Latics legs go again in defeat at Charlton

Despite the defeat there were plenty of positives to be taken from Latics’ display at The Valley yesterday. But when it looked as though Wigan had battled through for a deserved point they were robbed by a wickedly deflected shot on goal during time added on.

Uwe Rosler largely stuck with the lineup he had put out in the previous league game against Reading. But with Emmerson Boyce injured he brought in Ivan Ramis at centre back. Marc-Antoine Fortune was brought in for Martyn Waghorn. In Boyce’s absence, James Perch was surprisingly nominated as captain ahead of James McArthur.

Latics started in a positive manner, playing the kind of football reminiscent of the days of Roberto Martinez. But despite having dominated the possession they fell behind in the 8th minute when their right-footed left winger Jordan Cousins cut inside Perch and blasted the ball home with his natural foot. Latics soon got back to their possession football, with Callum McManaman looking lively on the right. In the 21st minute a glorious long pass from James McArthur eluded left back Rhoys Wiggins for McManaman to control the ball and hit it with his left foot past goalkeeper Stephen Henderson from a narrow angle.

Latics continued to dominate possession, building up patiently out of defence. It was good to see Scott Carson looking to throw the ball, rather than give it his habitual hoof. Oriel Riera and Fortune were alternating between the centre forward and left wing positions, but moves were fizzling out with the two forwards and the midfield seemingly not on the same wavelength. Perch continued to have problems with Cousins, who looked dangerous.

Shaun Maloney came on for Riera at half time, playing on the left wing. Charlton had started to gain more possession, but the Latics midfield trio of Cowie, Huws and McArthur were still lively. Martyn Waghorn replaced Fortune in the centre forward position after 69 minutes. Huws was taking all the set pieces for Wigan but they were not threatening a steady Charlton defence with Ben Haim and Bikey-Amagou in top form.

With both teams resisting the long ball it was a fascinating contest and looked to be heading towards a draw. However, the substitution of Don Cowie after 75 minutes saw Wigan’s energy levels fading and the home side were looking the more lively. Latics’ crosses into the box were invariably cut out by the central defenders or the dominant substitute goalkeeper Nick Pope, who had come on after 67 minutes.

In the final ten minutes, which included five minutes of added-on time, Latics were all at sea. The left hand side of defence had all but folded and Perch and Ramis really had their work cut out holding things together. The midfield was unable to provide the protection it had given earlier. Vetokole broke through for a one on one with Carson but the keeper made a fine save. Perch made an excellent block from Gudmundsson. But even Ramis, who had been excellent up to that point, was looking ragged.

It had looked like a goal was on the cards for Charlton in added time, but it was to come when a shot from Moussa from outside the area was deflected by Kiernan, giving Carson no chance.

The stats showed that Latics enjoyed 55% of the possession with six corners to Charlton’s three. But more revealing was that Charlton had five shots on target to Latics’ one. In fact Wigan only mustered four shots in the whole game.

The Good

The good news is that football has returned to Latics’ play. In fact there was hardly a hoof all afternoon. Until they tired, Ramis and Kiernan were excellent in the centre of defence, reading the play and using the ball effectively.

The midfield trio of Cowie-McArthur-Huws at times looked like a carbon copy of last season’s favoured formation of Watson-McArthur-McCann. Cowie looked comfortable in the Watson role in the centre of the park, in front of the back four. Huws is a fine young player who will get better and better. McArthur was his usual lively self.

McManaman had a good first half, taking his goal superbly, but was heavily marked in the second.

The Bad

Once again Latics could not compete physically for the full 90 minutes. Those final ten minutes were agony as they just did not have the legs to compete on equal footing with the home team.

Despite having the majority of the possession Latics were not creating chances. Maloney came on in the second half but he too was unable to provide that spark that was missing.

It was surprising to see Huws take the set pieces with players like Maloney and Waghorn on the field.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 7 – did all that was asked of him. Distribution much improved.

James Perch: 6 – just did not look himself in the first half but showed the kind of grittiness and determination in the second half that typifies his normal play.

Ivan Ramis: 7.5 – excellent until the closing minutes.

Rob Kiernan: 6 – clearly not match fit. Played well until the final quarter of the match.

Andrew Taylor: 5 – looked out of touch. Is he fully fit?

Don Cowie: 7 – worked hard, strong in the tackle, rarely wasted the ball.

James McArthur: 7 – a battling performance.

Emyr Huws: 7 – strong in the tackle, with a cultured left foot.

Callum McManaman: 7 – did all he could offensively, but left Perch exposed at times.

Oriel Riera: 5 – made no impact. Taken off at half time.

Marc -Antoine Fortune: 5 – ineffective.

Substitutes:

Shaun Maloney: – ineffective.

Martyn Waghorn: – made no impact.

Roger Espinoza: – not his usual energetic self.

 

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Too much change in the wind

It is time for change at Wigan Athletic with a new manager having come in, with a huge quantity of new players to recruit. It is exactly the situation Latics supporters would have wanted to avoid.

There are too many change parameters to cope with at the moment. What is going to happen to Roberto Martinez’s backroom staff? How can Owen Coyle bring in nothing but quality players when the number needed to make up the squad reaches outrageous proportions?

We have heard nothing about the likes of Graeme Jones and Graham Barrow going off to Everton with Martinez. In terms of stability it would be much better if they stayed at Wigan. Then again what is going to happen to Kevin Reeves, Inaki Bergara and those ex-Latics players who are scattered around the club, especially at youth level?

Owen Coyle recently said Latics had 14 senior squad members left. Soon after that he was talking about James McCarthy and Arouna Kone going if the price was right. Add to them Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman and the squad decimates to 10.

Of the end of contract players Maynor Figueroa has already signed for Hull and Roman Golobart for Cologne. There is talk about Antolin Alcaraz going to Everton or into Europe. Latics have lost too many good quality players at the ends of their contracts over recent years.

Dave Whelan’s philosophy of giving players the chance to move to bigger clubs, if the price is right, is admirable in many ways. However, there comes a point when you have to stem the flow and require players to meet their contractual agreements.

The more players Whelan lets go – even at good prices – the more difficult for Owen Coyle to find adequate replacements, even with money to spend.  

It is a matter of sheer numbers. The club stands the risk of its heart being ripped apart in both backroom and playing staff. Coyle is going to be faced with employing journeymen to make up the numbers, rather than build on a strong base that was there before.

Whatever happens I ask Wigan Athletic supporters to bear these things in mind and not make instant assessments of Owen Coyle’s worth. He has come in and is already speaking about having to sell prized assets.

Let’s hope he does not make the Martinez mistake of bringing players from his former club. Thank goodness he has already insinuated that he will not be pursuing the 36 year old  Kevin Davies. However, he is already being linked with Burnley veterans Martin Paterson and Chris McCann.

Latics need to avoid a mass exodus. All that Roberto Martinez built could be gone within a matter of weeks.  It would be crippling for the club.

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