Desperate for points – Latics 0 Latics 0

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It was a truly  insipid  performance from Wigan Athletic. Their display was as muted as was the atmosphere in the DW Stadium.

From the very start  Oldham  were dominant on the pitch and their fans so dominant in vocalising their support. They not only reminded us that they considered their club to be the true Latics, but they lifted their team into a commendable display against their  high flying opponents.

Gary Caldwell admitted after the game that “We were lucky to come away with a point”. Such was the dominance of Oldham. Most of us had expected Wigan to win comfortably, but the sheer energy that epitomised their win at Bramall Lane was sadly lacking yesterday. A disappointed fan summed it up on his way out of the stadium when he said “They were hungry for points and were just weren’t hungry enough.”

As usual Caldwell had kept us guessing about his team selection and shape. He was to opt for a return to 3-4-3. Reece Wabara came in at right wing back, Donervon Daniels moving back into the centre of defence, Sam Morsy being relegated to a place on the bench despite a good performance at Sheffield.

Oldham dominated the first half. New manager, John Sheridan, set up a game plan that nullified Wigan’s creative players. Oldham were physically stronger, so often winning the second ball. They were getting so many players behind the ball when the home team attacked, closing down Wigan players, harassing them when playing the ball out from the back. Oldham crowded the midfield, Perkins and Power looking swamped and the wing backs out of touch. Grigg was isolated in the lone centre forward role and there was little creativity on view.

Wigan went into the half time interval thankful for Jussi Jaaskelainen’s solid goalkeeping, which had kept them in the game. The Oldham goalkeeper had hardly been troubled.

One expected Caldwell to boost his midfield in the second half and he duly obliged. Morsy was brought on as the teams came out, with Wigan switching to a version of 4-3-3 akin to the 4-1-4-1 we saw at Sheffield. The surprise was the exit of Daniels, rather than Wabara who had been peripheral throughout the first half.

The change in shape did have some positive effects, but the lack of creativity in Wigan’s play continued to show. Grigg had worked hard in the first half, despite being outnumbered. He continued to be lively in the second.

Oldham had clearly done their homework on dealing with Yanic Wildschut, although the service he was receiving left much to be desired. However, the Dutchman kept plugging away. Sadly when he was to get into the opposition box his decision-making was to let him down.

Conor McAleny was struggling as the second half went on and it seemed likely he would be substituted around the 60 minute mark. But the next substitution turned out to be Ryan Colclough for David Perkins after 76 minutes.

Wigan pushed their full backs well forward, Craig Morgan and Jason Pearce becoming virtually a two man back line. Oldham came close a couple of times before Craig Davies was brought on after 81 minutes for McAleny. Davies’ arrival was to give Grigg more support and their linkup saw Grigg come close near the end.

But it was not to be. The game ended goalless with the Oldham players clearly delighted. In truth they probably merited more than their well-earned point.

The Good

I don’t think we can take any positives” said Caldwell after the match.

The manager was spot-on in his comment.

But keeper Jasskelainen and defenders Morgan and Pearce were solid and Grigg did what he could up front.

But perhaps the result was not so surprising after all. Oldham are the draw specialists of League 1 having tied 13 of the 28 league matches they have played this season.

The Bad

As usual when the result does not go according to plan the manager’s tactics and team selections come under fire. But more than anything else the poor team display should be put down to the poor  performances of individual players.

However, this time around Caldwell was somewhat cautious in making second half substitutions.

Davies’ introduction came maybe 20 minutes too late and one wondered why the creative Haris Vuckic had been once again left on the bench. The Slovenian had started in the previous three home games when Wigan scored nine goals. In the absence of Michael Jacobs through injury he remains the obvious player to link the holding midfield and the attack.

Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen: 7 – solid and reliable.

Reece Wabara: 4 – peripheral, although he improved in the second half.

Donervon Daniels: – solid until being withdrawn at half time.

Craig Morgan: 7 – solid and did what he could in his distribution which was difficult at times with so many players static.

Jason Pearce: 7 – as solid and determined as ever.

Chris McCann: 5 – poor after a string of fine performances.

Max Power: 5.5 – struggled to make purposeful passes, although the lack of movement around him did not help.

David Perkins: 5 – struggled to make his mark on the game. Came off after 71 minutes.

