Caldwell’s Christmas Shopping List

shopping

Time is marching on and the January transfer window is creeping up on us.

Gary Caldwell has worked wonders so far in the transfer market, his dealings having kept Latics balance sheet out of the red. Moreover he has put together a squad strong enough to reach a playoff position by early November, despite their underperformance in the FA and League Cups.

Gaining promotion must be Caldwell’s main priority, despite the debacle at Bury on Saturday.  It was interesting to see that three of the four teams above Latics in the League 1 table – Gillingham, Burton Albion and Coventry City also suffered ignominious defeats in the FA Cup this past weekend.

Caldwell will go into the January market with limited funds available for transfers and will be constrained by the club’s salary policy. That will rule out higher profile signings Once again Caldwell will be looking out for bargain buys whose salary demands are realistic.

Latics currently stand in 5th place in League 1, only five points from the top two teams, Gillingham and Burton Albion. If they can continue in this vein they will be in a good position to mount a realistic promotion challenge. Moreover Caldwell has the chance to bring in new blood to cover the squad’s weaker areas through the transfer window.

By January the futures of short-term loanees Francisco Junior, Donald Love, Sean Murray and Yanic Wildschut will have been determined. Despite his talent Murray has yet to shine at Wigan and unless he can really force his way back into the team with some outstanding performances it looks like he will be returning to Watford. However, there are ten league fixtures on hand until Murray’s loan period is due to end in mid-January. Time remains for Murray to make an impression.

Junior remains inconsistent and his fitness a concern. At his best he can influence the course of a game, his positional and passing abilities adding an extra dimension to Latics’ play. But he has failed to establish himself as a regular starter and has been frequently substituted when he has started. Junior continues to adapt to the physicality of life in League 1. He can rush into rash challenges and can be outmuscled by bigger opponents. So many fans will be hoping Junior will stay. At his best he can look a class above League 1, but he has yet to fully convince Caldwell, and if even if he does there is the matter of dealing with Everton over his future.

Love is only 20 years old and is one for the future. He has the attributes to become a good full back, but like many young players at big clubs, his long-term chances at Manchester United are limited. Caldwell paid United around £1m for Reece James. Would he and David Sharpe be willing to fork out another significant transfer fee to land another Old Trafford youngster who has potential, but has little experience outside the youth and development squad levels?

Although his recent performances might have been less convincing Wildschut has made a great impression since arriving at Wigan on a two month loan from Middlesbrough. The Dutchman has had a frustrating career, seeming to promise so much but so often lacking vision in his delivery. However, his pace is electric and he has the physical presence to not easily be knocked off the ball. The other League 1 managers may seek to nullify his influence by assigning multiple markers but this will serve to create space for other Wigan players. The questions to be asked are whether Wildschut’s early form was a flash in the pan and whether Middlesbrough would be willing to release him. Caldwell will be keen to keep the player whose sheer pace and directness can cause panic in opposition defences.

So what are the areas that need strengthening?

Grant Holt’s departure on a short term loan to Wolves leaves Caldwell with just two target men to play up front, Craig Davies and Will Grigg. Should Holt’s time at Wolves not be extended Latics will look towards offloading his salary on another Championship side until his contract terminates in summer. Should Holt not return we can expect Caldwell to look for another front man in the January window.

Much will depend on decisions yet to be taken on the players who have come in on loan. However, there remains the possibility that Latics will continue their efforts in shedding players on Championship level salaries.

Chris McCann continues to command a place in the starting lineup and his ability to play in the back three or midfield allows Caldwell the possibility of changing his team’s shape during a game without making substitutions. The manager clearly likes to play McCann in the back three, where his distribution from the back adds an extra dimension. However, critics will say that the Irishman is not a natural defender and is not assertive enough within his own penalty area. Many would prefer to see Jason Pearce return to that position on the left in the back line trio. However, Pearce is another who signed a contract while Latics were in the Championship. Moreover he has not even featured on the bench recently. Leon Barnett is now back on the bench after regaining his place for a while.

The situation with loan players and those on higher salaries will surely be the subject of much review by Caldwell and his coaching staff over the next couple of months. However, Caldwell might want to consider bringing in a couple of players in the central defence and holding midfield who can add an extra touch of steel.

