Economics and Grant Holt’s departure

Grant Holt has signed for Wolves on a short term loan deal.

Grant Holt has signed for Wolves on a short term loan.

A couple of weeks ago an article hit a couple of web sites that Wigan Athletic were looking at signing another striker in January. The player was interesting other clubs, including some from the Championship, but Latics were thought to be in pole position to sign him.

But why would Latics want to sign another forward with Craig Davies and Grant Holt coming back into the reckoning? Moreover Shaq Coulthirst and Haris Vuckic were getting closer to fitness and Gary Caldwell already had Will Grigg, Jordy Hiwula, Michael Jacobs, Sanmi Odelusi and Yanic Wildschut available for his front line.

Grant Holt’s departure for Wolves yesterday was no surprise, even if its timing might have been. He was one of five players on Championship-level salaries still remaining at the club. Emyr Huws, Billy Mckay and Andrew Taylor had already been sent out on season-long loans, together with Lee Nicholls until mid-December.

Between the end of last season and the beginning of this one, the club did a remarkable job in moving so many players from the previous regimes, allowing “hungry” new players to come in. At the end of last season loanees returned to their clubs and none of the seven players at the ends of their contracts were to stay. Nine players were sold, many for give-away prices.

Holt’s departure means that 13 players who would have been on Championship salaries are not currently at the club. Rough estimates place Wigan’s playing staff wage bill at around a third of what is was in the first season back in the Championship division. However, three players still remain on salaries that are possibly double what many of the newer signings are earning.

Caldwell has done a wonderful job in transforming the squad despite being under financial constraints. The 21 “new” players in his squad have largely shown that they can adapt to the style of football he seeks and the team has a genuine chance of promotion back to the Championship.

However, the financial reality is that Latics have suffered a very significant loss in earnings in being relegated from the Championship to League 1. There are still further adjustments to be made.

There are five players in the squad who are on short term loans which will expire before mid-January. Moreover the January transfer window presents an opportunity for players remaining on Championship-level salaries to move on. This includes Holt, whose loan to Wolves expires on January 2nd.

The timing of Holt’s departure is by no means ideal for Caldwell. He now has only two players – Grigg and Davies – naturally suited to the centre forward position. Given Davies’ vulnerability to injury it looks likely that Caldwell will seek another central striker either through the loan market or as a permanent signing in the January window. Hence those rumours of Wigan’s interest in the 23 year old and 6 ft 2 in tall Vadaine Oliver of York City might not be far off the mark.

Should Holt manage to stay fit and show some form at Wolves there are possibilities of him not returning to Wigan. His contract is up at the end of the season and even if he does not stay at Wolves there may be other Championship clubs interested in a striker of his experience.

Two of the three players remaining on Championship salaries have had significant injury problems over the past months. However, Chris McCann has shown that he has overcome his injury and has been in fine form. But Don Cowie has only recently returned and has made just one substitute appearance. Earlier in the season there were rumours linking the third of those – Leon Barnett – to Preston North End. However, with injuries to key central defenders Caldwell would have been loath to let him go at that time. Barnett had a nightmare 2014-15 season, but his form has certainly improved over the past weeks. All three players have contracts which expire at the end of the season and might be interested in moving on in January were a good offer to come through.

January could well be another busy time for Caldwell. In the meantime Coulthirst’s loan from Tottenham expires tomorrow. Donald Love has another month to go on his loan from Manchester United. The loans of Francisco Junior, Shaun Murray and Yanic Wildschut expire in January.

Just as it seemed Caldwell had a settled squad and things were starting to click, Holt’s departure came out of the blue. The likely reality is that the squad will not be finally settled until the end of January at the earliest.

The return of Chris McCann

Mcann

Relegation from the Championship saw a Wigan Athletic fire sale that was surely unparalleled in the club’s history. Players on Championship-level salaries were jettisoned at bargain prices as the club made efforts to drastically slash its wage bill with the prospect of much reduced revenues in League 1. It was anybody’s guess who would remain from last season’s squad as the cull neared its completion.

Many of us thought they would keep up-and-coming young talent and cash in on the players with rich Championship or Premier League experience. It was therefore a surprise to see the 28 year old Chris McCann line up for the opening match of the season at Coventry. Here was a player who had appeared disaffected in the latter part of the previous season, who had not started a game since early February.