Conor McAleny: 5 – had one excellent moment in the first half when he was through to goal before being tripped. Apart from that he had little effect on the game. Substituted after 81 minutes.

Will Grigg: 7 – full of effort with some nice touches.

Yanic Wildschut: 6.5 – not one of his better days, being deprived of good service, but still worried the Oldham defence.

 

 

 

 

Can we “Believe” under Mackay?

Mackay's record makes sad reading: W1 D3 L10.   Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.

Mackay’s record makes sad reading: W1 D3 L10.
Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.

“Certainly off the back of tonight’s performance, there is going to be a couple of changes. It’s back to the training ground, we’ve got another few players into the club over the last couple of weeks so they’ll certainly be players getting their chances.”

So said Malky Mackay after arguably the worst performance of a depressing season, a 3-0 loss at Nottingham Forest.

Mackay had chosen a team with one change from that which lost against Bournemouth. Chris Herd came in for the injured Chris McCann. Billy McKay remained on the bench.

Mackay clearly had a plan to smother Forest’s fire by playing ugly. With Leon Clarke playing a lone centre forward role there was clearly going to be little goal threat from Latics unless the midfield trio of Cowie, Kvist and Herd got up to support him. With all three being defence-minded players that was unlikely to happen. Somehow Latics scrapped it out for 33 minutes until Britt Assombalomba opened the scoring, heralding a disintegration of order within the Wigan side. The only surprise is that Forest scored only two more.

One win in the last 16 league matches is the most dire of statistics. Moreover there is little likelihood of it changing soon as Mackay is likely to  bring in more players who have never played together before, some of whom will be lacking match fitness as has been the case with Herd and Kim Bo Kyung in the past couple of games.

The loss of Emyr Huws for the rest of the season is a hammer blow for Mackay. Moreover the absence of Chris McCann last night left him desperately short of midfield cover.

Looking at the Wigan lineup before the game gave one a sense of foreboding. There just was not the talent in the starting eleven that we have become accustomed to over these years. The family silver was sold off and the side is now desperately short on quality.

Mackay has signed in only two new players on permanent contracts, Billy McKay and Jason Pearce. Clarke – who has played for 14 clubs – and Herd are players whose contracts expire at the end of the season, coming to Wigan on loan, unlikely to be offered extensions by their parent clubs at the end of the season. Kim’s contract at Cardiff was cancelled, as was Gaetan Bong’s at Olympiakos. They are on short term deals until the end of the season. Harry Maguire and Sheyi Ojo are young players coming from Premier League clubs, the former having minimal experience of Championship football, tghe latter none.

Ironically the two players who have been signed on permanent terms have been low on the totem pole.

Pearce is yet to appear, despite the poor form showed by Leon Barnett, who now looks a mere shadow of the player he was a year ago. Mackay once again persisted in a back four of Perch, Barnett, Ridgewell and Taylor. One would have expected that that quartet would have built up some mutual understanding following several games as a unit, but the way Forest were able to slice them open suggests that was not the case.

Mackay will be forced to change his back four in the next game at Reading, with Liam Ridgewell returning to Portland. Andrew Taylor is another whose form has been below par and he might well be replaced by Gaetan Bong. The most likely formation at Reading will be Perch, Pearce, Maguire and Bong. Not an ideal situation at this time of the season to have a new team of back four players.

McKay sadly seems to be following in the footsteps of Andy Delort, having come on last night after 88 minutes, although he did play the full second half against Bournemouth. Despite scoring 10 goals in 23 Scottish Premier League games his manager does not deem him necessary in the starting lineup. Let’s hope he will be better treated at the club than the Frenchman, who is now back at Tours, the rumours being that Latics continue to pay his wages.

Both Kim and Herd arrived at the club short of match fitness. Kim played the first 45 minutes on Saturday and only 9 minutes more last night. Herd’s stats are 59 minutes and 63 minutes respectively. Putting in unfit players when the team is struggling is hardly ideal.

However, with an absence of technically skilled players in the squad Mackay probably felt Kim was worth the risk. Ojo showed his skills on Saturday, but is unproven at this level. Can he put those skills into effect over a whole game? Mackay was forced to play Herd at right back against Bournemouth in the absence of Perch. Last night he was pushed in to shore up the midfield.

In the days of Roberto Martinez the “Believe” motto became the standard that raised the team into achieving against the odds. The manager himself had clear belief in his players and they responded on the pitch.

