Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a stunning win at Bolton

October 16, 2021: Bolton Wanderers 0 Wigan Athletic 4

What a scintillating performance from Wigan! They bossed this game from start to finish, outplaying the home team. Will Keane’s 6th minute goal got Latics off to a flying start. The home team’s main threat was from inverted left winger Dapo Ofolayan, a capable player, but one who has the ability to fall to the ground after the mildest of challenges. His threat was nullified by crowding him out and the tactic seriously hindered Bolton’s attacks. Wigan’s defence was rock solid and they were full of energy in midfield and up front, with the line superbly led by Charlie Wyke.

James McClean had his best match ever for Latics, scoring two and providing the assist for the first goal. A very experienced Premier League and Championship player he is revelling in playing in the third tier. His rocket shot put Latics two up in the 50th minute and he showed good composure to add a fourth in the 80th minute. McClean’s best goalscoring record in league games is 7 goals for Stoke City in the Championship in 2019-20. He already has 3 goals this season and looks like he will go on to eclipse that previous record.

In a post-match interview McClean remarked on his first goal: “It was a great strike. I had a couple in the first half on my right foot which was more Row Z rather than the top corner. To get that away and see it fly into the top corner was a great feeling. It was absolutely fantastic.” He added that Latics have a side that “can pretty much do anything”, being able to play football and match opponents on a physical level when the going gets tough.

It was a memorable performance from Latics, marred only by crowd trouble. The local  police superintendent commented; “I am saddened that a group of individuals took it upon themselves to ruin the game today for the rest of the fans. The game had to be paused several times due to objects being thrown on to the pitch and one of our officers was assaulted, as well as rival supporters causing disorder following the game. This is quite frankly disgusting behaviour and will not be tolerated in any shape or form. We will continue to work closely with the football clubs to carry out a full investigation into the criminal activity that occurred today and bring those involved to justice.”

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:

JockLatic commented:

Absolutely brilliant performance, best I’ve seen in a while, from Amos all the way to Wyke who worked his socks off. MoM was JM closely followed by Naylor who mopped up everything that came his way but the rest of the team were top drawer as well. From kick off we didn’t let them settle & at 1 nil we missed a few chance which had me thinking will this come back & bite us in the ar.e – no need to worry once JM screamed the second in much to the dismay of the ‘crazy corner’ ….JM doing what he does best, winding up the opposition fans. Couldn’t go without saying that our fans today played their part with a brilliant atmosphere from start to finish & I’ve no doubt that ‘Bolton get battered everywhere they go’ will be ringing in them Bolton fans ears for some time to come. Coming away from the ground wasn’t too bad but there was certainly a fair few looking for it from both sides…luckily we didn’t see any. Onwards to MK Dons n hopefully a similar performance.

WalgarthJohn said:

The way this fixture is going it’s attracting every trouble maker from both sides. And over the last few times we have played these lot it gets worse every game. our fans. Ripping down hoardings. Was not nice to see. Wigan Athletic has always been a family club. Shameful behaviour from both sets of fans.

KingdeZeeuw summed up:

After the last international break we saw a big improvement in our style of play and we saw another big step forward today. By far our best performance of the season we retained the foundations of out working, out running and out battling the opposition but were far more composed in possession and playing more football. There were long balls but very few of were hopeful punts that came straight back at us they were more targeted into areas that hurt Bolton and helped us. Centre mid is now getting involved in the build up play all the time and it’s made the world of difference. Cousins I felt had his best game for us and was far more positive on the ball so it was a real shame he went off injured – hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’ll not miss any time.

It was a very balanced performance where we looked dangerous every time we had the ball and every time we broke up play we were rapid to counter in numbers. We’ve said all season that we have been very effective without playing great and we hadn’t really seen the finished article yet in terms of style of play. But today all of the hard work and tweaking we’ve done from game to game really started to pay off and it was superb.

Bolton have a lot of method in the way they play and that type of football earlier in the season was causing us issues but today our high press and pressing all over the pitch killed them and they had no plan B. We just forced them into error after error. When you look at the stats they had more possession and lots more passes but it was all possession in non dangerous areas and passes that didn’t really help them – compared to us who were ruthlessly efficient in and out of possession. Evatt I’m sure will do some mental gymnastics to say that their possession and passing proves they’re a better side but we looked a class above them. We’ll be playing MK Dons next who are very much in the same camp of possession based football and playing out from the back. So hopefully we can’t repeat this performance.

