilt injured, Jack Whatmough returned to his usual position as right centre back, Jason Kerr being moved to the left, a less familiar position for him.

The Robins had scored in the 6th minute, a big gap being open on the left -hand side of Wigan’s defence, after Latics had lost the ball up field. Tommy Conway’s cross found Andreas Weimann at the far post, who notched his fourth goal of the season. Wigan’s main mode of attack was to launch hopeful long balls towards an isolated Josh Magennis up front. It was a largely ineffective ploy, but when the big striker got into the penalty box, he had three chances to score, although none of them were easy. Latics went into the half time interval a goal behind.

There was a surprise at the beginning of the second half with Thelo Aasgaard replacing Joe Bennett, who had had an off-day being fortunate not having received a red card following a scuffle with Joe Williams. Aasgaard moved to the left wing with James McClean taking over at left back. Aasgaard’s arrival coincided with a change in approach from Wigan, with controlled football gradually replacing the long ball.

An injury to Ben Amos caused him to be replaced by Jamie Jones after 54 minutes. Wigan were playing much better. Will Keane equalised in the 62nd minute after a goalmouth melee. Mark Sykes, a bargain signing from Oxford United, had been a thorn in the side for Latics on the right wing. Soon after Keane’s goal he launched a superb long cross to the six-yard box, but Conway somehow headed wide of a gaping net. Latics continued to press and looked dangerous, but the visitors also threatened with their rapid counterattacks.

In the end a draw was a fair result, Wigan’s third in the first three games.

Kerr stakes a claim

Jason Kerr, signed from St Johnstone in January, has had to bide his time to stake a claim as a frequent starter. Last season he was played on the right of a block of three central defenders, a position in which he had excelled when helping the Perth club to win both the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup.

Kerr had come on to replace Jack Whatmough in a flat back four in the Preston game, growing more self-assured as the game went on. He continued in that right centre half position at Norwich where he was arguably Latics’ Man of the Match. This was the first time we have seen him on the left side of defence. Once again, he got better and better as the game progressed and was excellent in the second half.

Lang can make it in the Championship

It is Callum Lang’s first season in the Championship and the early stages have been testing for him. Faced against left sided defenders of superior quality to League 1, Lang has not been able to find the same amount of space and freedom as last season. Yesterday he was heavily policed by big defender Robert Atkinson, giving him no turning space, particularly in the first half. But as the game progressed, he began to find space and managed to threaten the opposition defence and goalkeeper.

Lang has been a key player for Latics, his goals being vital in their fight to avoid relegation, then to win the division. He is still only 23 and his best is ahead of him. At times he falls rather too easily, and he has done himself no favours with referees with his frequent arguing over decisions. But he has been a superb finisher at League 1 level, and this will surely translate into goals in the Championship. Lang ‘s willingness to run at the defence can unsettle them and create opportunities for teammates.

It is still early to make any judgements as to how effective Lang will be in this division. Much will depend on the help he receives from the coaches and his willingness to embrace it.

Magennis shows his commitment

The DW Stadium crowd have always liked a trier: a player willing to give his all for the team. Josh Magennis certainly did that yesterday and deserved the applause he got when he left the field after 76 minutes for Nathan Broadhead.

Magennis was signed in January as a direct replacement for Charlie Wyke at the time. Although 32 years old he was given a two and a half-year contract, an indication of the club’s keenness to sign him. He made a slow start to his Latics’ career but his game improved as he approached genuine match-fitness. As Wyke’s replacement it was a hard act to follow. Yesterday he showed that same sort of willingness that Wyke had shown to play the target man role, a physically demanding task against big central defenders.

After just 12 minutes of the live feed yesterday Tommy Gore remarked that Magennis had won 70-80% of his headers but there had been no teammates close by to take advantage. Magennis is not the first Latics centre forward to lack support. Indeed, I recall an old article of mine on this site where I brought up a commentary by ex-number 9, Gary Birtles, during the Martinez era where he lamented the lack of support for Connor Sammon. His most cutting comment was that “He (Sammon) was chasing his own flick-ons at times. When a system is just not working: change it!!”

Leam Richardson changed it in the second half yesterday and Latics looked a better team for it.