Given the style of play based on aerial bombardment favoured by so many League 1 teams a big, rugged central defender who is strong in the air would give Caldwell extra options. Someone of the ilk of Harry Maguire would seem to fit the bill. Moreover a combative holding midfielder who can be brought on when the going gets tough would also aid Latics’ cause. Perhaps someone who can perform the same kind of role that Graham Kavanagh fulfilled in Paul Jewell’s Championship promotion team?

January might well be another busy time for incomings and outgoings at Wigan Athletic.

 

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The Jettisoning to continue

jettison

The term “jettison” dates back to the early days of aviation, when goods were cast overboard to lighten the load and make an aeroplane more stable.

Jettisoning goods comes at a cost, but stability is necessary for survival.

The imminent departure of both James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn from Wigan Athletic will be no surprise. They will be following in the paths of former teammates Scott Carson, Andy Delort, Rob Kiernan, James McClean, and Oriol Riera. All jettisoned in the quest to bring the wage bill down to a level more appropriate to a club that is to play in League 1.

Of the seven mentioned above only McClean fetched a transfer fee of note. The combined sales of Delort and Riera probably brought in around 20% of the revenues used to initially sign them. The rumours that Tavernier and Waghorn are to be sold for a joint fee of only £300,000 have come as a bit if a shock to fans, but could well be based on the truth.

Wigan Athletic had 18 senior squad players under contract to 2016 or beyond when last season concluded. Assuming the sale of Tavernier and Waghorn will go ahead they will have jettisoned seven of the eighteen. In return eight new players have been recruited – Donervon Daniels, Craig Davies, Will Grigg, Craig Morgan, Sanmi Odelusi, Richard O’Donnell, David Perkins and Max Power.

Certainly the departure of the seven has provided a means of making way for new players coming in. But it is not the number of players under contract that is the crucial issue at the moment, but more the need to get the highest wage earners off the books. Eleven players remain from last season, some are younger players on more manageable salaries, but the majority will be receiving Championship-level wages.

Over the coming weeks we can expect the departures of the likes of Leon Barnett, Chris McCann, James Perch and Andrew Taylor. All are marketable, being experienced Championship players who have Premier League experience. Significantly neither Barnett not McCann has enjoyed much playing time so far in the pre-season.

Don Cowie and Emyr Huws are injured. It looks like Grant Holt’s return to competitive football will be no earlier than October, as he recovers from a serious ACL injury. The three can be expected to stay, at least until January.

Billy Mckay’s spectacular strike against Altrincham brought positive comments from Gary Caldwell which implied that the Northern Ireland international might stay after all. It looked like David Ball was going to sign, but the player has now gone off for a trial at Barnsley. Maybe it is not only Mckay’s superbly taken goal, but also the situation with Ball, that has swayed Caldwell. However, Caldwell’s talk might well be window dressing, with Dundee United keen to acquire Mckay’s services. Given the woeful lack of opportunity the player has been given since his arrival from Inverness in January, who could blame him for wanting to return to the rich pastures of the SPL where he previously thrived?

What we are witnessing at the moment is a major reengineering of a playing staff and a wage structure. Many fans will argue that Latics have let go players of genuine quality who can do a good job at Championship level or higher. Moreover they have let them go for a pittance in terms of potential transfer value.

There remained a possibility of retaining some of those players, taking the risk in absorbing their “high” salaries, in a bid to get promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt. It was indeed a viable option, but fate has decreed that other higher earners will remain because of injuries. In the case of Huws it could be a blessing in disguise providing the player can rid himself of a possibly career-threatening ankle problem. Given Holt’s age, his serious injury and the abuse he has taken from fans, one wonders if he can make any impact on the season. However, Holt is a resilient character and can never be counted out.

Although the restructuring is largely based on financial parameters there also remains an element of “clearing out the dead wood” from a squad that hugely underachieved last season.  Moreover a wholesale clear-out gives the new manager the opportunity to largely work with his own men.

Caldwell has already imposed his stamp on the style of football the team is playing, which could already be described as “Martinez-esque”. However, Caldwell has already used different formations in pre-season, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2. It provides the kind of flexibility that was not the norm under Martinez, although Uwe Rosler used it to effect. By varying his tactical approach from game to game, Caldwell will make it difficult for the opposition to stifle a Latics side that will not have the pure style of the Martinez era, but will seek a blend between style and effectiveness. Like Rosler the Scot will also employ the option of changing the formation as the game progresses.

