Amigo and Social Media reaction to a limp display at Accrington

Accrington Stanley 3 Wigan Athletic 1

It was always going to be a challenge playing on a small and bumpy pitch against a physically imposing Accrington side. With the absence of wingers  Viv Solomon-Otabor and Gavin Massey through injury and the expectation of an aerial barrage from the home side, Leam Richardson employed a back line of three central defenders and two wing backs.

Callum Lang’s opportunist goal in the first minute gave Latics genuine hope, but it was nullified when the 6ft 4in central defender Cameron Burgess was left unmarked to equalise two minutes later. Then after 15 minutes awful defending allowed another 6ft 4in central defender, Callum Nottingham, to bundle the ball home.

With an uncoordinated  rearguard and a goalkeeper rooted on his line Latics continued to be vulnerable to the crosses the home side would put in. It came as no surprise when Accrington got a third through a soft penalty against Tendayi Darikwa in the 61st minute. Striker Dion Charles’ spot kick was practically straight at Jamie Jones, who did not react. Was it the sheer pace of the shot that beat him?

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“It’s very disappointing and I’m disappointed in the fact you knew what was coming, you prepare for what’s coming and then you succumb to that. I’ve been fortunate to work [at Accrington] as a player and manager and I’ve worked with John [Coleman]’s teams and if you don’t match the fight against his teams then you lose the game and that’s exactly what happened here this afternoon.

They’re built off a solid base and physicality and they want to run through you and around you and you can’t allow that or give possession away and give free kicks away.We got beat today by two balls into our box with no contact, no endeavour and we lost nine or ten battles on the pitch and that’s why we lost.”

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:

FormbyLatic wrote:

That was truly one of our worst performances of the season by some margin. Really, really disappointing.

Moonay opined:

It doesn’t take much, does it.

7 points from the last 3 games, just the one goal conceded, all forgotten, cos too many players have had a poor afternoon, and the manager has maybe got his selection (and tactics?) wrong.

Plenty of criticism of the defence for the goals, (and rightly so) but the the goals (all avoidable) were from 2 set pieces and a pike with full twist of a penalty.

Some had OK games, but even those players had black marks against them: Lang, but should have had a second early on, Darikwa, but shouldn’t have allowed the opportunity for the dive, …to be fair, I’m struggling to class anyone else as OK.

As Oscar said, poor decisions let us down at times. It wasn’t a great pitch, but that can’t be an excuse.

Richardson and Rioch watch the players in training, and know far more about football and footballers than all us keyboard critics, but I struggle to see what Dodoo offers that Proctor doesn’t. Also, if you’re going to play a back 3, then the wing backs have to get forward, but young Robinson struggled to do that.

A bad day at the office, with a few toys strewn around the cot, but still plenty to play for in the coming games. Cookie up next. Let’s hope he does us a favour.

True Believer stated:

We changed our game plan to nullify theirs, in my book that is a negative attitude.

I like to see teams play three at the back, as Accy do.

However in order to play that your wing backs have to assist in midfield, today Robinson wasn’t able to do that. Darikwa had some success on the right but cost us with a poor decision. We effectively played five at the back for most of the game and the two errors came from misunderstandings from players adjusting to playing a different formation. We lost the runners and it cost us.

Hopefully we learn from this and move on but we really must play to our strengths and not negate our play by trying to counter opposition set ups. We need to play our own game and not be intimidated by other teams, let them worry about us and not the other way around. Sure we will lose some games but at least we will go down playing our own game.

Kendal Blue summarised:

Very poor day at the office today. Bad decisions, lack of clinical touch and also a lack of positive risk taking. Our defence has improved tenfold since the dark days of winter, but took a step back today and was particularly disappointed with how easily we were bullied when the ball was in the air. Have always thought that Evans needs to push on and have a few more shots and at this level he should be taking a risk. Our chance conversation ratio is supposedly one of the best in the league but I don’t think that stat is quite as positive as it sounds.

Putting it down to an awful day, but not a complete catastrophe. Certainly not a complete undoing of the last 3 games. Nothing a good old fashioned b.llocking and extra days training can’t put right.

Victor Moses commented:

Evans has been poor for me this season, at the beginning of the season he was giving the ball away cheaply and since his return from injury he has continued to do so. He plays emotional, one mistake affects the rest of the match for him. Used to be my favourite player, the 1st spell here on loan he was outstanding. Has gone backwards, probably needs to play as the central midfielder in a 3 like Wilder used him, can’t see him being effective anywhere else anymore.