Under Mackay “believing” is much harder for us fans. His record up to this point as Latics manager is unbelievably bad. Will Dave Whelan pull the plug and bring in someone else to try to salvage the season, or is he already resigned to the club being in League 1 next year?

The likelihood is that Mackay will stay at least until the end of the season. He has come in as a hatchet man, chopping away at the squad, but he has not been allowed to bring in hordes of new players on long term contracts.

If Mackay stays next season, albeit in League 1, what can we expect?

The Scot is clearly a better manager than his results at Wigan suggest. His record at both Watford and Cardiff stands close scrutiny in terms of team performances. However, his teams have not been known for their entertainment value. Attendances will plummet, but the club will be cushioned by a continuing parachute payment of some £9 million. The pragmatists would continue to support him providing he got the results good enough to bring the club back upmto the Championship. If the results did not come then his situation woukd become untenable.

it is a bleak near future that lies ahead for Wigan Athletic. Will we ever get back to the point where we can “believe” again?

 

Turning the tide – Latics v Norwich

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The arrival of a new manager so often spurs a team in to playing better. With the improved performances come better results.

Malky Mackay will be hoping that is the case when Latics face Norwich tomorrow. He had a positive start when he recalled the old guard against Middlesbrough, who did well but could not quite get the win they hoped for. But his second match saw two defensive errors give away three points against a mediocre Sheffield Wednesday side.

Like Latics, Norwich come off a run of bad results. In fact their records over the last six games are identical W1 D2 L3. The Canaries started the season well and new signings Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban were banging the goals in. However, since then they have found the Championship division harder than perhaps they had anticipated.

As Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney will testify, referees in this division do not protect skillful players like they do in the Premier League. The Norwich playmaker, Wes Hoolahan, has only played 12 games this season and is still carrying an ankle injury. However, given his importance to the team, manager Neil Adams might risk the little Irishman tomorrow despite not being fully fit. Norwich can be expected to field an attacking lineup with winger Nathan Redmond joining Grabban and Jerome up front.

Ben Watson made his first start in nine months at Sheffield and looked understandably rusty. However, Mackay is likely to continue with him and Chris McCann in central midfield. Shaun Maloney is expected to return following illness. Should he be given a central midfield role then Adam Forshaw will find himself on the bench. However, Maloney could be played wide on the left with Forshaw continuing. Don Cowie is fit again and will challenge for a place, either in central or right midfield.

Mackay fielded two wingers- Callum McManaman and James McClean – at Sheffield. But he will surely have found, as did Uwe Rosler and Owen Coyle previously, that playing the two wide men at the same time just does not work.

Emmerson Boyce moved into the centre of defence in the second half at Sheffield with Leon Barnett. The lack of form of central defenders in recent games is a cause for concern, but Mackay will most likely stick with the two Bs, with James Perch and Andrew Taylor at full back.

The performance at Sheffield once again highlighted the need for a goalscoring centre forward, who receives the necessary support. McManaman and McClean ended up putting in crosses that were too often uncontested.

Mackay’s preferred formation at Cardiff was based on a version of 4-5-1 that was close to the 4-3-3 preferred by Rosler. Like Rosler, it has not been his wont to play with twin strikers. However, given the repeated failure of Latics to put the ball into the back of the net, will he is willing to change his formation? The exciting McManaman is much more effective in a free role than marooned out on the right wing where he it is easier for opposition defenders to pick him off.

Various combinations exist for a twin strike force – choose any two from Delort/Fortune/McClean/ McManaman/Riera/Waghorn. A switch to 4-4-2 would certainly be worth a try.

Once again this is a match that Latics can certainly win. Perhaps Lady Luck might be on Wigan’s side this time? There have been so many times this season when Latics have been within a whisker of getting a crucial goal.

Perhaps the tide will turn tomorrow?

A look at Latics’ eventful start to the season

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With the Brentford game looming Billy theBee Grant @billythebee99 of the Beesotted fanzine asked us at Amigos to give his readers some background information about what has been happening with Latics. Here are our responses to his questions, to be found on the Beesotted site at http://bit.ly/1wc0nrC

BillytheBee catches up with JJ (@JJLos3Amigos) from father and son Wigan blog Los Three Amigos and discusses Uwe Rosler, Adam Forshaw, the Grant Holt beef, Wigan Pies and Kajagoogo.

