Latics fans react to victory at Birmingham on social media

An opportunist goal from Dan Burn gave Wigan Athletic a much needed three points at St Andrews last night.With just ten games to go, Latics remain second from bottom, but they moved closer to the pack directly above them in the table, just one point behind Bristol City in 22nd place.

Warren Joyce fielded a much more positive lineup and Latics were lively in the first half before falling back in stubborn defence in the second.

It was an uplifting victory that keeps Wigan within range of escaping relegation. Saturday’s  home match against relegation rivals Bristol City is crucial.

Although delighted with the victory Latics fans are now wondering if their side can pull off another one in quick succession. Joyce’s less negative starting lineup, with Gabriel Obertan and Michael Jacobs playing wide and Alex Gilbey in advanced midfield produced a more attacking approach in the first half at least. However, to some extent it was forced on him by injuries and suspensions reducing his selection options. It is to be hoped that he will not once again resort to the ultra defensive approach we were seeing prior to the Birmingham match.

We took a look at the social media following yesterday’s match and came up with a wide range of views. Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Facebook), Instagram and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen.  Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

 

Jeffs right responded to Whittleblue on Latics Speyk:

Hope not. Hope that Obertan is ready finally because at last we have a replacement for Yanic. Been crying out for a winger since he left. A winger with pace and who could supply decent passes over that period could have contributed so much over the last few weeks. At least 5 points lost there.

King_dezeeuw06 on Latics Speyk opined:

I think those are fair points Whittle i fear you may be right; we’ve seen so many false dawns over the years we’d be silly to get too carried away but we’ve also seen plenty of unlilely great escapes too so i dont want to not embrace the hope either.

Every revival has to start somewhere and I’m just hoping we have it in us. Looking at the form table Bristol and Wolves have fallen apart in recent weeks and Brum are in total free fall too. So i think there’s still plenty of twists and turns coming in the relegation battle i just dont know if it will be a happy ending or end in tears.

I’ve not got blind faith but I’ve got some hope back after last nights results so I’m going into Saturday cautiously optimistic.

Nathan Wilkinson on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

 It’s the hope that kills you.

 adding:

 Saturday now reminds me of 2010 home game against Burnley… loser goes down

 David Sharpe @DavidSharpe91 tweeted:

Congrats to the big man @Danburn3 on his 1st goal for the club & also @JoshLaurent37 on his debut. Them & all the lads were top draw tonight

JimmyC on the Cockney Latic Forum commented:

Good first half, deep and nervous in the second but great 3 points. Birmingham were rubbish ref was even worse. Even brum fans were calling him. Two centre backs were terrific again, solid back four. Gilbey looks good but not match fit, missed him! We were creating chances and looking like a team. More of the same and we just might stay up.

 True Believer on Latics Speyk said:

I am certainly not seeing any false dawns in last nights performance, we were indeed the better of two poor teams. The difference between the two being the defence. We were certainly no great shakes going forward but at the back we look tight. I am however rejoicing in the fact that we picked up 3 points whilst others around us dropped points. We can only hope that the result gives the squad a boost and helps to settle their nerves and improve the confidence. I will take scruffy results if it means we stay up, however I still think the manager needs to look at his squad and put out a team with positive intent against Bristol. Still Believing, Up the Tic’s

Stephen Warnock23 @StephenWarnock3 tweeted:

Congrats to @JoshLaurent37 making his debut tonight. Many more to follow I’m sure. Great to have @agilbey8 back. What a performance from him

 Leylandlatic4ever on the Cockney Latics Forum added:

An ugly win by all accounts but who cares, a win is a win…good stuff chaps
Shame the 3 B’s all got a point. Just makes Saturday’s game a step above a Must Win game! Win on Saturday we’ve still a real chance of staying up; lose and we’re in real sh!te, especially if the games in hand go against us.

Some frightening away games left…Newcastle, Brighton, Reading, Ipswich…some dodgy homes as well Villa, Barnsley, Leeds etc…

 SJL @Livesey99 tweeted:

Dead and buried on Saturday. Open mutiny in the stands and they go and pull that out of the bag tonight. That’s as Wigan as you’ll get

Blackmamba on the Cockney Latic Forum stated:

Bristol city game absolutely huge now. Biggest game for two seasons?!

 

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High turnover but what’s changed? A perspective on Wigan’s latest window

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Management hates it, the media loves it, fans have little choice but to be glued to it in hope and trepidation. Transfer deadline day is bigger business every year that goes by. It’s one of the ways – the lack of a winter break being the other obvious one – in which the British game likes to make things that bit more complicated (and profitable) than the rest of the world.

For clubs that swapped managers during the first half of the season, the January transfer window has become an opportunity for the new regime to stamp its authority on the squad. Ship out players that don’t fit the tactical model; replace them with players that do; balance the books by shedding big earners and reinvesting in problem positions. It’s a pattern that has become all too familiar at Wigan, with last year’s success in League 1 the notable exception.

There are a couple problems with this approach. First, you have less time in January than in the summer, not only to recruit good players and find a home for high-earning misfits, but just as importantly to provide incomings the tactical and personal adaptation period they need to succeed. On top of that, you have to navigate an inflated market to negotiate fair prices for players, which can be particularly challenging if you appear desperate, as one does in a relegation fight, for example.

Another unpleasant feature of the January transfer window well known to Latics, particularly in the Premier League days, is the risk of losing your most successful players. It tends to be instigated by agents or players themselves, and to materialize in the dying hours of the window, preventing the club from finding an adequate replacement. Sometimes, these decisions become of huge financial importance to the club, and their approval is beyond the manager’s control.

