Koné and change? Tactical formations at Wigan Athletic

Trawling the internet for news on upcoming football transfers can certainly be entertaining, if often misleading. I quite enjoy it, but have learned to take it with a pinch of salt. This is not to denigrate the work of the internet journalists who give us these revelations: quite often they may have received a tip off from a player’s agent, family member or a club. Sometimes even the player himself. What is clear is that only a small proportion of the transfers reported by our sources, actually happen.

Over these weeks I have read  that Wigan Athletic have been interested in quite a few central strikers. The names of Victor Anichebe and DJ Campbell have been banded about more than others. But why would Latics want a fourth central striker, with Di Santo, Boselli and Sammon already on the books? If they played 4-4-2 it would be perfectly understandable, but our knowledge of Roberto Martinez and his tactical preferences precludes that possibility.

Arouna Kone has now arrived.  Although Kone has not played in the Premier League before he has all the attributes to be successful. He is strong and agile and to score 15 La Liga goals for Levante (the “other” team in Valencia) last season means he is sharp.  No league in the world plays the same kind of fast and physical football that we see in England, but La Liga is a highly competitive league, one of the world’s best. None of Latics’ previous acquisitions from Spanish clubs had established themselves as mainline players to the same degree  as Kone and the other acquisition from Mallorca, Ivan Ramis. I view both as potentially excellent signings.

Let’s get back to those internet transfer gossip sites. Today’s digest suggested Conor Sammon was headed for Derby County. The link between Sammon and Derby has come up repeatedly  but now there is talk of a permanent transfer rather than a loan deal. We may well be back to to three centre forwards again. However, is there going to be sufficient playing time for three central strikers, who are going to be on the same par, despite contrasting styles? Di Santo was developing into a fine centre forward last year, with his brilliant hold-up play and superb technique. Boselli is a natural goalscorer who has come back to Wigan motivated to show us his best. He has a fine pedigree. Kone is maybe a cross between the two in the way he plays.

So how do you fit in three quality central strikers, given the manager’s preference for the lone centre forward? Last year Victor Moses was given licence to roam, cutting in from the wings, getting into central positions. If and when Moses goes there will be wealth of players to compete for his role. Crusat,  Dicko, McManaman and the exciting new loan signing Miyaichi are the natural winger-types, who could slot in there. However, given the quality of the three central strikers now at his disposal, Martinez might choose to play one of them in the Moses  position. This would require some tactical adjustments, with a shift towards a more conventional twin striker system. Let’s hope Martinez has this in mind.

The change in tactical formation midway through last year proved to be the catalyst that helped Latics stay up, defying the odds. It helped to get the best out of the players at Martinez’s disposal. Assuming the Moses transfer, he will soon be faced with a similar challenge – how to get the best out of three quality central strikers, while not leaving out the winger-types. An exciting prospect.