A History Lesson

history

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
Winston Churchill

Uwe Rosler was the toast of Wigan in the summer of 2014. But within three months he was gone – his prior achievements counting for nothing. Dave Whelan had sacked him, in the hope that a strong Latics squad could still get promotion back to the Premier League. Little did we know what a disaster the German’s dismissal would turn out to be.

Had Rosler not been dismissed, would Wigan Athletic have been relegated? Granted, they were not playing well and Rosler’s new signings were taking a long time to gel with their teammates. Whelan had backed his manager in the transfer market. Hopes were high when he made the signings. Despite losing three of his best in Jean Beausejour, Jordi Gomez and James McArthur, Rosler had apparently strengthened his squad, bringing in a host of players who had good reviews. Not least of those were two exciting strikers from Europe.

Andy Delort and Oriol Riera were never bad players. The former has recently joined Universidad de Nuevo Leon, known as Los Tigres (the Tigers) for a fee over £6m, of which Latics received a portion, having put a sell-on clause in his contract when he was returning to Caen. Riera returned to La Liga and continues to enjoy the top division in Spain with Pamplona side, Osasuna, after time with Deportivo La Coruna. Neither player was given an extended run at Wigan, nor were they played as twin strikers. Marc Antoine Fortune had thought his first team chances were limited when the two arrived, but he was to see them off in January. MAF went on to score just 2 league goals in 37 appearances under Rosler and his successor, Malky Mackay.

We can only speculate about the futures of other Rosler signings. Midfielder Adam Forshaw is now playing in the Premier League after a slow start at Middlesbrough. James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn have had a wonderful time at Rangers, albeit in the lowly standards of the Scottish Championship division. Emyr Huws has gone to Cardiff, his undoubted talent overshadowed by a consistent ankle problem and questions over his commitment to the club. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair’s time at Wigan was marred by injury: he remains at League 1 Doncaster. Don Cowie and Andrew Taylor, both signed from Cardiff, were to become the scapegoats of a relegation season. They had been successful in Wales but it was not to be in Wigan. Free agent signing William Kvist was captain of his national side, but could not reckon on a place in the starting lineup, Kvist went back to Denmark, where he continues to play for FC Copenhagen.

Like Rosler, Gary Caldwell also felt the need to bring in a swathe of new players to meet the demands of the Championship this season. Most are struggling to adjust to their new club and their manager’s preferred style of play.  Caldwell had brought in even more last season, when it took months for the sum of the parts to approximate to the whole. But in the end the quality of the players he could bring in gave him the divisional title.

Latics currently have 5 points from 8 league games. At the same stage two years ago Rosler’s team had 8 points. However, expectations differ greatly. Rosler was looking at promotion, whereas Caldwell will surely be looking at consolidation. But is Caldwell under the kind of pressure that prevailed upon Rosler at this time a couple of years ago?

Both managers had excellent records in their previous seasons. Caldwell’s achievement of winning League 1 is more than matched by Rosler’s success in revitalising his squad into reaching the playoffs and the FA Cup semi-final. But, given Rosler’s precipitous fall from grace, could Caldwell suffer a similar fate?

Looking back on the 2014-15 season one can only reflect in what might have happened. When Rosler was dismissed we continued to think about promotion. Perhaps we were being overoptimistic, but the woeful appointment of Malky Mackay put paid to that. He oversaw a January fire sale, including elements who had undermined his predecessor, leaving the squad threadbare. Relegation was the consequence.

Much has been said about Rosler being dictatorial with his players, that he brought in too many new faces, leading to discontent. But he was faced with an old guard from the eras of both Martinez and Owen Coyle. Modern football managers recruit players who will be loyal to them, rather than those whose fealty lies with predecessors. If Rosler made a key mistake, it was that of bringing in too many of his own men, bruising the egos of the status quo. Moreover his squad got so large that he had too many discontented players starved of first team football. Is Caldwell heading the same way?

