Wigan Athletic: an assessment after 9 games in the Championship

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

It has been a pretty solid start to the season, with 13 points from 9 games. The home record of W0D3L2 strongly contrasts with that of W3D1L0 away from home. Leam Richardson has kept faith in players who were part of last season’s squad, new signings being used sparingly up to this point.

On their return to the Championship in 2018-19 under the Cook/Richardson management team Latics took 16 points from their first 9 games. But their fine early form dissipated as they gathered only 10 points from the next 16 games until the end of December. Their record was W2D4L10.

The current team still has a winning mentality and togetherness from winning L1 but that can soon dissipate after a run of losses as happened four years previously. With fixture congestion in October before the World Cup, Leam Richardson will have to rotate more than he is comfortable doing, or their competitive edge of fitness and work rate will count for nothing as they tire. 

My main concern is the style of play and the lack of invention. The long ball will always be part of this manager’s tactics, but it offers an easy way out for defenders under pressure, rather than short passing their way out of trouble. When the opposition play a high press Latics defenders look ill-equipped to cope with it. It so often leads to a loss of possession. There have been recent signs that Latics are trying to play the ball out of defence and midfield rather than simply launching it long. The presence of Graeme Shinnie in midfield is paramount to keeping the ball on the ground. Up to this point the play through midfield from the back has been slow and repetitive, but it is to be hoped that Richardson will persevere. Wigan must resist those hopeful long balls to an isolated centre forward which rarely achieve anything constructive.

The lack of invention is something that must be dealt with, especially in home games where the opposition sits back in defence. Richardson has players in his squad who are capable of unlocking defences, but he must get the balance right in his team selections. Nowhere is the lack of invention so apparent than from throw-ins. So often they result in either giving the ball back to the opposition or sending it backwards sometimes even ending up in the hands of the goalkeeper.

Of the new signings, Nathan Broadhead has the look of a player who can make a mark this season. Richardson might give him a chance on the wing in place of Thelo Aasgard, who is immensely talented and should get a start every few matches but is still making naive mistakes. Using him as an impact sub for another half a season seems prudent with a view to earning his place in the second half of the season. Having said that, Richardson should be rotating them more often in the coming weeks which creates the opportunity to rest Will Keane every 3-4 matches and play Aasgaard centrally. 

Charlie Wyke has been used sparingly: appropriately after coming back from a life-threatening event. We are surely rooting for him, so to speak, but it would be good to see more of Ashley Fletcher and his mobility. Fletcher has a much higher ceiling than Wyke or Magennis if he can find form and fitness and click with Latics. That’s a big if, of course. 

It is not surprising that Latics better away from home because they lack guile in the attacking third. Lang needs to sharpen his finishing which has been wasteful, but also promising, in the last few games. Magennis won’t score much. Keane was unlucky with header in his last outing but has struggled to make a major impact, although he remains Wigan’s most likely goalscorer. Aasgard will score some crackers but Broadhead may be a more reliable source over a season. What’s been missing is set piece goals! There is better defending on set-pieces in this division; but Latics are due one.

Ryan Nyambe has already shown his quality and will push Tendayi Darikwa for his place. Nyambe is physically strong, capable of rock-solid defence and surging runs forward, although he needs to work on his crossing. Darikwa is naturally attacking full back, well suited to a wing back role.

The situation on the other flank of defence appears uncertain. James McClean has lots of experience for Latics and Ireland in the left wing-back position, but there are question marks over his ability to play as a left full back. Both Joe Bennett and Tom Pearce have disappeared off the radar. Bennett has not played since being sent off at Birmingham, which is strange since his suspension was rescinded by the EFL. Pearce’s only league appearance was as s substitute in the first game against Preston.

There are rumours linking Latics to players available as free agents. Danny Rose has been touted as a possible signing. Should this happen McClean will compete with Anthony Scully and Gwion Edwards for the left wing position. McClean and Scully are very different types of player, Scully being an inverted winger who will cut in and shoot. He scored 25 goals in 61 starts and 25 substitute appearances for Lincoln. Edwards too will cut inside on his right foot, but his strike record is not as impressive as that of Scully.

