Amigo and Social Media Reaction to an exciting performance at Rochdale

Rochdale 3 Wigan Athletic 3

After a scintillating first half performance, with Latics leading 2-1 and the home side down to ten men, the three points were definitely there for the taking as the second half began. However, a mix of profligate finishing and poor defending allowed Rochdale to claim a point.

The football played by Wigan in the first half was probably the best they have played this season.  Tendawi Darikwa and Callum Lang fitted in seamlessly and Latics looked like a well-oiled machine.

Adam Long suffered an injury after 59 minutes in trying to keep the ball out of the net for Rochdale’s equaliser. It was a surprise that Leam Richardson chose to bring on a left back, Luke Robinson, to take Long’s place in central defence, despite Emeka Obi being available. The back four literally consisted of four full backs.

Despite their profligacy in front of goal and defensive vulnerability in the second half it was a fine performance by a Latics team that is defying the odds, despite the restrictions placed upon them and the injuries they have had.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“There is different pressures for different positions within a team and one thing that was great today was how we responded and the character. The goals that we scored emulated that because we kept going.

My overriding emotion is that I really enjoyed standing there and watching them today because individually – and in some parts collectively – I thought they were excellent.”

We are all aware that every day at Wigan Athletic is a learning day at the minute. It is up to a few of us to make the best of the situation.”

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:

SwindonLatic commented:

Enjoyed the game. Really good to see our movement up front with Lang and Joseph running beyond Keane. Lang was everywhere. Lots to be positive about. We are improving and if we keep up this rate of improvement we will stay up easily IMO.

Arthur_Itis remarked:

Unless there is a reason that I’m unaware of, I think Leam got the last sub wrong, Only threat from Rochdale was in the air and we left Obi on the bench. No surprise their big lad out jumped our 2 full backs in the middle in the dying minutes to break our hearts.
2 points dropped, hope these don’t prove critical come May.

Kenny Morris said:

Disappointing that we lost 2 points in the final minute of extra, extra time but I would have taken this before the game considering the enforced changes to the team and the lack of numbers in subs. They beat us 5-0 a few weeks ago so this performance today was far, far better.
Can’t be too hard on the players even against 10 men for second half, Rochdale had a vastly more experienced team who are used to playing together, unlike our team which has been cobbled together this week. With only having 15 fit players we did well.

Degsy1 opined:

Long going off was a pivotal moment for us and it went downhill from then.

We definitely missed Tilt today and for me I was so fired up I was sure we would go away with 3 points and at the end even though we drew it felt like a loss !

But this performance today gives me great encouragement and I believe we can get through this mess providing we get a sale to the right owner done soon !

Long crashing into the back wall behind the net looked bad to me – I just hope the lad didn’t do any serious damage !

True Believer summed up:

Poor second half resulting in two points dropped. Why oh why did we stop playing the way we did in the first half. We started to try and push the passes instead of keeping it simple and lost the ball too often.

Great goals from Lang, Joseph and a cracker from Keane, his close control is a joy to watch.

Pearce continues to deliver great crosses from the left, whilst Darikwa slotted in well on the right.

Our biggest problem was at CB and although James and Long did well in the first half the long high balls in the second half found them out. With no tall CB going for the first ball after Long went off their forwards started to win the ball and more crosses coming into the box caused problems. I wondered why LR didn’t put Obi on to take the first ball instead of playing Luke Robinson, a left back, as a makeshift CB.

Owen Evans showed his inexperience for their second as he stepped back from the bouncing ball allowing the forward to gain the advantage in height. He should have been moving forward to gain the momentum and height. There was no need for him to actually catch the ball as if he had just knocked it down our backs were favourite to win the knock down. After that however he did pull off a decent save to keep the lead.

Overall it was a very good display going forward but our lack of a dominant CB cost us the 2 points. Time now to reflect on this performance and hopefully improve on it next time out. I hope any of the prospective owners were watching as this game has convinced me that with a couple of decent acquisitions we can survive the drop so taking the 15 points should be something they think seriously about. There are bound to be some very experienced players without a contract after the takeover and they could be just what we need to survive.

Onwards and upwards boys.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and social media reaction to a rough night at Milton Keynes

We shuffled the team around to match them up and we did that until half time, but it was a massive downer how the penalty came about to give them their first goal. The injuries aren’t something we need at this moment in time when we’re after results and trying to win games, especially when most of our injuries are to experienced players.