McCann could have been expected to be one of the first to be offloaded. But it was not to be. In fact, the Dubliner has played in all eleven league games up to this point. His versatility in being able to play in midfield or on the left side of a central defensive trio has been of paramount importance to Gary Caldwell, given the injury problems he has already had to cope with.

Owen Coyle must rank as one of the most unpopular managers that Wigan Athletic have ever had, although most fans would probably rank Malky Mackay even lower. Coyle lasted less than six months in charge at Wigan before he left “by mutual consent”.

Coyle was given the mountainous task of taking Latics back into the Premier League within a year, together with leading through an historic Europa League campaign. He inherited a group of players who had played under the tutelage of Roberto Martinez, but given the mass exodus of players in the summer he had a lot of recruiting to do.

Coyle’s first signing was to be Chris McCann. The Dubliner had played under him at Burnley and was available for free at the end of his contract. McCann had been at Turf Moor since arriving from Home Farm in 2004. He had an outstanding season in 2008-09, when Burnley won promotion to the top tier of English football. Sadly he sadly was only able to make half a dozen Premier League appearances for the Clarets before receiving a cruciate knee injury. McCann returned in January for a couple of games before injury ruled him out for rest of the season. However, the Irishman was to come back to start in 83 Championship matches over the next two seasons. But he was unable to once more reach the heights of that promotion season form at Burnley, with further knee problems not helping.

McCann’s early performances for Latics were solid, if uninspiring. Some said that Coyle had brought in an ex-player who was not up to par and was snubbing players from the Martinez era. However, McCann gave a fine display against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, being tireless in defence, with his cultured passing when under pressure helping Latics keep possession. He followed that up with a fine performance at Charlton, being unlucky with a flick header that hit the crossbar. McCann had clearly now settled in and was to become an important cog in Coyle’s machine.

McCann must have wondered what would come next when Uwe Rosler replaced Coyle in December 2013. The Irishman is not the world’s most fortunate footballer and he was sadly sent off in Rosler’s first match in charge, leading to Latics being eliminated from the Europa League. Latics had been a goal up at Maribor when a shot from the edge of the box hit McCann’s upraised arm after he had turned his back to the shooter. It was clearly not intentional, but the Polish referee not only gave a penalty, but also gave McCann a yellow card. Since he already had an earlier one he was sent off.

But McCann was to become a key player for Rosler in Latics’ rise up the table and into the FA Cup semi-finals. He would usually operate on the left of midfield, where his surging runs forward, accurate passing and toughness in the tackle were a real asset. However, from time to time Rosler would play him on the left of a back line of three. He was playing in that position in the FA Cup sixth round match at Manchester City on March 9th, when he sadly fractured his knee cap during the first half of what was to be another stunning victory. Once again a serious injury had interrupted McCann’s career.

He was to make his return as a late substitute at Brighton on November 4th, in the penultimate game of Rosler’s reign. Mackay’s first match as Wigan manager saw them draw 1-1 at home to Middlesbrough, with McCann putting in an excellent performance. He became a frequent starter, although his performances had started to wane. McCann’s last appearance as a starter was on February 7th in a home defeat to Bournemouth. After that he was limited to three appearances off the bench for the remainder of the season.

McCann has staked his claim for a future under the management of Gary Caldwell. He has had his downs in his career, particularly with injuries, but continues to show his resilience. He has bounced back after appearing to be on his way out.

When McCann plays at the back Latics are pretty much guaranteed cultured passes coming in from the left hand side. Moreover at 6 ft 1 in and with a strong tackle McCann is able to cope with the physical side of defensive play.  However, his best position is on the left side of a trio of midfield players. It is from such a position that his attacking abilities are most effectively employed. On occasions when he has been played as one of two holding midfielders he has been less effective.

It has been a remarkable turnaround from McCann. Although seemingly destined to leave the club he has stayed and fought his way back to a regular starting place.

Over the coming weeks, providing the injured players gradually ease their way back in, it will be a challenge for McCann to maintain his place. But then again, given the player’s resilience, who can say that he will not be a key player in Caldwell’s plans?

An enjoyable evening at Firhill – Partick Thistle 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Photo courtesy of Tim Attree.

Photo courtesy of Tim Attree.

What an enjoyable time it was last night at Firhill. The pleasant and friendly atmosphere at the stadium was lifted even further by a bright performance from a young Latics team.  They played not only with organisation and enterprise, but with no mean level of skill.

