The Social Media reaction to a frustrating home defeat to Preston

Wigan Athletic 1 Preston NE 2

It was always going to be a difficult match against a Preston side vying for a playoff place. They had outplayed Wigan at Deepdale and would surely be full of confidence coming into this one.

Paul Cook stuck with the same lineup that gained an attritional 1-0 victory at Leeds. That game had been won by superb, last-gasp defending, together with a modicum of luck. Cook tends to stick to a winning formula, but was it the right lineup to play at home against local rivals full of confidence?

The Leeds victory was perhaps a blindfold for preparing for this game. Although the three points were so welcome, one wondered if the fightball/long ball approach applied might be repeated against Preston.

Alas it was. It took us back to the time before Cook appeared to see the light: football rather than fightball/hoofball. Then there was hope at least.

The most successful managers have the ability to adjust their lineup according to the situation. Cook had done that at Leeds but not here. Good managers  rest players who are not at their best.They also make substitutions in a timely and imaginative manner when the opposition are dominating proceedings.

Sadly Cook continues to stick in his rut, making the same mistakes week in, week out. It is going to take a paradigm shift from him if he is to continue at the helm and save Latics from relegation. He has a squad good enough to avoid the drop, but the manager’s rigidity and lack of awareness are dragging them down.

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.

Nuneatonlatic C  on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Preston had 4 forward minded players and it stuck out like a sore thumb. We could have been dead and buried after 15 mins. Both their goals came from having an extra body in the area something we cannot comprehend. But without a decent ball or cross we may as well play with no strikers let alone 2.

The_Pon on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Five defenders. Three defensive midfielders. At home. To a kind of ok ish team.

Fair enough to set up like that away to Leeds or WBA etc, but at home to a team who are no better than us on paper is unforgivable.

Relegation guaranteed. We’re not adrift and with an even remotely competent manager I’d say we were in with a good shout to stay up… But with 🤡 we may as well just resign ourselves to the inevitability of League One next year.

Worst manager in our club’s entire history. By a mile. How he still has a job is beyond me, but he won’t get sacked. Scouse Mafia are seeing to it that our club is dismantled slowly and painfully.

I despair. Nothing else to do.

Super Stuart Barlow on the Cockney LaticForum said:

What is he supposed to do when there are decisions like that being made. That referee was a f…ing joke.

1st half we were crap, 2nd much better but no cutting edge and every ball forward saw Moore get raped by one of their centre backs.

You are my sunshine on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

That team selection from Cook today was a disgrace IMO. We started the game with 8 defensive minded outfield players at HOME to Preston, who should be respected, but not feared. They have a poor away record this season and had only scored 11 goals before today.

I could understand why he did it last week against top of league, away at Elland Road, but to do it for this game is inexcusable. We had back to back wins which gave everyone a lift, so should of been positive right from the start. But that team selection was a big negative before a ball was kicked and ended up costing us.
It was so obvious after the early exchanges it wasn’t working and mine and many other tics fans fears when we saw the selection were realised. Cook should of changed it at the very latest at HT if not before. But he inexplicably didn’t and they scored early, giving us a mountain to climb.

He then made the changes of bringing on 2 attacking players, we were crying out for from the start. The game then completely changed and for the last 35 mins we battered Preston but why the hell were those extra 1 or 2 attacking players not starting. Unbelievable. Then to compound matters he took Moore off instead of Lowe. Moore was a big threat in the box and having him and Garner on together that last 10 or so mins could of got us a point.
Yes the players were poor 1st half, but I blame Cook massively today, for playing that formation, with all those defensive minded players in it, for a home game, after back to back wins.

LoudmouthBlue on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Lowe is the only player that has taken part in every game we have played this season, WHY ?

Studs88 on the Latics Speyk Forum added:

There’s a player in there. But I’m afraid he is not up to Championship standard.

Offers nothing going forward. Consistently one of the worst players on the field. But even more damning is how easily he loses the ball. Directly leading to Preston’s second goal.