There is a viewpoint that Caldwell should have stayed loyal with the players who helped him win the League 1 title. The departures of Sam Morsy and Jason Pearce were certainly controversial, the loaning out of Ryan Colclough was a surprise, and the stripping of the captaincy from Craig Morgan, following an abortive move to Sheffield United, suggests he will struggle to claim a place in the starting lineup. Moreover goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, another key element last season, is now playing second fiddle to Adam Bogdan. It had been the introduction of the big Finn, in place of Richard O’Donnell who was struggling to meet Caldwell’s demands of a goalkeeper, that coincided with an upturn in performances. Jaaskelainen provided an aura of confidence to his defence and his ability to distribute the ball became an important cog in Caldwell’s possession football.

However, although Pearce has gone to Charlton on a permanent transfer, Morsy and Colclough have been sent out on season-long loans. Caldwell has inferred that Colclough remains in his plans although his lips have been sealed regarding Morsy. Colclough has already made three league starts for MK Dons, whereas ex-Latics goalkeeper Lee Nicholls and Jack Hendry, on loan until January, have not made any. One of the criticisms of Colclough’s loan was that it meant he was going back to League 1, whereas Morsy was going to a Championship club in Barnsley. In fact Morsy has made just one appearance so far with the Tykes, as a 65th minute substitute.

Long term injuries have robbed Caldwell of Donervon Daniels, Reece James and Andy Kellett from last season’s squad.  Moreover both Craig Morgan and David Perkins have recently been unavailable through niggles.

As it was during the second season under Rosler, new players brought in have been under the spotlight. None more so than Dan Burn and Shaun MacDonald, seen by some as replacements for Pearce and Morsy. Burn’s fateful error at Bristol saw him warming the bench for a couple of matches, but he has performed well in the last two games since his return to the starting lineup. Moreover MacDonald, who has played little first team football over the past two seasons, inevitably started slowly, but showed his worth on Saturday with a good display against Fulham.

It was bad news for Caldwell to see Alex Gilbey stretchered off the field on Saturday, after being an ever-present in league games up to that point. The ex-Colchester player has already made the transition from League 1 to the Championship, his fine technique providing him with a solid foundation. Jordi Gomez, back after a two year stint at Sunderland, has already showed what class he can bring to the team in three appearances to date.

Jake Buxton’s sending off in the League Cup led to a three match suspension and he has made just three appearances in the league so far. However, by naming him vice-captain Caldwell clearly expects Buxton to be a mainstay in the centre of defence. Reece Burke, arriving with the highest of recommendations following last season’s loan at Bradford, will most likely compete with Burn for a central defensive position, although he was employed in the troublesome right back position at Norwich. Nathan Byrne has looked lively in his two appearances off the bench so far, although there are questions about his defending skills as an orthodox right back. Byrne will best employed as a wing back in 3-5-2 or a winger in 4-3-3.

Nick Powell’s signing was a gamble by Caldwell, following a couple of seasons bereft of first team football and niggling injuries. Powell showed his exciting capabilities as a midfielder in the 3-0 defeat of Blackburn, but fitness concerns continue to dog him. At his best, Powell is a top player in this division, but he clearly has a long way to go in terms of achieving match fitness.

Adam Bogdan was an excellent goalkeeper at Bolton, but his difficult experiences at Liverpool will surely have damaged his confidence. At times this season he has looked dominant in his box and has made fine saves that kept his team in the game. However, his fatal error at Norwich shows that he is still coming to terms with Caldwell’s requirement for a goalkeeper to use his feet to build up moves from defence.

Luke Garbutt has not shown his best form yet. He had an indifferent loan spell at Fulham last season, not being helped by an injury early on. Garbutt’s loan is up to January, when he will most likely return to Everton where expectations were that he would be the successor to Leighton Baines. Caldwell will be hoping Reece James will regain fitness by the time that Garbutt’s loan is due to end.