So lets cut to the chase here … Wigan’s start to the season hasn’t been quite as expected hasn’t it?

The season has been like an uncomfortable rollercoaster ride for Wigan Athletic, with some ups but too many downs. The downs have been quite depressing, characterized by low tempo football with little creativity and defensive weaknesses.

In terms of performances there have been two “ups” – a resounding first half display in a 4-0 defeat of Birmingham City and a 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest. The 1-0 win over a clueless Blackpool side could hardly be called an “up”. The performance against Forest was better than Latics have had in recent weeks.

It has been a rollercoaster ride for the fans above all. The disappointment of a draw and three losses in the first four games was tempered by two successive victories and promising activity in the transfer market. There was genuine optimism before the visit to Blackburn after the first international break, but that dissipated following three losses and a draw in the next four games.

But last season you lost in the playoff semi-final to QPR .. and reached the FA Cup semi-finals too. Are you just having a bit of ‘nearly made it hangover’?

The stats actually show that Latics have won only 6 in the last 26 matches, drawing 8 and losing 12. Moreover in their last 13 away games they have won one, drawn 3 and lost 9.

Rosler has talked about the FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal and the hangover the team has suffered ever since. To win away at Manchester City in the sixth round was a remarkable achievement. But Latics were 1-0 ahead until the 82nd minute at Wembley. To suffer that equalizer, but still make it through extra time after playing so many matches in a condensed period of time, was equally remarkable. But it clearly took a lot out of the players psychologically.

The promotion push stumbled at the playoffs. By then Latics had done the marathon, having already played 62 competitive games during the season.

Despite their tiredness they pushed Queens Park Rangers into extra time of the second match, although in reality they had all but lost their best chance of going through by being unable to find a way past Harry Redknapp’s parked bus at the DW Stadium. That match called for a moment of magic from the likes of Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman or Nick Powell which didn’t happen.

There was little to choose between Latics and QPR last season, but it was the Londoners who went up. Lots of teams came to park their buses at the DW last season and it is likely to be the same scenario this year.

Nowadays the “Little Wigan” tag we used to have has gone and the “FA Cup Winners” label applies. Managers of opposing teams know what quality Latics have in the squad and many will try to park their buses, as they did last year.

But once Rosler has his top players fully fit and firing on all cylinders that quality will show. Parking the bus will not be enough for visiting teams.

Brentford fans were slightly disappointed to see Rosler go before he had ‘finished the job’. Luckily Warburton picked up the baton seamlessly and no real damage was done. However, less that 12 months later quite unbelievably there has been much talk of #RoslerOut from Wigan fans. Surely one should give any new manager a chance to really get his feet under the table. Don’t you think your mob are being slightly ridiculous?

Following the achievements over the past decade expectations are high. There is a whole generation of younger supporters who until last year, were brought up on Premier League football. A return to the top flight is a ‘must’ for many of them.

Some nine months on from the departure of Coyle the keyboard warriors who may have contributed to his demise are lively again. This time their disgruntlement is aimed at Uwe Rosler. It might be hard to believe after what Rosler has already achieved at the club, but some are starting to question if he is the right man for the job.

Rumours were being bandied around the fan forums and social media of Rosler losing the dressing room, although none have since been substantiated. However, the intervention of Dave Whelan openly supporting Rosler has helped calm things down. There still remains a fringe of fans who want Rosler out.

The tale of Whelan’s eventful visit to the dressing room in the early days of Paul Jewell’s reign is etched in the minds of Latics supporters. Jewell was going through a hard time as a young manager, dealing with too many players who were not supporting him.

The story goes that Whelan let the players know in no uncertain terms that the manager was staying and that they could leave if they were not happy with that. It was to ultimately lead to Jewell taking Latics from League 2 to the Premier League and the League Cup final.

Whelan’s intervention this time around might well have sent a similar message to the players. The result was clear to see – a team putting in a real Wigan Athletic performance. Rosler was buoyed by not only the chairman’s support, but by that of the crowd.

The display against Forest was laden with the kind of physical endeavour that propelled Latics into the playoffs and cup semi-final some six months ago. It had been sadly lacking in previous games. Rumours about a divided dressing room and unprofessional behaviour from certain players were blown away by the chanting of “Uwe, Uwe” by the crowd at the end of the game.

