An MK Dons fan’s view of Will Grigg

Grigg

Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 24 year old central striker Will Grigg from Brentford.

The 5 ft 11 in tall Grigg was born in Solihull and progressed through the Birmingham City youth system. At the age of 17 he joined Walsall where he was to spend five seasons. scoring 27 goals in 99 appearances. In July 2013 he signed for Brentford for a fee that was to rise to £405,000. However, Grigg did not have the successful time he would have hoped for at Griffin Park, often being played out of position by Uwe Rosler. Last season he went on a season long loan to MK Dons where he made a major contribution to a promotion winning team, scoring 22 goals in 50 appearances.

In order to learn more about Grigg’s time at MK Dons we reached out to Harry Wright the Cowshed Chronicles BlogSpot.

Here’s over to Harry:

When Will Grigg arrived in Milton Keynes on a season-long loan from newly promoted Brentford, the midlands-born striker was the second of three young, hungry strikers Karl Robinson was to employ for the 2014/15 season after Tom Hitchcock was acquired on a free transfer from QPR.  A week later Benik Afobe joined from Premier League Arsenal and the Dons front line, that was to score 101 league goals, was complete.
 
The Northern Ireland international was to make an instant impact at Stadium:MK, netting an equaliser in the Dons season opener as we came from 2-0 down to triumph 4-2, however it didn’t take long for Grigg to truly endear himself to the Dons faithful as the frontman scored the first two goals in our unforgettable 4-0 annihilation of Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, famously using his chest to caress the ball past a helpless David De Gea. 
 
Playing second fiddle to the prolific Afobe for the first half of the season, Grigg had to accept he was not going to be given a constant run of starts due to Karl Robinson’s rotation policy as Afobe grabbed himself 19 goals until Wolves decided to pay big money to lure the England u21 international to Molyneux in mid January.  The departure of Afobe was followed up by Tom Hitchcock’s loan move to fellow League One club Fleetwood Town and left the former Walsall forward as the lone striker at Stadium:MK and oh how he delivered.
 
A blistering second half of the season containing a crucial brace away at Swindon left Grigg with 20 league goals from 43 games taking his total tally for the season to 22, only the second ever player to reach the milestone of 20 league goals in a Dons jersey, finished off with a header against Yeovil in a 5-1 demolition resulting in the Dons automatic promotion to the Championship for the first time.
 
But it’s not just the goals Grigg gets that made him a fans favourite in Milton Keynes, despite not even being our player, it’s the manner in which he plays and the qualities he brings to the squad as a whole.
 
Without having much strength due to being just 5’11 Grigg is a very clever player, his movement and trickery to evade defenders often means he finds himself in acres of space.  A classy, natural goal scorer, Grigg is a poacher, frequently in the right place at the right time to finish off the hard work done by those supporting him. Effective yet unspectacular the forward will get goals wherever he plays for sure.
 
Grigg’s work rate his also very good, never giving up on chasing a lost cause, combining an element of comedy in his celebrations with a dance branded ‘the Griggle’ by Dons fans, the striker’s personality rubs off on the fans and team mates alike and will not only add quality to the squad but also lighten up the dressing room at the DW stadium.
 
Grigg is undoubtedly a brilliant signing at League One level with proven experience and quality. The only question will be, can Wigan get enough support up to him to the poacher to get the goals to fire Wigan back to the second tier?

Throwing in the towel – Brentford 3 Wigan Athletic 0

Towel

When a boxer is too beaten up to continue, his coach throws a towel into the ring to signal that the fight is over.

Gary Caldwell might have wanted to throw in the towel at various times during an awful performance at promotion-chasing Brentford. The unfortunate deflection of a Pritchard free kick after 25 minutes was the precursor of the nothingness that followed. Latics had dominated the game up to that point, at least in terms of possession. But a team with such brittle confidence was unlikely to be up to the task of getting back into the game following such an unfortunate goal.

What was to follow was merely a replay of the football we have seen so often this season.  Toothless in attack, woeful in defence, passing awful

Gary Caldwell set up his stall with a 3-5-2 formation. It worked well for the first quarter of the game with the wing backs getting into advanced positions, particularly Gaetan Bong on the left.  The team pressed forward to harass Brentford’s passing game. Wigan’s passing was neat and their interplays led them into the Brentford box on various occasions. One had a feeling that something positive might happen, even of the incisive final pass was lacking. It looked like Caldwell had got the team playing the kind of football he was seeking.

