Social media reaction to a sadly predictable defeat at Swansea

Swansea City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Nathan Byrne’s well taken first half goal gave Latics a lift, but Swansea were to score three minutes later. Swans’ manager Steve Cooper had clearly done his homework and employed a high press to stop Latics building up moves from the back. The under-pressure defenders resisted the easy-hoof way out, but most of the time the ball came back to keeper David Marshall who would look for a defender willing to receive, but often had to play it long.

Paul Cook had brought Joe Garner into the starting line-up for Josh Windass, who did not even appear on the bench. He persisted with the out of form Jamal Lowe, keeping Kieran Dowell on the left with Joe Williams continuing in the number 10 position.

Going in 1-1 at half time, given previous performances, it was hard to see Wigan coming away with even a point. In the event Swansea laid siege on Latics who held out until Paul Cook made two substitutions after 64 minutes. Gavin Massey came on for the hapless Lowe, but sadly Cook sent Massey to the left wing, which is a position where he has so often looked like a duck out of water. Playing a number 10 on the left wing was hard enough to understand, although Dowell had linked up well with Antonee Robinson, but when Massey came on he was switched to the right flank. Square pegs in round holes yet again.

It was no surprise when Swansea scored what proved to be the winning goal just three minutes after the substitutions.

Despite the result Latics played with lots of enthusiasm and tried hard to get back into the game in the closing minutes.

But spirit is not enough: Swansea clearly had a game-plan and their players knew their roles. If Latics did have a plan it dissolved following Cook’s substitutions.

Unless Cook’s team selections and substitutions show a radical change, Latics are heading for the abyss. How many more square pegs in round holes will we see? The depressing scene of Cook berating the fourth official, rather than focus on the pattern of play on the pitch, is getting tired.

Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media.

Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, 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.

Jeffs right on the Latics Speyk Forum referred to Kieran Dowell’s position:

Signed as a number 10 as he plays behind the striker. So Cook plays him as one of the so called wide players with the inept Lowe on the other side and a defensive midfielder behind the striker. He really does want this pay off badly.

JRTfatfan on the Cockney Latic Forum said:

The point is we lose a goal EVERY time he makes changes. Was neither attacking or playing for point change, like for like both players. Garner was doing Ok, Lowe was pants. This is just about the worst performance of the season.

Garswood Latic on the Cockney Latic Forum responded:

The point that John makes is spot on, as I have mentioned elsewhere. This isn’t just bad luck. The only way I can rationalise it is that the team aren’t really understanding the changes and what that means for them individually. There is obviously confusion, and until they understand what is required we remain vulnerable. Why?

Three options:
1. These things and possibilities aren’t being discussed and planned and plotted during the week (“if we are down we will have an attacking formation and X and Y will do this etc”)
2. If a change is made that falls outside these pre-planned changes (and there will be many times that happens) then no-one on the pitch is being informed what it means (when we’re making changes is Morsy there finding out what the thinking is particularly if we’re changing formation other than like-for-like changes? Does anyone ever see players being given instructions?
3. A possibility that can also be alongside 1 and 2 – the players are too thick to understand what is required.

A fascinating post from King_dezeuww06 prior to the game on the Latics Speyk Forum:

For anyone interested here are the stats for the the Championship teams since they changed their managers this season (mostly in relegation fight) league games only:

Cardiff – Harris
Played 11
Won 4
Drew 5
Lost 2
Win ratio 37%
Points 17 out of 33

Barnsley – Struber
Played 12
Won 4
Lost 4
Drew 4
Win ratio 33%
Points 16 out of 36

Millwall – Rowett
Played 14
Won 7
Drew 5
Lost 2
Win ratio 50%
Points 26 out of 42

Stoke – O’Neill
Played 15
Won 5
Drew 2
Lost 5
Win ratio 33%
Points 17 out of 45

Reading – Bowen
Played 17
Won 8
Drew 4
Lost 3
Win ratio 47%
Points 28 out of 51

Huddersfield – Crowley
Played 21
Won 7
Drew 6
Lost 8
Win ratio 33%
Points 27 out of 63

————————–

Results of teams who kept manager in relegation fight

Boro – Woodgate
Played 27
Won 8
Drew 10
Lost 9
Win ratio 30%
Points 34 out of 81

Luton – Jones
Played 27
Won 6
Drew 3
Lost 18
Win ratio 22%
Points 21 out of 81

Wigan – Cook
Played 27
Won 5
Drew 8
Lost 14
Win ratio 19%
Points 23 out of 81

I knew Rowett was going to work wonders at Millwall but really impressive with how well Bowen has done at Reading they have a good team with a goals in them but you never know how a number 2 will step up in his first job. Other changes all yielded that 1 in 3 win ratio which is what most teams are looking for without being spectacular, unforunately no one seems to have got in a Joyce unfortunately that had zero impact.