Aasgaard to be out of the team for Dodoo or Gardner is something I cannot understand, neither bring anything to the team currently.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to an important win at Plymouth for Wigan Athletic

Plymouth Argyle 0 Wigan Athletic 2

After a depressing February with the relegation fight an uphill struggle the month of March brings so much promise. With back-to-back wins and ownership issues nearing resolution there has been an uplift for both players and fans at Wigan Athletic.

This was a fine performance by a Latics side that was as well-balanced and cohesive as any seen this season. Wigan looked dangerous throughout the first half with their pace and willingness to run at the home side’s defence. They scored two fine goals and came close to adding more. Despite Plymouth coming close on several occasions Latics went into the interval with a two goal lead.

But Latics have had first half leads in the past and have blown them. When the second half began one wondered if the defence could stand firm and avoid making errors that could let the Pilgrims back into the game. In the end it was a resolute defensive performance, together with a touch of good fortune, that kept Plymouth out.

Players from last season’s squad made a significant impact. Lee Evans was excellent in midfield despite not having played for months. Gavin Massey looked like his old self on the right wing, after the struggles he has suffered this season. His link-up play with Tendayi Darikwa was reminiscent of that he would have with Nathan Byrne in earlier times. Jamie Jones has had a topsy- turvy season and has been fortunate to keep his place in recent weeks. But he has started to repay Leam Richardson’s faith in him and had a good game last night.

It was the most experienced line-up Richardson had chosen this season, with the exception of a 19-year-old left back. Luke Robinson was drafted in because of a long-term injury to Tom Pearce. The latter had been one of Wigan’s better performers, his bold attacking runs, and dangerous crosses having become a major attacking arm for the team.  Robinson is a solid and tenacious defender who looks comfortable at this level despite his lack of experience. Although he is being employed in a more defensive role than his predecessor, he has shown his abilities in attack.

After the game Richardson commented:

“We know how much change there has been over the last few months since February and then passing the responsibility to – and challenging – this new group. It’s not an easy task but the performances and relationships have grown over the last few weeks.

It’s all about the new group coming together, individually as units and then into the team and being able to see through games when you’re ahead. The game management was fantastic.”

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:

FrancosLoveChild stated:

Mental how much difference off the field matters affect on the pitch, the whole atmosphere has gone right back up to the time last of season before July. Very refreshing!

You are my sunshine concluded:

Another brilliant win to move us out of the bottom 4! Really enjoyable 1st half! We could’ve scored 5 and looked a real threat, but on the other hand could’ve conceded a couple in that 10 minute spell that we were under severe pressure.

2nd 45 we were much less of an attacking threat, but took the sting out of the game well and managed the game successfully. We defended well for the most part and when it was breached Jones made some solid saves and didn’t put a foot wrong all night. I thought he could’ve been replaced after the Wimbledon and Hull defeats, but since he has been solid, so fair play to him.

Impossible to pick a mom as everyone was excellent again in another superb team performance and big 3 points! Good to see Evans back out there and Massey getting stronger.

Hopefully by the end of the week we get further positive news on the takeover front!
What a difference a week makes, UTFT!

Moonay wrote:

Took chances, missed chances, and rode our luck, but overall, definitely deserved to win.

Superb. Now for the play-offs!

Ooohaaahdonniespage added:

Evans class first game in ages. Massey best player on pitch for me. If he can keep on the up like he is we have a real chance. And LMB wouldn’t you agree that Jones is much improved?

Victor Moses summarised:

Did well to see the game out, ball hit the woodwork 6 times over the past two games with them all deflecting away from goal. Not had that luck all season, been punished for everything but when we needed it the most it came on the back of two good performances.

Jones did well in goal tonight, a lot of their shots were at him but he was solid and dealt with everything required of him.

Johnston must of made 15 tackles, being first to the ball ahead of their attacker almost every time.

Tilt made some good blocks and scored an important goal.

Ojo has played well recently.

Lang’s ability to run the channels and give us control in their half cannot be underestimated he’s brilliant at it.

Massey and Otabor excellent 1st half, both tired in the 2nd but put shifts in.

Well done to all the staff and Leam over the past 2 games to turn it around, still a long way to go but back in the pack with a shot at staying in L1.

Evans class first game in ages. Massey best player on pitch for me. If he can keep on the up like he is we have a real chance. And LMB wouldn’t you agree that Jones is much improved?