But as the game progressed following that first goal one got the feeling that Latics could be in for a drubbing. The Latics back three looked like they had never played together before, fragile and vulnerable to the movement of the Brentford midfield and wide players. Wigan’s midfield was both pedestrian and predictable. The forwards found it hard to stay onside.

But then again, what did Latics have to play for in the last match of a catastrophic season? The majority of the players who made the starting lineup are unlikely to be at the club next season. But at least Caldwell had taken the opportunity to give Billy Mckay his first start, together with bringing the 18 year old Louis Robles and the 19 year old Jordan Flores off the bench for their first senior appearances after 64 minutes.

The breath of fresh air that Caldwell’s appointment has brought into the club was not enough today. The Scot has inherited a poor team that was never going to be good enough to beat promotion chasers like Wolves and Brentford in the last two games. But if that deflection had not beaten Lee Nicholls half way through the first half, perhaps a goalless draw might have been on the cards  today?

The social media and message boards have been packed with fans asking which of the players whose contracts are expiring next month should be offered new contracts. On the basis of today’s performances alone the answer would quite simply be “none” except the goalkeeper. The highlight of the afternoon for Wigan was Lee Nicholls’ late penalty save. With the impending departure of both Ali Al-Habsi and quite probably Scott Carson it is no surprise to hear strong rumours that the young keeper has been offered a contract extension.

It is a measure of how far Latics have fallen over the past months that Brentford could so easily carve holes into the defence as the game wore on. The kind of football they played today is something that Caldwell might well aspire to. The Scot has a mountain of a task ahead of him to get Latics back to that level of performance.

Meanwhile we will continue to play our guessing games as to who is to stay and who is to go.

It is going to be an interesting summer!

A visit to Brentford and a look at a disastrous season

With the final game of the season coming up at Brentford on Saturday, Billy Grant  (@billythebee99) of beesotted.co.uk asked us to respond to some topical questions. The article is also posted on the Beesotted site.

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When we touched base for the first time this season around the time of the Forshaw saga, we had no idea our season would end up like this. We (and the world) thought we would be battling against relegation and you thought we would be battling for promotion with Uwe Rosler making his much awaited return to Griffin Park. Where did it all go topsy turvey?

Things had already started to go awry by the time that Brentford visited in mid-October. Just over a week later, with only three victories in seventeen league games, Rosler was shown the door. It was a sad end to an era in which the German had enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame. The previous season he had taken over a team in 14th place and got them into the playoffs, only to be narrowly beaten by QPR. Moreover the stunning win at the Etihad against the to-be Premier League champions in the FA Cup sixth round would stick in the memory for years to come. So would the semifinal, taking Arsenal to a penalty shootout.

Sadly things had gone pear-shaped for Rosler in the second half of his reign. The rot had set in towards the end of the 2013-14 season. The confidence that had been generated through a long string of good results had started to wane. Then over summer Rosler was to lose class performers in Jean Beausejour and Jordi Gomez, but the biggest blow was the departure of James McArthur on the transfer deadline day.

The new season had seen the team coming back from pre-season training in Germany in poor physical shape, with second half collapses being the order of the day. Moreover Rosler had made nine new signings since the summer, all in need of a settling-in period. But their arrival had swelled the first team squad to over thirty, the end result being Rosler having to deal with disgruntled players not getting a regular game.

Sadly Rosler could not inculcate his vision into his players. As time wore on it appeared that he and the players had become  more and more out of tune in terms of what should be delivered on the pitch. As the new season wore on we were to see less and less of the commitment required for the high tempo, high pressing football he sought.

By November the dream of getting back into the Premier League had become almost unreal. It looked like it was not going to happen this season with Rosler. Dave Whelan stepped in, relieving the German of his job, bringing in Malky Mackay, stating his belief that the Scot was the right man to take the club back to the Premier League.

Little did we know what depths the team would plumage towards under Mackay. His appointment did great damage to the club’s image as portrayed by the national media. Moreover the team did not rise on the bounce effect of a new manager, as is so often the case. In fact they got worse. They did not win a single home game during his tenure and he will go into Wigan Athletic history as their least successful manager.