That should be the last time he pulls on a shirt for this club. It’s a disgrace he gets a place ahead of Gelhardt, Moore, Garner etc. We may as well be playing with ten men.

Pubey on the Latics Speyk Forum defended the player:

Even when he’s not playing particularly well he still has the ability to make chances and I think he’s massively underrated.

His shot today was a pretty good effort that was well saved
He also put a fantastic cross along the 6 yard box that wasn’t picked up by anyone
His movement and positioning was good but he was rarely passed to
He frequently won free-kicks and throw-ins with his impressive movement

Clearly this season’s scapegoat, sadly.

Super Stuart Barlow on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

What is he supposed to do when there are decisions like that being made. That referee was a f…ing joke.

1st half we were crap, 2nd much better but no cutting edge and every ball forward saw Moore get raped by one of their centre backs.

Mr Brownbill on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Oh yeah……and Windass nets on debut

 

 

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

An underwhelming transfer window for Wigan Athletic

Has this been the worst-ever transfer window for Latics?

The net result:

OUT

  • Charlie Mulgrew – chose to go back to Blackburn.
  • Josh Windass – on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
  • the unwanted and largely untried Devante Cole signed for Doncaster Rovers.

IN (on loan):

  • Alex Dobre – 21 year-old Romanian winger from Bournemouth. 36 appearances (2 goals) on loan at Bury, Rochdale and Yeovil over past three seasons.
  • Jan Mlakar – 21 year-old Slovenian centre forward from Brighton. 6 Championship appearances on loan for QPR last season, no goals. Previously at Fiorentina, Venezia and Maribor.
  • Leon Balogun – 31 year-old Nigerian central defender from Brighton. 8 Premier League appearances last season. A total of 85 appearances in the Bundesliga for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz.

Comments:

  1. The Jedi move collapse was a shame for everyone. The fee will go down and dramatically so if Latics are relegated as seems likely given the fact the team is weaker than when the window began, and now Robinson is unsettled.
  2. Josh Windass out — who was one of the few rays of hopes in recent times when Cook started playing him (though sadly, it appears he was only played in order to shift him off the wage bill). A frustrating player but in the right hands could go on to be good at this level. He has a contract at Wigan until summer 2021. Is it a loan-to-buy deal with Wednesday?
  3. Mlakar – hasn’t scored for any single club except Maribor, which suggests he hasn’t adapted well culturally on or off the pitch in either Italy or England. Is he a desperation last minute addition?
  4. Dobre – scored one goal in 21 appearances for Yeovil in League Two. Lowe scored a bunch for Pompey in League One and has struggled. So… hopes are not high.
  5. Balogun looks the most positive on paper — experience and pedigree, at least. But no small detail: hasn’t really played football for two years.

Latics would surely have counted on the Jedi money and had some signings lined up. But they weren’t willing to spend the money when it fell through, in particular, given the perilous league position which is very much down to the manager’s poor performance at Championship level.

The new ownership is running this club as a business, unlike most Chinese owners, and if you do the math and statistical analysis, the crazy January spending most clubs do is bananas and loans are a good way to go.

However, if you do go the loan route you need a manager with credibility and Cook is hardly that. If you are Klopp or Guardiola, Ancelotti or Rodgers, do you send your talented young player who is finding their way to Cook? No — you send them to Cocu or Lampard or someone with a connection to the club or a defined style of play that will evolve rather than devolve them.

Now the optimistic look:  

Kal Naismith and Cedric Kipre look good at centre back. Midfield is doing better. Lowe’s confidence should take a boost and he’s had half a season in the Championship, is clearly talented, and should improve. Kieffer Moore is also looking much better. Joe Gelhardt got his full debut out the way and perhaps he will be a sensation in this final stretch. The fixture list, particularly at home, is favourable.

The owners have backed the club with investments in the stadium and academy, spending over £8m in the summer transfer window, putting in up to £1m per month to cover running costs. They have a blueprint based upon prudent investment in player recruitment and the development of homegrown talent.

