Latics fans react on social media to Sheff Wed defeat

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Another narrow defeat against a team vying for promotion. It was a game practically devoid of good football, hardly an advertisement for the EPL in front of a large television audience. There were few moments of general entertainment in the whole game: a header from debutant James Weir that went over the bar and a disallowed goal when Callum Connolly ran through.

Warren Joyce has certainly created a team that can stop the opposition playing. Frankly, Sheffield Wednesday were made to look poor, despite being seventh placed in the division and their large investment in players.

But stopping the other team scoring goals is only half of the recipe for success. The other side of it is to be able to score goals yourself and Latics hardly looked like doing that last night. Once again Joyce had packed his starting line up with midfielders. It was the same eleven that sparkled against Brentford, but this time around the midfielders were preoccupied by their defensive duties, leaving Will Grigg without support. Latics’ attack was not surprisingly sterile.

The debate about playing twin strikers continues. Joyce had the opportunity to bring Omar Bogle on to pair up with Grigg, but chose not to do so. But even if you are playing with a single striker you can still push men forward to support him. Was it the midfielders themselves who were reluctant to push forward or were they following the manager’s instructions?

The quality of football played by Latics was reminiscent of the dark era of Malky Mackay. Now that Joyce has his team able to curb the opposition, will he move on to the next step which involves creativity and movement going forward?

We took a look at the social media following yesterday’s match and came up with a wide range of views. Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Facebook) and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen.  Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below.

 

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Paul Rowley @PaulRowleyBBC tweeted:

Worth noting ‘LaticsOfficial have lost 7 of their last 8 league games at the DW. Just 3 home wins all season. @BBCMancSports

Sam Morsy @sammorsy08 talked of fine margins:

Great effort and commitment from the boys today, fine margins cost us today, but we will go again Tuesday, fans roaring us on till the end !

Matthew Taylor @matty123tay added:

Disappointed with that. Thought they were there for the taking really, onwards to Norwich…#wafc

MR Brownbill on the Cockney Latic Forum was unimpressed:

 Wasted 1st half….Never score in a month of Sundays with this bo..ocks Grigg on his own .No surprise he hasnt scored in 16 league games. Totally inept going forward…hit and hope. Final ball ,set pieces, corners dire. Wake up please…he will not budge in his plan….pack the middle with no support hope something drops our way. Bogle on….Grigg off….Ch..t almighty…another single goal di..ing. Jacobs..Power..time to rest em. Don’t give a toss how many players we signed he’ll just swap the midfield personnel and play with an isolated pi..ed off forward.

Martin W @dmartw opined:

No width, no urgency, no pace. Hard to believe that was the same team that beat Burton and Brentford. Slightly better in 2nd half #wafc

Dave Carter on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

Two thoughts from tonight. One, the disallowed goal was very marginal and we can feel just a bit hard done by. Two, Joyce is incredibly naive tactically. We had no support at all for Grigg and the only time that changed at all was after the substitutions with twenty minutes left. We’re going down unless someone kicks some sense into the manager.

Donnys Page on the Cockney Latic Forum questioned the approach:

Game plan exactly the same as against Utd. No support for either lone striker, lone strikers both looked like Fortune, Boseli, Riera and Delort totally lost. Not even a winger or even a wing back to replace a winger putting crosses in bar Jacobs efforts on the wrong wing with 20 minutes to go. No attacking midfielder supporting lone striker. Strikers forced out wide leaving their position in the box vacant.   It’s going to be a real battle to get out of this mire but we may have to be a little more cavalier to escape the drop. Same team as the Brentford game but different approach. Why?

Power Jacobs Perkins McDonald all ready for a rest for a few weeks and new ideas needed but it may be too late for that. This season was bal.. ed up last June.

JamesSaintLatic @JamesSaintLatic added:

Another Saturday of sitting and praying Burton, Bristol City & Blackburn don’t win #wafc.

Pauvre Jean on Latics Speyk has not lost hope:

It wasn’t for lack of effort we lost, it was the same old reliance on playing one badly out of form lone striker. When Weir and Bogle came on we started to threaten. A shame it took 75 minutes to try something different. So yet another disappointing 0-1 defeat to a ‘top six’ Team who were frankly little better than us.

