Amigo and Social Media reaction to losing to a clinical Portsmouth team

Wigan Athletic 0 Portsmouth 1

Lying fourth in the table, with three consecutive victories behind them, Portsmouth were the favourites to win this match. They did so in a clinical manner through a fine strike by substitute Andy Cannon after 46 minutes. There was no shortage of effort and commitment from Latics but despite their pressure they rarely looked like scoring. Altough they created opportunities Wigan’s final touch was severely lacking. Crosses into the box were eagerly lapped up by a tall and physical Pompey backline. Many of the crosses were speculative but there seemed to be no one in the box for Latics willing to attack the ball as it came in.

Viv Solomon-Otabor was once more played when he looked so short of fitness. Callum Lang, Wigan’s most dangerous goal-threat, was played on the right wing. Jamie Proctor was once again chosen at centre forward. The net result was a lack of penetration and goal-threat from the home team.

Leam Richardson and his staff have done a fantastic job in keeping Latics in with a possibility of avoiding relegation in extremely difficult circumstances. Reports suggest that he has been approached by the new ownership with a view to staying on next season. Richardson has a real strength in motivating players and their commitment was there again today for all to see. But he can be inflexible in his team selections and tactics.

Due to the dire circumstances faced by the club, Richardson has been dealt a poor hand in terms of the quality and depth of the squad. Moreover, he has a number of players who have had major injury problems  over the past couple of seasons. The recurring injuries of several players have been no surprise given their recent history. However, fielding Solomon-Otabor, given his current state of fitness, was unlikely to work out. Putting his best available striker on the right wing was less than ideal. Like Paul Cook, Richardson constantly reverts to a favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. He has flirted with playing three central defenders and wing backs, but has not persevered.

Wingers have played a major role in Latics’ success during the Cook/Richardson era. But today Richardson persisted with his 4-2-3-1 despite the absence of two fit, specialist wingers. In the second half, with Pompey a goal up and Latics not looking like scoring he could have taken off Solomon-Otabor at an earlier stage and put Callum Lang at centre forward with Thelo Aasgaard playing in the space behind him. But he took off the creative Aasgaard after 68 minutes to bring on senior pro Will Keane who has been out of form since January. Solomon-Otabor stayed on until 79 minutes when he brought on another senior pro in Dan Gardner. The changes made things no better.

Richardson had chosen like-for-like replacements, sticking to the same shape. He had the option of bringing on Adam Long as a third centre back and to thrust his full backs further forward as wing backs. Jamie Proctor’s main role in the Richardson system is as a target man. However, Proctor has a career goalscoring record akin to that of Marc Antonio Fortune. He is by no means a goal-machine. Switching to three at the back the manager could have employed Proctor as a twin striker with Lang close-by to latch on to his flicks and any deflections.

Despite the result Latics are by no means dead and buried. They can still avoid relegation. However, to do so will depend not only on the commitment of the players but also getting the best out of what is available. The defence has become more solid and that is a welcome sign. But blind faith in 4-2-3-1 and senior pros is unlikely to get Latics over the hurdles to come. The lack of creativity and the sterile passing across the pitch and back to the goalkeeper has become too repetitive. Richardson will need to open his mind to alternative approaches as needs arise.

After the game Richardson said:

“In the first half, in my opinion, we possibly let a game go. We got into some great areas, could have gone in one or two goals up but we didn’t work them enough and our quality has to be better. 

We’re playing against an in-form Portsmouth side and our lads matched the fight and we took the game to them. Unfortunately, we dropped on the wrong side of the result. We are in a routine where people are saying ‘unlucky’ & ‘you’re the best team’, but we’ve fallen on the wrong side of the result and we need results. 

At the minute, we’re getting the performance but not the results, but we will. I’ve got to give credit to the lads with the effort levels. They don’t leave a breath out there; they may be misguided in certain areas but they’re giving everything and that’s all we can ask.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

FrancosLoveChild commented:

I’ll be honest, I’m thankful for Leam and for all he is done but I really hope he decides to go to Ipswich under cook, fresh start for him and back in a role he is good at.

He is sadly not a manager, we need a great start with a new manager and team who has no bias to any players. And just a different chapter for us.

This frontline is awful, only Lang is decent at this level.

Victor Moses wrote:

12 shots vs 5, with zero on target for us. Can’t fault the effort again today, just wasteful in the final third. Played much of the game in their half, just the players didn’t put the ball in the net.

Need to find better openings in the next game and work on hitting the ball cleanly. So many scuffed crosses and shots.

