The stats of goalscoring at Latics

“One of our forward-thinking players is going to have to stick the ball into the back of the net and that’s the key to it.”

So said Malky Mackay after the Leeds match where Latics had 60% of possession and 19 efforts on goal without scoring.

But in these days of increased use of data in football, did Mackay bear in mind the stats when picking his starting strikers? Has he looked at the performance records of the players he has at his disposal?

Goalscoring stats can be misleading. So often they are quoted as appearances per goal, which can be so unfair on a player largely used as an impact substitute. How can we compare the record of a player coming on in the 85th minute with one who has played the full 90? When we calculate a stat of appearances per goal we should also take into account at the ratio of starts to substitute appearances to get a true picture of player performance. Perhaps a more reliable indicator is starts per goal, but what about a player like Callum McManaman who would rarely complete the full 90 minutes?

However, these stats together can help us get a picture of the player’s goalscoring capabilities. Moreover looking at the player’s past performance stats can give us an overview on their current performance.

Compiling stats is dependent on a reliable source. The data that follows was compiled using player performance information from www.soccerbase.com . It is based on appearances in league and cup.

Looking at the main strikers currently available to Mackay:

Goals1

The raw stats suggest that Mackay chose the two players with the least probability of scoring against Leeds, Marc-Antoine Fortune and James McClean. However, until his recent conversion to central striker McClean has been on the left wing, where it is harder to score goals, so the stats should be interpreted carefully. The career stats suggest that the pairing with the most likelihood of scoring goals is that of Leon Clarke and Billy Mckay.

The more senior Latics supporters will remember the lethal goalscoring partnership of Harry Lyon and Bert Llewellyn. From 1965-68 Llewellyn scored 96 goals in 115 appearances for Wigan. Lyon remains the club’s leading all-time goalscorer with 273 to his name in his stay from 1962-70.

More recently the most memorable pairing is probably that of Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts, whose stats show that each of them needed only just over two starts per goal.

In the Premier League days the partnership of Emile Heskey and Amr Zaki was one the best. Heskey was never a natural goalscorer but he created the space for Zaki. The result was the Egyptian scoring 11 goals in 24 starts.

In the Premier League era, Henri Camara was Wigan’s most consistent goalscorer. Taking a look at the stats of strikers who have now left Latics gives considerable insight:

GOALSOLD

The case of Nouha Dicko stands out. Deemed not wanted by the club, but his goalscoring record for Wolves has been outstanding. Dicko never started in a league game for Latics.

The sad stays of such as Conor Sammon and Jason Scotland are reflected in the difference between their Latics stats and those of their careers. The simple explanation would be that they were not good enough for the Premier League. But then again, is Dicko good enough for the Championship?

Andy Delort and Oriol Riera are back to scoring goals again in their home countries following frustrating stays at Wigan. Given the downsizing at the club, even if the miracle happens and relegation is avoided, it is unlikely they will return.

Mackay is now talking about solving his goalscoring problem through the loan market. This must feel like a kick in the teeth for such players as Billy Mckay and Martyn Waghorn who have shown in the past that they have the ability to be in the right place at the right time as far as goalscoring is concerned.

The coaching and management at the club continues to ostracise players. It has been far too apparent over the past couple of years that HR skills are sorely lacking.

Mark Twain once said “Facts are more stubborn things, but statistics are pliable”. As outsiders we are not privy to the real facts about what is happening at the club during the Mackay era. But pliable as statistics might be there is no getting away from the woeful record the Scot has had since he took over.

In a season where Latics have scored only 32 goals in 36 league games, one begins to wonder where the next goal will come from. It is a sad result of the mismanagement of the striking talent that the club has had and continues to squander.

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Three points thrown away – Brighton 1 Wigan Athletic 0

BrightonPier

Latics missed a golden opportunity to pick up three much needed points against a Brighton side that was there for the taking.

We have come to expect some unusual team selections from Uwe Rosler and last night’s was no exception. It left one with a sense of foreboding, even before the game started.