I’ve not lost hope like some on here as I can still see that we can turn it around. I’d like to see the line up that finished tonight starting on Tuesday for a start.

Stuart Kelsall @StuartKelsall believes Latics can stay up:

Not one team played us off park this season and that’s why am more than confident that will stay up there are worse sides than us #believe

Jonny_SuffolkLatic on Latics Speyk advocates a more attack oriented approach:

Our wins against teams around us in recent weeks already shows we can stay up, it’s just that against the higher positioned opponents we should be setting up, and playing, more attack orientated than we are. Against weaker opposition, the team we started with tonight might be able to deliver the points, but better teams need to be tested with more than Grigg up front supported by Jacobs on the wing.

SamWhyte @SamWhyte referred to Grigg’s role:

Grigg spends more time doing defensive work than actually being a striker that when chances do fall his way, he’s knackered. Waste IMO #wafc

Stewart Hart @No1fan referred to a Grigg/Bogle combination:

Should have got something tonight. Clear we can’t play Grigg alone, needs to be paired up, or Bogle on his own. Impressed with Weir. #wafc

Jeffs right on Latics Speyk added:

Bogle and Grigg together could have got us a point. Bogle on his own just reminded me of Mark Antoine Fortune. No service to either of the strikers from Power, Jacobs, Perkins, McDonald. For sh..s sake give Grigg some service and he will get us goals. Power and Jacobs have been more inept than Grigg all season yet Grigg gets the slag off.

Moonay on Latics Speyk summarised:

Sheff Weds – nowt special
Latics – not clinical enough
Rhodes v Grigg – both as poor as each other
Their goal – scabby ……………… & offside ?
Our goal – marginal ……….. but probably was just offside
Our chances – Weir & Burn & Jacobs should have scored
Negatives – reaction of some of our fickle fans, Connolly had his first poor-ish game
Positives – Weir, Morsy played well again, Weir, Bogle looked a handful, …….. oh, and Weir looked a good prospect.

WhittleBlue on Latics Speyk concluded:

A game we didn’t deserve to lose nor win.

Regarding the goal yes it had an element of fortune about it and perhaps Burn, in an otherwise excellent display, could have got closer to Rhodes but that passage of play should never happened in the first place. A lack of footballing intelligence cost us that goal this evening and the blame for that is solely down to Power. Why on earth having sent the centre backs forward would he choose a six yard sideways/backward pass to another player who wasn’t exactly free instead of putting it forward toward those who had ventured forward? What the hell did he expect MacDonald to do with it other than put it forward himself? Absolutely f**king clueless.

Other than that plenty of effort, we look decent defensively overall butlook bereft of quality in attacking areas. I thought Grigg had a thankless task with little service but the one opportunity he had he again spurned, miscontrolled and appears to be low on confidence. Morsy was good but had little support. Jacobs, whilst he tries hard is out of his depth at this level. The problem is who do we replace him with? Weir is a left sided player as is Obertan and the other midfielders all are of a similar type. Yanic is a massive loss and despite signing a load of players I don’t think they strengthen us in the area we needed strengthening which is offensively. The squad is very poorly balanced. The right back looks more threatening and likely to score than anyone which is a poor reflection on the attacking players. Sadly I don’t see enough creativity or goals in this team to see us winning games comfortably and I’m not convinced we will score enough to get us the victories we need to stay up.

 

 

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A Sheffield Wednesday fan’s view of Chris Kirkland

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Reports suggest that Chris Kirkland is close to rejoining Wigan Athletic. The 34 year old goalkeeper joined Latics in 2006 and made 122 appearances before signing for Sheffield Wednesday in summer 2012.

Kirkland’s performances during his time at Wigan are well known to Latics fans, but how has he been doing since then?

In order to find out about Kirkland’s performances at Wednesday we reached out to Chris Morris, editor of the Owls-Mad fan site.

Here’s over to Chris:

Due to his injury problems there were a few doubts when Chris Kirkland signed for Wednesday in the summer of 2012 but any fears were found to be misplaced as the former England stopper was the standout performer in the Owls first season back in the Championship.