“It’s given other players opportunities and I’ve put a team out that I thought could get something from the game. We’ve had another couple of injuries again tonight, so it’s difficult for us. Viv’s injury is quite a serious one. With one or two of the others they’re being monitored so we’ll just have to see how they are. We’re short on bodies, but I can’t sit here crying, we’ve got to get back to performing and winning football matches.”

John Sheridan’s thoughts after his shuffled-around team struggled at the MK Dons Arena.

Already without Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon Otabor who left the field early against Plymouth it was a shock to learn that Lee Evans and Kal Naismith were also unavailable due to injury. Sheridan reacted by changing to a 3-5-2 formation, with full back Tom James at the centre of a back three.

Latics looked uncomfortable from the start and Will Keane’s injury forcing him to leave the field of play after 9 minutes complicated things even further. Although he had two central strikers and a natural number 10 on the bench Sheridan elected to bring on winger Ollie Crankshaw is the second striker role.

The Dons were much the better team in the first half and Latics were fortunate to go into the interval with a 0-0 scoreline. But the seemingly inevitable happened in the first ten minutes of the second half with the Dons going ahead thanks to a soft penalty awarded against Tom James and a poor clearance from Curtis Tilt gifting a second.

Thelo Aasgaard came on for a distraught Gavin Massey after 64 minutes and Tilt was replaced by Alex Perry five minutes later. The latter part of the game saw Latics look a little better, with Perry looking calm and composed in front of the defence as the Dons retreated into a less attacking mode.

Given the current state of limbo prevailing at Wigan Athletic the limp performance did not come as a surprise. Sheridan has done his best to meld together a disparate group of players but the undercurrents in the club have surely affected all concerned. Those remaining from last season’s senior squad have seen the departure of so many teammates, their salaries reduced, their immediate futures uncertain. New players have been brought in from outside. Some have come and already gone and none of them have a contract beyond January.

However, there is room for optimism for the future. Earlier yesterday the U17 team beat Manchester United’s U17s in the Premier League Cup. They were invited to participate because Latics’ U18s won the U18 Professional Development League North in 2019-20. The current U18 team is again top of the table with five wins in five games.

The critics will say that there is a massive gap between football at youth level and that of the senior level. Indeed, over the years at Wigan we have seen so many bright young players disappear, many going into non-league football. However, with the upgrading of the academy to category 2 status last season both the U18 and U23 teams are playing against much stronger opposition on a regular basis.

Although they did not win their division the U23 team performed well last season. Eight have them have already played for the senior team this season, largely as a result of the club’s precarious financial situation. In contrast last season only Joe Gelhardt from the U23s appeared in league games.

It is rumoured that the Garrido consortium see the development of homegrown talent as important to the future of the club. Their potential acquisition of Wigan Athletic remains in the hands of the EFL. We can only hope that the process will be completed sooner rather than later. Maybe before the home game with Northampton on Saturday?

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.

Moonay said:

1st half ……. I’d rather forget.

2nd half, goals aside, we showed a little promise at times. Like Glasgow says, the decline in our line-up from the 1st minute on Saturday to the point tonight when Keane went off shows our plight.

The kids give us hope, but they need confidence. There’s little point at this time comparing ourselves to any other club, regardless of position in the league. What we need to do is to concentrate on playing as a team, working hard, supporting each other, keeping the heads up. As fans, that’s all we can ask of them right now.

You are my sunshine commented:

Yep agree with the fact Jones had a good game as well as Long, especially 1st half, keeping it 0-0 at HT with some decent saves!

For me, I just think Perry is the best suited player to replace Evans, with his ability to get on the ball and keep possession. He is a very neat and tidy player. Whereas Merrie, who can also pick a good pass,is more of a tough tackler. That crunching one in the 1st half was a cracker. Palmer seems more similar to Merrie than Perry. So I’d have Evans or Perry with Palmer or Merrie in the 2 cm slots.

We are desperately lacking an experienced natural number 10 to play just behind Garner. Aasgard is the only one in the entire squad,so it’s good to see him involved recently. The less said about Massey tonight the better. His body language was appalling at times and he seemed frustrated at being so deep. No excuses though,he needs to do much better!

For me, tonight for 70 minutes we didn’t get on the ball no were near enough. Due to the 532 formation, we had no width in the final third, which also resulted in a lack of crosses into the box for Garner to attack.

King _deZeeuw06 opined:

At the end when we had more of the kids on were looked a bit better, granted MK had already got the win and were happy to sit back and hold onto it, but there was a bit more enthusiasm and energy in the way we tried to go at them at least.