Up to this point Caldwell and his recruitment team have scoured the market for bargains, making a major financial outlay in the reported £1m paid for Will Grigg. That is likely to largely remain the pattern for the acquisition of further players, although there probably remains another £2m in the coffers from outgoing transfers that can be used to make a couple more big signings.

Reports suggest that Sam Clucas of Chesterfield remains on Caldwell’s radar and he is likely to cost in excess of £1m. Moreover Caldwell will almost certainly need a new right back and Swindon’s Nathan Byrne, 23,  could fit the bill, at a price. In the meantime he will look at signing more free agents, such as the 32 year old Kevin McNaughton, ex-Cardiff City, and a full back who can also play in midfield. Rumours have also linked Latics with the ex-Everton 21 year old holding midfielder John Lundstram and 26 year old winger Paul Anderson from Ipswich.

The jettisoning will continue, with at least three more of last year’s squad likely to leave.  In the meantime Caldwell will continue to meld together his much changed squad, liberally sprinkled with bargain basement signings. With less than three weeks to go before the start of the season he faces a considerable challenge in inculcating his style of football into players who will be largely unfamiliar to it.

 

Low confidence Latics throw it away – Sheffield Wednesday 2 Wigan Athletic 1

 

Malky Mackay has a tough job ahead of him, judging by this performance. In the end a battling Wednesday side might have just about deserved their win, having constantly nibbled away at Wigan’s defence throughout the ninety plus minutes.

But in reality Latics threw the game away. Poor defending presented the home team with two goals and once again they spurned opportunities at the other end.

Mackay made two changes from the team that played against Middlesbrough. The ill Sean Maloney not even on the bench, but Roger Espinoza found himself there. Ben Watson made the starting lineup for the first time in nine months and James McClean was brought in on the left wing.

One wondered if a midfield with Watson and Chris McCann – both in their early days after returning from long-term injuries – was going to cope against a combative Wednesday midfield. In the event they played the holding midfield roles with Adam Forshaw in the more advanced role.

Latics started with energy and enthusiasm, but it was clearly going to be a physical contest against a robust Wednesday side. In the second minute Adam Forshaw went down in the box after an untidy tackle by Glenn Loovens, but the referee did not see it as a penalty.

For once Callum McManaman was seeing his fair share of the ball and he was not afraid to take on defenders. After a good run he had an effort saved by Kieron Westwood. Then Jose Semedo’s powerful shot hit the post, with Scott Carson doing well to block Chris McGuire’s effort from the rebound.

Wigan were to take the lead in the 26th minute when a right wing corner from James McClean was powerfully headed in by Chris McCann, who had been their outstanding performer so far. One wondered if they could hold it, but as has been too often the case they could not do so. In the 28th minute none of the three defenders marking the 6 ft 6 in Atdhe Nuhiu could dispossess him and the unmarked Steve May who scored an easy goal from the Kosovan/Austrian forward’s intelligent pass.

Ex-Everton and Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe was causing some problems on Latics’ right and he got clean through behind Emmerson Boyce but Carson did well to block his shot. Latics retaliated and McManaman, Fortune and Forshaw all had decent efforts on goal. There had been worrying signs for Latics in the performance of the centre of defence, which looked particularly vulnerable. Ivan Ramis was way off his usual level and Leon Barnett was looking shaky under pressure. The towering Nuhiu and the more mobile May were causing them problems.

Mackay was to take Ramis off at half time, with James Perch moving to right back and Boyce to the centre of defence. Latics could have taken the lead after 53 minutes when Marc-Antoine Fortune headed back a corner for James McClean whose header was blocked on the line. Wigan had been dominating possession, but Wednesday scored in the 70th minute when May out jumped Barnett. His flicked header hit both posts before Andrew Taylor hacked it away. However, the assistant referee indicated that the ball had crossed the line.

Latics fought back. Adam Forshaw was somehow unable to reach a McManaman cross that had ‘’goal” written all over it. Then McManaman‘s drive from inside the box went narrowly wide. However, there had opened up a big gap between defence and midfield and Wednesday’s long balls were catching Latics out. May was clear once again, but Perch managed to make a partial block and Carson saved his effort. Latics pressed right to the end but could not convert their possession into goals.

The Good

The effort was there, but to no avail in the end.

Mackay took a gamble playing both McCann and Watson in midfield. He is clearly looking long term. Watson looked comfortable on the ball, but the frenetic pace of the game did not make it easy for him. However, he will be delighted at playing the full game. McCann was excellent in the first half, but faded in the second.