Zeb2  added:

I’m increasingly of the view that we will go down and I genuinely think it’s better if we start over with a new manager in situ ASAP to effectively recruit a new squad.

That in itself will be a huge challenge, as we’ve just seen Bolton had to endure a ‘write off‘ season to reset …and ….pretty much half of this one as well, before they really started to ’motor’ .

LR has been a hero and we owe him our gratitude for everything he has withstood this season, but as others have said neither he nor we necessarily see the managers job as his role.
The team could still surprise us …but yet another inadequate, pointless and goalless home performance offers little evidence that they will.

There needs to be a definitive future direction set, during this month, whilst that doesn’t have to mean a new appointment, they absolutely do need to map out the criteria and terms of their search and get it underway even if concluding it isn’t possible for a month or so yet.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is porth5.png

Moonay gave his perspective:

I really, really can’t get worked up about today’s loss. Not too long ago, it was more than possible that we were going to be playing as a Phoenix club in the National League … or even NW Counties !!!

For me, the question is “were they trying?”, and the answer (maybe apart from Evans’s “chase” for their goal) was obviously, yes. However, there was no improvement in the quality of the shooting, and that’s what’s p..sing us all off.

In January, Richardson and Rioch had an impossible job – entice players to come to Wigan, on a contract till the summer, with very possibly, no chance of a further one. They did their best, and we got who we got … numbers being just as important as quality, given the rate we were losing people to injury.

On reflection, it may well have been better to stick with more of the kids, though that would have been a massive gamble.

But, as the saying goes, we are where we are, and for me, that’s a far better place than I was hoping for much of February. The new management team don’t sound despondent about the likelihood of League 2, so why should we?

Hindleymonwafc said:

Only difference today was a goal threat…im not going to be too harsh on them because we more than matched a play off certainty. Its the final 3rd that will undue us but let’s not throw um all out because the back 4 are showing some ability bringing the ball out.

True Believer responded:

You are right Hindley, for the first 45 we were comfortable playing the ball out from the back and both Ojo and Evans were influencing the game.

The problems came when they scored !!

Once ahead they switched to five across the middle and stifled our play, so our back four then lost the out ball to midfield and went long, Evans in particular had no influence in the second half and we struggled to break them down.

We are desperately missing a wide right player and, although he is much maligned, we looked a more balanced side with Massey on the wing. Callum Lang is wasted playing out wide and his goals have dried up since he started playing there. He needs to be more central and running the channels turning CB’s and playing to his strengths. I would try Gardner out there for a game or two, I know it’s not his preferred side but I am sure he could do it and that would free Lang up to get back to what he is good at.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to a limp display at Accrington

Accrington Stanley 3 Wigan Athletic 1

It was always going to be a challenge playing on a small and bumpy pitch against a physically imposing Accrington side. With the absence of wingers  Viv Solomon-Otabor and Gavin Massey through injury and the expectation of an aerial barrage from the home side, Leam Richardson employed a back line of three central defenders and two wing backs.

Callum Lang’s opportunist goal in the first minute gave Latics genuine hope, but it was nullified when the 6ft 4in central defender Cameron Burgess was left unmarked to equalise two minutes later. Then after 15 minutes awful defending allowed another 6ft 4in central defender, Callum Nottingham, to bundle the ball home.

With an uncoordinated  rearguard and a goalkeeper rooted on his line Latics continued to be vulnerable to the crosses the home side would put in. It came as no surprise when Accrington got a third through a soft penalty against Tendayi Darikwa in the 61st minute. Striker Dion Charles’ spot kick was practically straight at Jamie Jones, who did not react. Was it the sheer pace of the shot that beat him?

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“It’s very disappointing and I’m disappointed in the fact you knew what was coming, you prepare for what’s coming and then you succumb to that. I’ve been fortunate to work [at Accrington] as a player and manager and I’ve worked with John [Coleman]’s teams and if you don’t match the fight against his teams then you lose the game and that’s exactly what happened here this afternoon.

They’re built off a solid base and physicality and they want to run through you and around you and you can’t allow that or give possession away and give free kicks away.We got beat today by two balls into our box with no contact, no endeavour and we lost nine or ten battles on the pitch and that’s why we lost.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

FormbyLatic wrote:

That was truly one of our worst performances of the season by some margin. Really, really disappointing.

Moonay opined:

It doesn’t take much, does it.

7 points from the last 3 games, just the one goal conceded, all forgotten, cos too many players have had a poor afternoon, and the manager has maybe got his selection (and tactics?) wrong.

Plenty of criticism of the defence for the goals, (and rightly so) but the the goals (all avoidable) were from 2 set pieces and a pike with full twist of a penalty.