Do you feel that Rosler has now seen there is a big difference between managing Brentford where there are less egos in the dressing room, and Wigan – where players are on big money .. and with many ex-premiership players to try and keep happy???

Whelan has backed Rosler by allowing him to assemble a large squad, with lots of quality. He has a strong backbone of players with oodles of Premier League experience. To maintain a squad like that costs money, with Latics having to offer commensurate salaries for those experienced players.

Interestingly James McClean took a significant salary cut when he joined Latics, but keeping players like him happy is clearly a challenge for Rosler. Perhaps the current squad is too big and Rosler is facing challenges in keeping those happy who don’t make the matchday squad.

Having a reputation as a serial rotator, the German continued in the same vein last season. From his first game in charge in December to the end of season playoffs he used 29 players. Faced with extreme fixture congestion, a degree of team rotation was certainly necessary. Moreover it meant that all players in the squad had a chance of getting on the pitch.

This in turn produced keen competition for places and raised the morale of those who might not have been involved. But it was not so much the rotation that fans questioned, but the way in which it was being done. Sometimes there would be wholesale changes, resulting in lineups lacking in cohesion.

Latics fans learned that Rosler’s team selections can be perplexing during his early days at the club. At times it might be easier to predict the winner of the Grand National than guess a Rosler starting lineup. Are his choices linked to a tactical approach or are they influenced by the players’ attitudes and their levels of commitment in training?

Critics say that Rosler has his favourites and his management style involves a “My way or the highway approach”. Fans have questioned his willingness to give all squad players a fair crack of the whip.

So what’s this beef with Grant Holt all about?

The case of Grant Holt has been extreme.

One of Rosler’s first moves when he arrived was to leave Holt out of the squad that travelled to Slovenia to play Maribor. Then in January the player was sent on loan to Aston Villa until the end of the season. When he came back he was consigned to training with the development squad and he was not given a squad number. Moreover his face was conspicuously absent from the squad photograph taken for club’s official site.

Holt has subsequently moved on to a short term loan at Huddersfield, where he seems to be regaining the form he was not able to show at Wigan.

How have your signings been? There was always a big question mark as to who was actually making the signings at Brentford. Manager Mark Warburton, who was the Sporting Director at the time, has very good links with academies around Europe and was thought to be the person to put forward many of the Brentford signings .. with all new players having to be ratified by both Rosler and owner Matthew Benham. Does Rosler have a team around him who he works together with to find and suggest new players to sign?

When the German was appointed in December, most of us expected him to bring in a swath of coaching and backroom staff from Brentford. Within a month he brought in Chris Haslam from his old club as Head of Performance – possibly because of concerns in the fitness levels of Latics’ players.

Alan Kernahan and Peter Farrell had left Brentford within a week of Rosler’s departure and it seemed a matter of time before they were installed at Wigan. It did not happen.The non-arrival of Rosler’s trusted lieutenants was put down to either budget issues or Dave Whelan’s loyalty towards staff previously appointed.

Veteran first team coach Graham Barrow was to continue and John Doolan (who left for Hibs in the summer) was brought up from coaching at youth level to help out with the senior squad.

Rosler has done well in his recruitment of players to be fair, bringing in a mixture of youth and experience. Delort, Forshaw, Huws, Tavernier, Taylor-Sinclair and Waghorn are in their early twenties and all are excellent prospects for the future. In Cowie, Kvist, Riera and Taylor he has players with proven experience.

Rosler’s recruitment contrasts with that of his predecessor, Coyle.

The Scot had a short-term approach, bringing in the kinds of seasoned professionals who could help secure promotion. Despite the pressure on him to get promotion this year, Rosler has stuck to his guns and shown a more long-term approach in signing that swath of younger players.

However, in Beausejour, Gomez and McArthur Latics have lost three key players with considerable technical ability.

Masters of the passing game.

There has been a considerable amount of debate among fans about the type of football Latics have been playing this season, which has alternated between the possession football typical of the Martinez era and the long ball of the Coyle reign.

It has been a difficult start to the season for Rosler. Not only has he had so many new players to settle in but also there have been serious fitness issues.

New players invariably need time to gel with their teammates, but the lack of a clearly defined style of play has made it even more difficult for them. Goals have been too often been given away by sloppy defending and goal opportunities have so often been wasted.