Last season saw Kirkland lose his place to Keiren Westwood – no disgrace in that given that Westwood was voted into the PFA team of the year last season.

Wednesday have been fortunate to have been blessed with top quality keepers over the past few years and although he may be past his best no-one would begrudge Kirkland the opportunity to be a number 1 again and he still has plenty to offer.

A Walsall fan’s view of Richard O’Donnell

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“Delighted to have agreed a deal to join @LaticsOfficial for next season. Can’t wait to start and help get them back where they should be….”

So said new Latics acquisition Richard O’Donnell on Twitter today.

O’Donnell is a 6 ft 2 in goalkeeper, born in Sheffield, who will sign Wigan Athletic as a free agent from League 1 club Walsall. He is 26 years old, a product of the Sheffield Wednesday academy.

As a young player from O’Donnell was sent on loan to seven clubs in the lower divisions and non-league from 2007-11. He made his Football League debut as a 19 year old for Oldham Athletic against Luton Town in March 2008. It was three years later to the month that he made his debut for Wednesday in a match at Southampton. After making 19 appearances for the Owls he was released in May 2012.

O’Donnell then signed a one year contract for League 2 side Chesterfield. Covering for the absence of regular goalkeeper Tommy Lee he made 14 starts, but lost his place on Lee’s return from injury. In January he was loaned out to Stockport County in the Conference where he made 20 starts. He returned to Chesterfield for the last game of the season in a 4-0 win over Exeter.

In summer of 2013 he joined Walsall where he was to establish himself as the first choice goalkeeper, making 90 appearances in his two seasons there. He kept 21 clean sheets last season.

In order to learn more about O’Donnell’s time at Walsall we reached out to the BescotBanter.net fan site (@BescotBanter). Our thanks to them for the fan’s view that follows:

Following the Saddlers’ acquisition of goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, Richard joined the club in the summer of 2013 and quickly went on to establish himself as first-choice, bringing his brand of committed stopping to the side.

A player who is willing to put his body on the line, Richard made over fifty first team appearances during his debut season with the club and penned a new eighteen-month contract in January 2014.

Following his debut season Richard continued as first-choice goalkeeper and went on to make his one hundredth consecutive first-team appearance for the club as the Saddlers played host to Notts County on 3rd April.

Richard established himself as a clear fan favourite during his time with the club and went on to be named both the Fans and Players’ Player of the Season at the 2014/15 End of Season Awards.

O’Donnell also came close to single-handedly breaking a club record for most clean sheets in a season, which was held by former Trinidad and Tobago international Clayton Ince, who was unbeaten on twenty-two occasions during the 2006/07 campaign.

The record was ultimately collected by Craig MacGillivray, as he kept a clean sheet during his debut against Oldham Athletic.

 Following a lengthy spell of contract negotiations, which began in November 2014, Richard made the decision to leave the club and join Wigan Athletic on a three-year deal, the move seems to have come down to a length of contact issue, with the Saddlers either unable or unwilling to match the Latics’ three-year offering.

When the dust of his move settles Richard will go down as one of the best stoppers in the club’s recent history, and will always be welcome at Banks’s Stadium.

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?

Wigan Athletic 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0 – jaded Latics scrape out a win

Ali Al-Habsi was lucky not to receive a red card.

Ali Al-Habsi was lucky not to receive a red card.

Following the herculean performance at the Etihad on Sunday, a hung-over Latics team struggled to beat a team low on flair. Wigan scraped out a win in controversial circumstances, the winner coming in the 88th minute from a superbly executed Jordi Gomez penalty.

Latics lineup was close to what had been expected, but Uwe Rosler decided not to rest his trusted defenders James Perch and Emmerson Boyce. They lined up together with Leon Barnett and Jean Beausejour in a flat back four. Ryan Tunnicliffe took over Chris McCann’s normal position on the left of central midfield, with James McArthur in centre-right and Jordi Gomez playing the linkman role.  Martyn Waghorn and James McClean played wide up front with Nicky Maynard in the centre forward position.