When Mackay had taken over he had stuck by an “old guard” who had been underperforming under Rosler. Neither did they perform well under him. The result was no less than thirteen players dispatched out of the club in the January window. Given the departure of so many players who had proved themselves in the Premier League it was no surprise that the standard of football was to plummet close to rock bottom. The hoofball that had become evident under Coyle, which Rosler could not eradicate, soon became the order of the day under Mackay.

The conspiracy theorists say that Mackay was brought in as a short-term alternative, with his main task being to cull the dead wood within the playing staff. It could be said that he did that. Perhaps some of the players from the Martinez era had become complacent and were causing divisions within the camp.But the cull, together with a reluctance to provide Mackay with sufficient cash to find adequate replacements, left the club so short of quality players that relegation was always going to be a possibility. Mackay was to replace the departed players with those on short term contracts or young loanees green behind the ears. It was a recipe for disaster.

So many fans are relieved that Mackay will not be at the club next year, even if it is in League 1. But it should not hide the lack of foresight and decisiveness by new chairman, Sharpe, who left it too late in dismissing him.

Give us your thoughts on Brentford’s season

Many of us were shocked by the decision to not continue with Mark Warburton. I wonder if he had come to Wigan with Rosler we might have been promoted by now, rather than relegated.

Warburton deserves commendation for what he has done since he took over as manager. He has stuck to his guns by insisting that the team play good football and their quality has surprised others in the division. To be within reach of a playoff spot on the last day of the season is some achievement.

Whoever follows Warburton is on a hiding to nothing. You have to hope that Benham will make the right appointment. Whelan made a major blunder at Wigan by appointing the “long ball” Coyle following the departure of “tiki taka” Martinez. You need to appoint a manager who will build on what is established, rather than one who will destroy it.

There was an enormous who-ha over Wigan’s poaching of Adam Forshaw at the start of the season. He gave his reason for leaving being he wanted to move to a ‘bigger club’ and to one that was ‘challenging for promotion’. A bit cheeky. Would you admit, looking at how the season has panned out, Forshaw made the wrong move? He was a key player for us and has become a bit player since his move.

Rosler was building for the future by signing a handful of younger players. Andy Delort, Adam Forshaw, Emyr Huws, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and James Tavernier were brought in. All were stars at their clubs last season and they are still good players. Sadly they were dragged into a situation where even experienced and capable pros, such as Ivan Ramis, Shaun Maloney and Leon Barnett, had been struggling to impose themselves on the field of play. Sadly those young players were mismanaged, first by Rosler then by Mackay.

Forshaw’s transfer had hit the headlines because of the bad feeling it created between the clubs. From the player’s point of view he was rejoining the manager who had nurtured him to the point of becoming League 1 Player of the Year. He was also joining a club that had a squad good enough to challenge for promotion, which would offer him a more lucrative contract.

Like those other young players Forshaw was never able to truly establish himself. He made 13 starts, with three appearances off the bench, scoring one goal.

Talking of Forshaw, his agent played him a big BIG get-out-of-jail card. Out of the blue he got him a move to promotion-chasing Middlesbrough after staring relegation in the face. At one stage, he looked destined for the Premier League with them but now has to settle for the playoffs. Assuming we don’t make the playoffs, do you think Forshaw will be a Premier League player next season?

Ben Watson’s agent did even better. Since leaving for Watford in January he has been a regular in a side that is already promoted. Forshaw has been largely used as a substitute by Middlesbrough, making only five starts.

Forshaw had been part of the January cull, with the club cutting their potential losses for the season by selling players off for whatever transfer money they could get and freeing others on lucrative contracts. So many fans had been disenchanted by the lack of performance by the squad that Mackay did not meet the opposition one would have expected when selling off the family silver. But there were fans who thought the departures of young players with potential was worrying.

Aitor Karanka has done a good job at Middlesbrough. They can play attractive football and will have as much chance as any other team in the playoffs. We learned last year what a lottery the playoffs can be. Should Boro get promoted they are going to have to bring in a lot of new players as their squad is not anywhere near Premier League standard.

Forshaw still has not established as a regular starter in the Championship, but he does have potential and maybe the Premier League environment would suit him?