The last time I went to watch a football match in Glasgow was not long after England had won the World Cup. I had travelled down from Dundee with a couple of friends from university to watch a tense England-Scotland game at Hampden Park. The atmosphere was totally intimidating for an England fan. Being naïve at the time we had not realized that the tickets we had bought were at the Celtic end, where we stood among fans wearing colours of both club and country. We were perhaps wise to keep a low profile as the crowd was to constantly jeer the German referee, Rudolf Kreitlein, whom they thought was allowing England too much leeway. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

Hampden Park was certainly a scary venue to visit at the time for an Englishman living in Scotland. But that was a long time ago, so when one of those same two friends told me a week ago he would join me on a trip to our old haunts in Dundee I suggested we combine it with a trip to Firhill. I had watched Partick Thistle play at Dens Park and Tannadice so many times during my seven years in the port city. They were one of my favourite visiting teams, always seemingly intent on playing good football, easily identified by their distinctive red and yellow shirts.

Firhill is nothing like Hampden. It is a small stadium with a capacity of around 10,000. Thistle have not actually played in Partick since 1908, when they moved to the Firhill Stadium in nearby Maryhill. Being less than half an hour’s walk from Sauchiehull Street it is closer to the city centre than Ibrox or Celtic Park. They are a small club in a big city, living within their means, without inflated ambitions.

Gary Caldwell set up his team in a 3-5-2 formation. Lee Nicholls was in goal. There was a return to the starting lineup for both Leon Barnett and Chris McCann, who lined up in a back three marshaled by the dominating Craig Morgan in the centre. Loan singing Jonjo Kenny played at right wing back with Jordan Flores on the left. The second loanee, Francisco Junior, was to play in front of the back four, with Ryan Jennings and trialist John Lundstram pushed a little further forward in midfield. Billy Mckay and Louis Robles played up front.

With such a mixed lineup it seemed inevitable that Latics would lack some cohesion, but they were well organized and every player seemed to know his role. Both teams were there to try to play good football and it was an open contest. As the game progressed Latics were to gain more cohesion. A slow start had been inevitable.

Junior was a tireless worker in midfield, not only through tackles and interceptions, but also in making himself available to receive the ball from the defenders in tight situations. It is the type of midfield play that was lacking last season. Kenny attacked with gusto and looked a fine player, although at times he left Barnett exposed. Flores worked hard in an unfamiliar role.

Morgan was captain for the night and will clearly be the main pillar upon which the defence will be built this season. McCann played with more enthusiasm than we have seen from him for a long time. Uwe Rosler had used him at times in that role on the left of the backline of three, where his steel in the tackle and cultured distribution come to the fore. On the other side Barnett was strong in the air but looked vulnerable under pressure. Like so many other players at the club, Barnett lost his confidence last season and just did not look like the player he was in 2013-14. On the positive side at least he was given some game time to try to get himself back in shape.

Nicholls was dominant in goal, constantly calling for his defenders to get in position. He had no chance for Steven Lawless’ goal not long after half time, the shot passing through Barnett’s legs, with the keeper unsighted.

Lundstram looked useful in patches, but could not impose himself on the game, being taken off at half time for David Perkins. It was Jennings who was to catch the eye in an unfamiliar central midfield role where he had the licence to run at the opposition defence. He scored a fine goal in the 51st minutes following Thistle’s opener, receiving a layoff from Robles on the edge of the area, his low shot beating the keeper. The 20 year old will surely now be challenging for a regular place in the lineup.

Perkins’ signing was hardly greeted with universal approval by fans, looking like another journeyman was arriving as in the days of Malky Mackay. But what we saw last night was a hard working holding midfielder with a nice touch on the ball, fitting seamlessly into Caldwell’s style of play.

Billy Mckay looked lively, willing to run at the defence, but he let himself down by skewing his shot wide of an open goal from Robles’ cut back. Robles himself was industrious and gave a good account of himself.

The second half saw a slew of substitutions for both sides, but the good football continued with Latics getting on top. Will Grigg had come on for Mckay after 60 minutes and came close twice, one shot being smothered by keeper Cerny, another effort going narrowly wide. With a little more match fitness Grigg will surely convert such chances. It is refreshing to see a Latics striker who knows where to position himself to score goals.  Craig Davies came on in the final quarter and his physical presence complemented the bright and intelligent footwork of Grigg. If both can stay fit they will provide Latics with a real cutting edge.