But more than anything else it is the lack of creativity that has stood out.

Rosler really went out on a limb signing Adam Forshaw. Im saying that not because I think Forshaw is a bad player who would let Rosler down .. he’s not .. he’s a great player. I say that because from what I can gather, your fans have been calling for a striker and not another midfielder.

When the hullabaloo started over the Adam Forshaw transfer there were fans who thought transfer funds available would be better spent on a central striker than a midfielder who had not proven himself beyond League 1. Latics had already signed Oriel Riera from Osasuna, whose settling into the team was hardly helped by woeful service from midfield.

The number one priority for the fans was another striker, even if there were concerns about the lack of creativity in midfield.

Despondency had crept in with the impending departure of that great Latics stalwart and FA Cup winner, James McArthur. It looked like Rosler was not going to get the extra striker he desperately needed with the Andy Delort situation continuing to be uncertain.

Moreover the Forshaw saga was dragging on. The creative midfielder was clearly within Rosler’s sights, but was it going to happen?

Then on the Monday we were to find out that Dave Whelan had splashed the cash after all. Leicester City had dropped out of the race to sign James McArthur, but Crystal Palace had moved in and made the acquisition.

By the transfer deadline we had confirmed the Delort and Forshaw transfers, plus the surprise signing of experienced midfield enforcer William Kvist from VfB Stuttgart.

The three signings signaled a statement of intent from Whelan and Rosler that they really wanted to finalise a squad capable of achieving promotion.

But there was another signing that was unexpected – that of young talent Emyr Huws from Manchester City on a permanent contract.

So where does Forshaw fit into your current side?

Rosler clearly has faith in Forshaw being able to provide a creative spark in midfield. He did it at Brentford and Rosler will be banking on him doing the same at Wigan. In recent matches Huws has provided some spark. But he is young and needs time.

However, if you were to ask a room full of Latics fans who is the best bet for a creative midfield role, the name of Shaun Maloney would surely be their typical response.

Without doubt the best football Wigan Athletic have ever played was in the final part of the 2012-13 season and in the FA Cup triumph in 2013-14. Sometimes Maloney would be played wide on the left. But he was most effective when playing an advanced midfield role in the “hole” behind the centre forward. If anybody made the side tick it was he.

Maloney proved himself as a top quality Premier League player. But questions remain, if at 31 years of age and after a major hip operation, he will ever get back to where he was. However, he comes off the back of two good performances for Scotland.

At his best and playing in his favourite position in the centre of midfield, he can be an outstanding performer in the Championship.

The dilemma for Rosler will be in deciding if there is room for both Maloney and Forshaw in the same team. If so will Maloney be consigned to wide position?

He’s made a few cameo appearances for you so far. I guess that he is still working on his fitness. How has he been?

Forshaw made his Wigan debut in the last ten minutes against Blackburn, but it was his first competitive football since May.

He made his first start against Ipswich. He looked out of touch in the first half, but rallied in the second when he switched to a more central role. In the closing minutes he put through a couple of exquisitely timed passes to split a stubborn Ipswich rearguard. He looked the part in those closing minutes.

Forshaw made his second start in the next match – a 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth. He did not come off the bench in the Forest game that followed, but came on in the 57th minute in the 2-2 draw at Wolves before the international break.

Forshaw has shown some promise. But like several other players at the club, match fitness has been the issue.

Your parachute money surely runs out very soon. Surely if you don’t get back into the Premier League, you will be in a financial pickle

Last season Latics were due to receive £23m in parachute payments from the Premier League. With an historic Europa League campaign coming up the club decided to largely invest the parachute payments into maintaining a large squad. It is believed that the club had previously written into players’ contracts that their salaries would drop if they were to be relegated from the Premier League.

Moreover a number of players left the club. Several at the ends of their contracts. Others for significant transfer fees.

Latics actually performed relatively well last season in using their parachute payments to assemble a squad good enough to reach 5th place in the Championship. In the previous season the clubs who came down from the Premier League – Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves – finished in 17th, 7th and 23rd positions, despite parachute payments of £16m.

With the parachute payment and funds gained from the Europa League campaign, together with prudent financial management, it is likely that Wigan Athletic at least broke even financially last season.

The challenge is whether they can secure promotion back to the Premier League against clubs who are spending millions on new players.

