Amigo and social media reaction to another narrow defeat for injury-hit Latics

Wigan Athletic 2 Northampton Town 3

 “I think if you watch the first half – other than Dan Gardner having a great strike – we just gifted the opposition chances to score goals and we went in again 2-0 down. It is a pattern of our performances where we have started flat again in the first-half and we go in with a mountain to climb.

We deserved to go in behind but the goals were down to us; we give the opposition so many chances to score goals. I can’t stand getting beat and it really hurts me so much that we are on our bad, bad run. You can see the team we have picked and we have a lot of injuries that have come at a bad time – the team was makeshift and very young but I have to give them credit for the second-half performance because I thought we were excellent.

I said to the lads that chasing the game you have to be brave and not worry about making mistakes and I think we did that. I look at them in the second-half and I see loads of things that weren’t there in the first-half; we were on the front foot, sharp and creating chances.

We got back in at 2-1 and Northampton were clutching at straws whilst we looked to get the equaliser but then we have the killer blow of conceding a silly, silly goal against the run of play. We didn’t stop and there were a lot of things to come from the second-half from a young team as well.”

John Sheridan once again gave an honest appraisal of the game. With seven players out injured the manager had to reshuffle his pack. His starting line-up contained three players from last season’s senior squad, three players on short-term contracts and five from previous seasons’ U23 squad. Ollie Crankshaw and Thelo Aasgard, 18, were given their first starts in a League 1 game. Current youth team forward Harry McHugh made the bench for the first time.

When play commenced the first player to quickly catch the eye was the Cobbler’s Harry Smith, a towering 6ft 5in centre forward who used to play for Macclesfield. Smith may not be among the division’s top strikers, but his height and physicality caused problems to Wigan’s central defenders, Tom James and Adam Long, both around 5ft 11 in tall. After 22 minutes and with Latics two goals down Sheridan took off right back Crankshaw and brought on Emeka Obi. The 19-year-old has a long way to go before he is going to be the finished product but, like Smith, he too is 6ft 5in and his presence helped diminish the big target man’s effectiveness.

The centre of defence has been most problematic for Sheridan. Eight players have been used there so far and the disruption has prevented the gelling of the back four. Darnell Johnson and Curtis Tilt started four games together, giving them a chance to gel a partnership, but both are out of action due to injury.

The second half saw Kyle Joseph make his debut, coming on after 73 minutes. The 19-year-old Scotland youth international striker was among the young players touted by big clubs over the summer when Latics went under administration. He gave us a glimpse of his sharpness in the penalty box as he turned and was unlucky to see his effort hit the post in the 84th minute.

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:

Kenny Morris commented:

Obi got slated the last time he played because everyone said he was out of his depth, so would you have had him on from the start? Everyone said we couldn’t play two youngsters at CH

James does play Centre half, as he himself said in his interview this week. It wasn’t working so Sheridan changed it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing that seems to be here in abundance.

Arthur_Itis said:

Negatives have been covered in previous posts, a few positives for me:
Showed great fight in the second half, Gardner had his best game by a mile, although faded late on.

Perry looked assured on the ball and played some lovely through balls. Aasgaard seems to have a great first touch and great balance, reminded me a bit of Gelhardt.

Jones pulled off some good (and crucial) saves. Obi will have gained a lot of confidence from today, and a lot of experience playing against a beast like Smith. Long looks great on the ball and has the confidence to show for it.

Pearce never stopped running and his surge into the box for the penalty showed great positivity. Hopefully that will do his confidence some good as well. James also never stopped running once back at right back. We have 2 decent full backs for this level.

The second half high press was very effective and we need to employ this approach from the first minute, not the 46th.

Finally, there are teams as bad as us in this division, but we will hopefully have time and resources to improve and avoid relegation if the takeover goes through. If it doesn’t we have more things to worry about than losing a football match.

It’s still early days yet.

FrancosLoveChild stated:

There is a good team in here but we sadly don’t start games anywhere near the standard for league football which cost us because we always seem to start playing well after going 1 or 2 down. Still some time

You are my sunshine opined:

Back 4 team selection/1st 25 mins cost us that game!