Degsy1 added:

We played well but Lady Luck was on our side tonight as Plymouth hit the woodwork 3 times but it’s about time we got the roll of the dice !

Well done you tics !

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Five talking points following a gritty victory against Doncaster


Wigan Athletic 1 Doncaster Rovers 0

Who would have thought that a Wigan Athletic team built around the bare remnants of Paul Cook’s squad could be in mid-table after four games played? This win over an in-form Doncaster side who had been unbeaten in their first three games was the result of a well-taken goal by Joe Garner together with no mean amount of grit and determination.

There were surprises in John Sheridan’s opening line-up, with Nathan Cameron on the bench and Danny Fox in discussions with Robbie Fowler, manager of East Bengal, who play in Calcutta. Kal Naismith was moved back into the centre of defence with Darnell Johnson making his debut, on loan from Leicester City.

Darren Moore’s Doncaster looked a useful outfit in the first half, their movement and fluidity constantly challenging Wigan’s defence. But thanks to profligate finishing and fine saves from Jamie Jones the game was goalless at half time. Latics were much better in the second half, buoyed by Garner’s excellent header from Viv Solomon-Otabor’s cross after 59 minutes.

Following the game Sheridan commented: “I am very pleased with the result. It was a really tough game, which I expected because they’ve got a very good footballing side and they gave us a lot of problems in the first half. We were probably fortunate to go in level at the break because we didn’t really get going and we were a bit sloppy in the way we started the game. I felt we should have got up the pitch a bit further and got in and around people but what we asked of them at half-time they have gone and done in the second-half and I thought we were magnificent in the second-half; we created problems, got in and around them and played some excellent football ourselves, scoring a great goal to get the three points.”

Let’s take a look at some points arising from the game:

Maintaining a style of play

John Sheridan’s appointment was hardly heralded by Latics fans. Most of us had expected Liam Richardson to take over as manager. However, the combination of the two has helped to stabilise things on the field of play.

The starting line-up from this match contained six players from last season’s squad, two who have stepped up from the U23 squad, the remainder being loan players or those on short-term contracts.

However, the style of play developed during Paul Cook’s three-year tenure has remained in place. This is something that has so often not been the case in the past.

Dave Whelan’s mistake of appointing Owen Coyle as successor to Roberto Martinez is the most memorable. A group of players weaned on patient possession football struggled to adapt to a long-ball approach from a new manager.

It is to Sheridan’s credit that has not tampered with the style and method of play that had been previously established.

A captain who leads by example

Sam Morsy’s departure from the club was a bitter blow. Morsy was not only a key player in midfield, but a captain who led by example.

Joe Garner was the obvious choice for the captaincy when Morsy departed, a senior professional, known for his gritty determination to succeed.

With five goals in six games the new captain has been in fine form. For the first time since joining Latics in August 2018 he is now the undisputed first-choice central striker at the club. He is thriving on it.

Garner is a combative figure on the field of play, not afraid to mix things physically with powerful central defenders who tower above him. He clearly relishes playing in the target-man role, but Garner is also capable of making killer passes as we saw yesterday when he put Solomon-Atabor through with a pass that should have led to Latics taking a two goal lead.

Joe Garner is now 32. He has had made more than 470 career appearances at nine clubs. Nevertheless, he retains an enthusiasm that must surely rub off on the less experienced players around him.

A young centre of midfield

Two young Liverpudlians, Chris Merrie and Alex Perry, have certainly caught the eye in recent weeks in establishing themselves as an option in the centre of midfield. Having operated together in the U23 team they know each other’s games and gel as a partnership in that key area.

Chris Merrie is 21 and a product of the Wigan Athletic academy. He joined Latics in 2013 after previously being part of the Everton youth system. Prior to this season his Latics appearances had been limited to cup competitions. In the 2017-18 season he went on loan to both Southport and Altrincham, making a total of 25 appearances. A regular at U23 level Merrie has stepped up to the senior squad. He is strong in the tackle and is an accurate passer with his trusted left foot.

Alex Perry is 22 and a product of the Bolton Wanderers academy. Latics acquired him from as a free agent with Bolton suffering financial difficulties in September 2018. Prior to this season Perry’s only first team experience had been during a month’s loan at Northern Premier League side Sutton Coldfield in November 2017 and a single appearance for Bolton in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Perry was a regular in the Latics U23 team and has made an impressive step-up to the senior level this season. He is an energetic midfielder, strong in the tackle, who shows vision in his passing.