Some had OK games, but even those players had black marks against them: Lang, but should have had a second early on, Darikwa, but shouldn’t have allowed the opportunity for the dive, …to be fair, I’m struggling to class anyone else as OK.

As Oscar said, poor decisions let us down at times. It wasn’t a great pitch, but that can’t be an excuse.

Richardson and Rioch watch the players in training, and know far more about football and footballers than all us keyboard critics, but I struggle to see what Dodoo offers that Proctor doesn’t. Also, if you’re going to play a back 3, then the wing backs have to get forward, but young Robinson struggled to do that.

A bad day at the office, with a few toys strewn around the cot, but still plenty to play for in the coming games. Cookie up next. Let’s hope he does us a favour.

True Believer stated:

We changed our game plan to nullify theirs, in my book that is a negative attitude.

I like to see teams play three at the back, as Accy do.

However in order to play that your wing backs have to assist in midfield, today Robinson wasn’t able to do that. Darikwa had some success on the right but cost us with a poor decision. We effectively played five at the back for most of the game and the two errors came from misunderstandings from players adjusting to playing a different formation. We lost the runners and it cost us.

Hopefully we learn from this and move on but we really must play to our strengths and not negate our play by trying to counter opposition set ups. We need to play our own game and not be intimidated by other teams, let them worry about us and not the other way around. Sure we will lose some games but at least we will go down playing our own game.

Kendal Blue summarised:

Very poor day at the office today. Bad decisions, lack of clinical touch and also a lack of positive risk taking. Our defence has improved tenfold since the dark days of winter, but took a step back today and was particularly disappointed with how easily we were bullied when the ball was in the air. Have always thought that Evans needs to push on and have a few more shots and at this level he should be taking a risk. Our chance conversation ratio is supposedly one of the best in the league but I don’t think that stat is quite as positive as it sounds.

Putting it down to an awful day, but not a complete catastrophe. Certainly not a complete undoing of the last 3 games. Nothing a good old fashioned b.llocking and extra days training can’t put right.

Victor Moses commented:

Evans has been poor for me this season, at the beginning of the season he was giving the ball away cheaply and since his return from injury he has continued to do so. He plays emotional, one mistake affects the rest of the match for him. Used to be my favourite player, the 1st spell here on loan he was outstanding. Has gone backwards, probably needs to play as the central midfielder in a 3 like Wilder used him, can’t see him being effective anywhere else anymore.

Aasgaard to be out of the team for Dodoo or Gardner is something I cannot understand, neither bring anything to the team currently.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Stormclouds loom over Wigan Athletic’s fight to avoid relegation: time for changes?

The dedication and sheer hard work of the management team of Leam Richardson and Gregor Rioch has kept Wigan Athletic in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation from League 1. That Latics are not totally adrift of the teams above them in the table is a testimony to their endeavours. The league table shows the task ahead of them.

Courtesy of SkySports.com

After Jamie Jones had somehow allowed an innocuous shot to go through him in the 27th minute on Wednesday evening it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Latics against high flying Hull City. Up to that point they had matched the visitors and had looked solid. However, with five losses in the previous six games Wigan’s confidence was bound to be brittle. Another goal five minutes later was no surprise and as the game continued, with their confidence shot, the Wigan team capitulated. Hull could have scored more than five.

Wigan’s starting line-up against Hull consisted of just one player, Chris Merrie, who had come through their academy. There were five players new to the club over the January transfer window. Much had been said earlier in the season of a young team giving away goals through a lack of experience. In the January window the club had done well to bring in new players who might provide an experienced backbone to the squad. But goals continue to be given away with more seasoned pros having taken the place of U23 players.

With so many new players arriving it was always going to take time for the new blend to gel. The comings and goings of so many players over the course of the season has made things extremely difficult for management. Moreover, the long-term injuries to Kyle Joseph and Tom Pearce have thrown another spanner in the works.

Following poor performances and results against relegation rivals Wimbledon and Swindon, Richardson switched to a back line of three central defenders for the next game at Northampton which was decided by an opportunist strike by Callum Lang. That backline had the experience of Scott Wootton and Curtis Tilt, both 29-years-old, with over 360 career league appearances between them, together with the very capable 22-year-old George Johnston. It looked like a combination that could provide solidity at the back with enough height and muscle to deal with the aerial threat posed by so many teams in the division.

Latics did not perform badly in the following game against an Oxford team in top form, another well taken goal from Lang putting them in front. Sadly they went on to lose the game through goals created by centres into the box.

