A Director of Football for Wigan Athletic?

Mark Warburton was Brentford’s director of football when Uwe Rosler was manager.


“We want to be a modern football club, and we see that sometimes when managers leave a lot of the structure leaves with them. That is no use. You put a lot of time, a lot of investment and a lot of resource into developing that side of the business and you can’t have that changing every time a manager changes.The director of football gives you that continuity. They oversee the overall football department, all aspects of it, including the academy, performance and preparation, analysis and everything as well as the first team. It means that if a manager or a coach does leave, you are only replacing that one person and the club’s philosophy continues unbroken if you have that director of football in there.”

The words of a member of the Latics hierarchy? Jonathan Jackson or David Sharpe maybe?

The statement summed up what has been happening at Wigan over the past four years. The calamitous appointments of Owen Coyle, Malky Mackay and Warren Joyce destroyed what their predecessors had set up, leaving the club’s philosophy in tatters. Both Coyle and Joyce made not only wholesale changes in the playing staff, but their style of football was diametrically opposed to that of the previous managers. In both cases possession-based football was replaced by a physical approach embracing the long ball.

Ex-manager Uwe Rosler has been quoted recently as suggesting that Wigan Athletic need a period of stability. He was referring largely to Latics having had three managers this season and the instability it has caused. But it brought to mind another aspect of instability: that of player turnover. Alan Nixon’s “A mental amount of movement” tweet in January sticks in the mind. The Sun journalist had mentioned Latics’ interest in 5-6 new players. But by the end of the transfer window no less than 12 new faces had been brought in.

Few could disagree with Rosler’s comment. There is a clear need for continuity and stability at the club. Too many managers and players have come and gone. In the 2015-16 season there were 31 incomings and 44 outgoings of senior squad players at Wigan Athletic. The stats for the current season show 26 coming in and 29 leaving.

Strangely enough Rosler himself contributed to the lack of continuity and stability by bringing in a swathe of new players in the summer of 2014, despite the fact that his previous squad had reached the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and the Championship playoffs, due to his fine efforts. Sadly the majority of the new players could not make their mark and the manager was surely undermined by senior players from previous administrations. His departure in November 2014 was to lead to the appointment of Malky Mackay, a January fire sale and an avoidable relegation.

In his previous position at Brentford, Rosler had worked in tandem with Mark Warburton, who was Director of Football. Our Brentford sources tell us that it was Warburton who was largely responsible for the recruitment of players. One wonders what might have happened at Wigan if a Director of Football had been in charge to deal with recruitment with Rosler giving his input. It was sad to see a manager who had done so much to bring Wigan Athletic back into prominence the previous season being dismissed in a matter of months.

Although it might appear that the context was that of Wigan Athletic the preliminary comment came not from Wigan, but from Glasgow. The speaker was Rangers’ managing director Stewart Robertson talking to Sky Sports just a couple of months ago.

Although in continental Europe many clubs have sports directors, akin to the general manager role in American sport, the role of director of football in England has yet to be clearly defined. Essentially the director of football acts as an intermediary between that the board and the manager, but clubs have tailored job descriptions according to their own requirements. An experienced and competent director of football can advise both the manager and the board. The role seems to inevitably involve tensions between the director of football and the manager, especially in the area of player recruitment.

At this stage we are not advocating the appointment of a director of football at Wigan Athletic, but the concept merits due consideration. Stewart Robertson’s comments might have been made about Rangers, but they ring true to us supporters of Wigan Athletic.

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A Rangers fan’s view of Haris Vučkić


Following on from our Rotherham fan’s view on Haris Vučkić we contacted a Rangers fan site for their more recent observations on the player who clearly made an impact in Glasgow.

Thanks to Stewart Franklin of Gersnet Independent Rangers Fansite gersnet.co.uk @GersnetOnline for this in-depth look at the player’s loan spell there in the second part of last season.

When Haris Vuckic signed for Rangers on loan from Newcastle in the January transfer window, it’s safe to say the transfer initially polarised supporter opinion. Although the player’s reputation was impressive enough, conflict between Rangers and Mike Ashley’s Newcastle, meant many Light Blue fans were suspicious of any deal between the clubs – never mind five loan players arriving from the North East.

Vuckic’s first game didn’t help. Although he played reasonably well and scored a fine individual goal, Rangers were beaten 2-1 at home by Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup so the jury remained out. Nevertheless, as the other Newcastle loanees struggled to feature through a combination of injury and illness, Vuckic was able to retain his place in the team going forward. Indeed, a change of manager also improved our form through the rest of the campaign and, it’s fair to say, Vuckic was central to our attempts to achieve promotion back to the Scottish Premiership.