Crankshaw really struggled, thought Palmer looked quite good but had very little to work with. Thought Perry and Aasgaard showed more than some of our senior players. Gardner even showed a bit towards the end, but it was too little too late. Massey shouldnt play again even if he is fit – not sure if it’s confidence, attitude or whatever but he has been one of our worst performers, taking zero responsibility and going hiding this season when he should be one of the ones leading the charge.

It seems like our senior players are dropping like flies so i assume the kids will be playing on mass on Saturday – it can’t be any worse. But Sheridan needs to stop mucking about with players out of position and 5 at the back – it’s making a tough job even harder.

C_Latic said:

Still not in the bottom four (somehow). The goal now (other than still having a club) is to get to January without being cut adrift. Do that and we still have a good chance of staying up assuming a takeover has been completed by then and we can bring bodies in.

You are my sunshine also added:

I know we had injuries to key players but we are still better than that disappointing display! IMO Sheridan got it wrong tonight playing that negative 532 formation,with too many players out of position.We were too deep from the start and it set the tone for the rest of the game.

As soon as Perry came on,who can get on the ball and spray it around in our familiar 4231 formation we improved that last 20 minutes.

I’d give Long mom tonight
.

Degsy1 responded:

I agree with you But thought Jamie Jones also played well tonight – I s as Lao agree wrt Alex Perry, in fact from what I can see, Matt Palmer & Chris Merrie can also “get on the ball and spray it around”

My starting midfield would have been Palmer, Merrie & Perry and I would have told Pierce & James to play it through midfield who would then get it up field by means of control & passing rather than the current methodology being employed by Sheridan of hoofing it up and relying on luck !

I also would have subbed Aasgaard for Massey at half time !

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

The social media reaction to a game of two halves at Fleetwood

Fleetwood 3 Wigan Athletic 2

Following the tension of the past week surrounding the continued ownership vacuum it was a welcome change to be able to watch a Latics team take the field at Fleetwood.

Leam Richardson made a bold move in his team selection by putting Emeka Obe and Adam Long, both 19 years old, in the centre of defence. It was a surprise, given that the experienced and capable Kal Naismith could have been slotted in there. Instead Naismith was employed in wide midfield, with Viv Solomon-Otabor on the other flank. Sam Morsy was not in the squad and the 21 year old Chris Merrie played with Lee Evans in holding midfield. Joe Garner was captain for the day.

Latics started off well with Garner finishing with power after an excellent run and cross from Tom Pearce came his way after 2 minutes. The good football continued with the ex-Latics academy players looking comfortable on the ball and Solomon-Otabor looking fast and powerful on the flanks. Latics were awarded a soft penalty when Joe Garner went down in the box on the half hour mark. The captain converted with ease. Latics were 2-0 up but Fleetwood had looked dangerous at the other end and it was no surprise when they scored after 41 minutes, the experienced Ched Evans beating Obe in the air. The 36 year old Gary Roberts had a superb curling effort hit the woodwork soon after.

The good football of the first half was not replicated in the second, with Latics reverting to the long ball mode that was all too prevalent in the first half of last season. Fleetwood were deserved winners in the end.

Following the game Leam Richardson commented: “I’m a bit disappointed because we started the game ever so well. We were going into half time at 2-0 up and had a few good chances to make the score line a little bit healthier, but they grabbed one before half time and it gave them a little bit of momentum.

There wasn’t too much in the second half, it went back and forth a bit, but fair play to them. They’ve got some good attacking players, as we do ourselves, which made for a good game of football, but we’re disappointed to lose.

“I’ve said all along, I’ll manage the lads with respect as long as they give it back with their hard work and focus. The players are doing that to the utmost. I’ve got to compliment the group of players and the staff because they’ve worked tireslessly every day to bring a positive outcome in the situation we’re in.”

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.

Griggs goals on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

I think after today’s performance we do have the base of a good team for this league. If we can get new owners soon and bring in a few free transfers. I think we could have a decent season. We just need this takeover business to be sorted asap.

SprinGy1960 on the Cockney Latic Forum commented:

Fans have got to accept that our Championship team has been shredded by the Admins, we are down to bare-bones to our previous teams and we
are building a team from scratch and with no money.

Kingde_Zeuww06 on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Had the chances to kill the game before Fleetwood scored but we were all over the place defensively throughout but I guess that isn’t that surprising considering our def mid and both centre backs haven’t a senior start between them. Think we have only ourselves to blame for throwing that away.

Fleetwood were in the play offs last season so it shows L1 standard is nothing to fear but admins bargain basement fire sale has left us short in key areas.

Cupwinners on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

You have to commend the players under the testing circumstances. I’m just glad to see a team put out there and in a new kit.

I tip my hat to the team, well done and thank you.

