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

Amigo and Social Media Reaction to an exciting performance at Rochdale

Rochdale 3 Wigan Athletic 3

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

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

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

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

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

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

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

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

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

SwindonLatic commented:

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

Arthur_Itis remarked:

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

Kenny Morris said:

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

Degsy1 opined:

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

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

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

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

True Believer summed up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onwards and upwards boys.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

A blend of pace, youth and experience

Watching Wigan Athletic over the years there have been so many memorable moments. David Unsworth’s penalty at Bramall Lane, Hugo Rodallega’s header at Stoke, Amr Zaki’s blockbuster at Liverpool; not forgetting Ben Watson’s fateful finish at Wembley. We all have our favourites: those that will stick in our minds for years to come.

Most of the ones I remember are associated with key moments in big games for Latics: those that influenced promotion or relegation, winning the FA Cup. I do not recall many from pre-season friendlies.

The encounter on Saturday had the look of a pre-season drubbing. Two goals down after just 11 minutes to a Burnley side that looked like they could go on and win by an emphatic margin. But Latics came back, thanks to moments of inspiration from a couple of young players.

Josh Windass is still only 25 and has not yet reached his peak. Some 20 minutes after Burnley had scored their second Windass produced a touch of class, superbly eluding his marker on the by-line to cut the ball back for Anthony Pilkington to score. Minutes later he shot from just inside the Burnley half, almost catching the goalkeeper out of position.  Windass has showed moments of genuine class before but has not been able to add consistency to his game, tending to drift in and out of things.

Joe Gelhardt is 17. He plays with the air of someone who is not afraid to express himself on the football field. He has a great left foot, pace and vision. Burnley are a big, physical team with robust defenders, but Gelhardt was not intimidated. His goal from Antonee Robinson’s cutback was scored with aplomb.

It is no surprise to hear that other Championship clubs are interested in acquiring a player of Windass’ potential.  He still has time to iron out the flaws in his game and become a coveted player. He has a pace and directness that can trouble opposing defences.

Paul Cook has already intimated that Gelhardt and his fellow 17-year-old Jason Weir could have a role to play in the senior side this season. Were this to become the case it would be a revelation after so many young homegrown players have been denied opportunities in the past by cautious managers fearful of throwing them in at the deep end. So often they have featured in pre-season but have had to take a back seat to young loan players from big clubs who have been brought in.

So many have been sent off on loan to clubs in lower divisions, including non-league. Few have come back and been able to establish themselves as senior squad members. Callum Lang is back at Wigan after two seasons at Morecambe and Oldham. He is still only 20 and has 72 appearances under his belt in the EFL, notching 23 goals. Will Lang be given the chance to prove he can deliver in the Championship, as he did in League 2?

Performances in pre-season games can so often be poor predictors for what is going to follow over the course of the season, when new players will come in and some will leave. But draws with Everton and Burnley will no doubt boost confidence within the camp.

There been much talk in the social media and message boards about Wigan Athletic’s inability to sign players to bolster their squad. Bids of £3-4m were made for centre forwards from Premier League clubs, Sam Gallagher and Jordan Hugill. Neither bid succeeded, but it could be seen as a statement from Darren Royle and IEC that they are willing to seriously invest in the transfer market. Gallagher and Hugill have mediocre career strike records so we can assume that Cook is, above all, looking for a target man, with the weight of goalscoring placed primarily on midfielders.

That Nixon mentions possible interest in Nmecha is therefore no surprise. The big German scored 4 goals in 38 appearances for Preston last season, either at centre forward or on the wing.

But Cook already has five players in his squad who were used as wide players last season: Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith, Anthony Pilkington and Gary Roberts. Interest in Nmecha would most likely be as a target man. But why is the manager offering some £2.6m to bring in Jamal Lowe from Portsmouth, who is a right winger? Is someone on their way out? Or is the manager intending to use some of them in other positions, such as #10?

Up to this point Latics have signed three players: David Marshall (goalkeeper), Antonee Robinson (left back) and Lewis Macleod (centre midfield). Lowe and Joe Williams appear to be available at the right price, although there will be competition from other clubs. Reports suggest that Latics continue to be interested in signing the 19-year-old Chelsea right back Dujon Sterling on loan. Leonardo da Silva Lopes was the starter in that position on Saturday, after being used as a winger against Everton.

Recruitment for most Championship clubs will surely go down to the wire, as it has in previous years. As things currently stand Latics have the experience from the likes of Danny Fox, David Marshall and Gary Roberts to counterbalance the youth of such as Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir. With Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Josh Windass they have pace further forward.