In that sense, the Slovenian not only supplied several excellent goals himself but was a creative force in the side. Mainly featuring in wider positions, Vuckic had the strength and ability to take the ball in and, despite a lack of genuine pace, could beat players in any area of the park. It was through this contribution, Rangers fans started to warm to the player and many fans were certainly open to the idea of a permanent move. Unfortunately, the end of the season wasn’t quite as positive. Vuckic’s form dropped off and in our two final play-off defeats against Motherwell, his flaws were all to obvious and the player struggled to affect these vital games as he had previous matches. Despite an excellent return of 9 goals in 16 appearances his loan spell ultimately ended in disappointment as Rangers failed in their promotion attempt.

In June, Mark Warburton took control and Rangers’ style of play completely changed. The team went from playing an awkward blend of direct football to a fast, free-flowing possession game. Over ten new players arrived (including Tavernier, Waghorn and Kiernan from Wigan) and Rangers have started the season very well. Despite this, the club were still linked with Vuckic through August and the player himself was quoted in the Slovenian media as being happy to return to Scotland. However, our new style of play suggested these rumours were never going to come to fruition and the player moved to the Latics as the transfer window earlier closed this week.

To conclude, I’d suggest Wigan have signed a decent player. Vuckic won’t win you games on his own and there were will be periods where he can go missing. However, he’s clearly talented, will create and score goals if used effectively (probably best playing just off another striker in a free role) and will prove a key signing as Wigan attempt to make their way back to the English Championship. A contract extension at Newcastle suggests the North East club still have faith in the lad and I think Rangers fans will also keenly follow his development. Certainly this will be a big year for the lad’s career and only time will tell if he can show the kind of genuine consistency to fulfil his early potential.”

All the best for the new season and thanks for the three lads above who’ve all started well! Amazed we got them so cheaply from you chaps!

Haris Vučkić – a Rotherham fan’s view

The 23 year old Slovenian Haris Vuckic has signed for Wigan Athletic on a one year loan from Newcastle United that will include any potential play-off games. He had recently signed a new contract for the Geordies.

The 6 ft 1 in tall Vuckic is a talented player, with a good left foot, who can play in a variety of attacking positions.He has represented Slovenia at all age levels, including  a senior debut against Scotland in February 2012. Vuckic is set to play an important part in Latics’ bid for promotion.

On signing Vuckic Gary Caldwell said: “Haris had a great season on loan at Rangers last season and he is a quality addition to our forward line, a creative player with an eye for goal.Newcastle rate him highly but he needs to keep progressing and is looking to play as regularly as possible. We are delighted he has chosen Wigan Athletic.

Haris Vučkić was born in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, but played for NK Domžale, some 9 miles away. Vuckic made his debut for NK in the Slovenian PrvaLiga when still only 15 years old, leading the club to be fined for fielding an underage player. On reaching his sixteenth birthday some three months later he went on to play another four games for NK before being signed by Newcastle.

Vuckic was soon to make his mark in Newcastle’s under-18 and reserve sides. He made his senior debut as a late substitute in a League Cup match in August 2009, less than a week after turning 17.  A few days later he made his league debut in a similar fashion against Leicester City. However,he was unable to gain a regular first team spot, his appearances being in pre-season games and the League Cup. He was to make his Premier League debut as a substitute in August 2011, with a  starting debut against West Bromwich Albion in December 2011.

In February 2012 he went on a one month loan to Cardiff City, making 5 appearances and scoring one goal. In late November 2013 Vuckic joined Rotherham United on a one month loan that was to be extended until the end of the season. He made 22 appearances for the Millers, including their victorious play-off final against Leyton Orient, scoring four goals during his stay.

In February 2014 Vuckic was one of five Newcastle players who joined Rangers on loan. He was to score 9 goals in 16 appearances for the Ibrox club.

Vuckic made 20 appearances for Newcastle in all competitions, scoring one goal.

In order to learn more about Vuckic’s time at Rotherham we reached out to It’s Millers Time @millerstimerufc).

Here’s over to them:

Vuckic has good experience of League One having spent more than half the season on loan at Rotherham in 2013/14.

At the time, he was a bit raw and untested and was used mainly as a substitute by boss Steve Evans, but he did make an impact.

He can play as an out-and-out striker, in a target man role, is comfortable playing behind the main striker and can also be employed on the left. He is tall, has good aerial ability, but also can run with the ball and beat men.