Max Power had come on after 60 minutes and really looked the part. Power is well built, not easy to knock off the ball, and has the kinds of incisive passing skills that have been lacking at Wigan over the past twelve months. The player is only 21, but having played so many times at senior level for Tranmere, he is not afraid to display his considerable skills. He will surely be the main contender for a more creative, advanced midfield role.

In the end a 1-1 result was probably fair to both teams. It was an entertaining game and although Latics employed 16 players during the course of the proceedings their football was good to watch.

Pre-season friendly matches can so often give a skewed view of what is going to happen when the season proper gets underway. But the dominant performances of senior professionals like Morgan, McCann and Perkins together with the youthful promise of Flores, Jennings and Robles augur well for the future.

One wonders if McCann is now back in the fold, or whether he was put in the shop window in this game. Last season was a nightmare for him, but he showed yesterday that he can still represent Wigan Athletic with application and no mean level of skill.

It is likely to be a very different starting eleven at Dundee on Friday. Last night’s display has certainly whetted one’s whistle for what is to follow.

Old guard supports Mackay – Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 1

Wigan Athletic’s old guard turned out in force at the DW yesterday. Third from bottom Latics were more than a match for third from top Middlesbrough and the home team can count itself a shade unfortunate not to have come out of it with three points. There were enough positive signs to suggest that Latics can put their horrendous start to the season behind them and be a team that will be hard to beat.

Malky Mackay wisely resorted to experience and the opening lineup had just two of Uwe Rosler’s signings in it. The old guard was back in force.

The unfortunate Rob Kiernan was not even on the bench. Emmerson Boyce was back in his old favourite right back position, with Andrew Taylor restored at left back. The centre of defence had a solid look about it with a pairing of Ivan Ramis and Leon Barnett. Mackay retained the 4-3-3 formation that Rosler had been using of late, with Adam Forshaw and Chris McCann in the holding roles and Roger Espinoza pushed further forward. Marc-Antoine Fortune played the lone centre forward role with Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney playing wide.

The game started with a show of support for Dave Whelan that brought him to tears, as fans stood up and applauded him. It was one of those emotional moments that will be etched into the collective Wigan Athletic memory for years to come.

Latics started cautiously but soon started to match Boro. Players were working hard for each other and the team looked organised and compact. Chris McCann was bossing the left centre of midfield, reminding us of what we have been missing for the past seven months. In the 9th minute Shaun Maloney went close with a free kick that went just over the top. Fifteen minutes later McCann was brought down after bursting through from midfield. Maloney stepped up to put a perfect free kick into the left hand corner. The game became largely a midfield tussle with neither side willing to commit too many players forward. But just before half time Boro centre forward Kike turned to put a fine shot narrowly wide.

The game continued in the same vein until the 57th minute when Patrick Bamford, who had come on as a substitute for the visitors, scored an opportunist goal, evading Ramis and firing across Carson into the right hand corner. But Latics held firm and a patient and skillful buildup led to the ball falling to McCann, who could not keep it down and the chance was lost.

Maloney was buzzing and threatened to unlock a stubborn and well organized Boro defence. His set pieces had been excellent and in the 70th minute his inswinging corner was met by Barnett whose effort hit the post. James McClean had come on for Espinoza after 70 minutes. There was great applause for the return of Ben Watson, coming on for Forshaw after 80 minutes. James Perch replaced a tired looking Boyce a minute later.

Although one of the physically biggest sides that one will see in the Championship this year, Boro had kept the ball largely on the ground, no doubt under the influence of Spanish manager Aitor Karanka. However, in the closing minute they threatened to use their height to steal the game at the death. However, Latics defence was to hold firm.

The Good

Mackay was wise in packing so many of the old guard into his lineup. That lack of cohesion that had been so evident with new players being introduced en masse was no longer apparent. The players looked comfortable working together and effort and commitment was also evident.

McCann was a revelation, somehow completing the full period of the game despite a lack of match practice after such a long absence. His tackling was as crisp as ever and he put the ball to good use. Maloney was a different player to what we had seen under Rosler, looking like the player of yesteryear under Martinez.