Despite the woes of the senior side the youth and U23 teams continue to shine, with great promise.

 

 

 

Social Media reaction to a hard-earned victory over Sheffield Wednesday

Wigan Athletic 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Well-taken goals from Kieffer Moore and Jamal Lowe earned Latics three important points in their battle against relegation. They showed the kind of opportunism that has been so lacking over recent months.

At long last Paul Cook decided to start Joe Gelhardt, leaving Joe Williams on the bench, switching Jamal Lowe to the left wing and Kieran Dowell to the right. Gelhardt looked dangerous at times but struggled to get the ball. The switching of the wide players was ineffective. We have seen Lowe struggle on the left before so it was no surprise to see it again. But when Michael Jacobs was introduced on the left wing after 66 minutes Lowe looked much better when moved across. Dowell looked out of place on the right and it was sad to see him stretchered off midway through the second half.

Sam Morsy played one of his best games for Latics at Championship level. He was controlled in his tackling and creative in his passing. His excellent ball to Moore led to Wigan’s first goal. Significantly it was a ball played along the ground, giving the big centre forward the chance to use his strength to hold the ball and turn.

Wednesday took the lead after 32 minutes when a superb pass from Barry Bannan released Morgan Fox who put in an accurate cross for Jacob Murphy to outjump Antonee Robinson and score. Moore’s equaliser came after 56 minutes and Latics continued to press, being rewarded with Lowe’s goal after 89 minutes. The 6 minutes of time added-on saw Wigan continue to take the initiative rather than drop back and defend. But there was a scare in the last minute when Jordan Rhodes latched on to a ball only to put it straight at David Marshall.

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.

Exiled Tic on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

First of all a bit of praise for Cook,he got the subs exactly right tonight, Gelhardt seemed lost, Dowell obviously injured and Evans sacrificed for an extra forward! First half was forgettable but the last half hour we showed more guts and commitment than Wednesday and the crowd responded to it!!

Morsy a real captain tonight and Moore put a real good shift in! Robinson seemed distracted by the Milan talk, Lowe very poor aside from a well taken goal, Dowell out of position so cannot really judge him just yet! Naismith good again, especially when bringing the ball out of defence, Kipre looking better all the time, The rest all had good and bad moments but we won and just bloody happy about that!!

Th10 on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Morsy mom for me, he really drove the team on and it was a great pass to Moore for the first goal. Lowe was very poor playing on the left. I thought he looked a different player on the right though. He made some good runs in behind and across the defenders and almost set up a couple of goals before scoring the winner. Hopefully Cook will realise he’s a right winger.

Edwards on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

I thought Morsy was superb seemed to be everywhere, Naismith was quality too.

Lowe seemed to grow 2 ft taller after his goal.

The_Pon on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Not sure I agree with the poster who said Lowe didn’t know what he was doing… It was a brilliantly taken goal to be fair. Was as much about Garner as Lowe though. Garner should be #1 striker, for absolute sure.

We’ve been playing long balls to Moore all year whenever he’s been on and looked ineffectual doing it. One half trying to play it into his feet and he scores. Good on him. Hopefully may have actually learned something… Though I’ll believe that when I see it happen regularly.

Doesn’t change the fact that he did nothing else of value all game and I stand by the fact he should’ve been subbed off.

Lowey on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

Lowe was absolutely dross for 80 mins then suddenly got involved looked dangerous and scored he winner. How he wasn’t subbed was staggering but cook can stick two fingers up to us all for once. However worth noting first time he’s thrown a second striker on rather than swap like for like and hey presto.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Social media reaction to a sadly predictable defeat at Swansea

Swansea City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JRTfatfan on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

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

Garswood Latic on the Cockney Latic Forum responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————–

Results of teams who kept manager in relegation fight

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

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

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

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

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

Naismith gives Latics inspiration and hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Naismith is clearly a learner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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