Hard to pick anyone out as MOTM as everyone was excellent but special mention to Wyke. He may not have got on the score sheet but he was playing against a much larger centre half in Santos most of the time and he was winning so many balls in the air. His work rate is always high and his hold and link up were great. He looked a proper target man today and it made everything we did so much more dangerous with Lang and Keane anticipating the flick ons.

I bet Evatt wishes he hadn’t talked so much as i got the impression a few of our lads had a little extra spring in their step to put one up him. Evatt has done well for Bolton but he’s firing up other teams and lumping extra pressure on his players with his comments and today should’ve humbled him. But I get the impression he isn’t the type to learn from his mistakes.

No doubt Richardson was backed in the market to bring in a squad better than most in the division but to get them so organised, so fit, so hard working and fight so hard is a massive testament to him and the coaching staff he brought in. It’s still early days so you can’t get too carried away but it feels like they are building something special.

C_Latic commented:

Simply wonderful and the best thing was that wasn’t even the best we’ve played this season. We were better against Wycombe. An absolute pasting and credit to Ian Evatt for the assist with his pre match team talk. Well in Jimmy Mc!

Bolton fan WarrenBluffit commented:

No complaints today guys you were head and shoulders better.

No apologies necessary Becky and no excuses you were head and shoulders better than us today in every area of the pitch. I just don’t know what our lot we’re on today, that’s the worst I’ve seen since the first half of last season, nervous, slow, clumsy and lacking in any kind of passion. I say that without taking anything away from Wigan, you were excellent, won every 50/50 ball, forced us into mistakes and kept your shape for the whole game.

You were clinical where it mattered and defensively in the second half you totally shut us down. You’ll know better your own players but for me Wyke was outstanding, totally dominating Santos and Johnson and nobody else has bullied Santos that way. On that performance I can’t see anyone stopping you going up and it rammed Evatt’s stupid comments right back where the sun don’t shine!! Good luck for the rest of the season and apologies for some of our moron fans who resorted to chucking things.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Can Latics get the best out of Charlie Wyke?

In the summer of 2019 Wigan Athletic signed big centre forward, Kieffer Moore, from Barnsley. Despite having a decent strike record at Barnsley and Rotherham before that, Moore had a lean time in front of goal for months. His first goal came in early November after not being able to find the net in his previous 12 appearances. By Christmas he had only added one more to his total.

Moore was playing in the Championship for the first time, against better defenders. There were serious questions about whether this player with successful experience in the lower divisions could reach the standards required in the second tier of English football.

Moore had become a struggling player in a team unable to consistently maintain a standard of football that would keep them out of the lower reaches of the division. Even though there were flashes of quality their performances were riddled with “soft” goals due to defensive errors and an inability to hold on to a lead. Too often defenders under pressure would apply the hoof to clear their lines. The lone centre forward had to feed on morsels, so often chasing wayward long balls with big defenders closely marshalling him.

Moore eventually went on to score 12 goals that season, several of which were of very high quality. It could be argued that he had got used to playing in the Championship and had looked more self-assured. But more than that it was the improvement in the football played by the team as a unit that enabled Moore to showcase his skills. As the season had progressed the hoofball had lessened. Midfielders were dropping back to receive the ball, even if space was tight. Moves were being built up from the back and the defenders were taking more responsibility in retaining the ball. With better ball retention the opposition were less able to constantly pressurise the Wigan defence. Put simply, Moore began to flourish as the team began to play football that had more of an emphasis on possession.

Since the Phoenix 2021 takeover in March the mood at the club and among its supporters has had a major lift. The positivity of the chairman, Talal Al Hammad, has been a major factor. He is relatively young and is adept with the social media, which he regularly employs to communicate with fans. The escape from relegation was a major achievement for a club that was on its knees during the period of administration. With the backing of new owner Abdulrahman Al-Jasmi and the direction provided by new Chief Executive Malachy Brannigan the club has new direction.

On his arrival Brannigan stated:

“The past 12 months have been extremely unfortunate for everybody. Our role and my job is to make sure this football club becomes a stable Championship club. From a business perspective, the assets that are here and the value we are getting for it. Then there is the medium to long-term vision of how we can rebuild the club, put it back on solid foundations and look to grow thereafter. We are not an ownership group that is going to be in and out”.