For a while Latics fans were a bit disenchanted with Brentford over the Forshaw saga, but most of us will wish the Bees well in the quest for promotion. You have an outside chance of getting into the playoff zone, then a one in four chance of winning the playoffs. But the likelihood is that Derby will win at home to Reading on Saturday. If they do then I will fancy their playoff chances. Despite poor recent form their squad is probably the best outside the top two.

The Rotherham result in midweek has consigned you to Division 1. Despite our little ding dong earlier this season, most Brentford fans would actually prefer you stayed up. We had a good day out at Wigan much preferring it to our trips to places like Bolton and Millwall to be quite honest. How do you think you will get on next season???

Wigan is a friendly town and away fans seem to enjoy their visits. I went to Millwall for the first time a couple of weeks ago and can understand why your fans are not keen.

Dave Whelan is now 78 and after 20 years of guiding the club he has stepped back. He made a mistake with the Malky Mackay appointment and his inappropriate comments were gobbled up by the national media. It has sadly tarnished the image of a man who has done more for Wigan Athletic than anyone before.

When all this was going on the club seemed to have no direction and leadership. But now Latics have a new chairman and a new manager, both young and hungry for success. The 23 year old David Sharpe wisely opted for a manager who believes in playing football the “Wigan way”. Moreover his expectation is that Gary Caldwell – only 32 years old – will stay in the position long-term.

Next season is a great unknown for us. There will be another mass exodus over summer as the club sheds its highest wage earners and rebuilds. Sharpe has already stated his goal of promotion next season, but most of us realise that this might not happen so quickly. A large number of new players will be coming in and it is going to take time for them to gel and learn to play football with the style that Caldwell expects.

With the youngest manager and youngest chairman in the four divisions at the helm there is renewed optimism at Wigan. The era of Whelan has gone, but an exciting new one is about to commence.

Do you think you players will turn up at the weekend?

More than half of the players who made the starting lineup against Wolves last weekend are on short-term contracts which finish next month. Many of the remainder are likely to be leaving in summer. Will this motley crew give their commitment on Saturday?

Nevertheless Caldwell will expect them to give their all and many might want to impress possible future employers. Moreover there is no pressure on them to get a result.

Given such a scenario who knows what will happen? It could be a surprise victory for Latics or a hammering.

My guess is that it will be a 1-1 draw.

 

 

A look at Latics’ eventful start to the season

Forshaw

With the Brentford game looming Billy theBee Grant @billythebee99 of the Beesotted fanzine asked us at Amigos to give his readers some background information about what has been happening with Latics. Here are our responses to his questions, to be found on the Beesotted site at http://bit.ly/1wc0nrC

BillytheBee catches up with JJ (@JJLos3Amigos) from father and son Wigan blog Los Three Amigos and discusses Uwe Rosler, Adam Forshaw, the Grant Holt beef, Wigan Pies and Kajagoogo.

So lets cut to the chase here … Wigan’s start to the season hasn’t been quite as expected hasn’t it?

The season has been like an uncomfortable rollercoaster ride for Wigan Athletic, with some ups but too many downs. The downs have been quite depressing, characterized by low tempo football with little creativity and defensive weaknesses.

In terms of performances there have been two “ups” – a resounding first half display in a 4-0 defeat of Birmingham City and a 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest. The 1-0 win over a clueless Blackpool side could hardly be called an “up”. The performance against Forest was better than Latics have had in recent weeks.

It has been a rollercoaster ride for the fans above all. The disappointment of a draw and three losses in the first four games was tempered by two successive victories and promising activity in the transfer market. There was genuine optimism before the visit to Blackburn after the first international break, but that dissipated following three losses and a draw in the next four games.

But last season you lost in the playoff semi-final to QPR .. and reached the FA Cup semi-finals too. Are you just having a bit of ‘nearly made it hangover’?

The stats actually show that Latics have won only 6 in the last 26 matches, drawing 8 and losing 12. Moreover in their last 13 away games they have won one, drawn 3 and lost 9.

Rosler has talked about the FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal and the hangover the team has suffered ever since. To win away at Manchester City in the sixth round was a remarkable achievement. But Latics were 1-0 ahead until the 82nd minute at Wembley. To suffer that equalizer, but still make it through extra time after playing so many matches in a condensed period of time, was equally remarkable. But it clearly took a lot out of the players psychologically.