On Saturday, Caldwell withdrew Will Grigg after 71 minutes, bringing on Adam Le Fondre. The manager’s dilemma will be in giving Le Fondre sufficient game time to keep him sharp. His preference for a lone central striker means that he is unlikely to play the two together, except near the end of games where his team needs to pull a goal back. Craig Davies already knows what it is like to be the backup striker, having had to be content with late appearances off the bench.

Caldwell’s starting lineup against Fulham contained six players signed over the summer. Moreover three more made appearances off the bench. Caldwell is familiar with the challenges of bringing in new players and weaning them into playing his style of football. He did it successfully in the past, but at this stage last season his team had 13 points, having won half the league games they had played. Caldwell’s current team has a solitary victory so far.

It is to be hoped that David Sharpe will heed Winston Churchill’s warning. His grandfather’s decision to dispense of Uwe Rosler’s services in November 2014 was compounded by the jettisoning of so many newly recruited players a couple of months later. The result was horrendous.

As with Rosler’s new recruits, Caldwell’s latest signings need time to adjust and to gel with their teammates. Caldwell himself will need time to get his squad up to speed. Sharpe needs to back the manager, who in turn needs to back his players. New players need time to adjust and to buy into Caldwell’s style of play.

There are testing times ahead. Latics are currently in the relegation zone, but as the new players gel results will surely improve. The question is when this will happen.

It could be later, rather than sooner.

 

Getting the best out of the strike force

Will Billy Mckay go the same way as his predecessors, Delort and Riera?  Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.,

Will Billy Mckay go the same way as his predecessors, Delort and Riera?
Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.,

When the lineup was announced prior to the Leeds match on Saturday it was a sadly depressing moment. The mood had been positive and people had started to “Believe” again. But a look at the team sheet was enough to send many of us into despair. How can you keep faith in a manager who just does not seem to realize that some things just do not work?

The dampener on the proceedings was the selection of a strike force of Marc-Antoine Fortune and James McClean.

This is not to suggest that the two players do not have their merits.

Despite scoring only one league goal in 24 appearances the controversial MAF continues to get his place in the team. His holding up of the ball, commitment and willingness to sacrifice for the team make him a good team player. He has played under three managers at Wigan, all of whom have appreciated his attributes. In fact since signing in summer 2013 he has made 35 league starts and 25 appearances off the bench, scoring 5 goals.

McClean is on his way to be being voted “Player of the Season”. Fans have been impressed by his willingness to run himself into the ground for the cause, in a season when so many of his teammates have not shown that level of desire and commitment. Malky Mackay clearly believes he can become a bona fide central striker, through his speed, physicality, a powerful left foot and willingness to run at defences. As a left winger he has always been a committed team player, so often running back to help out his left full back. He is the club’s top scorer with six goals.

However, McClean has always had his critics. They will say he lacks the “trickery skills” that the best wingers possess, that he runs around like a headless chicken, not lifting his head, not providing the level of assists to be expected of an experienced Premier League practitioner. As a central striker he is too often caught offside and does not make the kind kinds of runs off the ball that are needed.

The Derry-raised forward deserves commendation for his commitment and enthusiasm to help the cause. He is the leading scorer with 6 goals this season, but as a central striker he has a lot to learn.On Saturday he was to be switched to the left flank during the course of the game.

Neither Fortune nor McClean are what might be called “natural strikers”. Those are the kinds of players who are in the right place at the right time to get the tap-ins to those balls fizzing across the box. Moreover their combined goalscoring records do not suggest they are going to do so.

The likelihood is that neither will be at the club at the end of the season. Fortune is now 33 and it would be a surprise if he were given a further contract. According to reports, McClean is one of the highest wage earners at the club (some suggest he is on £30k per week) and is likely to be released whether or not Latics stay in the Championship.

However, Latics do have other strikers. The big centre forward Leon Clarke – who has played for 14 clubs – is very much a “journeyman”. Nevertheless his physical presence has added to the forward line and his commitment has been excellent. Add to that a debut goal against Bournemouth.