Last season Magennis scored three goals and made one assist in 17 games for Latics. His goals were all headed. He has a career record of 0.18 goals per game, compared with Nathan Broadhead (0.29), Ashely Fletcher (0.16) Stephen Humphrys (0.22), Callum Lang (0.30) and Charlie Wyke (0.33). It should be noted that almost half of Humphry’s career appearances have been made coming in off the bench.

Magennis is by no means an instinctive goalscorer. His strong points are his aerial threat in the penalty area and his commitment to the cause.

Big refereeing decisions going Wigan’s way

Joe Bennett was fortunate not to receive a red card after lashing out at Joe Williams who had fouled him and stamped on him. In such circumstances it tends to be the victim rather than the initial aggressor who is disciplined. Justice is not often served. However, the likelihood is that most referees would have sent Bennett off yesterday. In the event he received a yellow.

Latics also got the benefit of the decisions at Norwich, who had five penalty appeals turned down. The validity of each appeal may be up to debate, but it takes a strong and confident referee to stand up to the baying of the crowd in such circumstances.

Timewasting rears its ugly head

Modern football abounds with gamesmanship: blatant diving seeks rewards in free kicks, penalties, cards for opponents; teams mob referees to pressurise them into decisions in their favour; systematic professional fouling neutralises opposition attacks.

Time-wasting is rife. Players take their time with throw-ins, goal kicks, in walking their way off the pitch when being substituted. But one that particularly denigrates the game for the spectator is the feigning of injury. In football-talk it comes under the banner of “managing the game”. It is a ploy that is used by practically all teams to varying degrees. In the closing periods of the game, with the opposition gathering momentum a player goes down “injured”. Sometimes those injuries can be genuine, sometimes they can be cramp induced as players tire, but they can also be fake. A stoppage of say, three minutes, can be enough to dampen the momentum the opposition had built up. Repeated stoppages make it very difficult for the attacking side.

I am unaware of any stats that detail the amount of time consumed by teams when their players go down in the final 20 minutes of a game. If they were to be available on a cumulative team by team basis it would make fascinating reading.

One wonders where Nigel Pearson’s Bristol City would appear in such a table of such stats.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Portsmouth 3 Wigan Athletic 2: Latics limp towards promotion with mathematics on their side

In purely mathematical terms Wigan Athletic took a further step towards promotion last night. Losing by a one goal margin means that they go into the final game of the season at Shrewsbury with a +6 goal difference advantage over MK Dons. The odds against MK overcoming that goal difference are very high as they must travel to Plymouth to face a team eager to cement a place in the layoffs.

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Following the frustrating defeat for Wigan the Portsmouth manager, Danny Cowley, commented:

“A great way to end the season at Fratton Park. I am just pleased for the supporters and proud of the players for the way they responded, because we had played well first half. We just had two difficult moments, but Wigan, to be fair, are a really good team and they capitalised on them.”

It is hard to disagree with Cowley’s comments. Pompey were the better team in the first half, despite Latics scoring two stunning goals. As the game progressed, Latics reverted to their default mode – hoofball. There was to be little respite for the beleaguered Wigan defence with those “hopeful” long balls throwing away possession, inviting further Portsmouth pressure. It was reminiscent of the worst of the Paul Cook days when Latics could not hold on to a lead away from home.

 The trip to Fratton Park was always going to be difficult. The home crowd can be passionate and raucous, and they were keen to beat Latics. Portsmouth were the form team with three wins in a draw from their previous four games. In contrast Latics had not won in their previous four.

Despite the run of poor results Latics remain in pole position. A draw at Shrewsbury will mathematically ensure promotion, with MK Dons unable to catch them. Rotherham have a tricky away game at Gillingham who need a good result to stay in the division. If Latics can match the Yorkshire team’s result on the day, they will almost certainly win the division (providing MK Dons do not win with an avalanche of goals at Plymouth).

Leam Richardson merits his selection as EFL Manager of the Season. In the future he will likely reflect upon his successes over the past two seasons. Which would be the greater success: avoiding relegation with the club in administration and a threadbare squad or gaining promotion the following season?