Another free agent who might be interesting Richardson is Dale Stephens. The midfielder now 33, born in Bolton, was released by Burnley. With the fitness of Jordan Cousins remaining uncertain and the announcement of Scott Smith being released on loan to Torquay, a new arrival may be imminent.

On paper there is an easier run of fixtures coming up. We can only hope that Richardson rotates prudently enough to sustain that positive momentum and winning mentality!

Luton Town 1 Wigan Athletic 2: a triumph for plan B

When Paul Cook arrived at Wigan in summer 2017, we were told by Portsmouth fans that he was a successful manager but one who rigidly stuck with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, struggled against teams that “park the bus” on home turf, that he was a good motivator and it was rare for Pompey to lose consecutive games, that he did not have a Plan B.

So much of what we were told about Cook rang true during his time at Latics. However, we did witness a Plan B. It involved pumping long balls towards the centre forward’s head.

Following the arrival of the 6ft 5in tall Kieffer Moore in August 2019 that same Plan B became the main style of play. Moore looked a lonely and forlorn figure up front, spending his energy chasing hopeful punts from the defence. It took months for Latics to change that approach, but when they did it worked. Not only did results improve, but Moore was able to show the kinds of skills that big strikers of his ilk rarely possess. Put simply, Latics started to build up moves through the midfield to attack, keeping the ball on the ground, basically using their skills to play football rather than hoofball.

Paul Cook and Leam Richardson appeared to be joined at the hip. They had successful records as a managerial duo. Some would say they were a modern day, lower division, equivalent of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. When Cook left Wigan and later joined Ipswich many expected Richardson to follow his old partner. Fortunately for Latics he did not, instead keeping the club afloat during the dire era of administration. He kept Wigan in League 1 in 2020-21 then won the title in 2021-22.

During Richardson’s time as Wigan Athletic’s manager we have seen a similar mix of football to what we saw when he worked with his previous partner. Indeed, many of the positive and negative profiles of the prior regime have continued to be evident.

But Richardson has shown himself to be more flexible in his tactics. Cook occasionally veered away from 4-2-3-1 towards playing a line of three central defenders, whilst Richardson has shown he can switch between the two. Another trait of the Cook/Richardson era was to be cautious in the use of substitutes, often leaving it late in the game to make changes. With the advent of being able to use five substitutes this season Richardson has already shown that he can be more proactive than before.

I found the first hour of play at Luton depressing. It was reminiscent of the early days of the Moore era. “Hopeful” long balls launched from the goalkeeper and his defence towards an isolated Josh Magennis. Luton are by no means an attractive footballing side, their main approach being to launch crosses from the flanks to two burly central strikers. However, it was still more constructive than Wigan’s approach and they would have added to their one goal lead if it had not been for the excellence of Ben Amos and resilience in defence.

Richardson’s three substitutions after 62 minutes changed the whole pattern of the game. Graeme Shinnie transformed the midfield by not only his tenacity, but by his ability to pass the ball on the ground to initiate attacks. Nathan Broadhead’s movement and Thelo Aasgaard’s sheer class and calm on the ball shone through. Callum Lang was having a torrid afternoon, but his stubbed shot was deflected into the net by a Luton defender in the 80th minute. Aasgaard’s stunning winner in the 88th minute came from an incisive pass along the ground by Lang, after Ashley Fletcher had drawn defenders away to provide the space.

The LaticsTV commentary remarked on the manager’s genius at making those bold substitutions, but the majority of fans on the social media asked why he had not put out a line-up like that from the start.

The pessimists are already suggesting that Richardson will revert to type for the upcoming Blackburn game, keeping faith in the senior professionals who helped win promotion last season, launching long balls to a big target man. It was Plan A in the Luton game, Plan B being playing constructive football with the ball on the ground.

What will Plan A be against Blackburn?

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction to a gritty performance against Oxford United

February 1, 2022: Wigan Athletic 1 Oxford United 1

“In the first 15-20 minutes, they shaded it and it was a good goal on their part. After that, I thought we took over the game and the impetus was on us. I thought in the second half, we limited them to certain things around the pitch and the momentum shifted.”

Leam Richardson was certainly right about the momentum shift. Oxford’s superbly worked goal after 23 minutes was the reward for the team that was playing the good football, even if their players can tend to go down easily. It was so different to Wigan’s “hoof and hope” approach. Oxford had controlled the midfield and looked in command.