Billy Mckay and Martyn Waghorn continue to be marginalized by Mackay.

Waghorn was Uwe Rosler’s first permanent signing and made a positive impact in the latter half of last season. Often played wide he nevertheless scored 5 goals in 15 appearances. Moreover he was a consummate team player, strong defensively, so often dropping back to defence to help his full back. During that period Waghorn was never a spectacular player, but one who fitted into the framework of the team, a very useful asset. Many of us expected Waghorn to continue to be one of Rosler’s mainstay players, but injury combined with the signing of new strikers pushed him out of contention. He has made just 6 starts this season, with 12 appearances as a substitute, scoring 2 goals.

Like Oriol Riera and Andy Delort who preceded him, Mckay is a proven goalscorer. He had scored 10 goals in 23 appearances for Inverness Caledonian Thistle this season, prior to joining Latics. In his two previous seasons in the SPL he scored 18 and 22 goals respectively.

Sadly it looks like Mckay is going the same way as his predecessors. The woeful treatment of Delort and Riera has continued with Mckay, albeit under a different manager. Is there a disconnect between recruiting and coaching at the club? Under Rosler good performance in training was paramount to his process of team selection. It continues with Mackay. Is Mckay not fit enough for the demands of the Championship or does he just not impress the coaching staff on the training field?

Mckay will have arrived with confidence, after banging in the goals in Scotland. But being given no starts and six appearances off the bench, his confidence will surely have already dissipated. Granted, he has failed to impress so far, but players need a run of games in the starting lineup to show their worth. Surely he must soon be given that opportunity?

Since Malky Mackay’s arrival Latics have not won a single home game, drawing two and losing eight. They have only scored 5 goals in those 10 matches at the DW Stadium.

Given his woeful record, it is a wonder that Mackay continues to be employed by the club. But it looks like he will continue at least until the end of the season.

In the meantime his coaching staff need to take a long hard look at themselves to explain how so many players with genuine talent have fallen by the wayside this season. It is their role to help players adjust, to make them into effective performers at the appropriate level.

Let’s hope that Mckay does not get consigned to the same level of mismanagement as Delort and Riera.

Selling off the crown jewels – but who cares?

Photo courtesy of royal.gov.uk

Photo courtesy of royal.gov.uk

The exodus has all but begun. What seemed almost inconceivable just a few months ago is well underway. The crown jewels are about to be sold, but nobody seems to care.

Shaun Maloney will surely depart over the coming weeks. The media tell us that there are at least four clubs interested in signing him and that Latics are asking for a fee of £1.5m, which they are unlikely to get unless they can instigate a bidding war. It is said that Leicester City have already offered £750,000.

Maloney is an icon at Wigan, largely through his marvelous performances in the latter part of the 2012-13 season and his role as an FA Cup winner. He was the playmaker, the one who would make himself available to receive a pass, able to slot through incisive balls to his forwards. He was excellent on set pieces and would use his dribbling skills to great effect.

However, through reasons of injury or illness or lack of form, the Scot has started in just nine league matches this season. He has starred for his country, showing those kinds of attributes. But for Latics he has not consistently shown that keenness to receive the ball and make things happen. He did those things in Mackay’s first game at home to Middlesbrough, scoring a spectacular free kick and going so close with a previous effort. But since then he has not reproduced such form.

His fans would say that he remains the best midfield player at the club, but is playing in a team that does not know how to play good football. Too often his fellow midfield players will pass the ball behind for the defence to hoof up front. The case comes to mind of Dutch international midfielder Denny Landzaat who got himself into hot water during the Steve Bruce era. Landzaat’s performances at Wigan had been disappointing. When asked about his form by the Dutch media he told them that most of the time the ball from defence went over his head, not to his feet. Landzaat was undoubtedly a skillful player, but he just did not fit in to the Bruce style of play, so he moved on.