The promotion push stumbled at the playoffs. By then Latics had done the marathon, having already played 62 competitive games during the season.

Despite their tiredness they pushed Queens Park Rangers into extra time of the second match, although in reality they had all but lost their best chance of going through by being unable to find a way past Harry Redknapp’s parked bus at the DW Stadium. That match called for a moment of magic from the likes of Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman or Nick Powell which didn’t happen.

There was little to choose between Latics and QPR last season, but it was the Londoners who went up. Lots of teams came to park their buses at the DW last season and it is likely to be the same scenario this year.

Nowadays the “Little Wigan” tag we used to have has gone and the “FA Cup Winners” label applies. Managers of opposing teams know what quality Latics have in the squad and many will try to park their buses, as they did last year.

But once Rosler has his top players fully fit and firing on all cylinders that quality will show. Parking the bus will not be enough for visiting teams.

Brentford fans were slightly disappointed to see Rosler go before he had ‘finished the job’. Luckily Warburton picked up the baton seamlessly and no real damage was done. However, less that 12 months later quite unbelievably there has been much talk of #RoslerOut from Wigan fans. Surely one should give any new manager a chance to really get his feet under the table. Don’t you think your mob are being slightly ridiculous?

Following the achievements over the past decade expectations are high. There is a whole generation of younger supporters who until last year, were brought up on Premier League football. A return to the top flight is a ‘must’ for many of them.

Some nine months on from the departure of Coyle the keyboard warriors who may have contributed to his demise are lively again. This time their disgruntlement is aimed at Uwe Rosler. It might be hard to believe after what Rosler has already achieved at the club, but some are starting to question if he is the right man for the job.

Rumours were being bandied around the fan forums and social media of Rosler losing the dressing room, although none have since been substantiated. However, the intervention of Dave Whelan openly supporting Rosler has helped calm things down. There still remains a fringe of fans who want Rosler out.

The tale of Whelan’s eventful visit to the dressing room in the early days of Paul Jewell’s reign is etched in the minds of Latics supporters. Jewell was going through a hard time as a young manager, dealing with too many players who were not supporting him.

The story goes that Whelan let the players know in no uncertain terms that the manager was staying and that they could leave if they were not happy with that. It was to ultimately lead to Jewell taking Latics from League 2 to the Premier League and the League Cup final.

Whelan’s intervention this time around might well have sent a similar message to the players. The result was clear to see – a team putting in a real Wigan Athletic performance. Rosler was buoyed by not only the chairman’s support, but by that of the crowd.

The display against Forest was laden with the kind of physical endeavour that propelled Latics into the playoffs and cup semi-final some six months ago. It had been sadly lacking in previous games. Rumours about a divided dressing room and unprofessional behaviour from certain players were blown away by the chanting of “Uwe, Uwe” by the crowd at the end of the game.

Do you feel that Rosler has now seen there is a big difference between managing Brentford where there are less egos in the dressing room, and Wigan – where players are on big money .. and with many ex-premiership players to try and keep happy???

Whelan has backed Rosler by allowing him to assemble a large squad, with lots of quality. He has a strong backbone of players with oodles of Premier League experience. To maintain a squad like that costs money, with Latics having to offer commensurate salaries for those experienced players.

Interestingly James McClean took a significant salary cut when he joined Latics, but keeping players like him happy is clearly a challenge for Rosler. Perhaps the current squad is too big and Rosler is facing challenges in keeping those happy who don’t make the matchday squad.

Having a reputation as a serial rotator, the German continued in the same vein last season. From his first game in charge in December to the end of season playoffs he used 29 players. Faced with extreme fixture congestion, a degree of team rotation was certainly necessary. Moreover it meant that all players in the squad had a chance of getting on the pitch.

This in turn produced keen competition for places and raised the morale of those who might not have been involved. But it was not so much the rotation that fans questioned, but the way in which it was being done. Sometimes there would be wholesale changes, resulting in lineups lacking in cohesion.

Latics fans learned that Rosler’s team selections can be perplexing during his early days at the club. At times it might be easier to predict the winner of the Grand National than guess a Rosler starting lineup. Are his choices linked to a tactical approach or are they influenced by the players’ attitudes and their levels of commitment in training?