Since the end of last season there has been a lot of flux in playing staff. Most of those who helped the club avoid relegation have departed and the club has brought in players of proven ability at League 1 level. Most had been out of contract at their previous clubs, but it was uplifting for the supporters to see Latics enticing players from supposedly bigger clubs like Ipswich, Portsmouth, and Sunderland to Wigan.

The signing of Charlie Wyke in early July went down particularly well with the fans. Here was a centre forward who scored 31 goals in 51 appearances last season deciding to move to Wigan at the end of his contract rather than stay at Sunderland, where had recently been voted “Player of the Year”.

The 28-year-old, 6ft 2in striker was born in Middlesbrough and came through the town’s football club’s academy. After signing a 3-year professional contract as an 18-year-old in May 2011 he was sent off on loan spells at Kettering, Hartlepool, and Wimbledon. He left for Carlisle United in January 2015 without making an appearance for Middlesbrough. Wyke went on to score 32 goals in 64 starts and 13 substitute appearances for Carlisle in League 2. In January 2017 he signed for Bradford City for an undisclosed fee. During a season and a half with the Bantams, Wyke scored 22 goals in League 1 from 54 starts and two appearances off the bench.

Wyke signed for Sunderland for a fee around £400,000 in the summer of 2018. In his first two seasons he struggled, scoring only 9 goals in a total of 51 appearances. However, in the 2020-21 season he notched a total of 31 goals including 5 in 6 games in the EFL Trophy.

Wyke made his league debut for Latics last Saturday, at Sunderland of all places. He did not have a particularly good game, but neither did the rest of his teammates. Wigan had started off the game in style. Despite having only three players who were starters in the last game of the previous season the newly assembled team had appeared to gel remarkably quickly. When Gwion Edwards put Wigan ahead after 17 minutes following a flowing move they looked well in control of the game. But it was not to continue.

Just two minutes later Sunderland had scored through a soft penalty conceded by Tendayi Darikwa. They went on to win the game through another “soft” goal from their centre forward who had risen to head home without sufficient challenge from the Wigan defence. The smooth, fast-flowing football of the first quarter of the game had dissipated, with the long ball rearing its head.

Watching Charlie Wyke in the second half of the game brought back images to the mind of Kieffer Moore struggling in the first part of the 2019-20 season. He was receiving poor service as the midfield was being by-passed with hopeful long balls from defenders.  The pattern of the game provided parallels with what we saw happen too frequently in the first half of the 2019-20 season.

Unlike Moore who was playing in the second tier for the first time Wyke has ample prior experience at the level he is playing at. Given the right service from the wings he will score goals. But, like Moore, he will struggle if the ball is simply “lumped” to him from the back. But who will provide the kinds of crosses he needs?

This season’s team can pose a major threat to opposition defences with crosses from set-pieces. There is a potential threat from the aerial abilities of not only the central defenders and centre forward, but also the likes of Callum Lang, Tom Naylor, and Will Keane. However, much depends on the quality of the delivery from the player taking the free kick or corner.

To provide dangerous crosses from the flanks the full backs and wingers must build up a mutual understanding of each other’s play. If the full back advances deeply into opposition territory, there must be midfield coverage behind them to stifle counterattacks if possession is lost. Richardson has a choice as to which left full back he plays. Tom Pearce excelled in the first part of last season in a struggling side, creating chances through his runs and crosses. Luke Robinson is more conservative in attack, but stronger in defence than Pearce. On the right Tendayi Darikwa has shown that he can provide quality crosses but Latics have not yet signed another player who can challenge him in that position. The modern full back role is physically demanding and expecting Darikwa to play most of the 46 league games is a big ask.

Darikwa is well known to Richardson through their time together at Wigan and Chesterfield. The manager clearly has confidence in him through making him captain.

It was pleasing to note the captain’s post-match comment on Saturday evening: “I think we could have probably got the ball down a bit more today but we will look at it as a squad with the manager and come back next week.”

Wyke has made a quiet start at Wigan up to this point. The squad will take time to truly gel, but when it does will Wyke receive the kind of service he needs to be as successful as he was last season?

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