But the momentum of the game changed when Richardson shuffled his pack around the half hour mark. Max Power was shifted from right back to midfield, with Tom Naylor dropping back in a more defensive role, protecting the centre of defence. The change in shape was to give Latics more midfield control.

Richardson has shown himself to be a wonderful motivator and this team never gives up. They are the fittest team Latics have had for many years and every player will give his all to fight for the cause. However, he can hardly be classed as a flexible, innovative manager. But in this case, he proved us wrong and his reshuffling got so much more out of the players he had on the pitch, the balance of the game switching in Wigan’s favour.

Callum Lang’s expertly taken goal from a superb pass by Max Power in the 35th minute had got Latics level. Although they exerted pressure on Oxford for the remainder of the game the approach remained largely long-ball and creativity at a premium. The stats show that Wigan had 3 shots on target, Oxford one.  

Richardson continues to leave out his most skilful and creative player. Thelo Aasgaard can be frustrating at times, particularly when he loses the ball when going for an over-ambitious option. But what a breath of fresh air he could have brought to this game.

With the signing of Jamie McGrath, a natural number 10, Aasgaard’s opportunities appear even more limited for the remainder of the season. Will Keane’s creativity has been missed, not only when he has been out due to injury, but also when being played further forward, more akin to the role of twin striker. The result has been a gap between holding midfield and the attack, with the ball played over the top. At his best, Keane has played a key role in dropping back to receive the ball and help the holding midfielders, in addition to the goals and assists he has supplied going forward.

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:

What’s with this constant hoof and hope sh.te? Only one team in this so far and it isn’t us.

Daleks.at.the.monaco commented:

Oxford horrible team who fall over a lot but are good at passing.

NorthernSoul noted the tactical changes:

Changed formation to 4-3-3 Max in the centre. Lang right. Darikwa right back. Power pass immediately goal. Edging closer to 3-4-3.  

FrancosLoveChild opined on the visitors’ goal:

Great goal, that’s how football teams should play, deserved for Oxford, hopefully our hoof and hope will somehow get us a result.

He later added:

Think it’s clear we really lack any threat at goal in open play over the course of the game. Thought Naylor was poor and kept giving it away. For all of Lang’s ability his brain is frustrating, so many needless fouls in good positions

Wesleystammer retorted:

I’m really surprised to read that you thought Naylor was poor. First half he wasn’t great but he was the glue holding our shape together second half imho. He was always in the right place at the right time to make the interception and gave a lot of protection in between defence and midfield.

Could have been 3 tonight
tonight but not too disappointed with 1 point after the first 25 mins or so.

King_dezeeuw06 commented:

Hoof ball is when you are continually blasting balls 70 yards for the strikers head despite the fact it’s not working and doing little else. As we did in the first 30 mins.

No one would call the last 60 mins of that game football instead of hoof ball – not because it was the same approach but worked better but because it was a different approach. As you pointed out we mixed it up nicely playing plenty of football that wasn’t attempted in the opening stages.

Kendal Blue summarised:

From 30 minutes on that was a top class performance. Max further forward is a level above. Lang was excellent but his silly little spat ended his threat far too early. I’m not fully convinced that we don’t have better options than Naylor, but that role just in front of the 2 centre backs seemed to suit him perfectly.
They were a really difficult team – they could play and they could sh.thouse. They were like our little brother. In the end a good point but could have had 3 if players could get their foot over a ball on the volley. Even John Pender taught me the importance of getting over the ball!

Edit – Tilt showed why signing him permanently was so important. He knows when he can bring it out and when he should clear his lines better than anyone else we have back there.

Th10 wrote:

Play like we did before the equaliser and we’ll be lucky to make the play offs.

If we continue playing how we did after the equaliser then I’m confident we’ll win enough games to get promoted. It was so much better to watch once we changed system, we were pressing high up the pitch which stopped them playing. We also passed it better ourselves, won every second ball and had more time on the ball when we won it back. There’s still some room for improvement and I struggle to see how Massey keeps getting in the side. Sykes looked terrific for them, he’d have been a great signing.

ExiledViking added:

1st part of the 1st half was Cheltenham all over again (only with more clinical finishing), ***Note to Leam*** hoofball in windy conditions is rubbish to watch & doesn’t work.