Put Massey on the right

Gavin Massey is now 28. He joined Latics in July 2017. At his best he has used his searing pace to cut apart opposition defences, and he has scored spectacular goals. His partnership with Nathan Byrne on Wigan’s right was a key factor in Latics winning League 1 in the 2017-18 season.

Last season was not Massey’s best. He is an exclusively one-footed player, most effective on his “natural side”, the right. So often last season Cook would frustratingly play him on the left. Massey has always been willing to work hard for the team and does not shirk in his defensive duties. However, playing him on the left wing has hardly helped him be at his incisive best.

When yesterday’s team sheet came out one hoped in vain that Massey would be played on the right with Viv Solomon-Atabor on the left. The latter has shown is ability to play effectively on either wing. Although being predominantly right footed he can use his left to good effect.

Using Massey as a “workhorse” left winger has never got the best out of the player. Being so one-footed means he constantly passes the ball inside or backwards, lacking the option of going on the outside past the full back.

It can only be hoped that Sheridan will see this and employ the player in his most effective role.

Evans must gain more self-belief

Lee Evans is now 26 and should be nearing his peak as a midfield player. Evans is physically strong and possesses a fine technique and the vision to make a killer pass or score goals. With such attributes Evans should be further on in his career than he is.

Last season was tough for the Welshman with Sam Morsy and Joe Williams forming a formidable partnership in the centre of midfield. At times Evans played in the problematic number 10 role, sometimes looking good, but could not establish himself as the first choice for that position.

There is debate among supporters as to Evans’ best position. Before Williams’ arrival he would often partner Sam Morsy in central midfield. Although defensively solid he does not have the tenacity of such as Morsy and Williams, but his ability to launch pinpoint long passes from the centre of the pitch was a useful tool for the team.

We know that Evans can be an effective holding midfielder in League 1, but Sheridan has given him the chance to show what he can do as a number 10. In the opening games of the season he was somewhat anonymous, possibly shell-shocked like many others by what was happening off the field of play at the club. He has since improved.

Evans has the ability to be among the top midfield players in the third tier. But too often he makes the square pass rather taking the more incisive option which he is capable of. Moreover, he has scored spectacular goals in the past, but does not shoot often enough.

With belief Lee Evans can be a top player. He has the attributes necessary to be so. If Sheridan and his staff can continue to give him a good run of games and help instil more self-belief in the player, he could be key to Latics’ success in the near future.

 

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Five talking points following an important victory over Blackburn

Wigan Athletic 2 Blackburn Rovers 0

“I genuinely felt Blackburn had taken control of the game in the second half, and then we go and score the first goal at a vital time. Great credit to my players, they’ve got this never-say-die attitude at the minute, and they deserve all the credit for digging in. The second goal at the end gives in my opinion a totally false scoreline, it was never a 2-0 comfortable victory for Wigan. But we’re delighted with the result and delighted with the three points.”

Paul Cook’s honesty in his post-match comments continues to put other managers to shame. He was certainly spot-on in what he said.

The first half was even with the teams paying each other maybe too much respect. When the half time whistle blew the game looked like it was heading for a goalless draw. But Blackburn started to dominate in the second half and Latics were forced back into defence. It took an error from Christian Walton in the Blackburn goal for Latics to open the scoring, as he made a mess of Antonee Robinson’s cross, the ball falling to Lee Evans to hammer home. Then in the last minute of added time Joe Williams put through a wonderful long pass for Michael Jacobs to run past Rovers’ diminished defence to score with aplomb.

Let’s look at points arising:

Another clean sheet for Wigan

Latics are now unbeaten in the last eight games. After sharing four goals with both Middlesbrough and Cardiff City in February they have not conceded in their last six matches.

Courtesy of Soccerstats.com

Only Middlesbrough have scored less goals than Wigan, but Latics’ defensive record places them in the top half of the table. It is that defensive solidity that will keep Latics in the Championship for another season, barring any unforeseen calamities.

Game management

When Evans scored in the 80th minute one wondered if Blackburn would pull one back. If it had been earlier on in the season that might well have happened, but a feature of Wigan’s upsurge in form has been in their game management. Rovers certainly pushed men forward in an effort to equalise, but the Wigan defence held firm. Moreover, rather than hoof the ball to safety Williams put that beautifully weighted pass forward for Jacobs to seal the game.

Latics have matured as a team and are making less mistakes collectively, making it harder for other teams to get back into the game.