Boro were doing terrible until they suddenly went on a run of 5 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 games pulled them clear.

Latics fans react to Paul Cook’s arrival on social media

After the lulls of the past weeks Paul Cook’s arrival at Wigan has produced a considerable stir on the social media and message boards. Not least of that were torrents of vitriol from Portsmouth fans angry that Cook had left them with a year still left on his contract.

However, Portsmouth acted quickly to calm the storm, in appointing Kenny Jackett their new manager. One Pompey fan tweeted:

But the mood of Latics fans has certainly been uplifted. Will that Pompey fan rue his prediction by the end of the season?

We trawled the social media following Cook’s appointment and came up with some  very positive responses from Latics fans. Our thanks go to the Cockney Latic Forum, the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum, the Boulevard of Broken Dreams on Facebook and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:

Gaz_Latic on Latics Speyk compared Cook and Jackett:

IMO, we’ve probably both got good deals. Jackett would have been an Owen Coyle-esque appointment here. His style doesn’t fit with the players or fans (at least half) expectations while Cook obviously didn’t fit in the same way down there. I would expect us to finish higher than Pompey next season purely on the squads as they are now – but much can change between now and the start of the season.

For me the attacking talents of Powell, Jacobs, Grigg and Bogle are almost unmatched in this league but much depends on how they are deployed and the service they receive. Cook has shown in the past he is able to get plenty out of meagre attacking talents – think Gary Roberts and Padraig Amond, imagine what he’ll do (we hope he will anyway!) with Bogle and Grigg. Jackett on the other hand has a habit of doing good jobs with unremarkable teams but rarely has he been able to turn early success into something remarkable. At Swansea, Millwall and Wolves he began well but plateaued in later seasons. One could argue that Cook overachieved at both Chesterfield and Sligo while was largely in line with expectations at Pompey.

So make of it what you will but I suspect that come the first games of August neither Wigan or Pompey fans will be ruing either appointment.

 Kev @kevwafc tweeted:

All I want Paul Cook to do next season is make me look forward to watching a few games of actual football and that’ll do for me  #wafc

Colin Prunty on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams commented:

Appointing an ex player gets my vote . Caldwell, Martinez and Jewell and Barrow (94-95)all had success of some kind or other during their time.needs time though and the constant sacking of managers needs to stop in my view.

The_Wigan_Whopper on Latics Speyk commented:

Happy with the appointment overall – he’s a Latics hero to me. Got to get behind him and the team now. Up the tics!

 King_dezeeuw06 on Latics Speyk added:

 Glad it’s finally done and we can finally put a really frustrating and difficult period behind us and go into our next season with a clean slate and hopefully some excitment and optimism. It seems Sharpe and the club showed some real ambition with the money they paid to get Cook in, so credit to them. I think it’s a really good appointment, some will have their doubts no matter who we hired as no one choice can please everyone, but Cooks record is very good so let’s be positive and get behind him.

Jimmyc on the Cockney Latic Forum opined:

This looks like a decent appointment with some logic behind it from young Sharpy. Quite looking forward to next season..

Goodbrand Stats @StatsChristian tweeted:

Paul Cook has won 2 league titles & reached #Playoffs twice in his last seasons as a manager. Good #Wigan appointment.

David Green on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams said:

We have got our new manager in paul cook he may or may not be the choice of everyone but everyone will have their oppinion but all we can do is get behind paul and the lads . Im not saying we are going to take league 1 by storm like we did after christmas last time but we know what the league is all about and that is grinding out a result so that should stand us in good stead. Paul needs to be given the time to make his mark on the club. Remember the last paul (jewell) that was manager he didnt get off to the best of starts but he got the time and we all know the rest is history.

Jrfatfan on the Cockney Latic Forum commented:

Welcome on board Paul, best wishes for the season ahead. Whether it be 442, 351 or 531 hope you have a successful time back at the club you started out at all those years ago.