Add to this Wigan’s very limited spending power compared to its Championship competitors – and you realize what a big ask we as fans are making of the manager. It’s worth pausing to put oneself in Warren Joyce’s shoes. There are plenty of arguments claiming the manager should only be judged after a window. I’d take them a step further to suggest that’s still nowhere near enough time. The new players haven’t had a pre-season with him; many will need to adjust to playing at a higher level; all will have to adapt to new surroundings and teammates; and Joyce himself will need to adapt his tactics, having lost his most valuable player.

The counter argument, of course, is that Joyce brought some of these challenges upon himself. Too much turnover is bad for any organization, specially in a short period of time, and the high number of ins and outs will breed instability. Was it really necessary to bring in so many people, so many loanees in particular? Right when the team was gaining some consistency and producing results on the pitch? Plenty to debate. In the meantime, here are some ups and down on another busy window:

Good News: The whopping fee received for Yanic Wildschut (£7.5 million according to Sky,£7 million elsewhere.) It’s hard to take, given his status as Latics’ best attacking threat, with pace and strength to burn, and room to improve. But his finishing was often frustrating, he was inconsistent, and very much rough around the edges. If he had to go, credit is due the club for gaining such a huge profit on their investment.

Bad News: Yanic again. Being gone so late in the window. It’s hard to ignore that Wigan have scored three goals fewer than Rotherham, and yet just sold their most effective attacker.

Good News: In Gabriel Obertan, the club have found as close to a direct replacement as could be expected. We’ll be left to imagine what Joyce’s team might have looked like with two pacey wingers on the pitch. But at least Obertan’s defining attributes are similar to Wildschut’s: pace and strength, some trickery, abundant potential yet inconsistent finishing. He should be entering his peak years, has something to prove, and lots of experience at a higher level. Joyce knows him, he’s apparently a good professional, and they have said encouraging things about each other. The term of contract is short, therefore financial risk is too. All in all, a gamble worth taking.

Bad news: The squad feels unbalanced and bloated. There are a lot of midfielders, but few wingers or attacking playmakers given Nick Powell’s absence. With Obertan almost certain to start, it’s likely Michael Jacobs (in desperate need of a goal) on the other wing, with Colclough, Weir and Browne all unproven backups. Meanwhile, in the centre of midfield, Joyce has Power, Morsy, Perkins, MacDonald, Gilbey, Tunnicliffe, Hanson, Byrne, and Laurent to keep happy. Perhaps some of these players will be used in different positions (Hanson as defensive cover, etc.), but it’s a bloated, uneven squad that Joyce may have a hard time keeping happy.

Good News: Welcome Omar Bogle! He may need time to adapt. But the club beat out competitors to get him, and on paper, he has everything he needs to succeed at Championship level. A lot of hope is resting on his inexperienced shoulders, but if his teammates can provide him service, there is reason to believe. The option of a little-and-large Grigg and Bogle parternship is also intriguing. He’s left-footed, too.

Bad News: Banking on lower division signings is playing with fire. If Grigg is to become injured, Latics are left with Bogle, and Mikael Mandron to lead the line. Both have potential, but their success has come in League 2 and the Conference, respectively. They are completely unproven at this level, and playing with new teammates.

Good News: Alex Bruce appears an astute short-term signing, with potential for a longer stay. Dan Burn and Jake Buxton have developed a useful partnership in recent games, but Bruce is a dependable and experienced head to provide backup, who should also be good to have around the place.

Bad News: He hasn’t played all season due to an Achilles injury.

Good News: Keeping Sam Morsy and Max Power. Much of the attention has been on keeping Morsy, who has performed very well since his return. Power may not have started strongly, but has been steadily improving and remains a player of undoubted potential. Had rumours of his departure materialised, Latics would have lost an opportunity to reap the rewards of blooding him at this level. Good things should come of establishing Power and Morsy as a partnership.

Bad News: Too many loanees. In order to secure loan signings, managers often have to pledge a certain number of game time to the players’ parent clubs. Given the maximum of five loan signings per match-day squad, it looks an impossibility Latics’ recent loan signings will all get their wish to show what they can do. Jakob Haugaard may find himself sacrificed given the arrival of Matt Gilks. Callum Connolly is certain to play. That leaves Jamie Hanson, Marcus Browne, James Weir, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Bruce and Haugaard to vie for the other berths. Presumably, borrowing players and not giving them a game reduces the chances of players being borrowed from the same clubs in the future. Given many of these players are expected to be fringe players anyway, might Latics have been better off without a few of them?

Good News: Joyce appears to have both a short-term, and long-term plan. Signings like Gilks, Bruce and Obertan point to survival needs, while the signings of Jack Byrne, Mandron, and Josh Laurent show a continued desire to invest in youth and capitalize on Joyce’s wealth of experience in the area of player development. Byrne, in particular, was highly rated at City and appears a good long-term signing.

Verdict

Despite the high turnover, it doesn’t appear likely there will be immediate, dramatic changes to the starting lineup – Obertan in for Wildschut, perhaps the goalkeeper, and a new striking option in Bogle off the bench. This should prove a blessing, given the progress made in recent weeks. But it also calls into question the need for such a high number of incomings and outgoings. Joyce would do well to resist the urge of upsetting the players who have recently given him good commitment and results.

As supporters, patience is going to be important. Demanding instant impact from players adapting to a higher level is unfair, as is demanding instant adjustment from a team that became dependent on Wildschut to create for it. But if the new signings can add to the promising form shown of late and provide cover for injuries, we can be cautiously optimistic that, with a new crew of Joyce-loyal players and relative stability in the starting XI, we’re better off than before the window.

Full squad can be seen here