Mackay had chosen two pacey wingers in his lineup and they looked dangerous on the counterattack in the first half. Callum McManaman was given the licence to take on the multiple defenders who marked him in numbers. He did well to force the goalkeeper into a couple of saves.

The Bad

Wigan’s centre of defence was vulnerable throughout. Ivan Ramis had his worst ever game in a Latics shirt and was substituted at half time. It was sad to see such a classy player so out of touch. Leon Barnett is an experienced and capable central defender, but has had some hard times in recent matches. It is a sign of Wigan’s lack of confidence that such experienced and capable players as Barnett and Ramis could be so out of touch. However, the lack of protection from the midfield surely played a part in it.

There have been concerns over Carson’s distribution since he arrived last year, but in this game it reached almost rock bottom. Carson is a fine shot stopper and did well to keep Latics in the game with important saves. But with three successive managers he has persisted in hoofing the ball for the opposition centre of defence to gobble up. Not only did he do that again yesterday, but also put several clearance kicks into touch.

Once again Fortune toiled alone upfront, chasing long balls. Despite his high workrate he rarely threatens the opposition’s goal and one wonders why Mackay is persisting with him. Delort and Riera sat on the bench throughout. It looked like Mackay had given his two wingers instructions to get the ball across more often. This they did, but there was often nobody near the ball when it came.

Many fans continue to lobby for two men up front, with Delort and Riera being touted as a possible duo. However, Mackay too is an adherent to the one central striker system. At Cardiff he had Helguson, then Campbell in that role. Helguson scored just 8 goals in 38 appearances in 2012-13, when they won the Championship division.

Flowing attacking football is unlikely to be a feature of Mackay’s reign at Wigan. But a solid defence is to be expected. That was not the case yesterday.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 6 – made some good stops, but dire in distribution.

Emmerson Boyce: 5.5 – struggling to get back his form of last season.

Ivan Ramis: 4.5 – sad to see such a quality player perform so poorly. Was he 100% fit?

Leon Barnett: 5 – shaky, nervy.

Andrew Taylor: 6 – good in the first half, but Wednesday closed down his attacking moves in the second.

Ben Watson: 5 – did well to complete the 90 plus minutes after such a long layoff.

Chris McCann: 7 – resilient and creative.

Adam Forshaw: 5 – struggled.

Callum McManaman: 6 – looked dangerous, but well watched by the Wednesday defence.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: 6 – full of effort, but no real goal threat.

James McClean: 5.5 – full of his usual effervescence and energy, but his finishing remains poor.

Substitutes

James Perch: – came on after 45 minutes. Solid and hard working.

Roger Espinoza: – brought on too late.

 

 

 

Unlucky Latics fall apart – Bolton 3 Wigan Athletic 1

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How can a team that had more than matched the opposition fall apart as Latics did in this game? The capitulation in the second half brought back memories of  8-0 and 9-1 defeats in the Premier League days. Admittedly Latics did not concede a panful of goals, against a very ordinary Bolton side. But the way they played after Bolton scored their first goal was reminiscent of those debacles of the past.

Wigan had played well in the first half and were unlucky not to be ahead. Callum McManaman had hit both the crossbar and the post, they went close with other good efforts and had withstood the physical barrage of the opposition.

Uwe Rosler put out a well balanced team this time. James Perch moved across to right back to accommodate the return of Leon Barnett in the centre of defence. Emyr Huws returned in place of Don Cowie to form a useful-looking central midfield trio with Adam Forshaw and Roger Espinoza. Shaun Maloney and Callum were brought in to play wide with Marc-Antoine Fortune returning at centre forward.

Latics dominated the first quarter if the game, their high pressing leading to the home team struggling to retain possession. McManaman was making mincemeat out of Bolton right back Vela and he put in a superb left wing cross for Maloney to volley just wide. Then after cutting in from the left he hit a superb effort from 25 yards that scraped the top of the crossbar. Espinoza found himself free in the box but his claims for a penalty   were brushed aside as he went down. McManaman once again found space but goalkeeper Lonergan blocked his shot.

Bolton came back into the game and Max Clayton evaded the marking of Rob Kiernan only for Scott Carson to make a fine save from his angled shot. Latics were under more pressure now but the defence was holding firm. Espinoza had a chance to put Latics ahead from Fortune’s pass but the ball was on his weaker right side and the chance went begging.  McManaman’s shot hit the post and Espinoza shot wide.