At least he binned Tuesdays negative formation but Sheridan should be playing players in their best position. Crankshaw is not a RB ,he is a RW! It’s a big step up for these lads as it is, let alone in an unfamiliar role. As soon as James went to RB to deal with Adams and Obi came on to get to grips with big Harry Smith we improved,as those 2 in particular caused us all sorts of problems that 1st 25 mins.

2nd half I thought we were superb, especially considering how many young lads we had out there. We were really unfortunate not to get a point in the end when Joseph, who was lively when he came on hit the post. Although not always with great quality, we put a lot more crosses in today and showed much more attacking intent than MK.

Pearce mom for me. Gardner has been poor this season, but I thought he had a much better game today. Obi did well when he came on, using his height and physicality to deal with Smith. Perry was tidy again.

Those lads showed today they can play and have good character to keep fighting despite the setbacks. This gives me some encouragement and hope going into another big game at the bottom on Tuesday at Blackpool.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

The importance of a Category 2 Academy for Royle and IEC

Last Saturday Wigan Athletic’s under-18 team strengthened their leadership of the EFL Youth Alliance Group B with a 2-0 win over Rochdale.

The first goal was scored by Scotland under-18 left back Luke Robinson with a beautifully struck free kick from well outside the penalty box. Another Scotland under-18 player, Kyle Joseph, got Wigan’s second with an opportunist tap-in. Wigan’s England under-17 striking sensation, Joe Gelhardt, did not play and his teammate at national level, Jensen Weir, came on after 88 minutes. Click here to see the highlights.

The Youth Alliance is effectively the third tier of U18 football. The Alliance consists of 49 teams divided into four groups on a geographical basis. The vast majority come from clubs in League 1 and League 2.

Although Gelhardt, Joseph, Robinson and Weir represent their countries at international level they are confined to the third tier of English youth football. They cannot play in the top tier Premier U18 League or in the second tier Professional Development League.

Over 23 years the Whelan family pumped in some £100m to keep Wigan afloat in the higher levels of English football. Like so many football clubs in the country, Wigan Athletic have rarely been able to accumulate enough revenue to exceed their outgoings. Put simply, the Whelans have had to constantly subsidise the club for it to punch above its weight.

Despite eight years in the Premier League and an FA Cup win, Latics still have a small fan base compared with most clubs in the Championship division. In order to keep the fan base that they have it has been necessary to keep ticket costs that a level that has been economically unfavourable for the club. Moreover, commercial revenues have been low compared with other clubs in the upper tiers.

The IEC, through the guidance of executive chairman, Darren Royle, will surely look at increasing commercial revenues. Royle will review season ticket prices in due course, but even a 20% increase in prices would not bring the club anywhere near to breaking even, let alone risk reducing the fan base. The club is basically a loss maker, as are the majority in the Championship with wages exceeding revenues. Barring significant sums coming in over the January transfer window Latics will lose in excess of £10m in the current season, in an attempt to consolidate in the division.

Royle has set his sights on a return to the Premier League for the club, although he has not given any kind of timeline for it. His strategy is based on building a strong academy which can provide a constant stream of players for the first team. The first step is investing in the kinds of facilities and programmes that can elevate the Wigan Athletic academy to Category 2 status rather than the current Category 3.

There are 7 Championship clubs that have their youth teams in the Premier U18 League, that which consists of clubs with Category 1 academies.  Another 12 of them participate in the Professional Development League from clubs with Category 2 academies.

Should Latics gain Category 2 status they would be largely joining clubs whose senior sides are in the Premier League or the Championship. But it is to be noted that League 1 clubs Barnsley, Charlton Athletic, Coventry City, together with League 2 Colchester United and Crewe Alexandra also compete at that level.

There can be no doubt that Wigan’s talented youngsters would benefit from playing at a higher level that of the Youth Alliance. The move towards Category 2 status is to be commended. However, so often in recent years the club has had exciting young players whose development has been limited by lack of opportunity within the club. So many have fallen by the wayside.

Critics will say that the club has so often nurtured young players on loan from upper tier clubs at the expense of its homegrown talent. It is something that Royle will need to look at in terms of not only developing homegrown youth, but as a part of overall recruitment policy.

Jensen Weir (left) and Joe Gelhardt.
Photo courtesy of skysports.com

 

Where will the likes of Gelhardt and Weir be some five years from now?

Let’s hope they too don’t fall by the wayside.

 

 

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