At 31 years of age, Maloney will be keen to safeguard his future. Despite having been dogged by injury he has shown that he has the quality to be a better than average player at Premier League level.

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Maloney was a key cog in the machine that played the best football in Wigan Athletic’s history. However, under the Mackay regime he just does not fit.

Most fans will accept the need for Maloney to move, but the case of Oriel Riera is something different. The latest reports suggest that he is about to join Deportivo La Coruña on loan until the end of the season. Promoted last season from the segunda division they are in 16th place in the primera division of La Liga.

Riera’s case contrasts with that of Maloney. The Scot is about to move to a higher league after an unsuccessful spell in a lower one. The Spaniard is about to do the reverse.

Following the recent news of Grant Holt’s long term injury, many of us expected Riera to stay, but it appears that negotiations for his release have been going on for some time. Mackay and his coaching staff have clearly written off the Spaniard and it looks like he will not be coming back after his loan.

Critics will say that Riera lacks the physicality to be successful as a central striker in the Championship. At times he has been anonymous on the field of play, not being able to stamp his mark on the game.

However, most fans will say that he has never been given a fair chance. Riera came to Wigan three years too late. He would have most likely thrived playing in Roberto Martinez’s team. However, the role of the lone centre forward this season has been largely taken up in trying to make something of the long hooves launched by goalkeeper and defenders. One wonders if even the likes of Diego Costa or Robin Van Persie could have done any better receiving that kind of service.

Rather than include Riera in the starting lineup Mackay has resorted either to the goal-shy Marc-Antoine Fortune or James McClean, a left winger playing out of position. The result has been that Latics have only scored one goal from open play since the manager’s arrival.

The club will be keen to bring in funds gathered from Maloney’s transfer and Riera’s loan deal. Andy Delort will surely be among the next to go. The transfer fees paid for Riera and Delort together amounted to around £5m, big money for Latics these days. They will be keen to cut their losses. Further economies will be made shortly when Roger Espinoza will be taken off the wage bill, sadly on his way back to Kansas after a frustrating time at Wigan.

The need for a physically uncompromising defender has been standing out over the course of the season. Media reports suggest that Mackay is about to sign a player who fits the bill. Liam Ridgewell went to Portland Timbers in the MLS in June after being released by West Bromwich Albion. He is an experienced Premier League defender, who can play at centre half or left back.

However, in a time when the club are under attack from the national media they are about to make themselves vulnerable again. Moreover fans have become disillusioned by the attitudes of players who earn more in a couple of weeks than most of them do in a year. Ridgewell will come with the baggage of his antics of a couple of years ago which were reported on the national media. Such behaviour will hardly endear him to the fans at Wigan.

These are trying times for Wigan Athletic supporters. The club seems to have gone into free-fall and there is little light at the end of the tunnel. Fans have grown so disillusioned with the lack of performance of the players that most no longer care about who gets sold off in the transfer window.

There is a general malaise that is dragging the club down. Players who have proved themselves in the past have been pulled down into the mire.

The likelihood is that the players leaving during Mackay’s fire sale will be successful at their new clubs.

The crown jewels of old will most likely be sold off – but what will take their place?

The sad case of Rosler’s big money signings

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The rumours are getting stronger. Oriol Riera back to Spain. Andy Delort to France, not to mention the demise of Emyr Huws and Adam Forshaw. What is happening to the players who looked such good signings not so many months ago?

Latics paid a total of over £10m for the four and none of them made the starting lineup at Leeds. Forshaw and Riera made the bench, but did not come into play. Delort and Huws were nowhere.

Critics of Uwe Rosler will say that he paid over the odds for players who were not good enough. But most fans will say the four received a raw deal under Rosler, then even worse up to this point under Malky Mackay. Many still dream of an upfront pairing of Delort and Riera, whilst recognizing the potential of a midfield with the skills of Forshaw and Huws.