However, Latics are limping towards promotion with the players looking jaded and stale. The decisions to seek cancellation of games during international breaks put undue physical pressure on the players in the second half of the season. Moreover, the manager has not rotated the key players who form the backbone of the team. The result has been that they have looked short of energy, not at their best, if able to show moments of quality in flashes. Any players coming in have struggled due to lack of game time. On Saturday Tom Pearce looked out of touch, but last night he made two brilliant crosses that led to goals.  

Team selection in recent games has been puzzling. In the home defeat to Cambridge the manager ditched the 3-4-1-2 system that had served so well in a positive run of results, only to reinstall it at half time. Will Keane’s opportunistic brace contributed to a precarious draw at Ipswich. Prior to the Plymouth match Richardson admitted he had a selection problem. Jordan Cousins, a key player earlier in the season, was back to fitness. The manager duly found a space for Cousins by pushing Max Power into the number 10 position. That pushed will Keane upfront, which is not his best position. Moreover, Joe Bennett was moved to left centre back with Tom Pearce at left wing back. The net result was having two left backs on the field and two specialist strikers, Stephen Humphrys and Josh Magennis, on the bench.

The use of substitutes continues to baffle. It was refreshing to see Richardson make bold changes at half time in the Cambridge game bringing on two substitutes off the bench to revert to 3-4-1-2. The manager generally prefers to make changes late in the game, which is fine if things are going well. However, the changes tend to unimaginative or reactive to changes made by the other team, rather than proactively making the changes to rest tired legs or change tactics as the opposition cause threats.

What can be expected on Saturday? Will Richardson bring in a central striker and push Keane back into midfield where he is most effective? Will he continue to use Bennett as a left centre back? Or will he bring back Kell Watts for his last game before returning to Newcastle?  

The most important thing on Saturday is not to concede goals that can help narrow the gap between Wigan and MK Dons. Will Richardson go in with a defensive formation or will he be bold and try to win the match and the title?

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to a home defeat to Cambridge

April 16, 2022: Wigan Athletic 1 Cambridge United 2

“I thought the game was the old proverbial of a game of two halves. I thought we started the game a little bit slow in possession and you’ve got to give credit to Cambridge who worked hard to create some chances in the first half. They took their chances and we weren’t as productive in the opposition half during the first half. I thought in the second half, we played with a tempo and with a really good flowing mindset that we’ve had for most of the year.”

Leam Richardson was certainly understating what happened in the first half. Latics were outplayed and the visitors were good value for their two goal lead. Wigan clawed their way back into the game in the second half and were unlucky not to equalise in the dying minutes, being defied by a superb double save by Bulgarian goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov.

Richardson had brought in Gwion Edwards and Graeme Shinnie, reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Max Power was put at right back, with Tendayi Darikwa on the left.

It was a surprise that the manager had ditched the 3-4-3/3-4-1-2 system that had served so well in the past weeks. Seeing that it had not worked he reverted to three at the back at half time, with Jason Kerr bolstering the defence against the visitors’ aerial threat and Tom Pearce’s left footedness providing more balance on the left flank.

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

Credit for the opposition comes in the form of the best centre forward display I’ve seen from any visitor this season ….Ironside isn’t a 6’ 4” monster but he is as strong as a bull and knows exactly how to play the role. Our centre backs were largely powerless against him.
(V Oliver did similarly for Gillingham a couple of months ago but only for the 2nd 45 mins)

Zakky commented:

Taking everything into consideration I think we looked a very very tired team. Our movement was ponderous and our decision making was slow..
The pace at which the Rotherham game and now the MK games are being played is light years faster than our turgid display.

Jeffs right responded:

I don’t think we are tired. It’s just how we play the game. There haven’t been many games at the DW this season where we have played with pace and urgency. Generally we have been pretty boring but made up with the work rate and never say die attitude.

LoudmouthBlue wrote:

It is a little disingenuous to say it was all down to how we played without praising the way Cambridge went about their task. They hammered us with an aerial game from one of the biggest sides I have seen in a while, they won every knock down second ball from their own front two and same from their defensive clearances.

Yes LR got it wrong today and should have started as he lined up for the second half.