Mackay made a bold statement by putting Boyce in at right back and leaving Perch on the bench. Boyce looked rusty and off-pace at times, but he can offer so much more going forward. He has been out of action for several weeks and that showed. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to regularly command that right back spot at 35 year of age. Andrew Taylor fully justified his recall, being solid in defence and offering good support to the attack. It was another bold move to give him preference over crowd favourite Maynor Figueroa.

It was an experienced and capable back four and it is to be hoped that Mackay will not tinker with it, as did his predecessor. The midfield worked hard. Forshaw continues to show that he is willing to make the effort for the team. His more creative side will show more when he is fully established as a starter in the team. Espinoza showed typical commitment, with an all-action performance. He made one or two naïve passes, but this should not detract from the value he added. Whether an attacking midfield position is the best place to play him remains open to debate.

McManaman threatened, but once again the opposition were prepared to deal with him. He so much more dangerous when not confined to the right wing. Fortune fought for the high balls, but was short of ideas in his distribution and did not move into positions that threatened the opposition defence. The time must surely come for Oriel Riera to appear on a regular basis. Andy Delort did not even make the bench, but his time will surely come too.

When McClean came on in the second half, Maloney moved into a more central position. The 4-3-3-formation became more like the 4-2-3-1 played by Scotland. That could well prove to be Mackay’s favoured system.

The Bad

Mackay put out a conservative lineup and did not pour men into attack. Given Wigan’s league position he was probably justified. He is not a manager associated with flowing attacking football, but the most important thing for Latics at the moment is results.

This was not a great result, neither was it a bad one.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 6 – largely unemployed and cannot be faulted for Boro’s goal.

Emmerson Boyce: 6 – it was good to see the captain back.

Ivan Ramis: 7 – classy as ever, with fine interceptions and quality passing of the ball. But should he have done better with Bamford’s goal?

Leon Barnett: 6.5 – not at his best, but solid and dependable. But his style is a perfect foil for that of Ramis. Together they could provide a formidable centre of defence.

Andrew Taylor: 7 – a complete performance. Deserved his recall.

Adam Forshaw: 6.5- full of industry.

Roger Espinoza: 6.5 – his mistakes were more obvious than the good things he did. Deserves an extended run in the team.

Chris McCann: 8.5 – combative, hardworking and with the cultured left foot. A quality player at Championship level.

Callum McManaman: 6 – exciting as always when on the ball, but should be more proactive when Latics attack. Despite his prodiguous talent he needs to add another dimension to his game to become a real top player.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: 6 – committed but limited in attacking vision.

Shaun Maloney: 8.5 – got rough treatment from the visitors, but was not deterred and showed his quality. A brilliant free kick.

Substitutes:

James McClean: – raw energy, physicality, speed and commitment are his key assets. But he is another player who needs to take his game to a higher level. Needs to develop an aspect of unpredictability about his play.

James Perch: – a very solid and dependable full back, unlucky not to make the starting lineup.

Ben Watson: – can he make a comeback in the same way as McCann? After successive leg breaks it is going to be a tall order. But if he can Latics will have a formidable midfield.

Deploying a stronger strike force

Callum McManaman could be the 20 goal striker that latics have lacked.

Callum McManaman could be the 20 goal striker that Latics have lacked.

When Uwe Rosler first arrived at Wigan he inherited a blunt strike force. Owen Coyle’s new signings just had not clicked and players remaining from the Martinez era were dogged by niggles and injuries. The shining light appeared to be provided by a loanee from Manchester United, but he was to fade as the season progressed. The end result was a forward line that just could not put away so many of the chances that were created. It was largely the lack of forward power that was to thwart Latics’ chances of getting back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Some 10 months later Rosler has a strike force which has the potential to do much more. The question is whether it can realize that potential and propel Latics into contention for promotion. Can the two new central strikers adapt to English football? Can the key players Rosler inherited from previous managers achieve full fitness and consistency?

Both Andy Delort and Oriel Riera arrive with good goalscoring credentials from last season. Delort scored 24 goals in the French second division, Riera getting 13 in La Liga for a team that was relegated. Rosler does not favour a system with two central strikers, so the two are likely to be alternated. With the physical demands of high pressing, Rosler typically substitutes the central striker some two thirds of the way through a game.

Riera continues to adapt to English football following his move from Osasuna and his best is yet to come, although he scored a fine goal against Blackpool. Delort comes with the label of an English-style centre forward, but is going to need time to get match fit.