After that, we went back to what we know best, and to be truthful, we was unlucky not to win.

Point gained, but we cannot let this become a habit. Sheffield Wednesday next Tuesday Night will be the real acid test of where we’re up to.

It’s definitely 2 points dropped but I’ll happily sacrifice those 2 points if that’s what it takes to see us finally learn that passing football is the way to go for the rest of the season. If the penny finally drops and we start to do that all the time we’ll make those 2 points up over the season by playing better more often.

Zakky wrote:

I really don’t want to give the impression I am against Leam because I’m not. I have nothing but admiration for what he has done in being loyal to the club in the last 18 months, but he doesn’t get everything right as some folk think. People are saying his tactics have worked all season, well yes they did until we lost Charlie, but can anyone say we have played well since Plymouth away the week we lost him.

Leam has continued to play that long ball, but it has failed to work and the fact we have been winning is down to the resilience and brilliance in some cases of the players, and he needs to get his tactics right from the start. We dropped 2 points last night that could be crucial at the day of reckoning and had we started with the formation the way we finished we may well have won.

You are my sunshine summed up:

Oxford mostly controlled that 1st 30 mins. But as soon as Power went in CM, Lang RW, Darikwa RB, McClean LB the team looked so much better balanced. We then started to get a firm grip on the game as a result and mostly dominated thereafter.

We pressed them higher when Max went in the middle and Shinnie moved a bit further up also. This meant they stopped controlling the middle areas of the pitch, as they had less time and space to play and we were able to get on the ball more ourselves. Lang also looked much more dangerous off the right, with Darikwa more comfortable behind him on his natural side which meant we then had a left footer at LB. All of that unsettled Oxford and we looked much more comfortable ourselves ,so we pushed them back for that last hour.

I must say they have some good footballers, but they are also a team of f…ies who like to go down easily to try and buy free kicks and do a lot of moaning at the ref.

After having by far the better of the last hour,I’m frustrated we didn’t get the win,even though I would’ve took a point at 30 mins.So plenty to be positive about from tonight, against a decent side once Leam changed it.

I’d make lots of changes at Stoke on Saturday to keep the lads that played tonight fresh for Sheff Wed. Even with all those changes, we will still have good options within the squad to be very competitive.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a last-gasp win against Shrewsbury

December 8, 2021: Wigan Athletic 2 Shrewsbury 1

Why are these midweek home games so difficult? Latics were playing a team in the lower reaches of the table, with no away victories in League 1 this season.

 But after getting off to a flying start with an opportunist goal on two minutes from Tendayi Darikwa they struggled and the visitors were playing the better football, their equaliser in the 39th minute being no great surprise. Wigan improved in the second half but had to wait until the 93rd minute for Thelo Aasgaard’s long range winner.

Leam Richardson had left Stephen Humphrys on the bench with Callum Lang playing at centre forward. The manager once again gave a vote of confidence to Gavin Massey, playing him on the right wing in preference to Gwion Edwards and Jordan Jones. Joe Bennett came in for his League 1 debut.

Latics have now gone 10 games without defeat and are level on points with Rotherham at the top of the table, but with a game in hand. Capable of really incisive finishing and dogged defending this Wigan team is not always pretty to watch, being more pragmatic in their approach than aesthetically pleasing.

In the absence of Charlie Wyke and with Humphrys being out of favour we saw Lang being used in a role that does not suit him. Too often he was left to chase wayward long balls from the centre backs that were easily gobbled up by the Shrews defence. It was a like a throwback to the darker days of the Championship when central strikers like Josh Windass had such awful service from the defence.

There was always a strong element of long ball in the Cook/Richardson era. It was at its best when the balls were well targeted with a big target man there to hold off the defenders, as it had been this season with Wyke playing that role. We saw it close to its worst last night with defenders taking the easy option of “playing it long” rather than work the ball through midfield. Lang is not Wyke: he needs the ball at his feet, not hooved above his head.

No matter what the style of football is on display it is results that football managers are judged on. Richardson’s team is resilient, and they wear the opposition down so that as the second half progresses there is always a chance of a late goal. Shrewsbury looked tired in the closing minutes, with stoppages that might have given weary legs some respite. Latics have a solid goalkeeper, tenacious defenders and capable midfielders who protect the defence. In Callum Lang and Will Keane, they have players who can both score and create goals, with James McClean looking a class above League 1 level on the left.