Try to keep of this board as there are some moaning gits who have started off already before the inks dry on your 3 year contract. It may take a few months to sort out the team and tactics but most of us will be right behind you and the boys. We fully understand that there might be defeats before you get it right so just ignore the Victor Meldrews who will be on here at 5.05pm following every defeat or draw.

All the best for the next 3 seasons be it one up front or 10 up front.

Vincehill on the Cockney Latic Forum concluded:

A very good appointment which shows ambition and listening to Paul cook today during his opening interview reminded me very much of a certain Paul Jewell when he came back to the club in 2001

They have also given him a 3 year contract but please young David let him have the time to do the job because to be now on the seventh manager in under 4 years is frankly ridiculous especially when we only had 4 in the previous 12 !

I’m also pleased he is an ex player as there have been no failures with any ex players in the management role and I get a good vibe with this one as we have to get it right some time.

Best line in that interview was from the interviewer himself “Welcome back Paul ,what are your first impressions of the place ?”

Quality

Whittleblue on Latics Speyk was a little sceptical:

 I understand the rationale behind the appointment and let’s be blunt there wasn’t exactly a great choice out there or any outstanding candidate. Don’t think he’s the right fit for us at this time however, though I’m hoping to be proven wrong. Hopefully he can stay out of controversy and manage to find himself a suit to look the part. Best of luck to him.

Runcornfan1978 on the Cockney Latic Forum was optimistic:

I actually think he will be given the time to turn things around.As for a borefest. Pompey were amongst the top in the goals chart last season.

Hopefully we have now found someone who can get the best out of & has the perfect knowledge of the lone striker system. If played correctly, this formation produces goals just as much as any other. formation.I also like how he has been allowed to bring in his own staff.

Predicting good things next season, i am!!!

True Believer on Latics Speyk acknowledged the need for stability:

Hopefully we can all give him time. He needs to feel that we the fans are with him and allow him the time he needs to change the losing mentality we have gotten into. He needs the board to back him and not get edgy if things don’t happen immediately. It has been said before and I will reiterate it that the club needs stability on and off the pitch and we as fans need to play our part. Good Luck Paul and welcome back.

Donnyspage responded on “How many in and out before end of August” on the Cockney Latic Forum:

Personally as few as possible but who knows. Obvious ones that will leave are the long term loaned out players from last season. Hopefully we won’t be selling the likes of Grigg, Burn, Powell etc. I hope we have a small squad fighting to get a game. Do we really need to bring any players in? All have been brought in to play the type of game Cook plays so no need for them to adapt. Two strikers is ample as only one will be playing and providing none are injured. As little disruption as possible should see us ok. Paul as inherited a squad that should fly up the league. They just need managing. All that said, this is Latics so it will be more likely ten out and ten in and a practice ground for half a dozen loanees whose heart and minds lie elsewhere.

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Joyce’s New Year Shopping List

shoppingWhat will the New Year bring for Wigan Athletic?

Consolidation in a division where salaries and aspirations continue to spiral out of reasonable proportions? Warren Joyce showing us that Dave Whelan and David Sharpe made the right decision in appointing him? Come May will we see Latics out of the relegation zone?

Joyce has not had an easy start, picking up 4 points from his 4 games in charge. However, it could be said that he has been unlucky in having to face teams in top form at the time Latics played them. It is 18 years ago since Joyce saved Hull City from dropping down from the Football League. He had been appointed caretaker player-manager in November 1998 with the club in deep relegation mire. By the end of the calendar year his team had won only one game under his charge, losing the other five. But January saw them go on an unbeaten run and gather the momentum to free themselves from the threat of relegation.

Whether Joyce can turn around Latics’ fortunes will be largely influenced by the comings and goings in the January transfer window. He has taken over a squad that has been heavily hit by injuries, but which also contains players from last season’s League 1 title winning squad who have struggled to find their best form. Joyce will have to decide which of them will be able to make a mark in the Championship division, the alternative being to release them or send them off on loan in January.

Donervon Daniels and Andy Kellett are in the early stages of returning from injury, although Reece James has had another setback after being out since January. Luke Garbutt’s loan from Everton is due to expire, although Joyce might be tempted to look at extending it if complications over James’ ankle continue. Alex Gilbey is getting closer to recovery, but Adam Bogdan is out until the end of the season. To complicate things further, reports from London media suggest that West Ham will be cutting short Reece Burke’s loan due to injuries within their senior squad.

