“We shuffled the team around to match them up and we did that until half time, but it was a massive downer how the penalty came about to give them their first goal. The injuries aren’t something we need at this moment in time when we’re after results and trying to win games, especially when most of our injuries are to experienced players.
“It’s given other players opportunities and I’ve put a team out that I thought could get something from the game. We’ve had another couple of injuries again tonight, so it’s difficult for us. Viv’s injury is quite a serious one. With one or two of the others they’re being monitored so we’ll just have to see how they are. We’re short on bodies, but I can’t sit here crying, we’ve got to get back to performing and winning football matches.”
John Sheridan’s thoughts after his shuffled-around team struggled at the MK Dons Arena.
Already without Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon Otabor who left the field early against Plymouth it was a shock to learn that Lee Evans and Kal Naismith were also unavailable due to injury. Sheridan reacted by changing to a 3-5-2 formation, with full back Tom James at the centre of a back three.
Latics looked uncomfortable from the start and Will Keane’s injury forcing him to leave the field of play after 9 minutes complicated things even further. Although he had two central strikers and a natural number 10 on the bench Sheridan elected to bring on winger Ollie Crankshaw is the second striker role.
The Dons were much the better team in the first half and Latics were fortunate to go into the interval with a 0-0 scoreline. But the seemingly inevitable happened in the first ten minutes of the second half with the Dons going ahead thanks to a soft penalty awarded against Tom James and a poor clearance from Curtis Tilt gifting a second.
Thelo Aasgaard came on for a distraught Gavin Massey after 64 minutes and Tilt was replaced by Alex Perry five minutes later. The latter part of the game saw Latics look a little better, with Perry looking calm and composed in front of the defence as the Dons retreated into a less attacking mode.
Given the current state of limbo prevailing at Wigan Athletic the limp performance did not come as a surprise. Sheridan has done his best to meld together a disparate group of players but the undercurrents in the club have surely affected all concerned. Those remaining from last season’s senior squad have seen the departure of so many teammates, their salaries reduced, their immediate futures uncertain. New players have been brought in from outside. Some have come and already gone and none of them have a contract beyond January.
However, there is room for optimism for the future. Earlier yesterday the U17 team beat Manchester United’s U17s in the Premier League Cup. They were invited to participate because Latics’ U18s won the U18 Professional Development League North in 2019-20. The current U18 team is again top of the table with five wins in five games.
The critics will say that there is a massive gap between football at youth level and that of the senior level. Indeed, over the years at Wigan we have seen so many bright young players disappear, many going into non-league football. However, with the upgrading of the academy to category 2 status last season both the U18 and U23 teams are playing against much stronger opposition on a regular basis.
Although they did not win their division the U23 team performed well last season. Eight have them have already played for the senior team this season, largely as a result of the club’s precarious financial situation. In contrast last season only Joe Gelhardt from the U23s appeared in league games.
It is rumoured that the Garrido consortium see the development of homegrown talent as important to the future of the club. Their potential acquisition of Wigan Athletic remains in the hands of the EFL. We can only hope that the process will be completed sooner rather than later. Maybe before the home game with Northampton on Saturday?
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.
1st half ……. I’d rather forget.
2nd half, goals aside, we showed a little promise at times. Like Glasgow says, the decline in our line-up from the 1st minute on Saturday to the point tonight when Keane went off shows our plight.
The kids give us hope, but they need confidence. There’s little point at this time comparing ourselves to any other club, regardless of position in the league. What we need to do is to concentrate on playing as a team, working hard, supporting each other, keeping the heads up. As fans, that’s all we can ask of them right now.
You are my sunshine commented:
Yep agree with the fact Jones had a good game as well as Long, especially 1st half, keeping it 0-0 at HT with some decent saves!
For me, I just think Perry is the best suited player to replace Evans, with his ability to get on the ball and keep possession. He is a very neat and tidy player. Whereas Merrie, who can also pick a good pass,is more of a tough tackler. That crunching one in the 1st half was a cracker. Palmer seems more similar to Merrie than Perry. So I’d have Evans or Perry with Palmer or Merrie in the 2 cm slots.
We are desperately lacking an experienced natural number 10 to play just behind Garner. Aasgard is the only one in the entire squad,so it’s good to see him involved recently. The less said about Massey tonight the better. His body language was appalling at times and he seemed frustrated at being so deep. No excuses though,he needs to do much better!
For me, tonight for 70 minutes we didn’t get on the ball no were near enough. Due to the 532 formation, we had no width in the final third, which also resulted in a lack of crosses into the box for Garner to attack.
King _deZeeuw06 opined:
At the end when we had more of the kids on were looked a bit better, granted MK had already got the win and were happy to sit back and hold onto it, but there was a bit more enthusiasm and energy in the way we tried to go at them at least.
Crankshaw really struggled, thought Palmer looked quite good but had very little to work with. Thought Perry and Aasgaard showed more than some of our senior players. Gardner even showed a bit towards the end, but it was too little too late. Massey shouldnt play again even if he is fit – not sure if it’s confidence, attitude or whatever but he has been one of our worst performers, taking zero responsibility and going hiding this season when he should be one of the ones leading the charge.
It seems like our senior players are dropping like flies so i assume the kids will be playing on mass on Saturday – it can’t be any worse. But Sheridan needs to stop mucking about with players out of position and 5 at the back – it’s making a tough job even harder.
Still not in the bottom four (somehow). The goal now (other than still having a club) is to get to January without being cut adrift. Do that and we still have a good chance of staying up assuming a takeover has been completed by then and we can bring bodies in.
You are my sunshine also added:
I know we had injuries to key players but we are still better than that disappointing display! IMO Sheridan got it wrong tonight playing that negative 532 formation,with too many players out of position.We were too deep from the start and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
As soon as Perry came on,who can get on the ball and spray it around in our familiar 4231 formation we improved that last 20 minutes.
I’d give Long mom tonight.
I agree with you But thought Jamie Jones also played well tonight – I s as Lao agree wrt Alex Perry, in fact from what I can see, Matt Palmer & Chris Merrie can also “get on the ball and spray it around”
My starting midfield would have been Palmer, Merrie & Perry and I would have told Pierce & James to play it through midfield who would then get it up field by means of control & passing rather than the current methodology being employed by Sheridan of hoofing it up and relying on luck !
I also would have subbed Aasgaard for Massey at half time !