Critics say that Rosler has his favourites and his management style involves a “My way or the highway approach”. Fans have questioned his willingness to give all squad players a fair crack of the whip.

So what’s this beef with Grant Holt all about?

The case of Grant Holt has been extreme.

One of Rosler’s first moves when he arrived was to leave Holt out of the squad that travelled to Slovenia to play Maribor. Then in January the player was sent on loan to Aston Villa until the end of the season. When he came back he was consigned to training with the development squad and he was not given a squad number. Moreover his face was conspicuously absent from the squad photograph taken for club’s official site.

Holt has subsequently moved on to a short term loan at Huddersfield, where he seems to be regaining the form he was not able to show at Wigan.

How have your signings been? There was always a big question mark as to who was actually making the signings at Brentford. Manager Mark Warburton, who was the Sporting Director at the time, has very good links with academies around Europe and was thought to be the person to put forward many of the Brentford signings .. with all new players having to be ratified by both Rosler and owner Matthew Benham. Does Rosler have a team around him who he works together with to find and suggest new players to sign?

When the German was appointed in December, most of us expected him to bring in a swath of coaching and backroom staff from Brentford. Within a month he brought in Chris Haslam from his old club as Head of Performance – possibly because of concerns in the fitness levels of Latics’ players.

Alan Kernahan and Peter Farrell had left Brentford within a week of Rosler’s departure and it seemed a matter of time before they were installed at Wigan. It did not happen.The non-arrival of Rosler’s trusted lieutenants was put down to either budget issues or Dave Whelan’s loyalty towards staff previously appointed.

Veteran first team coach Graham Barrow was to continue and John Doolan (who left for Hibs in the summer) was brought up from coaching at youth level to help out with the senior squad.

Rosler has done well in his recruitment of players to be fair, bringing in a mixture of youth and experience. Delort, Forshaw, Huws, Tavernier, Taylor-Sinclair and Waghorn are in their early twenties and all are excellent prospects for the future. In Cowie, Kvist, Riera and Taylor he has players with proven experience.

Rosler’s recruitment contrasts with that of his predecessor, Coyle.

The Scot had a short-term approach, bringing in the kinds of seasoned professionals who could help secure promotion. Despite the pressure on him to get promotion this year, Rosler has stuck to his guns and shown a more long-term approach in signing that swath of younger players.

However, in Beausejour, Gomez and McArthur Latics have lost three key players with considerable technical ability.

Masters of the passing game.

There has been a considerable amount of debate among fans about the type of football Latics have been playing this season, which has alternated between the possession football typical of the Martinez era and the long ball of the Coyle reign.

It has been a difficult start to the season for Rosler. Not only has he had so many new players to settle in but also there have been serious fitness issues.

New players invariably need time to gel with their teammates, but the lack of a clearly defined style of play has made it even more difficult for them. Goals have been too often been given away by sloppy defending and goal opportunities have so often been wasted.

But more than anything else it is the lack of creativity that has stood out.

Rosler really went out on a limb signing Adam Forshaw. Im saying that not because I think Forshaw is a bad player who would let Rosler down .. he’s not .. he’s a great player. I say that because from what I can gather, your fans have been calling for a striker and not another midfielder.

When the hullabaloo started over the Adam Forshaw transfer there were fans who thought transfer funds available would be better spent on a central striker than a midfielder who had not proven himself beyond League 1. Latics had already signed Oriel Riera from Osasuna, whose settling into the team was hardly helped by woeful service from midfield.

The number one priority for the fans was another striker, even if there were concerns about the lack of creativity in midfield.

Despondency had crept in with the impending departure of that great Latics stalwart and FA Cup winner, James McArthur. It looked like Rosler was not going to get the extra striker he desperately needed with the Andy Delort situation continuing to be uncertain.

Moreover the Forshaw saga was dragging on. The creative midfielder was clearly within Rosler’s sights, but was it going to happen?

Then on the Monday we were to find out that Dave Whelan had splashed the cash after all. Leicester City had dropped out of the race to sign James McArthur, but Crystal Palace had moved in and made the acquisition.

By the transfer deadline we had confirmed the Delort and Forshaw transfers, plus the surprise signing of experienced midfield enforcer William Kvist from VfB Stuttgart.

