Latics fans react on social media to Sheff Wed defeat

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Another narrow defeat against a team vying for promotion. It was a game practically devoid of good football, hardly an advertisement for the EPL in front of a large television audience. There were few moments of general entertainment in the whole game: a header from debutant James Weir that went over the bar and a disallowed goal when Callum Connolly ran through.

Warren Joyce has certainly created a team that can stop the opposition playing. Frankly, Sheffield Wednesday were made to look poor, despite being seventh placed in the division and their large investment in players.

But stopping the other team scoring goals is only half of the recipe for success. The other side of it is to be able to score goals yourself and Latics hardly looked like doing that last night. Once again Joyce had packed his starting line up with midfielders. It was the same eleven that sparkled against Brentford, but this time around the midfielders were preoccupied by their defensive duties, leaving Will Grigg without support. Latics’ attack was not surprisingly sterile.

The debate about playing twin strikers continues. Joyce had the opportunity to bring Omar Bogle on to pair up with Grigg, but chose not to do so. But even if you are playing with a single striker you can still push men forward to support him. Was it the midfielders themselves who were reluctant to push forward or were they following the manager’s instructions?

The quality of football played by Latics was reminiscent of the dark era of Malky Mackay. Now that Joyce has his team able to curb the opposition, will he move on to the next step which involves creativity and movement going forward?

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) and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen.  Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

 

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Paul Rowley @PaulRowleyBBC tweeted:

Worth noting ‘LaticsOfficial have lost 7 of their last 8 league games at the DW. Just 3 home wins all season. @BBCMancSports

Sam Morsy @sammorsy08 talked of fine margins:

Great effort and commitment from the boys today, fine margins cost us today, but we will go again Tuesday, fans roaring us on till the end !

Matthew Taylor @matty123tay added:

Disappointed with that. Thought they were there for the taking really, onwards to Norwich…#wafc

MR Brownbill on the Cockney Latic Forum was unimpressed:

 Wasted 1st half….Never score in a month of Sundays with this bo..ocks Grigg on his own .No surprise he hasnt scored in 16 league games. Totally inept going forward…hit and hope. Final ball ,set pieces, corners dire. Wake up please…he will not budge in his plan….pack the middle with no support hope something drops our way. Bogle on….Grigg off….Ch..t almighty…another single goal di..ing. Jacobs..Power..time to rest em. Don’t give a toss how many players we signed he’ll just swap the midfield personnel and play with an isolated pi..ed off forward.

Martin W @dmartw opined:

No width, no urgency, no pace. Hard to believe that was the same team that beat Burton and Brentford. Slightly better in 2nd half #wafc

Dave Carter on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

Two thoughts from tonight. One, the disallowed goal was very marginal and we can feel just a bit hard done by. Two, Joyce is incredibly naive tactically. We had no support at all for Grigg and the only time that changed at all was after the substitutions with twenty minutes left. We’re going down unless someone kicks some sense into the manager.

Donnys Page on the Cockney Latic Forum questioned the approach:

Game plan exactly the same as against Utd. No support for either lone striker, lone strikers both looked like Fortune, Boseli, Riera and Delort totally lost. Not even a winger or even a wing back to replace a winger putting crosses in bar Jacobs efforts on the wrong wing with 20 minutes to go. No attacking midfielder supporting lone striker. Strikers forced out wide leaving their position in the box vacant.   It’s going to be a real battle to get out of this mire but we may have to be a little more cavalier to escape the drop. Same team as the Brentford game but different approach. Why?

Power Jacobs Perkins McDonald all ready for a rest for a few weeks and new ideas needed but it may be too late for that. This season was bal.. ed up last June.

JamesSaintLatic @JamesSaintLatic added:

Another Saturday of sitting and praying Burton, Bristol City & Blackburn don’t win #wafc.

Pauvre Jean on Latics Speyk has not lost hope:

It wasn’t for lack of effort we lost, it was the same old reliance on playing one badly out of form lone striker. When Weir and Bogle came on we started to threaten. A shame it took 75 minutes to try something different. So yet another disappointing 0-1 defeat to a ‘top six’ Team who were frankly little better than us.

I’ve not lost hope like some on here as I can still see that we can turn it around. I’d like to see the line up that finished tonight starting on Tuesday for a start.

Stuart Kelsall @StuartKelsall believes Latics can stay up:

Not one team played us off park this season and that’s why am more than confident that will stay up there are worse sides than us #believe

Jonny_SuffolkLatic on Latics Speyk advocates a more attack oriented approach:

Our wins against teams around us in recent weeks already shows we can stay up, it’s just that against the higher positioned opponents we should be setting up, and playing, more attack orientated than we are. Against weaker opposition, the team we started with tonight might be able to deliver the points, but better teams need to be tested with more than Grigg up front supported by Jacobs on the wing.

SamWhyte @SamWhyte referred to Grigg’s role:

Grigg spends more time doing defensive work than actually being a striker that when chances do fall his way, he’s knackered. Waste IMO #wafc

Stewart Hart @No1fan referred to a Grigg/Bogle combination:

Should have got something tonight. Clear we can’t play Grigg alone, needs to be paired up, or Bogle on his own. Impressed with Weir. #wafc

Jeffs right on Latics Speyk added:

Bogle and Grigg together could have got us a point. Bogle on his own just reminded me of Mark Antoine Fortune. No service to either of the strikers from Power, Jacobs, Perkins, McDonald. For sh..s sake give Grigg some service and he will get us goals. Power and Jacobs have been more inept than Grigg all season yet Grigg gets the slag off.

Moonay on Latics Speyk summarised:

Sheff Weds – nowt special
Latics – not clinical enough
Rhodes v Grigg – both as poor as each other
Their goal – scabby ……………… & offside ?
Our goal – marginal ……….. but probably was just offside
Our chances – Weir & Burn & Jacobs should have scored
Negatives – reaction of some of our fickle fans, Connolly had his first poor-ish game
Positives – Weir, Morsy played well again, Weir, Bogle looked a handful, …….. oh, and Weir looked a good prospect.

WhittleBlue on Latics Speyk concluded:

A game we didn’t deserve to lose nor win.

Regarding the goal yes it had an element of fortune about it and perhaps Burn, in an otherwise excellent display, could have got closer to Rhodes but that passage of play should never happened in the first place. A lack of footballing intelligence cost us that goal this evening and the blame for that is solely down to Power. Why on earth having sent the centre backs forward would he choose a six yard sideways/backward pass to another player who wasn’t exactly free instead of putting it forward toward those who had ventured forward? What the hell did he expect MacDonald to do with it other than put it forward himself? Absolutely f**king clueless.

Other than that plenty of effort, we look decent defensively overall butlook bereft of quality in attacking areas. I thought Grigg had a thankless task with little service but the one opportunity he had he again spurned, miscontrolled and appears to be low on confidence. Morsy was good but had little support. Jacobs, whilst he tries hard is out of his depth at this level. The problem is who do we replace him with? Weir is a left sided player as is Obertan and the other midfielders all are of a similar type. Yanic is a massive loss and despite signing a load of players I don’t think they strengthen us in the area we needed strengthening which is offensively. The squad is very poorly balanced. The right back looks more threatening and likely to score than anyone which is a poor reflection on the attacking players. Sadly I don’t see enough creativity or goals in this team to see us winning games comfortably and I’m not convinced we will score enough to get us the victories we need to stay up.

 

 

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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