Marc-Antoine Fortune was rested and Rosler brought in Martyn Waghorn at centre forward, leaving Oriel Riera on the bench and Andy Delort out altogether. An even bigger shocker was the absence of Ivan Ramis at centre back, Rosler bringing in James Perch to play there in place of the suspended Leon Barnett. Despite his indifferent recent form, Rob Kiernan kept his place at centre back. Rosler continued with his modified 4-4-2 system, with Don Cowie on the wide right of a central midfield trio of Roger Espinoza, Adam Forshaw and Shaun Maloney. James McClean played wide on the left.

Wigan were playing with a new pairing in the centre of defence and it showed in the first minute when Gary Gardner was gifted a goal. The home team had built up a nice move resulting in a cross from Elliot Bennett which Latics’ defence failed to clear.

Latics gradually started to assert themselves but Brighton remained dangerous in breakaways. Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira had the freedom of the park in a Wigan midfield lacking steel. That same player was unlucky not to score in the 14th minute when Kazema LuaLua squared the ball across to him in the penalty box. Luckily for Wigan Teixeira’s shot hit the underside of the crossbar and Latics survived.

As Wigan came more into the game Brighton went into their shell, hoping to protect their lead for three points they desperately needed. However, despite having the possession Latics could not seriously test Albion’s 18 year old goalkeeper, Christian Walton.

The second half saw Latics continue to dominate possession, with Brighton massing their defence and making little effort to go forward. However, they could not translate their domination into goals. Walton made saves from a couple of Waghorn efforts and a rasping drive from Forshaw from outside the box. Otherwise there were decent efforts from outside the box from Maloney and Espinoza that went wide.

Despite the substitutions of McManaman for McClean and Riera for Cowie Latics just did not have the finishing to beat a team that had not won for 12 matches. But it was pleasing to see Chris McCann come on near the end for Espinoza following his long absence.

The Good

The return of Chris McCann was the highlight of the evening for the Latics. Maybe Ben Watson will make a similar cameo appearance at Bolton?

Waghorn tried hard in the lone centre forward role and had shots on target. Forshaw played with tenacity in a holding midfield role.

The Bad

The Latics back four were not tested that much by a Brighton side desperately low on confidence. However, even then the home side could quite easily have been two up in the first quarter. Tavernier continues to look vulnerable in defence and a central defensive pairing of Perch and Kiernan hardly inspires confidence. Are Rogne and Caldwell frozen out completely?

Playing Cowie in wide right midfield is a ploy that appears sound. However, Tavernier still continues to look exposed despite Cowie being there to cover him. Tavs just does not look like a Championship quality full back. Better to play him in right midfield and send Cowie back to a midfield holding role or leave him on the bench.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 6 – largely unemployed.

James Tavernier: 5.5 – strong going forward, out of touch in defence.

James Perch: 5 – a bad start, got better but had little to do.

Rob Kiernan: 5 – continues to receive the backing of the manager despite indifferent performances.

Maynor Figueroa: 6 – solid.

Adam Forshaw: 7 – industrious and committed.

Shaun Maloney: 6 – looked useful in the second half.

Roger Espinoza: 6 – worked hard.

Don Cowie: 5 – poor.

Martyn Waghorn: 7 – worked hard as the target man. Maybe more effective as the second striker?

James McClean: 5 – poor. Withdrawn after 67 minutes.

Substitutes

Callum McManaman: – could not make the difference in that last half hour.

Oriel Riera: – brought on after 75 minutes, but made little impact.

Chris McCann: – a welcome return, coming on after 84 minutes.

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Rosler gets it wrong as Latics bullied out of the game– Wigan Athletic 1 Ipswich 2

Rosler lost the tactical battle to McCarthy.

Rosler lost the tactical battle to McCarthy.

Latics played quite well in the opening minutes, then again in the last 15 minutes. For the rest of the time they were bullied out of the game by a typical Mick McCarthy team. McCarthy had clearly done his homework and got his tactics right. Uwe Rosler’s tactic of high pressing was thrown back in his face.