One wondered if Latics could maintain their intensity in the second half. Sadly that was not to be. In the 50th minute Clayton was put free on the left of Carson’s goal and his shot somehow passed through the goalkeeper who had not made himself look big. That goal changed the whole tone of the game. Latics looked wobbly and Bolton got another five minutes later. A high cross from the right seemed to take an eternity to arrive, but when it did there was no sign of either of Wigan’s centre backs as Bolton centre forward Craig Davies headed home.

Rosler made a double substitution after 58 minutes with James McClean coming on from Maloney and Chris McCann for Huws. A couple of minutes later Barnett wrestled Matt Mills to the ground in the box, almost in front of the referee. Lee Chung-Yong easily beat Carson from the penalty with shot through the middle.

Latics had fallen apart. William Kvist came on for Forshaw after 69 minutes, but none of the substitutions had made a difference. Latics had simply fallen apart. Somehow in the 79th minute they got a goal with a rocket shot from McManaman from McClean’s cross, but more goals were not likely to come from a side looking desperately low on confidence.

A limited Bolton side had won on grit and determination against a Wigan team with enough talent to have beaten them.

The Good

McManaman was back to form and with luck could have had a hat trick. But once again he did not see enough of the ball. Fortune did well, especially in the first half. His hold-up play was excellent despite the presence of two powerful Bolton centre halves.

Following his cameo appearance at Brighton, Chris McCann was brought on earlier this time, after 58 minutes. Latics are going to need him back to his best if they are to reverse this awful sequence of results.

The Bad

Wigan Today quotes Rosler as saying ““We gave up in the second half and I felt embarrassed. I’m not sure it meant as much to some of my players as it meant for our supporters and our chairman. In any competitive game of football, you never give up, you always fight to the end.  To give up at Bolton, in a derby game? It’s unforgivable.”

One wonders what might have happened if one of those Wigan chances in the first half had gone in. They could have gone on to win the game. But the reality was that they did not go in and the confidence drained out of Latics with Bolton’s first goal.

The fan forums and social media are awash with demands that the manager be sacked. Dave Whelan was at the game and would surely have been furious to see his highly paid professionals being taken apart by a team lying second from bottom.

Somehow the negative streak has to be reversed. The big question is whether Rosler is able to accomplish that change.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 5 – it was sad to see him beaten by Clayton’s shot. He has been Latics’ best performer this season.

James Perch: 5 –looked rusty, misplacing passes and not tacking with his usual verve.

Leon Barnett: 4 – fell apart in the second half, although he made some good interventions in the first.

Rob Kiernan: 4 – poor. Lacked the physical presence needed in a game of this type.

Maynor Figueroa: 5 – not at his best.

Adam Forshaw: 5 – started well but faded.

Roger Espinoza: 5 – lively in the first half but faded.

Emyr Huws: 4 –  poor. Substituted after 58 minutes.

Shaun Maloney: 5 – lively early on. Substituted after 58 minutes.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: 7 – worked hard in the lone centre forward role.

Callum McManaman: 7 – not involved enough, but dangerous when he had the ball. His goal was superbly taken and he was unlucky in hitting the woodwork twice.

Substitutes

James McClean: – his cross led to Wigan’s goal.

Chris McCann: – it will take him time to get match fit.

William Kvist: – brought in from the cold. Why has he been left out over recent weeks?

What a Game! Wigan Athletic 3 Fulham 3

 

Adam Forshaw is congratulated after his penalty.  Photo courtesy of Fulham FC.

Adam Forshaw is congratulated after his penalty.
Photo courtesy of Fulham FC.

It was as entertaining as any game could be – with six goals and two red cards it kept us on our toes for 96 minutes.

Uwe Rosler shocked the fans by resisting his tinkering tendencies and naming an unchanged lineup from the one that started the previous game against Derby.

Latics started well, their pressing allowing Fulham no time on the ball. In the 9th minute Callum McManaman was tripped in the box for a penalty. Adam Forshaw stepped up and scored his first Latics goal, hitting through the middle as goalkeeper Bettinelli dove to his right. Latics continued to look bright but their incisive approach play did not produce another goal.