After the match Leam Richardson commented: “It was a great finish to the game and a great start to the game. I didn’t think we were great in the first half; we weren’t able to force Shrewsbury into a negative shape because we kept turning the ball over. I thought we came out for the second half and controlled large parts of it and with good habits you will get them moments where your flair players need to produce and thankfully tonight young Thelo Aasgaard has produced. We want to be expressive and expansive and score those types of goals but then we don’t want to be disrespectful with the ball and with ourselves and have a first half like tonight, because we have set good standards and it certainly won’t happen again.”

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:

Jocklatic commented:

Great start to the game, crisp, sharp & quick passing got us a well worked lead within 2 mins of the start, just a shame we didn’t keep it up but I’ll take an injury time winner all day…..we weren’t at our best but managed to secure the 3 points which they say is the sign of a good team. Was impressed by Joe Bennett but less than impressed with JM’s & his misplaced passes, hopefully just a bad day at the office…..there were a few Latics players guilty of misplaced passes but perhaps that’s down to the terrible conditions & it was nice to get the ‘winless midweek at home’ monkey off our back.

FrancosLoveChild added:

Not gonna lie, we are one of the worst sides in this league passing the ball, Shrewsbury look like Barcelona compared to us, it’s quite incredible how Leam gets results out of this squad. No disrespect to them but there are 4/5 better squads in this league, just hope we can keep up those results till the end.

Zakky stated:

Sometimes it looks like the pitch is to big for us.
Joe Bennett has been outstanding so far.

C_Latic opined:

Good point this. I respect that Tilt is very good in the air, but it feels like he’s a got a big mistake in him at some point and it also feels like he’s far too easy to wind up which will lead to him getting sent off one day.

As a matter of fact, I hate the chopping and changing of our centre backs in general. It’s never healthy doing that in my opinion as it makes it impossible for the full-backs and keeper to build a solid understanding and rapport with them, especially at set pieces. It’s no coincidence that we’ve stopped keeping clean sheets since Leam started tinkering with the CBs every game.

The crowd was poor, but expected. It’s a UCL night before Christmas payday and has been absolutely p..ing down non stop for two days straight. That rain will have knocked hundreds off the gate tonight I bet.

Oscarbon wrote:

Agree. I thought Massey worked hard and showed some nice touches. He was our most attacking player tonight. I think McLean can be forgiven one bad game after the blood, sweat and tears he has put into the rest of the season so far.

I am getting a bit concerned about Will Keane’s prolonged drop in form. He was class up to the last 5 games but seems too easily marked out of the game recently. Aasgaard had another cracker although there were times when he looked like he was in the back four he had to come so deep for the ball.

Can someone explain why our back four, when presented with 20yards of open field in front of them still feel the need to pass either sideways or back to Amos. Bl..dy infuriating.

OnLoanFromEnfield added:

Short Pass sideways, short pass backwards, repeat and hoof (straight to the opposition) … simple !
Just like watching Dunkley playing in the Championship albeit the current crop keep the ball in the stadium.

Shrewsbury were effective at filling the spaces and did have 11 players behind the ball for long periods of time. Tricky to break down and the players that you would expect to assist there not stepping up.

Naylor’s passing was poor in the first half too.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Finding the right place for Thelo Aasgaard

Thelo Aasgaard has worked on the physical side of his game to complement his technical skills

The “Rabona” is probably the most difficult technique in football. When the ball is kicked the kicking leg is crossed behind the back of the standing leg. Eric Lamela made national headlines last season when he scored a Rabona for Tottenham against Arsenal. He made it look easy.

In February 2017 Wigan Athletic posted a video clip on YouTube. It showed a 14-year-old scoring a “Rabona” in a U15 game against Blackburn Rovers. It made Lamela’s effort look pale in comparison.

Thelonious Gerard Aasgaard had joined Latics not long before after having been with Liverpool’s youth system. Although born in Liverpool, his father is of Norwegian heritage and his mother of French. Aasgaard represented Norway at U16 level. During the past week he was called up to their U20 squad.