Rosler had us all guessing as to his formation when the starting lineup was announced. Adam Forshaw and Shaun Maloney came in for Emyr Huws and Andrew Taylor. That meant that Latics did not have a single left footed player in their team. It proved to be a 4-3-3 formation, with Emmerson Boyce at right back, with James Perch moving to the left. Ivan Ramis and Rob Kiernan were at centre back, with William Kvist, Don Cowie and Forshaw making up the midfield three. Callum McManaman lined up on the right wing, Shaun Maloney on the left, with Andy Delort at centre forward.

Latics were lively in the beginning, with McManaman looking dangerous. However, the visitors realized his danger and gave him heavy treatment. Ipswich were thrusting players forward, their high pressing forcing Latics into making errors and the home team defence looked vulnerable.

Ipswich scored on 20 minutes as a result of that pressing, with Latics losing possession for central midfielder Luke Hyam to convert an Tyrone Mings’ low cross from the left. A couple of minutes later centre back Christophe Berra clattered McManaman, somehow escaping with just a yellow card. It was not surprising when the young winger had to go off injured in the 36th minute, with James McClean coming on. Soon after the referee incurred the crowd’s wrath yet again when Maloney was brought down by Mings when he had a clear run on goal. Mings too avoided red, being given a yellow card.

Ipswich’s physical approach, aided and abetted by an over-tolerant referee, completely threw Latics off their game. When the home team went in for half time one wondered what Rosler could do to turn things around. Having already used a substitute in the first half his options were limited. In the event he sent the same lineup out in the second half, which continued in similar fashion, with Latics being constantly bullied off the ball. It came as no surprise when Ipswich scored their second after Conor Sammon’s shot ricocheted back to him for a tap in. Latics’ defence was all at sea.

Rosler brought on Oriel Riera for Maloney after 64 minutes, then Martyn Waghorn replaced Delort after 72 minutes. Gradually Latics got their way back into the game, at last taking the fight to the visitors. Forshaw had moved from the right to the centre of midfield, where he looked more effective. Cowie had moved to the right where he was looking lively, putting over some teasing crosses. As always McClean epitomized pure effort and hard running. He got his reward after 82 minutes when finding himself free in the area, his shot from 12 yards being diverted home by Waghorn’s knee. Wigan’s charge continued and Riera hit a powerful shot against the post in the closing minutes.

In the end it was not to be and Ipswich hung on for a win.

The Good

After being inept for most of the game Latics fought back in the final quarter. For once their legs had not gone and they took the game to Ipswich. If they can play with that kind of spirit they can get a result in the next match at Bournemouth.

The Bad

Rosler’s lineup was unbalanced from the start. Perch and Maloney, both right footers, could not make progress against the right hand side of the visitors’ defence. Every time they got the ball they too often passed it inside or back. Delort was out of his depth at centre forward, so Wigan depended on McManaman on the right. Rosler has already stated that McManaman needs protection from referees, but this official certainly did not provide it. Ipswich must have been relieved when he went off injured after 36 minutes.

The midfield had another new face in Forshaw and it showed. There seemed to be no cohesion between them and defence. Rather than play Maloney as the third midfield player, Rosler put him on the left wing where he was peripheral. For much of the first half Forshaw did not look on the same wavelength as his teammates, but the young player looked useful later in the game when he switched into the centre.

Delort had a game to forget, being totally shackled by the ruthless Berra and Chambers. Like Riera he is adjusting to life in the Championship. Rather than bring Delort in gradually, Rosler had brought him in against Blackburn, dropping Riera who had by no means been playing badly. After three successive starts for the Frenchman it could be that the tables will turn for the next match at Bournemouth and Riera will get the nod. He was unlucky with that late effort.