Last January Gary Caldwell signed Yanic Wildschut on a permanent contract and added Ryan Colclough, Sam Morsy and Reece Wabara to the squad. He also signed Dan Lavercombe and Danny Whitehead, both of whom were sent back on loan to their parent clubs. He released Don Cowie and Grant Holt  with  Richard O’Donnell being sold to Bristol City. Loanees  Shaq Coulthirst, Jordy Hiwula, Francisco Junior, Sean Murray and Alex Revell were to leave in December/January. Caldwell later brought in more loanees in Conor McAleny in early February and Stephen Warnock in early March. The overall effect was a strengthening of the squad, leading to a League 1 champion’s title.

However, the previous season saw the fire sale when Malky Mackay ripped the heart of the squad by releasing thirteen players. He replaced them largely with loanees and short term signings. The result was a severely weakened squad, leading to relegation.

So will Joyce’s January transfer activities parallel the magnitude of the flux we have seen over the past couple of seasons? A new manager typically likes to bring in his own new players, the theory being that he is searching for those who will fit into his style of play. However, other than having pacey forwards capable of rapid counterattacking, it is hard to define the type of player Joyce would want to bring in.

In fact Joyce’s most urgent task is the recruitment of new coaching and backroom staff. First team coach, Joe Parkinson, left the club at the end of November but has not yet been replaced. Ex-Manchester City reserve team coach, Andy Welsh, currently Sunderland youth team coach was mentioned by the media as a possible replacement soon after, but nothing has materialised up to this point. Given Joyce’s links with Manchester United it was perhaps inevitable that there would be speculation over him bringing in people he knew there. The names of Paul McGuinness, Jim Ryan and Paul Scholes have been touted by the media.

Given the way the club has been run in recent years the recruitment of coaching staff and players will depend on financial constraints. The manner in which Will Grigg has been side lined by both Caldwell and Joyce it appears that the player could be on his way in January. Should Grigg be sold he would surely attract a transfer fee in excess of the £900,000 Latics reputedly paid Brentford for him. His sale would give Joyce funds to recruit players of his choice.

However, in purely business terms, the sale of Grigg in January would be inopportune. Better to wait until the end of the season. Had the player been given a regular place in the starting line-up and continued to score goals his transfer value would have rocketed. But given Joyce’s preference of pace in the lone centre forward position, as in his deployment of Wildschut, it is doubtful whether Grigg will ever become the first choice central striker under Joyce.

Joyce must seek a balance between bringing in new players and avoiding the kind of disastrous fire sale that we saw a couple of years ago.

So what are the areas that need strengthening?

Bogdan’s injury means that Joyce will search for a goalkeeper to compete with the 41 year old Jussi Jaaskelainen and the 20 year old Dan Lavercombe. The media are already speculating that he will go for the loan of 23 year old Sam Johnstone from Manchester United. It would be the seventh club Johnstone would have joined on loan.

A new right back is a real priority. Even if Reece Burke does not return to West Ham he is best deployed as a central defender. He is not a specialist right back. Over the summer Latics made bids for 22 year old Hearts right back, Callum Patterson, who was to go on to play for Scotland. The Edinburgh club rejected Wigan’s bids as being well below their valuation of the player. The current rumour is that Reece Wabara will return. Caldwell had stated that he had offered Wabara a contract in summer but terms could not be agreed. Wabara has not joined another club since and is available as a free agent. Wabara had his moments during his time at Wigan, but failed to totally convince.

Should Grigg leave, Joyce will seek a pacey central striker to replace him. He could also use a left winger with pace. Joyce might well want to play a high pressing game, but is currently hamstrung by the lack of pace in the centre of defence. None of Dan Burn, Jake Buxton or Craig Morgan has the kind of pace needed for playing a high line. Jack Hendry is due to return from his loan spell at MK Dons, but the 21 year old has made just 6 appearances so far for the League 1 side. Donervon Daniels has pace and will come back into the reckoning once he is fully fit. In the meantime Joyce could well look at bringing in fresh blood in the centre of defence.

On paper Latics have a well-balanced midfield, but up to this point it has hardly clicked. Shaun MacDonald has claimed the position in front of the back four with David Perkins and Max Power also capable of playing there or in a role further forward. Alex Gilbey had adjusted well to the Championship before his injury and will challenge for a place when fit. Jordi Gomez, Michael Jacobs and Nick Powell are better suited to more attacking roles, particularly in the hole behind the central striker. Neither Gomez nor Powell have made a consistent impression so far; Jacobs has shown his ability to work hard for his team but not consistently revealed the kind of flair he showed in League 1. The result has been a lack of creativity.

