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

 

 

Five talking points following an away win at Birmingham

Birmingham City 2 Wigan Athletic 3

Wigan Athletic’s first away win since April was another nail-biting affair, but this time they held out to gain an invaluable three points to lift themselves off the bottom of the table. The celebrations of the players at the end showed how important the win was for them.

Paul Cook made just one change in the starting lineup with Michael Jacobs coming in for Gavin Massey. That meant Josh Windass continuing at centre forward with Joe Williams in the number 10 position.

The irony is that Latics won the game without playing as well in recent matches, but still showed enough pace and movement to trouble a suspect Birmingham defence. Once again they let in soft goals, but the home side can also be accused of the same, with all three Wigan goals coming from defensive errors. For once Latics capitalized on their opponents’ errors.

Windass proves his worth

Cook kept faith in the enigmatic Josh Windass, who went on the score the first goal and have a hand in the other two. Playing without a big man up front means puts an onus on defenders and midfielders to be more creative. Windass has genuine pace that allows him to pounce on well-hit long passes. It is so refreshing following the mindless long-ball approach that characterized Wigan’s away performances for so long.

He had his best performance for the club today.

Naismith provides composure in defence

Kal Naismith has been excellent in the centre of defence in the past six matches. He provides the composure that has been so lacking for so long. Given his limited experience playing in the position we could have expected him to have made some major gaffes, but that has not been the case. Naismith has an ability to read the game, not to panic and to make the right tackle at the right moment. His distribution of the ball from defence has been outstanding.

Sadly Naismith had to go off at half time with what has been reported as a thigh injury. When he left the composure dissipated.

It is no coincidence that Cedric Kipre has looked much more comfortable since teaming up with the Scot in the centre of defence. When the combative Chey Dunkley came on after the interval Kipre was moved across to the left to accommodate him.

Nathan Byrne has a tough one

It has not been an easy season so far for Nathan Byrne. He had a torrid time this afternoon against the speedy French winger Jeremie Bela, then later with the likewise pacey Ecuadorian Jefferson Montero.

The 20-year-old Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling has competed with Byrne for the right back position, making 9 appearances compared with 19 for the latter. Sterling did not make the bench today.

Full back is not an easy role in Cook’s style of play. Full backs are not only expected to perform their full defensive duties but to bomb forward in attack. Byrne certainly put a lot of effort into his runs forward but at times looked exposed when Birmingham attacked.

Latics have enough quality to climb out of the relegation zone

Latics have shown repeatedly that there are few teams in the division for them to fear. Most of their defeats have been of their own making, in squandering chances or giving away goals through defensive errors. Nottingham Forest are now fourth in the table and Wigan made them look distinctly ordinary three days ago, even if the final scoreline did not do them justice.

Despite the rare away win the manager still remains unpopular with a majority of fans. Many still believe they will get relegated if Cook stays. However, at this stage it looks like he will be here at least until the end of the season.

However, although the manager continues to frustrate fans with his loyalty to certain senior pros as far as team selection is concerned, together with his use of substitutions, there have been improvements. The standard of football we have seen in recent away games has been light years ahead of the mindless stuff we saw for so long.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but it is not going to be an easy ride.

A trip to Leicester

Few of us have any expectations for the trip to face Leicester City this weekend. The likelihood is that Latics will receive a tonking. But on the other hand Leicester can be expected to put out a weakened lineup and Cook’s Latics have a surprisingly good record against Premier League teams in the FA Cup.

The bottom line is that Wigan will go into the game with nothing to lose, except maybe a little pride.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Latics fans react on Social Media to a defeat at Forest

Nottingham Forest 1 Wigan Athletic 0

 

Latics’ forwards low on synergy

It was a spirited performance from Latics who made Nottingham Forest look distinctly ordinary. It could be said that Wigan deserved to win after dominating the match. But in reality, it was a familiar tale: a woeful lack of finishing and slack defending leading to a headed goal from a corner. Somehow it looked like Latics would not score, no matter how many chances they had.