Last season both Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers flouted FFP rules in gaining promotion. The London team is reported to have had a budget of £70m last year, losing £23m over the season. Fulham’s investment of £11m on Ross McCormack was staggering, especially for a player who has never played in the Premier League.

Wigan expects to open a new training facility at Charnock Richard by August 2016. This will then allow us to attract players of all ages and also develop future professionals. Were that to become a reality they would then need to apply for Category 1 status.

The main priority for Latics this season is promotion to the Premier League. However, in terms of long term sustainability the club needs to produce young players who can graduate to senior level. The Academy project is an indication that Latics are trying to secure long-term viability as a club in the upper echelons of English football.

So who should Brentford be looking out for on the pitch??

Callum McManaman is the man in form this season. Let’s see if Brentford resort to the kind of foul tactics against him that other teams have done so often.

And here’s our “Made in Wigan” section …

Bolton Wanderers or Wigan Rugby League?

Are you showing a red rag to a bull? Latics fans are not too distressed at seeing Bolton at the foot of the table. After decades of being treated with condescension by the followers of the egg-chasing game, Latics are in the ascendency in the town. Just look out for the blue, not the red.

Richard Ashcroft from The Verve or Limahl from Kajagoogo?

Both brilliant, but how about Starsailor ?

Roberto Martinez or Andy Liddell?

Both spent six years playing for Latics. Icons from different eras as players, not to mention Roberto’s achievements as a manager.

Chris Kirkland or Nigel Adkins?

Kirkland spent 6 years at Latics, producing so many heroic performances despite constant struggles with injury.

Adkins was Latics’ goalkeeper pre-Whelan, from 1986-93. Will he ever return to them as manager?

Wigan Casino or The Hacienda

Don’t ask a Wiganer a question like that! The Casino was from an earlier era but both were something very special.

Georgie Fame or George Formby Jnr

Both legends in Wigan, even if Georgie was from Leigh.

Kay Burley, Sky News or Ruth Liptrott, Channel 5 News

The more Wiganers on the news the better!

Head to head, Wigan are smashing it winning 18 games to the Bees’ 6 with 7 games drawn. Do you think the Bees will make inroads interning that record around??

A win for Latics by at least a two goal margin.

Do you think you can still get promoted?

Given the bad start to the season it is unlikely that Latics can reach an automatic promotion spot. But with the squad that Rosler has put together promotion through the playoffs remains a distinct possibility.

Blackpool are the obvious certs for relegation, but despite their owner they are a fine old club. Let’s hope they can stay up.

Where do you recommend away fans hang out out pre-match?

The Anvil, in the town centre just behind the Parish Church,is an excellent real ale pub. The Raven, just up the street from the station, is an old style Wigan pub well worth a visit. Don’t forget to try the pies while in the town centre.

 

BillytheBee
@billythebee99

From the Archives: Fan views of Latics players – Part 1 – Roger Espinoza and James McClean

The first posting on our Amigos site was made by Ned on August 11, 2011. It received less than 10 views that first day. But by the end of the month the site had received over 700 views.

Our readership has continued to steadily grow. In this current month of April the site has already received more than ten times the number of views than in that inaugural month, from viewers in more than fifty countries. The growth has been particularly significant in recent months.

Given that we now have a wider readership we plan to occasionally republish articles from our archives, that many may not have seen. We ask our long-established readers will bear with us on this. We will continue to put out our stream of current articles.

Our site stats have shown that our readership has been particularly interested in perspectives of Latics players from fans of their previous clubs. Thanks to contributions made by bloggers on the fan sites of those clubs for these articles from our archives.

Let’s start with fan views on Roger Espinoza and James McClean.

 

A Sporting Kansas City fan’s view of Roger Espinoza.

Espinoza

Written by: James Starritt, who writes and speaks about Sporting on the web and local radio, on sportingtimes.net and kicktheball.us

Published: December 6, 2012

 

 

A frenzy of crunching tackling and combative running

Roger is a fantastic player who has shown enormous capacity to grow over the last few years. As is typical for MLS he was played out of position for a while — on the flanks early — before being converted to full-back. He didn’t do well, and was a fairly average presence until Honduras popped him into central midfield, and he immediately carved out some fantastic performances. An injury crisis in the middle in 2011 forced a similar move shortly afterwards from Sporting Kansas City, and in his first game he simply dominated the entire midfield, scoring a goal, and breaking up opposition possession in what I can only describe as a frenzy of crunching tackling and combative running. He has never looked back.