 On Loan from Enfield on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

Decent start and a few sitters missed. Those would have put the game out of reach in the first half. Viv Solomon-Otabor had a fairly decent game …. although he should have used his left foot to score.

The two young centre backs needed the experience and will improve if given more game time. I did think that if the game had to be won, Kal Naismith would have been slotted in at the back.

 Moonay on the Latics Speyk Forum opined:

In the first half, both centre halves looked really composed, and played the ball really well, while Chris Merrie partnered Evans looking very combative and with a decent touch. Granted, Fleetwood should have probably scored, but the youngsters did themselves proud.

In the second half, Fleetwood obviously had to come at us, and it was Ched Evans coming on that changed things.. He’s a decent player, and gave the two centre halves a lot more trouble than they’d had in the first half.

Crankshaw didn’t have much time to impress, but again, he was combative and prepared to get stuck in.

Both new lads looked OK too…….. Solomon-Otabor looked very strong, and should have scored.

To be honest, the one who impressed the least was probably Naismith. He tailed off really badly in the second half.

He later added player ratings:

I’d go:
Excellent – Pearce
Very well – Solomon-Otabor, Evans, Garner
Well/OK – Byrne, Roberts, ………………. and the 3 young lads. ………..and the 2 subs
Poor – Naismith, Jones

The Egg on the Cockney Latic Forum commented:

Thought we played well today in parts, but the goals we conceded were poor.

Hopefully this isn’t another season of throwing away leads, but there were definitely some good signs.

Oscarbon on the Latics Speyk Forum stated:

I watched the game a feel we could and should have been 4 or 5 up by 30 minutes. Thought we had a repeat of the Hull game.

Evans coming on was the huge difference. Obi could not cope with him and their equaliser saw 2 of our defenders look as though they jumped under the ball to give him a free header.

The winger was dangerous on the ball but needs to be more confident to shoot. Pearce got one or two good moves going in the first and early second half but then their timing went pear shaped and they started tripping over each other. For me nothing lost and enough positives for look forward to.

SwindonLatic on the Latics Speyk Forum commented:

We can’t start the league season with the two young lads at centre half. Obi is a big, raw imposing player but he was too timid for his size and that is just inexperience playing against men. He needs a big no nonsense centre half next to him who will teach and coach him. I’m sorry but although Jamie Jones is a lovely fella, I can’t have him as our number one. Too error prone. I thought he should have done better for two of their goals.

Lee Evans is very good for this level and we need to keep him if we can. Naismith went missing today and Byrne was quiet. All in all though it was encouraging. Fleetwood were much better than us in the second half but they had a lot of very experienced players at this level and it ultimately showed. I wouldn’t mind Josh Morris and Duffy in our side. Viv looked good in flashes but his end product needs a lot of work. This is why he has just signed a one-month contract with us.

Fingers crossed we can get this takeover sorted so we can begin to move forward.

 

Some talking points following a good performance at Birmingham

Birmingham City 1 Wigan Athletic 1

 

After gifting a goal to Birmingham City with just two minutes gone Wigan Athletic fought back to gain a well-deserved point. But it could have been three points with more clinical finishing and more favourable treatment from the match officials.

Paul Cook made eight changes from the team that started against Preston, reverting to the 3-4-2-1 formation he employed at Bristol City. England Youth players, Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir, were on the bench, as was the 18-year-old Adam Long.

City’s early goal was a blow for Latics, but they took the game to the home team, carving out chances, with Nick Powell’s deflected equaliser coming in the 38th minute.

Following the game assistant manager, Leam Richardson, commented: “It’s a long season and you normally end up finishing where you deserve to. We did suffer with a few injuries in the middle of the season, but our lads have stuck at it and they’ve always believed that they’re good enough. They’ve stuck together and there haven’t been any fallings out. They’ve had their heads down every time they come back in after a game and worked hard to go again. We’re looking to finish our season strongly and the lads deserve great credit for sticking at it all year.”

Let’s take a look at some points arising:

Olsson recovers from early error. An improved display from Darron Gibson

As has so often happened this season Latics gave away a soft goal. With Jamie Jones rooted on his line Jonas Olsson failed to deal with Lukas Jutkiewicz’s run, the striker poking the ball home between Jones’ legs.

Olsson is 36 years old and his short-term contract is up in June. After making some 250 appearances for West Bromwich Albion he left them by mutual agreement in March 2017, returning to Sweden to join Stockholm club, Djurgardens.