Mackay may be doing the right thing in letting the senior professionals shoulder the burden of getting things back on track. However, until Saturday’s result at Leeds it was just not succeeding. His choice of a midfield trio of senior pros – Cowie, McCann and Watson – can be regarded as relying in experience, building up an understanding between the three which will put Latics in good stead in the coming months. In the meantime Forshaw and Huws remain lower down in the pecking order, with Roger Espinoza ahead of them.

Delort and Riera appear peripheral in Mackay’s planning. Mackay’s front two at Leeds were Marc-Antoine Fortune and James McClean, players not known for their finishing. However, McClean was to confound his critics with a well take goal eight minutes from the end. Only time will tell if McClean can learn to play a striking role, quite distinct from being on the left wing. Moreover can he produce a reasonable goalscoring ratio?

The departure of Delort or Riera, or even both, in January remains a distinct possibility, given the impending return of Grant Holt. Holt impressed in his early games on loan at Huddersfield, but the gloss has worn thin over recent weeks and a goal tally of 2 in 15 appearances is hardly impressive. Is the 33 year old Holt likely to more effective than the two Latins? Are we heading back in time to an upfront partnership of Holt and Fortune?

Frankly speaking, Mackay’s team selections have been as frustrating as those of his predecessor. At times it seemed like Rosler had taken the names out of a hat. Mackay’s have been conservative and uninspiring.

On his arrival Mackay said that all players would be given a chance to prove their worth.

However, he has already all but confirmed the departure of Thomas Rogne, despite never seeing him perform for the first team. Rogne’s career has been blighted by injury, but he has been available all season without being called up. He looked a useful player last season – superb in the air and calm under pressure.

Denmark captain, William Kvist, is another who appears to be frozen out by Mackay. There is talk of him moving in the January transfer window. The excellent Ali Al-Habsi has appeared in just one League Cup game, having being briefly loaned out to Brighton. The exciting young ’keeper, Lee Nicholls, has had zero opportunities.

Mackay will reduce the size of his squad in January, trying to raise funds through transfers and reduce the wage bill by shipping higher earners out on loan. One of those could be Andy Delort, who has been linked with a loan move to Charlton. Rosler made a serious error in signing the exciting Frenchman, then playing him as a lone centre forward. Delort’s success last year at Tours came through playing as a twin striker. If Delort does go on loan to Charlton it will be interesting to see how they deploy him. However, the loan could be a good option for Latics, giving the 23 year old more game time in the Championship division. He could come back a better player.

Delort has been quite vocal about his frustrations through comments made to the French press. Riera, on the other hand, has remained positive and stated his desire to adjust to the physicality of the Championship division and to be successful at Wigan. However, if media reports are to be believed there are at least three La Liga teams who would be interested in taking him on loan. But then again what potential value would there be for Latics sending him back to Spain, other than by reducing their wage bill? Better to send him on loan to an English club. Even better from so many fans’ point of view to give him a fair chance at Wigan. Riera has already proven that he can score goals in a lone centre forward role at Osasuna. If he can do it in a competition as good as La Liga, surely he can do the same in the Championship?

Both Forshaw and Huws have grown up in English football. Both have the competitive edge to go with their considerable skills. They have been unfortunate to come into a team struggling to find its form. After being the League 1 player of the year, Forshaw has had to adjust to playing in a higher division. But Huws knows what the Championship is like, his excellent performances having helped Birmingham City stay up last year. The two surely have the necessary technical ability and resilience to become the lynchpins of Latics’ midfield.

Dave Whelan boldly backed Rosler by shelling out good money for four players who are certainly good enough to make their mark in the Championship. A midfield with Forshaw and Huws creating chances for forwards Delort and Riera, is a mouth watering prospect.

What the four need is to be given a run of games in the team. If it happens at all, it will come later rather than sooner.

But has Mackay already made his mind up? How many of the four will be at Wigan a year from now?