The game started scrappily and Wigan struggled to get any coherency to their play. The visitors had clearly done their homework and used their own high pressing tactic to disrupt the build-up of Latics moves from the back. James McClean provided some much needed energy for lethargic Latics and got behind the big full back Buxton, only to squander a good opportunity to blazing the ball across the goal.

Wednesday were proving to be a hard nut to crack – a big physical team who had clearly come to claim at least a point. But their finishing left much to be desired and they rarely threatened Ali Al-Habsi until the 37th minute when they won a penalty.  Maghoma was put through by Best to be felled by the Omani as he went through on goal. It was a clear penalty and many of us in the crowd were expecting a red card for the goalkeeper. To the relief of the Latics faithful the big Omani was to receive only a yellow and made a great save from Leon Best’s penalty.

Latics perked up a little after the penalty save and the largely anonymous Tunnicliffe warmed goalkeeper Martinez’s hands with a shot from 25 yards. Then Boyce got in a downward header, but it was saved by ‘keeper Martinez.

Latics limped into half time, looking like they needed a new infusion of players to bring them to life. The movement that typifies Rosler’s style of football was hardly evident and changes were clearly needed. It was disconcerting to see Latics resort to using long balls in their frustration of not getting quality possession.

Those changes came in the 54th minute when Rosler brought on Callum McManaman for an ineffective Waghorn and Nick Powell for the tiring McArthur. This put some extra life into Latics play and Powell soon put McClean through on the left, but his disappointing cross went into Martinez’s hands. Apart from that there was a lack of quality in their build-up as Wednesday held firm. The visitors’ physical approach and the laxness of referee Andy Haines frustrated the home crowd.

Marc-Antoine Fortune replaced McClean after 72 minutes and his physical approach helped liven things up. Latics were now playing a 4-4-2 formation with McManaman and Powell playing wide and Fortune and Maynard in the middle. In the 79th minute one of the few moves of quality saw Fortune put McManaman through on the right with a clear run on goal. With a calmer head the winger might have scored but he blazed his low shot past the far post.

Latics continued to press and were rewarded with a hotly disputed penalty after Perch had gone down after Lavery’s challenge. Gomez put away the penalty and Latics somehow had salvaged three points.

The Good

Rosler acknowledged after the game that “Yes, we didn’t play our best and yes, we can definitely do better, but in terms of guts and belief I can’t really ask for any more from my players”.

It is the ability of Rosler’s sides to show that kind of resilience that makes Latics promotion hopefuls. The football was reminiscent of that of the dark days under Owen Coyle, but the usual style of play had broken down and Latics were left to take a more pragmatic approach.

The defence was strong throughout and limited Wednesday’s goal scoring opportunities to a minimum.

The Bad

Chris McCann was sorely missed and his replacement, Tunniicliffe, could not get to grips with the game. This led to the midfield being disjointed despite the usual hard work of McArthur and Gomez.

Rosler has lost the option of choosing his preferred midfield trio of Watson, McArthur and McCann.Moreover Roger Espinoza was not even on the bench.

Player Ratings

Ali Al-Habsi: 7 – lucky not to get sent off, but made a great penalty save and otherwise looked comfortable.

James Perch: 7 – once again his run from defence created a goal. He has added another dimension to his game. Solid as ever in defence.

Leon Barnett: 7 – superb in the air and formed a strong central defensive partnership with Boyce.

Emmerson Boyce: 7 – continues to perform consistently well.

Jean Beausejour: 7 – did not get forward as much as usual, but excellent in defence.

James McArthur: 6 – as busy and involved as ever. Taken off after 54 minutes.

Jordi Gomez: 6 – worked hard and his penalty won the game for his team.

Ryan Tunnicliffe: 4 – looked disorientated. Surely a much better player than he looked in this game.

Martyn Waghorn: 5- lacked incisive thrust. Playing wide on the right and being naturally left footed he invariably passed the ball inside.

Nicky Maynard: 5 – struggled throughout against Wednesday’s giant central defenders.

James McClean: 6 – promised but did not deliver.

Substitutes

Nick Powell: – good to see him back, but clearly not yet match fit.

Callum McManaman: – received little protection from a lenient referee. Looked dangerous on occasions.

Marc-Antoine Fortune: – added more muscle up front and almost laid on a goal for McManaman.

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