But we can expect more movement over the coming nine days. That will most likely include players leaving to raise funds to offset the transfer fees to be paid out. How long will those moments of inspiration from Gelhardt and Windass stick in the memory? Football clubs are places of constant turnover and who knows what will happen next?

 

In need of a transfer policy

In: David Marshall (Hull City, free)

Out: Devante Cole (Motherwell, loan), Shaun MacDonald (Rotherham, free), Callum McManaman (Luton, free), Nick Powell (Stoke City, free), Jamie Walker (Hearts, free)

The deadline for Championship clubs for all incoming permanent and loan registrations is due to close at 5pm on Thursday August 8, 2019. It leaves Wigan Athletic just under four weeks to complete their recruitment for the first half of the season. It appears that enough time remains, but nevertheless the fans are getting nervous. Five players out and just one man in up to this point. What is happening?

The concerns of fans are reflected in the social media and message boards. They see that other clubs in the division are streets ahead of Latics in their recruitment at this stage. The Bristol Post yesterday published a list of comings and goings among Championship clubs. It makes interesting reading. Latics rank among the highest in players leaving, among the lowest in players coming in.

At this time last year Latics had signed Leo Da Silva Lopes and Kal Naismith on permanent contracts and Reece James and Christian Walton on loan. Why is it taking longer this year? Some fans say that players will not be keen on joining a club that could once again be battling against relegation. Others say that Latics simply cannot or will not compete with other Championship clubs who are splashing money around like water. Reports suggest that Wigan were prepared to offer the 34-year-old free agent Alan Hutton a two-year contract but were unable to agree terms with him.

The fee Southampton want for Gallagher is rumoured to be around £5m. It was a surprise to many of us that Wigan Athletic were actively pursuing a player from a Premier League club, given inflated transfer fees and salaries in that division. The interest in Portsmouth’s Jamal Lowe was more predictable, although the £3m tag put on him by the south coast club seems excessive for a League 1 player who has never played above that level. The summer transfer activity will surely provide a litmus test for the IEC’s willingness to invest in player recruitment.

Chairman Darren Royle is hardly a David Sharpe in terms of communicating with the fans. But he is certainly addressing issues within the club. The DW Stadium needs an overhaul, the club needs to bring in more commercial revenue, the Academy needs upgrading to at least a category 2 level.  Royle may be less comfortable with the media than his predecessor but is tidying up things that had been left on hold.

IEC made it clear on buying the club that they were willing to invest but would do so judiciously. Investing in infrastructure is already underway. It is the club’s recruitment policy that is unknown. During Paul Cook’s reign the players coming in have typically come from the British Isles. The club’s homegrown players have been largely ignored with young loan players from big clubs brought in. The manager typically brings in veteran players who he believes will add to the dressing room climate and positively influence the younger players. Last season Cook splashed money on signing Josh Windass (around £1.8m), Cedric Kipre (around £1m), Leo Da Silva Lopes (around £800,000). Windass and Kipre impressed at times, but generally struggled to adjust to second tier English football. Da Silva Lopes was sent out on loan to Gillingham. Windass is now 25 years old, Kipre is 22 and Da Silva Lopes is 20.

Royle and the IEC are keen to develop the academy as a potential source of first team players. Latics have some fine prospects on their hands at the moment and it is to be hoped that the likes of Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir will not fall by the wayside as so many young players have at Wigan over the years.

 

Callum Lang is now 20 but has made 72 senior appearances in the past two seasons on loan at Morecambe and Oldham, scoring 23 goals. The loans have given him valuable experience. Now the time has come for the player to be given a chance in the Championship. Last season an under-pressure Cook was loath to bring in home grown talent.

Wigan Athletic’s recruitment policy has hardly been coherent in recent seasons. It contrasts with that of Brentford, whose data-driven approach helps them scout talent not only in the British Isles, but all over Europe. No matter that managers have come and gone they have stuck with a formula that has brought in significant funds from transfers, helping them stay solvent. They have shown that a small club can compete with the heavyweights of the Championship, finishing in the top ten in each of the past four years.

The 25 year-old Macleod is a free agent after letting his contract run down at Brentford. He has made 41 appearances for the Bees since signing from Rangers in December 2014. Macleod is a very capable player whose career has been riddled with injury problems, hamstring issues in particular. If he does sign for Latics will Cook and his medical team be able to get the best out of him and resurrect his career as they did with Nick Powell?

The next four weeks will certainly give us an indication of the recruitment policy to be supported by the new owners. Will the club continue to bring in young loan players from big clubs at the expense of home-grown talent?