Cook and substitutions

With Blackburn dominating possession as the second half progressed one wondered if the manager would bring on Joe Gelhardt to provide some much-needed creativity and goal threat. But once more it was not to be, Cook sticking with his senior pros.

However, on this occasion the manager deserves credit. Lee Evans was brought on for Anthony Pilkington after 56 minutes and he went on to score the goal that broke the deadlock. Moreover, Michael Jacobs came on for Kieran Dowell after 73 minutes, going on to score a very well-taken goal in the 94th minute.

A feature of Cook’s strategy in the two games since the season restarted is that he has used less substitutions than the opposition managers. Tony Mowbray used five yesterday whereas Cook used three, with Joe Garner coming on in time-added-on. The upside of Cook’s approach is that it has caused less disruption to the flow of Wigan’s play. The downside is that there is another match coming up on Tuesday and some players, Jamal Lowe and Kieffer Moore in particular, looked very tired in the closing minutes.

The full backs play a key role

Both Nathan Byrne and Antonee Robinson had fine games, solid in defence and supportive in attack.

Watching Robinson yesterday gave us a glimpse of the reasons why he is being coveted by other clubs. He looked a complete player, worthy of a step up into a higher level of football whether it be Serie A or the Premier League.

Nathan Byrne is now 28 years old. Latics signed him from Wolves for an undisclosed fee in August 2016. However, he struggled in the Championship under Gary Caldwell and Warren Joyce dispatched him on loan to League 1 Charlton Athletic in January 2017. However, he came back to Wigan for the 2017-18 League 1 season under Paul Cook making 51 appearances, being voted “Player of the Season”. It looked like Byrne was going to be the first choice right back in the 2018-19 season back in the Championship but Latics signed the impressive Reece James on loan from Chelsea. Later in the season James was moved into the centre of midfield with Byrne returning to his best position at right back.

This season Byrne has established himself as the first choice right back for Latics in the Championship. He has had his ups-and-downs but as the season has progressed, he has looked more composed and established at this level. Byrne’s form has been integral to Wigan’s unbeaten run in the past eight matches.

Looking forward to Stoke

Over the coming weeks all clubs in the Championship are going to find it tough with regular midweek games sandwiched between the weekend fixtures. There are seven matches remaining before the regular season ends on July 22. The managers are going to have to make good use of their squads, given the physical demands on the players.

Stoke City have had a difficult season and are under threat of relegation. Their wage bill far outweighs that of Latics, but they have struggled. The home loss to Middlesbrough yesterday was a tough one for them and they will come to Wigan anxious to pick up points. However, they will come without the services of Nick Powell, who was sent off in the 89th minute.

It remains to be seen how Cook will use his squad over the coming weeks. Once again, he stuck with a winning lineup yesterday and he is likely to do the same on Tuesday, barring injuries. He is not a fan of the kind of squad rotation that some managers employ. However, he must be wary of burnout from his key players.

The Stoke encounter could prove tougher than it looks on paper. Much will depend on the energy levels of Wigan’s key players.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

 

Five talking points following a rousing win over Cardiff

Wigan Athletic 3 Cardiff City 2

A rousing second half performance, capped by three well taken goals saw Wigan Athletic take the three points against a combative Cardiff City side. It was a well-deserved win against a team loaded with players who had played in the Premier League last season.

Paul Cook stuck with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, largely keeping faith with players who kept the club in the Championship division last season. David Marshall in goal and Lewis Macleod in central midfield for the unavailable Sam Morsy were the new faces in the starting line-up.

Latics started brightly, despite their play being disrupted by the visitors’ physical approach and their ability to counterattack at speed. Wigan looked so much better when they played the ball on the ground, their high crosses being gobbled up by Cardiff’s big central defenders, the 6ft 6in tall Aden Flint and the 6ft 4in Sean Morrison. Although both teams had threatened it was the visitors who scored first, after 20 minutes, Marshall fumbling the ball with midfielder Joe Ralls hitting it home amid a chaotic Wigan defence. Ralls had been lucky not to receive a red card after an awful challenge on Lee Evans. Cardiff went into the interval one goal ahead having conceded 11 fouls to Wigan’s 4, with 3 yellow cards compared with none for the home team.