If you watched Paul Ince, David Batty or Roy Keane back the days, he is cut from that mold. He is passionate and dominant when he is on his game, and he leaves everything he has on the field. He thrives on the competition, and seems to get stronger as games go onwards. He is very, very consistent. If he can play … he is on.

He is very dangerous around either area, breaking up possession in front of his defense and winning it back around the top of the opponents box. He is ideal sitting right between a defensive midfielder and an attacking/creative one — at least at this level. He can drop back into defensive midfield comfortably, however. He is not terribly dynamic going forward but he does create chances for other players to play around him simply by winning the ball and pressuring people into mistakes, he won’t make goals, you’ll still need players to capitalize on the possession he wins for that. If he can raise his game to BPL levels, Wigan should see more of the ball just having him out there. He is a decent passer, he won’t score many goals, but I think he will only improve with better players around him.

The transfer will go through, goodbyes have been said – I see no reason that he will not pass the medical. He may be a little beaten up after a long season but nothing stands out as problematic long-term that should prevent this going through. Pay will not be an issue either as he is on less than £80,000 currently … annually. The only question is whether he can handle the step up in level … what you get with Roger is a guy who will die trying. He is 26 now but players start later in MLS (they go to college/university and then play…) he is still learning and growing and doesn’t have 8 years of time on his legs. He’ll earn his share of yellows and reds… it is just the nature of his play, he isn’t malicious or dirty but if he dives in, he is going all in. You’ll get no histrionics, no diving – he goes down and bounces right up and gets right back into the game, not much complaining, no drama off the field, and he is a nice guy to talk to – he won’t have problems fitting in with the squad unless he struggles to feel at home within Wigan itself.

If he can handle the BPL I think he has the capacity to be a bit of a fan favorite, maybe not a huge star but a good solid pro who you’ll miss when he isn’t out there. We certainly will.”

A Sunderland fan’s view of James McClean

mcclean

 

Written by: Matthew Wear of Sunderland fan site “A Love Supreme”.

Published: August 19, 2013

In his time with Sunderland, there was a lot of side-taking for the Irish International. He was a little like marmite, either you love him or you hate him. He signed for us for a mere £300,000 from League of Ireland side Derry City, and under Steve Bruce it was seemingly a signing for the future.

However, due to his impressive performances in the reserve side he was placed on the bench but didn’t appear till Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge, which wasn’t until December, and many credited McClean for changing the game around in our favour.

For the rest of the 2011-12 season, McClean was in fantastic form as it seemed he had no fear taking on defenders from the top teams in the land and not being put off by them. Many SAFC fans believed we had unearthed a gem in McClean who would shine for us for years to come.

 In his first half-season he played 29 games, scoring 6 goals and putting in some fantastic displays. With a great season behind him McClean was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012 but only making a substitute appearance against champions Spain. Many fans criticised Giovanni Trapattoni as they felt McClean warranted more game time than what he actually got during the tournament.

As the 2012-13 season rolled about fans were expecting as good as, if not better performances from McClean. But throughout the season, his off-field antics overshadowed his time on the pitch. The controversy surrounding the poppy situation lead to death threats from many fans across the country as he refused to wear the Sunderland shirt with a poppy sewn into the kit and instead chose not to. A lot of our fans then turned their backs on the Irishman, which subsequently lead to a loss of confidence on the pitch.

However it was later revealed that 6 people from the estate he grew up on, were shot by the British Military in 1972. But despite this he was unable to shrug off the booing, which despite what he has done, wasn’t warranted in my opinion.

This all culminated with a very, very poor season by the whole of the SAFC  team, but the majority of the blame fell onto McClean as he was in the middle of the controversy with the poppy. However, his form did drop dramatically in comparison to his debut season as he was labelled a ‘one trick pony’ by many fans and in 41 games he scored 5 goals. Lots of SAFC fans believed he had been found out and his success in the previous season was only because no one knew who he was or how to defend against him.

But despite all this, personally I wish all the best to the lad as I feel that in a new club like Wigan, who themselves still have some quality players who have played in the Premiership, he will thrive and possibly help them push for a place back in the top flight.

 

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