At times the midfield has looked short of a dominant player, someone physically strong with genuine presence. Such a player might prove beyond Latics’ price range, but the midfield blend has not worked well up to this point.

Jordan Flores’ career seems to have floundered, having made only one appearance this season in the League Cup defeat at Oldham. Flores is a skilful and talented performer, but one wonders if he has the physicality to adapt to Joyce’s system. Should he not feature or make an impression in the five games remaining in the calendar year we can expect him to be leaving in January, possibly on loan.

January could once again be a busy time for incomings and outgoings at Wigan Athletic.

 

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Wigan Athletic 1 Norwich City 0: Bottom half narrows as Kone does it again

kone1

Arouna Koné scored another late goal to settle a poor contest against Norwich on a gusty day in Wigan. The lack of quality on display will be quickly forgotten by Latics fans, however, as a glance at the league table now reveals an amazingly slim six-point gap between 10th and 18th place. Wigan themselves have leapfrogged Aston Villa into 17th, and are now only a point behind Sunderland, three behind Newcastle, and four behind Norwich, Southampton and Stoke. All of which means there is no mid-table security this year.

The match itself was scrappy and characterised by misplaced passing and hopeful shooting from both sides. When Wigan did produce moments of quality, they were always born at the feet of Shaun Maloney and Jean Beausejour, while Norwich caused the occasional problem without looking an incisive threat. The goal came as a result from Wigan’s best passage of play, a period of quick, urgent passing football from minutes 70 to 80, in which they twice went close before Kone’s powerful strike beat Lee Camp at the near post.

The Good:

Another incredibly valuable three points at home. Despite not playing their best football, Martinez’s charges got the job done and kept a clean sheet in the process. Shaun Maloney was just fantastic, once again. Robles looked confident in goal, and Kone is enjoying his role as the main man up front. Jean Beausejour too, looks to be back to his best.

Despite Southampton’s second consecutive win against a big team, other results were positive. Sunderland lost at home to Manchester United, while Reading were thumped 4-1 by Arsenal. Newcastle lost to Manchester City, and Stoke are, at the time of writing, losing to Everton. The bottom half of the table is tight.

The Bad:

Despite laying on a nice pass for Kone to score from, Jordi Gomez put in an infuriating display, constantly slowing down Wigan’s attacks, forcing the team to go backwards rather than forwards, and dwelling on the ball far too long before being dispossessed. James McArthur, excellent upon introduction, may well have done enough to earn his place back into the starting lineup.

Paul Scharner had a wobbly game and did not look quite right. The clean sheet speaks well of the defence as a whole, but the Austrian looked off the pace today. His partnership with Antolin Alcaraz is potentially excellent, but showed signs of its relative youth at times.

Player Ratings: 

Joel Robles: 7 — Didn’t have a lot of shots to save, but showed good hands on crosses, catching the ball when it might have been tempting to punch. Promising.

Emmerson Boyce: 7 — Steady and uncomplicated.

Antolin Alcaraz: 8 — Made some outstanding tackles and interceptions.

Paul Scharner: 6 –Wobbly at times, but kept them out in the end.

Maynor Figueroa: 6 — One sloppy pass aside, did a professional job.

James McCarthy: 7 — His energy and running was important in regaining possession. Very unlucky with an excellent right-footed shot that kissed the upright. One magical nutmeg in the second half that the crowd savoured.

Jordi Gomez: 5 — Poor. Slow and negative with his passing. The one time he sought to play a through ball it was an excellent one and led to the goal. May have been instructed to try and keep possession, but surely not every pass needs to go sideways.

Shaun Maloney: 8 — Another outstanding attacking performance with of sharp movement, passing and dribbling. One poor shot, but he was involved in everything positive today including the build-up to the goal.

Callum McManaman:  6 — Quiet game on the right flank, but perhaps that’s what he needed. Occasionally booed by traveling support, but got on with his job and was positive when he did see the ball.

Jean Beausejour: 8 — Played some top class crosses in both halves that should have resulted in goals.

Arouna Kone: 8 — Got the winner, and looked a threat throughout.

Subs:

James McArthur: 7 — Looked hungry when he came on and moved the ball quickly and effectively.

Franco Di Santo: Brought on to waste time in the dying minutes of the game. Probably would have been brought on sooner if Kone had not found the back of the net.

Gomez and Maloney: wingers or playmakers?