The three signings signaled a statement of intent from Whelan and Rosler that they really wanted to finalise a squad capable of achieving promotion.

But there was another signing that was unexpected – that of young talent Emyr Huws from Manchester City on a permanent contract.

So where does Forshaw fit into your current side?

Rosler clearly has faith in Forshaw being able to provide a creative spark in midfield. He did it at Brentford and Rosler will be banking on him doing the same at Wigan. In recent matches Huws has provided some spark. But he is young and needs time.

However, if you were to ask a room full of Latics fans who is the best bet for a creative midfield role, the name of Shaun Maloney would surely be their typical response.

Without doubt the best football Wigan Athletic have ever played was in the final part of the 2012-13 season and in the FA Cup triumph in 2013-14. Sometimes Maloney would be played wide on the left. But he was most effective when playing an advanced midfield role in the “hole” behind the centre forward. If anybody made the side tick it was he.

Maloney proved himself as a top quality Premier League player. But questions remain, if at 31 years of age and after a major hip operation, he will ever get back to where he was. However, he comes off the back of two good performances for Scotland.

At his best and playing in his favourite position in the centre of midfield, he can be an outstanding performer in the Championship.

The dilemma for Rosler will be in deciding if there is room for both Maloney and Forshaw in the same team. If so will Maloney be consigned to wide position?

He’s made a few cameo appearances for you so far. I guess that he is still working on his fitness. How has he been?

Forshaw made his Wigan debut in the last ten minutes against Blackburn, but it was his first competitive football since May.

He made his first start against Ipswich. He looked out of touch in the first half, but rallied in the second when he switched to a more central role. In the closing minutes he put through a couple of exquisitely timed passes to split a stubborn Ipswich rearguard. He looked the part in those closing minutes.

Forshaw made his second start in the next match – a 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth. He did not come off the bench in the Forest game that followed, but came on in the 57th minute in the 2-2 draw at Wolves before the international break.

Forshaw has shown some promise. But like several other players at the club, match fitness has been the issue.

Your parachute money surely runs out very soon. Surely if you don’t get back into the Premier League, you will be in a financial pickle

Last season Latics were due to receive £23m in parachute payments from the Premier League. With an historic Europa League campaign coming up the club decided to largely invest the parachute payments into maintaining a large squad. It is believed that the club had previously written into players’ contracts that their salaries would drop if they were to be relegated from the Premier League.

Moreover a number of players left the club. Several at the ends of their contracts. Others for significant transfer fees.

Latics actually performed relatively well last season in using their parachute payments to assemble a squad good enough to reach 5th place in the Championship. In the previous season the clubs who came down from the Premier League – Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves – finished in 17th, 7th and 23rd positions, despite parachute payments of £16m.

With the parachute payment and funds gained from the Europa League campaign, together with prudent financial management, it is likely that Wigan Athletic at least broke even financially last season.

The challenge is whether they can secure promotion back to the Premier League against clubs who are spending millions on new players.

Last season both Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers flouted FFP rules in gaining promotion. The London team is reported to have had a budget of £70m last year, losing £23m over the season. Fulham’s investment of £11m on Ross McCormack was staggering, especially for a player who has never played in the Premier League.

Wigan expects to open a new training facility at Charnock Richard by August 2016. This will then allow us to attract players of all ages and also develop future professionals. Were that to become a reality they would then need to apply for Category 1 status.

The main priority for Latics this season is promotion to the Premier League. However, in terms of long term sustainability the club needs to produce young players who can graduate to senior level. The Academy project is an indication that Latics are trying to secure long-term viability as a club in the upper echelons of English football.

So who should Brentford be looking out for on the pitch??

Callum McManaman is the man in form this season. Let’s see if Brentford resort to the kind of foul tactics against him that other teams have done so often.

And here’s our “Made in Wigan” section …

Bolton Wanderers or Wigan Rugby League?

Are you showing a red rag to a bull? Latics fans are not too distressed at seeing Bolton at the foot of the table. After decades of being treated with condescension by the followers of the egg-chasing game, Latics are in the ascendency in the town. Just look out for the blue, not the red.

Richard Ashcroft from The Verve or Limahl from Kajagoogo?