It was a surprise to see that for the Hull game Richardson had ditched his back three in favour of an orthodox back four, with Johnston pushed to left back. But what was more puzzling was his advanced midfield trio with Viv Solomon-Otabor on the left and Dan Gardner and Will Keane in the centre and on the right. The new shape did not work and all three were taken off after 56 minutes, with Latics already four goals down.

Managers under pressure tend to rely on experienced players and that showed in Richardson’s team selection. Thelo Aasgaard was rested and not in the squad. Luke Robinson and Callum Lang were on the bench and brought on in the second half. Alex Perry, whose range of passing from the centre of the field can be a real asset, has been pushed out by the arrival of the more conservative Funso Ojo. The problem over recent games has been that too many of those senior professionals have been way off form. However, Richardson has stuck with them. Jones in particular has been fortunate to have kept his place despite poor goalkeeping that has cost Latics dearly.

If Latics are to lift themselves for the visit of top-placed Lincoln City tomorrow a shake-up is needed. Having a backbone of experienced players can be of great value in a relegation dog-fight, but some need a break to help them regain their form. There are lots of hungry, talented young players at the club who can step in.

Amigo and Social Media reaction to a narrow defeat at Oxford

Oxford United 2 Wigan Athletic 1

The trip was always going to be difficult to play an Oxford side that had won 11 of their last 12 games. A soft goal conceded in the 83rd minute proved to be the decider despite the solid defence and endeavour we had seen from Wigan until the last 20 minutes when their legs seemed to become heavier.  

Leam Richardson named a lineup that was unchanged from the win at Northampton. In the first half they held their own physically.  Although Oxford had 65% of the possession the Wigan defence looked solid and well organised, the front players high pressing when the home defenders had the ball. Chances for both teams had been minimal.

Following a long half time break Callum Lang’s well taken goal after 57 minutes gave Latics a surprise lead. Lang took a knock not long after and was eventually substituted after 69 minutes by Joe Dodoo. The centre forward’s absence signalled a change in Wigan’s approach with the high pressing becoming less evident and Oxford dominating the game.

Latics were so often hoofing the ball away, inviting further pressure. Crosses were being too easily launched into the box with Wigan’s defence becoming increasingly hard pressed. After 72 minutes Brendon Barker was allowed to cross from the left flank, despite two Wigan players being in close attendance. Sam Winnall headed in with ease at the far post. Some ten minutes later Mark Sykes was  allowed the space to launch a cross into the centre where big centre back Elliott Moore outmuscled both Curtis Tilt and Scott Wootton to go on to score.

It was a defensive lapse that produced the deciding goal, but Latics had done well to hold a good Oxford side until those final 20 minutes.

After the game Richardson commented:

“With the emotion that went into half-time, we went in and passed information across and then you’re waiting 30-40 minutes to kick-off the second-half.  As a professional you must take the information on and display it anyway but it didn’t help either side.The second-half was really scrappy; we got our noses in front but two balls into our box we should defend better cost us.

Going forward I thought we got in some good areas where our numbers should have favoured us, albeit in difficult conditions today. Overall, I thought for 70 minutes we were worthy of something and in the last 15 or 20 minutes we self-destructed a little bit.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

You are my sunshine commented:

Really disappointed and frustrated to lose that game. We were great for an hour, looked well organised and solid defensively as well as looking a threat going forward, getting into some decent positions. We just couldn’t quite get that final cross or pass right until Lang showed good strength and smashed the ball home.

The game then seemed to change after our goal. Lang went off a short time later and we had no outlet, got pushed back by their attacking subs and were also guilty of sitting back ourselves. After defending crosses well for the most part,to concede from those 2 crosses was disappointing, especially that 2nd one. We had 2 defenders to deal with it when the ball dropped and their guy had no right whatsoever to get in between them both from behind, out muscle them and score.

I thought Lang led the line superbly again and the game changed when he went off.All the other youngsters Aasgaard, Merrie, Robinson and Johnston also did well.

Despite the disappointment at losing, we have given the form team in division a decent game today and should’ve got at least a point,if not all 3 from the position we put ourselves in after our goal. But we take the positives, work on the negatives and go again on Wednesday!

SwindonLatic stated:

We’re not going to create enough chances with Aasgard and Keane playing either side of Lang. Aasgard has some nice touches but he loses the ball too much and Keane seems to be half the player he was a couple of months ago. We won’t improve and start creating chances until we have some more pace upfront to support Lang.

Victor Moses wrote:

Aasgaard can be wasteful, but he puts a respectable shift in. Pressed and won the ball for the goal, he also helps the fullback to defend.