Wigan came out in the second half with spirit and intensity, building up with skill, challenging Cardiff’s giant defenders on the ground where they were less comfortable. Josh Windass had already been a thorn in the visitors’ side and soon after the interval he outpaced Morrison who nudged him to concede a penalty. It was a surprise to see Windass step up to take the spot-kick, Joe Garner being the normal penalty taker. Unfortunately, Windass could not convert it, the ball striking the post. But in the 59th minute the same player’s deflected free kick fell into the path of Michael Jacobs who slotted it home. Four minutes later Windass gave Wigan the lead, beating Morrison, before finishing with aplomb.

Cardiff continued to pose a threat and Wigan’s defence was exposed when Omar Bogle scored an equaliser after 70 minutes. But within five minutes Wigan were ahead again after Evans had cut in from the left and unleashed a superb right foot curler into the top right-hand corner of the Cardiff goal. Cook then brought on Cedric Kipre for Macleod, changing to a back three. It took brave defence to hold off waves of Cardiff pressure in the closing minutes.

Paul Cook had been awarded a yellow card in the first half, protesting Cardiff’s over-robust approach. He felt that Ralls “shouldn’t be on the pitch. My initial reaction was it wasn’t a hard decision to give a red. We spoke at half-time not to let anyone, including myself, lose their discipline.”

Let’s take a look at some points arising:

Windass in the number 10 role

Nick Powell’s departure for Stoke was a blow for Cook. The burning question has been who he would place in that key number 10 role behind the central striker. Reports have linked Latics to Preston’s creative midfielder Daniel Johnson, who played under the manager at Chesterfield. It was Josh Windass who was chosen to play in that role yesterday.

Windass has played the role before, with limited success. But in this game, he really stepped up to the plate, his mobility and pace causing all kinds of problems for the opposition defence. Windass cannot match Powell in terms of creativity and passing ability: he is a different type of player with different attributes.

Windass can be a frustrating player, seemingly losing concentration at times, misplacing passes, not being aware of those around him. But at his best he can be a real asset, his directness unsettling the opposition.

Macleod could be a key player

Lewis Macleod is a talented midfield player whose career has been dogged by injury. He played for 75 minutes yesterday before making way to Cedric Kipre. Macleod is gradually adjusting to Cook’s style of play, which is quite different than what he was used to at Brentford.

Should he manage to steer clear of injury he could be a key player this season.

Evans back to his best

Lee Evans had a disappointing time last season but has all the attributes to become a top-class midfielder at Championship level. He has good positional sense, is strong in the tackle and has a good technique. He had a fine game in a holding midfield role yesterday, capping it off with a superb goal that was to prove to be the match winner.

During the course of last season Reece James took over Evans’ regular duties of taking free kicks and corners. Yesterday Josh Windass took most of the set pieces. However, Evans is very capable in that area and in crossing the ball into space in open play.

One wonders if Evans lacks the self-belief that he should really have given his footballing abilities. He is such a capable player.

The challenge for Paul Cook is in how to get the best out of the Welshman.

Using a back three

Cook’s continues to prefer a 4-2-3-1 system that has served him so well in the past. He pushes his full backs forward, relying on holding midfielders dropping back to support an exposed defence. At times yesterday the centre of defence looked vulnerable with Cardiff breaking out with pace. Had they taken more of the chances they created they might well have come away with the three points.

Given the way that Cardiff play the manager might well have considered using three centre backs in his starting line-up. Instead he waited until the final quarter. It was certainly the right thing to do to counter the visitors’ aerial threat.

Cook deserves credit for his willingness to try other formations. However, so often when Latics have changed to a back three to close down a game they have dropped too deep in defence, giving the ball back to the opposition so cheaply. Keeping the ball is key to defending under pressure but Latics tend to launch long balls far too freely when a counterattack is on with the opposition pushed so far forward. It is something that the manager and his coaches need to work on with their players.

Looking for a big target man

Joe Garner is 5 ft 10 in tall. Given the height of the central defenders he had to compete with he did remarkably well to challenge for high balls. Garner is a capable centre forward to gives his all for the team, but he plays at his best when the ball is played to his feet.

Following failed attempts to sign big target men in Sam Gallagher and Jordan Hugill it is no surprise to hear that Cook is now trying to sign the 6ft 5in Kieffer Moore from Barnsley. Moore does not have a lot of experience at Championship level but has a better scoring rate than Gallagher or Hugill.

Signing a big centre forward who poses a big aerial threat would add an extra option for Cook. But Latics have enough creativity in midfield not to rely on the long ball which we saw too much of last season.

Let’s hope that the arrival of a tall centre forward is employed to give Latics extra options, rather than a signal to by-pass a capable midfield with long balls.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com