But by around the 20 minute mark Latics’ high pressing had practically evaporated as Fulham crowded out the midfield and started to dominate possession. It did not come as a big surprise when in the 30th minute Scott Parker put through a superb ball for Lasse Vigen to evade Leon Barnett and tuck the ball past Scott Carson. Then six minutes later Ross McCormack’s right footed punt from the left was easily chested home at the far post by Bryan Ruiz with the left side of Wigan’s defence caught sleeping. Fulham’s wide players had caused Latics’ defence constant problems and Hugo Rodallega was looking lively. The visitors went into half time with a 2-1 lead.

Latics came out in the second half showing renewed vigour and got the equalizer after 52 minutes. The ball came to Roger Espinoza some 25 yards out and he hit a fine volley past Bettinelli. The game became open with end to end play, neither defence looking comfortable. Callum McManaman had a good effort saved, then the dangerous young left winger George Williams crossed for McCormack to force a fine save from Carson. James McClean replaced an out of sorts Emyr Huws after 61 minutes, with Don Cowie moving into the centre of midfield. McCormack handed Latics the advantage after 74 minutes when he received his second yellow card after an altercation with McClean.

Shaun Maloney came on as substitute for McManaman and scored a well taken goal in the 82nd minute following an exchange of passes with Espinoza. It looked as if Latics were going to snatch a much wanted three points but it was not to be. In the 86th minute Kiernan’s inability to clear a lofted ball saw Rodallega running through on goal, to be cut down by Barnett. Barnett received a red card and Ruiz slotted home the penalty. Ivan Ramis came on for Espinoza as the game continued for another 10 minutes, until reaching its conclusion.

The Good

Latics extended their unbeaten run to six, albeit including five draws. Confidence is increasing and new partnerships on the field are being built.

Rosler’s pressing tactic worked well for the opening quarter. It helped Latics get off to a good start and they looked the better team at that stage, with good movement from the midfield.

Despite being behind at the interval they did not drop their heads and would probably have won the game if it weren’t for a defensive error.

Tavernier’s crossing was of high quality and he looks such a fine player going forward. Forshaw was involved throughout and is coming to terms with the physical side of play in the Championship division.

Espinoza was an inspiration. His passing was crisp and precise, he scored a cracking goal and made an assist for another.

Marc-Antoine Fortune once again was tireless in the target man role, his hold-up play being excellent.

The Bad

The back four were awful. Tavernier was repeatedly exposed by the 19 year old Williams and the centre backs did not mesh together. On the left Maynor Figueroa was useful going forward, but looked vulnerable in defence.

The ploy of playing Cowie in right midfield to allow Tavernier to attack did not work. On occasions when Tavernier was found wanting Cowie was not able to provide the support. Cowie looked one dimensional and short of pace on the right, but much better when moved into central midfield later in the game.

It appears that Cowie is heading the same way with the DW crowd as did Jordi Gomez in his early days at Wigan. Roberto Martinez always had faith in Gomez, despite the frustration he could cause among fans in passing the ball backwards or sideways. However, Gomez was never an automatic choice for Martinez, but Cowie has been so under Rosler.

After dominating the opening stages through their high pressing it was frustrating to see Latics drop back and allow Fulham to control the game. Was it something coming from the manager or were the players physically unable to keep up the pressing for longer than 20 minutes or so?

Tavernier is a talented young player, who will hopefully have a bright future at Wigan. In some ways he is reminiscent of Ryan Taylor. Taylor joined Latics as a right back, but was not a success in that position. Taylor proved to be so invaluable from set pieces that Steve Bruce would find a position for him in the team. That might also become the case with Tavernier.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 7 – made some good saves, but was stranded for Fulham’s second goal.

James Tavernier: 5.5 – good in attack, vulnerable in defence.

Leon Barnett: 4.5 – good in the air but otherwise poor.

Rob Kiernan: 4 – poor.

Maynor Figueroa: 5.5 – not at his best.

Adam Forshaw: 7 – worked hard, rarely wasted the ball.

Emyr Huws: 5 – not as involved as usual. Is his ankle still troubling him? Taken off after 61 minutes.

Roger Espinoza: 9 – the best player on the pitch.

Don Cowie: 4 – poor.

Callum McManaman: 6 – heavily marked, but still posed a threat to Fulham’s defence. Fouled for the penalty. Lasted until the 81st minute.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: 8 – clearly relishing his place in the lineup ahead of Delort and Riera.

Substitutes:

James McClean: – full of running, but unable to provide that final pass.

Shaun Maloney: – took his goal well.

Ivan Ramis: – came on 85 minutes too late. Why was he not in from the start?

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