Amigo and Social Media reaction to Latics’ bubble bursting at Sheffield

February 8, 2022: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Wigan’s unbeaten run of 12 league games has come to an end. An awful penalty decision given against them after 53 minutes proved to be a psychological blow from which they could not recover. Latics had played well in an entertaining first half, holding a strong Wednesday side goalless, but for some reason Leam Richardson saw a need to reshuffle his team half way through.

Switching Tendayi Darikwa from left to right, pushing Max Power into midfield and dragging James McClean backwards to left back had worked well recently against Oxford United. In that game Latics had started poorly and were a goal behind until Richardson made those bold changes. However, the situation at Sheffield was not the same. The result this time was that Latics lost midfield control, with the creative McGrath switched from the number 10 position to the left flank, where he looked lost.

Wigan had created chances in the first half, largely down to the excellence of Callum Lang on the right flank. Their defence had held up well to Wednesday’s probing, led by the classy Barry Bannan. Sadly, Latics regressed to that awful hoofball in the second half which made things so much easier for Wednesday.

The left back position has been problematic for Wigan all season. Joe Bennett’s recuperation from serious injury has been slow. Tom Pearce has signed a new contract but is again injured. Darikwa has done his best to fill in on the left, but it is not his best position. Pushing McClean to left back in the second part of the game meant that Wigan lost much of his attacking thrust. Lang thrives on Max Power’s accurate long passes down the right wing from the full back position. That stopped when Power was pushed into midfield.

Richardson has options for dealing with Bennett and Pearce’s absences without playing Darikwa out of position.

Luke Robinson made 25 appearances in League 1 last season, but has been used just once, being taken off after 56 minutes against Rotherham. There were reports of him being sent out on loan in January, but that did not happen. Although he remains a member of the senior squad his appearances have been limited to cup games.

The manager also has the option of playing with a back three with wing backs. McClean has lots of experience as a left wing back and his attacking flair is not lost. Moreover, Richardson has the option of Power, Darikwa or the more attacking Gavin Massey at right wing back.

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:

King_dezeeuw06 commented:

Performance was the same as we’ve been doing for months only difference is the opposition weren’t so much worse than us that we could pull out a moment of magic and get away with it.

The warning signs have been there for ages that we needed to cut the hoofing out if we were going to get results against the better sides and we just persisted with our Pulis era Stoke tactics – but without the players to make it work.

There’s no excuses for us not learning our lesson especially after the Oxford game. We all know what we are good and bad at and we just constantly play to our weakness.

We have possibly the best player in the division in Lang, then McClean and a very classy looking McGrath – give the ball to their feet in the opposition half and they’ll do damage. But they are reduced to running around chasing the opposition as nearly every ball they are watching flying over their heads to a completely isolated striker who’s got 2 defenders on him every time and zero support or service.

You can’t keep playing badly and expect to win and we’ve not put in a good 90 mins since Plymouth away. We are still in a very good position but we will blow it if we don’t finally learn the lesson that should’ve been learned a long time ago – long ball doesn’t work.

Jeffs right added:

What ever happened to the art of the dribble? Attacking defenders and getting crosses in or shooting?
Allegedly we have players that can do this so why don’t they? Sheffield played on Saturday and we had a rest. We should have been at them from the off. Is that eight shots we have had on target in the last four games? That is diabolical even for bottom of the league never mind promotion challengers.

 Magennis or Humphrys for Saturday. Well it needs to be Humphs. He is younger, stronger, fitter and works harder. One thing though if we carry on the same garbage tactics please don’t expect to win on Saturday. Leam please look at the Jewell tactic book and burn Cook’s book.

FrancosLoveChild opined:

We didn’t deserve to lose according to the happy clapping commentators, worst second half all season, Leam needs to change up his sh.te hoofball without Wyke.

SwedishLatic wrote:

Sadly this is looking more and more like Cook’s tactics, kick and rush and hope for individual brilliance to save the team. Switching to two up front offered no difference either, we don’t have to be Man city with the ball but come on a bit more than this is surely possible?

FormbyLatic commented:

The thing that really worries me is our inability to keep the ball on the ground and to play it forward to feet. I cannot recall a single shot on their goal in the entire second half. Leam needs to change things and fast.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Not a sign of it changing: social media reaction to defeat at Hillsborough

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Sadly we on this site have to agree with what Craig says. My comments will be fairly brief. I will leave the rest to snippets plucked from the social media.

Over the past 14 months we have seen the worst away performances from a Wigan Athletic team that I can remember as a long-term supporter over a period of decades. So many of those away defeats have been characterised by a seemingly clueless approach from Latics typified by: conceding soft goals, posing little attacking threat, being tactically out of their depth. The main tactic has so often been launching long balls to a centre forward who is isolated with no immediate support.

It was by no means the worst away performance today when Latics could have maybe scraped a draw against a team better set up tactically but always likely threaten with another goal if Latics had equalised.

With wingers Massey and Lowe once again being woefully out of touch the main hope for creativity was Josh Windass. However, home team manager Garry Monk had done his homework and put a man-marker on Windass, effectively playing him out of the game apart from some  moments in the first half. On the other hand, home team playmaker Barry Bannan controlled the game from midfield, his incisive passing causing constant problems. Bannan is one of the best midfielders in the Championship and he was allowed considerable freedom in this game.

Once Wednesday had scored around the hour mark one hoped for a tactical riposte from Paul Cook.

Above posting from Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk forum.