He later added:

It’s not so much the effort levels that gets me its the output levels. Players in the team like Keane and Gardner in past weeks who simply cannot cover distance, with two slow midfielders central and pressing the half way line is a tough ask. They get too much free territory, also with the 5 at the back every failed cross attempt they easily collect because we drop so deep.

There’s not many if any defenders in this league that cope with being pressed, but we don’t do enough of it for easy turnovers. Sitting in waiting for the next passes is allowing their better players to operate.

Springy-Park commented:

Our defence keeps making the same mistakes, they cannot clear the ball and the opposition are scoring easy goals. We keep standing off teams and giving them far too much room, we are bunched up at the back and are easily by-passed by simple crosses which causes mayhem at the back.

Unless we get this sorted out very quickly we will lose contact with the bottom pack, we have to put far more pressure on teams and not retreat into our shell. As the saying goes the best form of defence is to attack, every team we play get the ball into our goal area as quickly as possible.


As Shankly said:

“If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.”

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to three points for Wigan Athletic at Northampton

Northampton Town 0 Wigan Athletic 1

It was not a game for the purists, but Callum Lang’s opportunist goal after 82 minutes was enough to give Latics the points. The ground staff at the Sixfields had done a great job in keeping the pitch only barely playable in the freezing conditions. The result was a hard, bumpy surface, making skilful football very difficult for both teams. The hoof became the norm:  Latics did produce flashes of good football, the Cobblers very little.

With Tom Pearce possibly out for the long term and Jamie Proctor having to self-isolate, Leam Richardson wisely shuffled his lineup and tactics. Adopting a line of three central defenders provided the height and physicality to withstand Northampton’s aerial attacks.

Lang was moved to centre forward and for most of the game he was in the shackles of the Cobblers’ physical back line, chasing long balls. It is to his credit that he seized his moment to take his chance in a manner reminiscent of Will Grigg of yesteryear, racing on to Luke Robinson’s headed clearance to outpace two defenders and score with aplomb. It had been a game with few real chances for either team the best one for Wigan coming to Thelo Aasgaard early on, his shot hitting Lang.

Latics had taken the field with two 19-year-olds in their lineup. Robinson has played for Scotland at U18 and U19 levels, but it was his first league start for Wigan. Aasgaard, brought up in Liverpool and with a Norwegian father, represented Norway at U16 level. He is a class act and last night showed the glimpses of skill and physical presence that will make him a key player for Latics.

After the game Richardson commented:

“You know what you’re going to get from Keith Curle’s team and Northampton did put it to us in many ways. You’ve got to be up for meeting that challenge. My challenge to the lads was to make sure we were better than them in every area, which allowed us to impose our little bits of quality that we always felt we could get in certain areas.

We’ve set our criteria out, we know our aims and we’ve spoken about them now for a while. We’re a new group even in the middle of a season and our numbers are continually reduced, with Tom Pearce’s injury and Jamie Proctor’s positive Covid test after such a good debut.

Our lads are always training and learning, and that showed with Luke Robinson getting his full debut – he was outstanding. He’s played a massive part in us keeping a clean sheet and he’ll certainly remember his first 90 minutes for us.”

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

Victor Moses commented:

The pitch was terrible, players falling over all game. Slipping, ball getting stuck in their feet. They were very direct, most players struggled to control the ball especially Keane, his was woeful.

Both of Langs goals he’s spun the defender before finishing nicely. Had more to do this time but took that goal very well.

Forgot to mention Aasgaard, played really well tonight. Whilst all the other players struggled to control the ball he was tidy and creative. Much better then we’ve seen from Gardner recently. Robinson did solid a lwb, Darikwa defended excellently.

Arthur_Itis said:

Wigan tried to play on the deck occasionally but the pitch was horrendous (the ball bobble waist height on a simple 10 yard pass at one point) so we ended up hoofing it and just don’t have the players for that tactic.
Northampton were set up for the hoof from the off, but Tilt and Johnston particularly battled well, and we managed to limit their chances.
Both teams were poor, but I felt we could have been much better if we’d been playing on a bowling green, whereas I felt they peaked no matter what the conditions.

Skem Tic  added:

For me that was a hard earned but well deserved win, Northampton looked like a team that were playing away against top of the league opposition. They appeared to be playing for a draw from about the fifth minute and became difficult to break down and were getting away with plenty of fouls, as usual we got no help from the usual Poor referee.
Langs goal was great, the strength he showed holding off two defenders pushing and pulling him back it would have been easy for him to go down, glad he didn’t the as it would have been waved away as a coming together by the ref!
Defence were much better tonight and the whole team looked like they wanted to play. Man of match for me Curtis Tilt! Keep it up Latics!

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com