In the meantime, Marc-Antoine Fortune, remains an option. Fortune scored a paltry 4 league goals last season, but made 6 assists. The big man from French Guiana has never been a prolific scorer, but last year’s strike rate was only around a half of his career average. Fortune remains a handful for central defenders, being strong and pacey, with a good technique.

Martyn Waghorn has had slow start to the season, but made such a favourable impression when arriving from Leicester City on loan that he secured a permanent contract at Wigan. The 24 year old Geordie scored 8 goals and made 6 assists in the 28 league starts and 5 appearances off the bench. Waghorn was typically played wide on the right, but sometimes in the hole behind the central striker. Having started out his career as a central striker it continues to be his preferred position, but he is versatile and makes a major contribution to the high pressing that Rosler seeks.

Callum McManaman has had an excellent start to the season, following the frustrations of last year when he just could not hit a consistent run of form. There are few English players who can match him for skill when he is at his best. McManaman remains just 23 years old and is such an exciting talent. The irony for Latics fans is that once McManaman adds consistency to his game he will be the target of the elite clubs that dominate English football. A transfer fee between £20m-£30m is not out of the question.

McManaman could become that 20 goal per season striker that Latics have lacked since the days of Ellington and Roberts. Last season he was usually played wide and scored three goals in 19 starts and 13 appearances off the bench. He has already exceeded last year’s goal tally with four goals in his first five league starts. Moreover the goals have been superbly executed.

It is to be hoped that McManaman can steer clear of the injuries that have impeded his progress over the past year or so. Being a flair player brings him extra attention from opposition defenders and Rosler has already publicly stated his views that the player needs due protection from referees, which at times he has not had. In recent matches Rosler has adopted the 3-5-2 formation, with McManaman able to operate in a free role upfront. That role not only gives him more of the ball, but makes it harder for defences to mark him out of the game. Playing on the wing in a 4-3-3 formation will remain an option, but if Rosler is to get the best out of his key flair player he will need to look at playing him in a role that is not so restricting.

James McClean has not featured so far due to an ankle injury sustained in pre-season training. McClean was called into Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad this week, but the manager considered him short of match fitness. McClean can be such an exciting player with his pace and aggression, but too often flattered to deceive last season. He has a career record of scoring a goal in every five appearances, but last year could only muster four goals in 25 league starts and 14 times coming on off the bench.

McClean and McManaman are different types of players, but with similar strike rates during their careers. Having had to play on the left so frequently during his career McManaman packs a strong punch with his left foot, although he favours his right. McClean showed that he can use his right foot to score goals at Ipswich last season, with a well taken goal from a cross from the right. Owen Coyle sometimes put him on the right, but he looked like duck out of water, seemingly too left footed to adjust. Rosler also tried him there without conspicuous success.

McClean cannot be faulted for effort, frequently helping out his full back and going forward on his marauding runs. At his best he adds enthusiasm to the team and can cause panic in opposition defences. The Irishman is still only 25 years old and his best is yet to come. Perhaps a switch from the left wing to the kind of free role that McManaman has been enjoying could open doors for McClean. The Irishman’s career record shows that he can score goals and make assists. If he can improve his finishing this season he will make a major impact.

Shaun Maloney can certainly score goals, as well as provide assists. Despite his lack of match fitness he has been called up for the Scotland squad to play Germany. At 31 years of age and an injury-struck career can the fan favourite make his mark on the season? Rosler certainly has him in his plans. Only time will tell if the Scot can stay fit and produce that same brand of skillful football that we have seen from him at his best. His combination with Waghorn for a beautifully engineered goal against Birmingham was a joy to see and whetted our appetites for what is to come. Maloney had spotted Waghorn’s run and laid the ball into his path for what appeared to be a simple tap-in.

Grant Holt’s future at the club remains uncertain. The player has had a nightmare time at the club and the abuse he has taken on the social media goes way beyind the norm. A fresh start at another club would appear to be the best case scenario for the player. But at 33 years of age, with his salary expectations, will it happen?

Rosler now has a much stronger strike force, with variety to match. His challenge will be in getting the best out of each of those players. With good service from midfield the strikers he has are capable of scoring lots of goals. We will then see the end of the goal drought that dogged Latics’ promotion chances last year.

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