Cook brought on Pilkington and Moore after 64 minutes for Massey and Garner. They were like for like replacements, with no change in shape. Although Latics’ play was crying out for creativity with Windass shackled it took another 14 minutes for Gelhardt to come on for Lowe.

From the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk forum:

 

 

Five talking points following a depressing performance at Hillsborough

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Wigan Athletic 0

 

Following the uplifting display against Aston Villa we witnessed another depressing performance at Hillsborough. Two poor teams offered little by the way of entertainment, although the conditions did not make things easy for either side. The game was decided by an excellent strike by Wednesday centre forward Steven Fletcher, aided by a lack of challenge from the Wigan midfield. But the home side were deserved winners, having eight shots on target compared with one from a toothless Latics outfit.

Paul Cook had named an unchanged side. Latics started positively but they were reluctant to push men forward to support the lone striker, Joe Garner. The high tempo, high pressing game that we saw against Villa was not evident. It was the home side who posed the greater goal threat and Jamie Jones was much the busier keeper. Wednesday could well have scored had it not been for superb last-ditch tackles from Chey Dunkley and Cedric Kipre and good goalkeeping by Jones.

But Latics managed to keep it at 0-0 when the teams marched off to the half time interval. The second half revealed that depressing type of play that has been so often the norm in recent months. The “hoof” was very much prevalent, and Wigan struggled to do anything constructive with the ball. After Fletcher’s goal in the 62nd minute one hoped for a riposte from Wigan, but nothing resulted. If another goal was to come in the game, it would most likely be the home team that scored it.

Following the match Paul Cook commented: “At half-time I was thinking there was something there for us but in the second-half Sheffield Wednesday totally dominated the game and fully deserved the victory. We got ourselves into a position to possibly get something from the game but, unfortunately, we fell away in the second-half and Sheffield Wednesday were full value for the win. We never got a foothold in the game or got into positions to hurt them and that is great credit to them.”

Jones once again impresses

But for an excellent display by Jamie Jones the scoreline would have been quite different. Although it is the keeper’s first season in the Championship at the age of 29, he looks far from overawed. In fact, he seems to be relishing it. Again, he was assertive in his box, making some fine saves. Moreover, as soon as he catches a ball, he is quick to step forward, looking for a quick throw to a player in space. Sadly, yesterday there were too few of his teammates moving to make themselves available to receive the ball. Far too often the keeper had to kick long, typically resulting in lost possession.

A product of the Everton youth system Jones joined Leyton Orient as a 19-year-old, spending 6 seasons there, making 161 league appearances. After letting his contract run down at the O’s he joined Preston as a free agent in July 2014. During his two years at Preston he made 14 league appearances, with another 34 on loan at Colchester, Coventry and Rochdale. Jones joined Stevenage in January 2016 and went on to make 53 appearances for them in League 2 before joining Latics as a free agent in August 2017.

An unbalanced midfield

Rather than play side by side in central midfield Lee Evans and Sam Morsy were given different roles. Evans was put in front of the back four with Morsy pushed further forward. Then midway through the first half Gary Roberts was moved from the left wing to play an inside left position. Josh Windass was moved to the wing.

The net result was Evans being swamped by the heavily populated home midfield, with Morsy and Roberts able to create few openings going forward. Windass had played one of his better games against Villa in a mobile number 10 role, but the switch saw him consigned to the wing where he rarely plays his best.

The lack of midfield cover was plain to see in Fletcher’s goal.

What on earth was Cook trying to achieve? Wednesday playmaker Barry Bannan had the freedom of the park.

What happens at half time?

Despite not playing particularly well in the first period Latics went in to the interval on level terms. For many teams playing away such a situation could be seen as a springboard to getting a positive result. But in Latics’ case this season it has rarely happened.

Based on goals scored in the first half of league games this season Latics would be placed in 16th position with 35 points. However, based on goals scored in the second half they would be 22nd with 26 points. Moreover, in away games Latics’ second half goals place them in 23rd position. Tables provided by Soccerstats.com can be viewed here.

Latics were 2-0 up at Swansea after dominating the game in the first half through high tempo, high pressing football. In the second half the intensity just was not there, and the home team came back to level the scores. Like yesterday in the second half Wigan had started employing the hoof.

Are the reasons for the disappointing second half performances due to physical reasons? Or are they psychological? Or the result of tactics discussions during the interval? After a fine performance against Aston Villa, where the intensity did not diminish in the second half, we were hoping for something similar yesterday.

Injuries hit hard again

After making an excellent debut last week Anthony Pilkington had to leave the field of play at half time after turning his ankle over. Cedric Kipre continued to play despite an ankle niggle. But it was Will Grigg’s injury that looked the more serious.

Cook is having no luck on the injury front and he remarked after the game that: “That’s what the league is, you get injuries, we were in a bit of fog but getting towards clear light and now it looks like we are heading back into that fog – that’s the way it is, though.”

Grigg to Sunderland off

The constant media barrage of “Grigg to Sunderland” has been wearing thin with Wigan Athletic supporters. But if Grigg’s injury is as serious as it appeared, he surely will not be leaving this month.

Will Grigg remains a favourite of so many Latics fans, though there are those who do not consider him to be a Championship level striker. His season has been riddled with injury, but even when fit he has often been left out of the starting lineup.

In the meantime, Devante Cole has returned from his loan spell at Burton Albion after making 6 starts and 7 substitute appearances, scoring 2 goals. If Grigg is out long-term will Cook look for a replacement in the transfer window or will he give Cole the genuine opportunity he was denied in the second half of last season?

 

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

 

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