Aasgaard has dubbed by some as the “Wigan Grealish”, a compliment to a young player with a similarly high level of technical ability. Like Grealish his natural position is as a number 10, but he tends to get played in wide positions. Despite possessing sublime skills, it took Aasgaard some time for him to develop the physique to cope with the competitive side of the game.

Thelo Aasgaard made his senior debut for Latics against Peterborough in a League 1 game on October 20, 2020. He went on to make a major contribution in helping a club in administration to hold on to its place in the division in finishing one point above Rochdale in 20th place. Over the course of the season, he made 13 league starts with 20 appearances off the bench, scoring 3 goals.

In most of Aasgaard’s appearances last season he was played in wide positions. However, in recent months Latics signed wingers Gwion Edwards, Jordan Jones and James McClean. Moreover, both Callum Lang and Gavin Massey, who play wide, remain from last season’s squad. With such competition for places in wide positions what are Aasgaard’s chances of getting regular game time this season?

Aasgaard was a starter in the Carabao Cup match at Hull, then came on after 79 minutes in the draw against Wycombe. With Massey, Edwards and McClean chosen as the advanced midfield three for the Carabao Cup encounter with Bolton he once again found himself on the bench, being brought on after 70 minutes.

It has been acknowledged by management that the club being under administration last season gave opportunities for younger players that they would not normally have had. Over the course of the 2020-21 season ten players from the U23 squad went on to make their League 1 debuts. Ollie Crankshaw, Owen Evans, Charlie Jolley. Kyle Joseph, Chris Merrie, Emeka Obi and Alex Perry have since departed.

Aasgaard, Adam Long and Luke Robinson remain. Between the three of them they amassed 72 league appearances last season. However, with the arrival of so many senior pros their opportunities have been much diminished. Long started in the first game at Sunderland but was displaced by the loan signing of Kell Watts. Robinson started against Hull and in the Rotherham game when he was substituted after 56 minutes.

Latics will be looking at offering extended contracts to both Long and Robinson. Aasgaard signed a new contract in January. But other than appearing in the cup competitions are they likely to feature on the first team roster? Only Aasgaard was in the squad to face Portsmouth on Saturday, with Leam Richardson opting to choose an unbalanced bench without a recognised defender.

Like any other manager given expectations of a high position in the table, Richardson will rely on the experienced senior pros in his squad. Last season he had no choice but to include players from the U23 squad. The majority of them have gone, but what are his plans for the three that remain? Will they go back to being regarded as U23 players, being fielded in cup ties or having occasional appearances from the bench for the senior team? Or will they be sent off on loan to eventually return with more experience?

Callum Lang’s return from a loan spell at Motherwell in January was pivotal. His goals, so well-taken, made a massive contribution towards Latics staying in League 1. Prior to that, Lang had looked like the player Paul Cook just did not want. The player had the potential to follow on from his considerable successes with the club’s youth team. But he was still only 19 when he was sent on loan to Morecambe in 2017. He performed well there as he later did in subsequent loans at Oldham, Shrewsbury and Motherwell over those four years.

However, fans of Cook would say that the manager knew exactly what he was doing in sending a talented young player off on loan for that period of time. The club had been careful to make sure the player’s contract had not lapsed during that era. Lang is a key player in the current squad, and it is so good to hear that his new extended contract is about to be announced.

With the reports suggesting Latics will be signing two more central defenders in the next 24 hours it looks likely that Long will once again be sent off on loan. He was at National League Notts County for a short loan term in the latter part of the 2019-20 season. Robinson is likely to stay as back-up to Tom Pearce, but the latter is in the last year of his contract and the club could cash in the final stages of the transfer window. Reports suggest that Latics are looking to sign another full back, but it could be someone accustomed to playing on either flank.

Aasgaard, Long and Robinson are excellent prospects for the future. Of the three it is Aasgaard who stands out. His high technical ability is backed up with a strong work ethic and a real “football brain”.

Thelo could well become a genuine “Wigan Grealish” if his career trajectory is correctly managed. To see him languishing in the U23 side, with occasional cameos from the bench for the senior team, would be a real waste. But is he is to be sent out on loan, let it be to a club where his talents can be properly utilised?

Let’s hope the club can find the right place for their prodigy.