To all those slating Darikwa, he was our best player today, he played in front of me both halves and stopped a number of crosses coming in and got forward and linked up well in the second half until he went off, we were sat with a couple who came from Huddersfield but were Sheff Utd season ticket holders, they were there with their family, her brothers lad was one of our juniors who were introduced at half time, they were astounded when Darikwa was taken off.

Dudestalker stated:

How many games did we go unbeaten playing with a back five? Reverts to a back four, and to make matters worse played two full backs out of position. I’ll say it, he’s either f..king thick or scared of upsetting his favourites.
Eternally grateful for him sticking with us last season, and he’s done some decent things this season, but going forward not sure he’s the right man to take us to the next level. My opinion.

All that said, that starting line up and set up was nonsensical….reverting to something that has repeatedly failed already….and all driven by a single absentee ….plain daft

King _dezeeuw06 summarised:

I imagine everyone from our fan base was immediately concerned when they saw the team and change of formation. We all know this formation just means we can’t play out and hoof it to no one. We were playing one of the divisions stronger long ball teams and we know we are useless at long ball. So why are we playing to Cambridge’s strengths and our weaknesses deliberately?

I know we struggled away on a small pitch against Burton but you don’t revert to doing all the bad things that we improved since we stopped doing as a response. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

You never get anything out of Edwards. Why start him? You know in advance he’ll be subbed off after doing nothing.

Dealing with Cambridge’s aerial threat (Ironside and Smith) was what cost us at their place so why take out arguably our best defensive header in Kerr?

In this formation Keane always ends up playing too high up and we get nothing creatively out of him when he’s not linking up play the side falls down. He was too high against Burton and he was even higher tonight.

Naylor and Shinnie are too similar and in this formation drop too deep and combine that with Keane being too high you completely vacate the middle of the pitch making winning second balls and linking up attack and defence very difficult.

Power is key in key to our midfield as he runs the game so why move him out of centre mid when Darikwa is in the side to play 2 players out of position? You knew Power would almost certainly end up back in centre mid out of necessity.

Darikwa is no use at left back why is he not at right back or one of our 2 good left backs starting? It didn’t need any hindsight to know Darikwa would have to swop sides for us to get any threat from left back.

Magennis up front on his own never works, constantly long balling in at him loses it but that’s all we did.

The change of formation suited none of our players it made everything worse all over the park. The changes only suited Cambridge who probably couldn’t believe their luck at our inexplicable decision to abandon what worked on our unbeaten run and revert back to the tactics that gave us our last loss.

Richardson said he didn’t think the change in formation and tactics cost us in that first half but he is clearly just trying to deflect as his changes at half time subbing on 2 defenders to undo all his changes tells it’s own story. He has got a lot of plaudits but he deserves massive critisism for setting us up to fail today – it was just completely counter intuitive. He is always very slow to make changes, it was obvious from the first minute it wasn’t working so how it took conceding 2 goals and 45 mins to do anything about it was beggars belief. If we started with the usual wing backs we’d have probably been alright but needless and bizarre tinkering gave them a 2 goal head start and the damage was done.

Blame certainly falls on the coaching staff but a lot of the players just shirked responsibility. When we were crying out for players to get control of the centre of the pitch and show for the ball most of them went and stood up front in a big long line waiting for a long ball that none of them had a chance of winning. Only Power really tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and most of the other players just gave it to him and stood back and left him to try and do something on his own. I know the tactics in the first half were awful but in the second half there were a lot of bottlers unfortunately.

Tactically we were poor against Burton but I still got the train of thought, so you are disappointed and accept it as a bad night. If we played a coherent team and tactics tonight and we lost then you’d be frustrated but it happens – but no one in that ground except the coaching staff would’ve picked that starting line up. Not because everyone is super clever it’s because it was super obvious it was wrong. It’s so frustrating we’ve dropped 5 points from our 2 easiest remaining games that would’ve seen us pretty much up when so much of that is completely self inflicted.

Sheffield Wednesday and Pompey did us big favours this past week, we’ve made a mess at our end but it could’ve been much worse. 3 hard games coming up now – got to get back to playing football and getting control of the midfield or we’ll blow this golden chance.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com