It has been a tough return for Olsson who has not been able to claim a regular starting place. However, despite the early mix-up with Jones he went on to have possibly his best game to date for Latics. Cook wisely placed him at the centre of the back three where he could use his vast experience to help marshal the defence. The result was the defence held firm and limited the home team’s direct attempts on goal.

The 30-year-old Gibson too has had a tough time over recent months, but yesterday his performance was much improved in a holding midfield role.  His contract also expires in June.

In addition to Olsson and Gibson and the loan players there a number of others whose contracts expire shortly. They include Leon Clarke, Callum McManaman, Shaun MacDonald, Gavin Massey, and Nick Powell.

Gelhardt and Weir make their league debuts

The inclusion of the 16-year-old Joe Gelhardt and the 17-year-old Jensen Weir in the matchday squad was a welcome surprise, but we can scarcely have expected more than a brief appearance on the pitch for either. But Josh Windass’ injury led to Gelhardt being thrust into the action after the interval and he took the opportunity to impress. Despite robust challenges by Birmingham he was not deterred and showed a willingness to run at the home team’s defence. Naturally left-footed he was played on the right. Weir too came on after 81 minutes for Nick Powell, being employed in an attacking midfield role. However, with the game petering out in the closing minutes he was starved of possession and we did not get much of a glimpse as to what he is capable of.

Joe Gelhardt joined Latics at the age of 10. He made 6 appearances for the England under-16 side, scoring 3 goals, together with 7 goals in 12 outings for the England under-17 side. The Liverpool-born forward signed a three-year professional contract with the club in August after making his senior team debut at Rotherham in the Carabou Cup.

Jensen Weir, born in Warrington, is the son of ex-Everton centre half David Weir. He was captain of Scotland under-16s, for whom he made 9 appearances. Weir also played for Scotland at the under-17 level before switching allegiances to join the England under-17 team for whom he has made 6 appearances. Weir holds the record as the youngest player ever to play for Latics, having made his debut in a Checkatrade Trophy game against Accrington Stanley at the age of 15. He joined Latics at 8 years of age, leaving them when he was 11, returning when 12.

Adam Long is an 18-year old central defender from the Isle of Man. He began his career with local side St Georges, joining Latics in 2017. He made his Latics debut in an EFL Trophy game against Middlesbrough under-23s in October 2017. Although he did not come off the bench at Birmingham perhaps we will get a glimpse of him in the final game of the season against Millwall.

Powell’s last goal for Latics?

Nick Powell’s goal was his 8th of the season, making him Latics’ top scorer, despite having missed a considerable chunk of the season through injury. He also leads the assists with 6.

Over the course of the season there has been so much speculation on the message boards and social media about Powell’s future. There have been so many tweets urgng him to sign a new contract. He is Wigan’s most talented player and the catalyst behind most of the good football we have seen from Latics this season and last.

Although some fans still cling on to the hope that he will decide to stay the likelihood is that he will be leaving. The goal at Birmingham could be the last one Powell scores for Latics.

Has Cook turned the corner?

The manager has gone through a particularly tough part of his career over the past six months. His lowest ebb was probably after the defeat at Hull on April 10 when Latics once again gave away soft goals to throw away a lead. It left them with an away record of LLWLLLLLLLDLLDLLLDLLLDL with the manager seemingly unable to steady a sinking ship.

However, there were some rays of hope following a 1-1 draw in the next match with table-topping Norwich, Latics employing the high press and having the confidence to attack the Canaries. The next game at Leeds was the turning point as Latics managed to beat the second-placed team despite losing Cedric Kipre to a yellow card after 15 minutes and being a goal behind two minutes later. Despite being down to 10 men Cook insisted on keeping Leon Clarke and Gavin Massey forward, moving Kal Naismith into an unfamiliar role at centre back rather than bringing on specialist Jonas Olsson following Kipre’s dismissal. It was a brave move by Cook which was to pay high dividends.

Cook’s supporters will say that he was new to management in the second tier of English football and injuries to key players hit hard in those winter months. His critics will say that his team selections and substitutions have been poor, his approach away from home was too negative and performances against teams in the lower part of the table have so often been dire.

However, in recent games we have seen a  more dynamic and enterprising approach from the players with the manager being more positive in his team selections and tactics. The clock has seemingly been put back to August when the team started so well and played “without fear”. Cook has experimented with his tactical formations and now Latics look comfortable in both the 4-2-3-1 shape previously favoured by the manager and with three at the back in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

In the darkest of days of February and March it appeared that the manager was just not learning from his mistakes. Has the upturn in April been due to a change in “luck”? Or has it been due to good management?

The truth most likely lies somewhere between the two.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com