Clear-out needed – Rotherham (H) match reaction

Will Mackay give the likes of Oriel Riera an extended run in the team?

Will Mackay give the likes of Oriol Riera an extended run in the team?

Once again Malky Mackay kept faith in the “old guard” and once again they let him down. Rotherham had not won a game since mid-October but they were good enough to beat a woeful Latics side. Once again Mackay’s team selection raised doubts, let alone the tactics on the pitch. Latics are going from bad to worse.

Mackay once again stuck with the old guard. There were just two Rosler signings in the starting lineup – Don Cowie and Andrew Taylor – both of whom were part of the manager’s previous old guard at Cardiff. Andy Delort was not even on the bench, after appearing in the 88th and 86th minutes of the previous two games. Was he injured or did his quotes in the French media upset the boss?

Mackay continues to shoot himself in the foot. James McClean has pace and power and cannot be faulted for his physical effort. But does he have the attributes to become a central striker? Physical effort needs to be matched by its mental equivalent, something the hard-working Irishman did not show in the first half when he was caught offside three times.

Perhaps Mackay was yielding to fan pressure when he brought on Marc-Antoine Fortune after 53 minutes for Shaun Maloney. Two central strikers on the pitch at the same time was something so many fans have been hoping for, but was the Rotherham goalkeeper going to be seriously tested by a pairing of McClean and Fortune?

In the event that partnership only lasted ten minutes until Oriol Riera was brought on for Cowie. The Spaniard went close near the end with a header that hit the crossbar, but would be better employed not having to fight for seemingly aimless long balls coming from defence and goalkeeper.

Mackay had chosen a one-paced midfield of Don Cowie, Chris McCann and Ben Watson. Cowie is well into his thirties and the other two have surely been brought in too early after long-term injuries. However, when he took off Cowie he reverted to a 4-2-4 system with two wingers and two central strikers. Not surprisingly the visitors became increasingly dangerous on the counterattack as he second half proceeded.

The time has come for the dissolution of the old guard. It would be true to say that most of the players signed by Rosler have not performed anywhere near the level expected of them. But Rosler created problems by bringing in ten new players over the summer, swelling the first team squad up to thirty. The end result was that he was unable to give so many of them the regular playing time they needed.

Rosler’s signings have come under a lot of criticism for their performances up to this point. Some fans have already written them off. In the podcast recently put on fan sites Mackay talked about the good young players he had at his disposal, including the 25 year old McClean in that category. Interestingly the name of Emyr Huws did not appear in the names he mentioned. The young Welshman made a positive start under Rosler until an ankle injury impeded his progress. Like Adam Forshaw he is a bright young talent. Let’s hope he has not disappeared off Mackay’s radar.

Latics need to start to rebuild a younger team. The old guard has had its day and Latics need to look at the future. The likes of Delort, Forshaw, Huws, Riera and Tavernier need to be given extended runs in the team. Moreover they need to be played in their best positions. For Delort it means playing him alongside another central striker, for Tavernier playing as either a wing back or a wide midfield player.

Although he never played badly for Latics the experienced Denmark captain, William Kvist, has been left out in the cold. Would a midfield of Kvist, Forshaw and Huws have done any worse than Cowie, McCann and Watson yesterday?

Somehow a new manager has come in and nothing much has changed on the pitch. If anything things have got worse and the level of football Latics are playing is poor even compared with the dark days of long ball under Owen Coyle.

Unless Mackay has a paradigm shift in his thinking, things are unlikely to get any better. Dave Whelan is unlikely to trust him with big money in the January transfer window and his new players are likely to be loan signings, plus Grant Holt.

The ball is firmly in Mackay’s court. Following yesterday’s game he was quoted as saying:

“It’s their [the fans] club, we’re custodians and I’ll do everything that I can to make them proud of us, make no mistake about that.”

The patience of those fans is being sorely tested. Is Mackay capable of making them proud of his team?

The jury is out on that one.