Paul Cook has done well in changing the approach from hoofball to real football. But although the tactics are so much better his team selections remain poor. Seeing the team list beforehand we saw once again that Gavin Massey would be deployed on the left wing, where he has previously been ineffective.  Cook persisted with Jamal Lowe who was surely due for some time on the bench after so many ineffectual performances. Rather than play Josh Windass in his best position at number 10 he played him at centre forward. He also decided to employ his three key defensive midfielders, but rather than play them side by side he pushed Joe Williams forward to the number 10 position.

Once again, we saw either square pegs in round holes or players on the field who were not in the best of form. The end result was an energetic performance, interspersed with good football, but with no cutting edge. The attacking players continue to lack not only form, but synergy. The whole was much less than the sum of its parts.

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.

Studs88 on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Doesn’t even have the good grace to mention Gelhardt’s performance. I’m sorry Paul, you’ve done a lot of good for this club. But by not walking away a few months ago you’re ruining any remaining goodwill.

It feels like you’re staying on for a big payday. Not making the best decision for the club.

BigRoy on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Superb again. Can’t score. Gelhardt very good when he came on. Guess you haven’t seen game. So obvious we have no striker. Forest fans saying best team they’ve seen this season. Team playing for Manager and this run of us playing so well and losing can’t carry on forever.

Donny’sPage on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Playing well… Part of the playing well is scoring goals or at least putting shots on target which could help if we started with a striker on the field or bring him on before the eighty odd minute mark.

He added:

Cook must have thought Gary Roberts was going to be a game changer. That says enough with Joffy and Big Joe warming the bench. What an absolutely idiotic substitution.

FrancosLoveChild on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Reality is, no win in 13, 1 win away for well over a year. A change was needed months ago, and today demonstrated that no matter how well we play we still lose. It is a results business and Cook is not getting them. He is a very fortunate person to even still be at the club. Anywhere else he would have been sacked months ago at the latest.

As for the match, nothing needs to be said, Massey, Lowe, Roberts, and Windass got taught a football lesson by a 17-year-old player who when he came on did more than all of them combined all game. Our attacking players are nowhere near championship quality. Their goal was again from a corner. Meanwhile the corners we took lead to absolutely nothing.

The defence was good, the midfield did their jobs, but as soon as the ball went into the final third, nothing at all, I mean all our good plays actually came from Byrne and Robinson. Massey, Lowe was horrendous, may as well played with nine men.

As for Windass, as soon as he stepped up, it was missed, I have no idea why he takes the penalties. 4 misses in a row now?

I will say the players only have themselves to blame today. I expect Gelhardt to start every game from now on as we need results and he is our only good attacking player. But Cook has had a generous amount of time now, it’s not going to improve, he needs to be ridden before the new year. Royles show some spine and do the right thing by the club. It is when you play well and lose which is the big worry.

Naismith, Gelhardt and Robinson had good games today.

HuddWiganFan on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

 For the first time in my Tics supporting life, I honestly don’t even care anymore. Not bothered in the slightest – same old, same old.

This will continue to happen – week in, week out – until we are relegated/a managerial change is made. End of story.

Five talking points following an excellent display against WBA

Wigan Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 1

What a transformation: the long ball approach hardly reared its ugly head. In its place we saw Latics building up moves from the back in the manner of yesteryear. If it had not been for a woeful lack of concentration by keeper Jamie Jones Wigan would have surely won this game against the league leaders. They were the better team throughout.

Paul Cook made seven changes, mostly through injuries. Kal Naismith reverted to the centre of defence and Josh Windass was played at centre forward in preference to Joe Garner.

What caused the transformation?

The style of play was a revelation compared with the awful stuff we have seen so often over these months. Rather than launch long balls the defenders passed the ball to midfielders who made themselves readily available to receive it. Was Cook’s absence from the side-lines through suspension a factor?

The fourth official was possibly relieved to find out that he did not have to listen to Cook’s constant ranting and raving. It is an ugly side of a manager who otherwise behaves with dignity compared to most of his counterparts from other clubs. There is much to be said for a manager’s passion, but one wonders whether Cook’s attention to detail on the pitch has been distracted by a constant need to berate that fourth official.

The big question is whether the return to playing good football was due to Cook’s match strategy or whether it was down to Liam Richardson  directing the team from the side-lines.

Energy levels not a problem

The stats show that Latics had 44% of the possession. Their pass completion rate was 82%, the highest for some time. The players did not look leggy in the closing stages as they so often have this season.