How did Wigan Athletic stay up last season? Was that incredible late run due to a tactical transformation? Or was it due to new players coming in and changing things? The acquisition of a specialist left wing back – Jean Beausejour in January – certainly helped the system flow more effectively. However, if you were to ask a room full of Latics supporters which player made the biggest difference the answer would surely be Shaun Maloney.

Maloney’s season had not really started until he came on as a substitute against Norwich in March 2012. He put through a fantastic pass to Victor Moses to get the goal that earned an invaluable point at Carrow Road. Following that match, his ex-Celtic colleague , Gary Caldwell, dubbed Maloney as “Our Secret Weapon” quoting that “He picks up the ball in the final third and he can either beat his man and he can pick out that killer ball – like you saw with the goal.” Caldwell was proved to be right.

Maloney was later to score the Latics’ goal of the season to defeat Manchester United. His ice cool penalty in the victory over Liverpool at Anfield sticks in the memory, as does his cutting in from the left and putting a brilliant narrow angled finish in the 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle. But more than the goals he scored it was that role as a “playmaker”, linking between defence and attack that helped transform the quality of football Latics were able to play.

Maloney had come to Wigan following  a difficult final period at Celtic. His career had been blighted with injury. Moreover he had been struck by homesickness during his previous spell in the Premier League — at Aston Villa in 2007-2008. These factors made it unlikely that a Premier League team would come for him, until Roberto Martinez knocked on his door. During his two spells at Parkhead he had won five SPL Championships, Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups. His acquisition by Wigan Athletic is summer of 2011 was therefore a calculated gamble. For the first half of the season, he made four appearances as a substitute and played in two awful team performances in the FA and League Cups. Fitness remained the issue. It was through sheer hard work and dedication that Maloney got back to a level of fitness that would help him be able to showpiece his skills in the Premier League.

Wigan Athletic’s starting lineup last Saturday included both Jordi Gomez and Shaun Maloney. Normally, only one of them makes the starting lineup, with the other coming on as a substitute. Both are playmakers, who need to receive a lot of the ball to be effective. However, each has learned during his time at the club that defensive duties are also required. Neither is a natural tackler but they both do their share in trying to win the ball back. Both cover huge amounts of ground during a match. Both are cool penalty takers. Both score goals which are not from the penalty spot.

Jordi Gomez is a player who divides Latics fans. He is derided by those “Darksiders” who prefer more the more traditional English approach of “up and at ‘em” . The fans who appreciate him will say he is a skilful player who can bring order to a game through his cultured technique, keeping the ball while under pressure and drawing fouls. I have heard it said that we will never see how good Gomez can be until Latics are playing the level of skilful football that Roberto Martinez seeks. We have seen some really magic moments from Gomez during his time at Wigan. At Arsenal in April he put through the pass that sent Di Santo through to score then got an opportunist goal himself. He has been unlucky so many times with fine efforts that have hit the woodwork – last Saturday against Fulham was another example.

How do the playmakers – Gomez and Maloney – fit into the current tactical system? Are they wingers or central midfielders? Can they play together?

Maloney still finds it difficult to complete 90 minutes. Gomez is the natural replacement. Their styles differ greatly. Maloney will dribble with the ball more than Gomez who will seek the wall pass more frequently. Gomez does not have the pace or dribbling capacity to be a winger. When played wide on the right he inevitably turns towards the middle where he is going to be more comfortable and effective. However, he is not afraid to shoot – he has a good technique and can hit the target. Maloney was used mainly as a left winger by Aston Villa. Although right-footed he can cross the ball with his left foot. He can dribble past defenders and cause danger. However, it is when they move into the “hole” in midfield – behind the central striker- that both Gomez and Maloney are most effective.

Playing Gomez and Maloney together is unlikely to be effective because their basic function is too similar. They are players who make themselves available to receive the ball, providing the link between defence and attack. Both are good players. Let’s not forget that David Jones can also play in that position and is a capable and creative player. He added the incision in the Capital One victory at West Ham last night.

Let’s play the playmakers in their natural position in central midfield, ahead of the holding midfielders, but behind the forwards. Martinez has done well to adjust the tactical system following the loss of Victor Moses. The presence of two big central and pacy strikers is a real plus. There remains the possibility of playing without the central playmaker and having two wide players supporting the central striker. Well done, Roberto, in being open-minded towards further tactical innovation. But please – let’s not see Gomez and Maloney playing wide, flanking a single centre forward.