Both brilliant, but how about Starsailor ?

Roberto Martinez or Andy Liddell?

Both spent six years playing for Latics. Icons from different eras as players, not to mention Roberto’s achievements as a manager.

Chris Kirkland or Nigel Adkins?

Kirkland spent 6 years at Latics, producing so many heroic performances despite constant struggles with injury.

Adkins was Latics’ goalkeeper pre-Whelan, from 1986-93. Will he ever return to them as manager?

Wigan Casino or The Hacienda

Don’t ask a Wiganer a question like that! The Casino was from an earlier era but both were something very special.

Georgie Fame or George Formby Jnr

Both legends in Wigan, even if Georgie was from Leigh.

Kay Burley, Sky News or Ruth Liptrott, Channel 5 News

The more Wiganers on the news the better!

Head to head, Wigan are smashing it winning 18 games to the Bees’ 6 with 7 games drawn. Do you think the Bees will make inroads interning that record around??

A win for Latics by at least a two goal margin.

Do you think you can still get promoted?

Given the bad start to the season it is unlikely that Latics can reach an automatic promotion spot. But with the squad that Rosler has put together promotion through the playoffs remains a distinct possibility.

Blackpool are the obvious certs for relegation, but despite their owner they are a fine old club. Let’s hope they can stay up.

Where do you recommend away fans hang out out pre-match?

The Anvil, in the town centre just behind the Parish Church,is an excellent real ale pub. The Raven, just up the street from the station, is an old style Wigan pub well worth a visit. Don’t forget to try the pies while in the town centre.

 

BillytheBee
@billythebee99

Hope looms on the horizon for Rosler

 

Adam Forshaw and Uwe Rosler appear soon to be reunited.

Adam Forshaw and Uwe Rosler appear soon to be reunited.

How the mighty are fallen. “In Rosler we trust” was the catchphrase just a few weeks ago. Since then criticism and doubt have come raining in.

There is an old saying that goes to the effect that football managers are only as good as their results. But despite a win over Blackpool on Saturday, Rosler’s mode of operation continues to be questioned. Once again Latics went on the defence in the second half, but this time against a team that is likely to stay rooted at the bottom of the league table for the rest of the season. A 1-0 win over a team as poor as Blackpool was seen as a relief, it being Latics ’first win of the season. On the other hand Rosler’s assertion that it was the best first half display by Latics since his arrival has been met with derision on the social media and fans forums.

Fitness still remains an issue, as does the lack of creativity in midfield and the lack of another reliable goal scorer to supplement Oriol Riera.

However, hope looms on the horizon for the German. Brentford sources announced today that they had reached an agreement with Latics over the transfer fee for Adam Forshaw. He is expected to sign for Wigan in the next few days. The League One Player of the Year, Forshaw might well be able to provide the kind of creative spark that has been missing up to this point.

On Saturday Latics played 3-5-2 with Callum McManaman and Oriel Riera up front. McManaman came close to scoring on at least four occasions, the easiest opportunity being after a great run and low cross from Riera. McManaman has returned to form this season and could well prove to be Latics’ trump card in their bid for promotion. He has shown in the past that he can have a cool head for finishing, even if a little poise was lacking on Saturday.

Given ridiculously inflated market prices for strikers within English football circles, it could be that Latics already have the players who can deliver the goods. Playing as a striker in a 3-5-2 formation, McManaman is likely to see more of the ball, making him more of a danger to the opposition defence than when he plays out wide in the 4-3-3 formation. Similar possibilities exist for James McClean, when he returns from injury. Although not renowned for his finishing, the Irishman actually has a better career record for scoring goals than McManaman.

Rumour also tells us that there is a possibility of a return on loan for Nick Powell. The 20 year old had an exciting start to his Latics career, scoring spectacular goals and oozing self-confidence. However, he was unable to reproduce that same form after an injury in mid-season. Rosler clearly rates him highly, having recognized his exceptional talent.

Suddenly there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Rosler and Latics.

However, there remains a fear among fans that is largely beyond Rosler’s control. That is of a further exodus of quality players from the club. Will the arrival of Forshaw herald the departure of James McArthur?

Will Dave Whelan provide the financial backing that will allow Latics to compete in the transfer market without having to sell their prized assets?

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