The long ball approach that has been so often used has typically ceded possession, causing Latics players to have to constantly press to get the ball back. Not surprisingly their energy would sap as the games progressed.

The message is clear: Cook must insist that his defenders eschew the easy option of launching long balls. They must take responsibility in building up moves from the back.

Why Windass for Garner?

It was a welcome surprise to see Josh Windass played at centre forward. It was reported that Kieffer Moore was injured but Cook did have an orthodox target man available in Joe Garner. With Windass playing up front, the defenders were less likely to launch long balls. Windass has the pace that Garner and Moore do not have, although he does not have their physicality.

Round pegs in round holes

One of the criticisms of Cook’s management has been his habit of putting round pegs in square holes. Last night we saw Gavin Massey look so much more comfortable playing on the right wing rather than looking like a duck out of water out on the left. Through playing Jamal Lowe at number 10 Cook was able to include both players in positions that suited them.

 What will happen when Dunkley and Moore return?

Chey Dunkley has been one of the mainstays in Cook’s teams since he arrived at Wigan. At his best he is strong in the air and can make stunning last-ditch tackles. However, he is prone to kicking the ball out of play at the merest hint of danger and nobody has launched more long balls than he.

Kieffer Moore’s presence on the pitch almost invites defenders to send long balls in his direction. Sadly, he has rarely been able to do what is more important: getting into right place in the penalty box to score goals. For once he got a good cross when he headed home against Luton. The quality of crossing from the flanks has so often been woeful.

If both are available for Saturday’s game against Huddersfield will they be in the starting eleven? If so, what style of football can we expect?

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Stoke 2 Latics 1: Time for a Change

My wife has so often reminded me how much Wigan Athletic results affect my moods. She would tell me how grumpy and depressed I could get when they lose. I cannot argue with her: she is right.

But I grew up in a family in the south of Wigan surrounded by a morass of rugby. My father was a beacon of light for me being one of the few Latics supporters in the area, not afraid to stand up against the rugby hordes of the time and let them know of his love for Latics. He was there for Latics’ first ever game against Port Vale Reserves as a 12 year old in 1932. He passed on his devotion to the football club not just to me but to my son, Ned, who has never lived in the town but simply adores Wigan Athletic.

My son and I started up this site when Latics were in the Premier League. For a couple of years our articles were posted on the site of ESPN, the world’s largest sports media company. There were ups and downs over those years, but we were incredibly proud of our club punching above their weight. Writing for the site was a pleasure.

The years since leaving the Premier League have been topsy-turvy. Awful managerial appointments were made and relegation ensued twice. The names of Owen Coyle, Malky Mackay and Warren Joyce became synonymous with a fightball/long ball approach. The seeds that Roberto Martinez put into place in the Premier League days were firmly embedded until poor ownership decisions brought in managers whose style of play was light years apart from the Spaniard’s football. In comparison Martinez’ legacy at his previous club, Swansea, remains in place. Possession football is not everyone’s cup of tea but for me it is infinitely preferable to the dross we have so often witnessed over the past 15 months.

I watched today’s game with my American son-in-law who quickly pointed out that Latics constantly hoofed the ball forward, only to concede possession. Was that a valid tactic he asked? Giving away possession so easily was surely going to put increasing pressure on their defence as the match proceeded. Even with a one goal lead at half time I told him not to expect Latics to hold it. I told him it has become habitual for Latics to hoof the ball even more in the second half and that a winning goal for the home team would most likely come when the Wigan defence was tired in added time.

I take no pleasure in my predictions becoming reality.  I have become so numbed by the dross I have seen so often since our return to the second tier. I am not grumpy after this performance. It is beyond that.

The football offered by Paul Cook and his coaches belongs to the Stone Age in comparison with that of the likes of Swansea and Brentford. The emphasis is on sweat and toil, rather than on developing footballers’ skills. When Cook was appointed we were supportive as we believed that his teams played good football. But what we have seen is no better than that of Coyle, Mackay or Joyce.

Darren Royle’s problem is exacerbated by the fact that the previous chairman gave an extended contract to a manager with no prior experience in the Championship.

Nevertheless it is time for a change.