McCarthy’s tactic of pushing players forward upset Wigan’s defence who at times looked besieged. It was sad to see Boyce looking a pale shadow of what he was at right back. Rosler will have one of the toughest decisions to make in his time at Wigan, if he decides to leave the captain out of the starting eleven at Bournemouth. Kiernan too had a rocky time and one wonders how long he can continue to keep a player of Leon Barnett’s ability and experience out of the team.

Perch is clearly a player that Rosler rates highly, but playing him at left back stifles attacking moves that side. The natural left back, Taylor, was left on the bench. If Maloney is to be played wide on the left, Latics need a left footed full back behind him. This was not an ideal game for the Scot’s first league start of the season, being played wide on the left against a very physical defence. Maloney’s best position is in the centre of midfield, where Forshaw was to play later in the game.

Latics are going to meet more teams who will press like Ipswich and who are not averse to being over physical. Rosler needs to find an answer to such tactics. Playing with two central strikers is anathema for him, but it is worth considering.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson: 7 – unlucky for the second goal. Made some good saves.

Emmerson Boyce: 5 – soldiered on, but well away from his best. Does not look fit. Or are the years finally catching up with him?

Ivan Ramis: 6 – not at his best.

Rob Kiernan: 4.5 – a game to forget.

James Perch: 5 – cannot be faulted for effort, but offered limited attacking options.

Don Cowie: 6 – worked hard as always. Looked at his best in the final quarter of the match.

William Kvist: 6.5 – worked hard and kept his composure.

Adam Forshaw: 6 – struggled for the first 60 minutes, but looked useful in the closing stages.

Callum McManaman: – dangerous until he had to go off after 36 minutes,

Andy Delort: 4.5 – a game to forget.

Shaun Maloney: 5- ineffective on the left wing.

Substitutes:

James McClean: 6.5 – full of running and endeavour.

Oriel Riera: – a pity he could not have been brought on earlier. Looked lively.

Martyn Waghorn: – another goal to add to his tally.

Click here for the match highlights.

 

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Deploying a stronger strike force

Callum McManaman could be the 20 goal striker that latics have lacked.

Callum McManaman could be the 20 goal striker that Latics have lacked.

When Uwe Rosler first arrived at Wigan he inherited a blunt strike force. Owen Coyle’s new signings just had not clicked and players remaining from the Martinez era were dogged by niggles and injuries. The shining light appeared to be provided by a loanee from Manchester United, but he was to fade as the season progressed. The end result was a forward line that just could not put away so many of the chances that were created. It was largely the lack of forward power that was to thwart Latics’ chances of getting back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Some 10 months later Rosler has a strike force which has the potential to do much more. The question is whether it can realize that potential and propel Latics into contention for promotion. Can the two new central strikers adapt to English football? Can the key players Rosler inherited from previous managers achieve full fitness and consistency?

Both Andy Delort and Oriel Riera arrive with good goalscoring credentials from last season. Delort scored 24 goals in the French second division, Riera getting 13 in La Liga for a team that was relegated. Rosler does not favour a system with two central strikers, so the two are likely to be alternated. With the physical demands of high pressing, Rosler typically substitutes the central striker some two thirds of the way through a game.

Riera continues to adapt to English football following his move from Osasuna and his best is yet to come, although he scored a fine goal against Blackpool. Delort comes with the label of an English-style centre forward, but is going to need time to get match fit.

In the meantime, Marc-Antoine Fortune, remains an option. Fortune scored a paltry 4 league goals last season, but made 6 assists. The big man from French Guiana has never been a prolific scorer, but last year’s strike rate was only around a half of his career average. Fortune remains a handful for central defenders, being strong and pacey, with a good technique.

Martyn Waghorn has had slow start to the season, but made such a favourable impression when arriving from Leicester City on loan that he secured a permanent contract at Wigan. The 24 year old Geordie scored 8 goals and made 6 assists in the 28 league starts and 5 appearances off the bench. Waghorn was typically played wide on the right, but sometimes in the hole behind the central striker. Having started out his career as a central striker it continues to be his preferred position, but he is versatile and makes a major contribution to the high pressing that Rosler seeks.

Callum McManaman has had an excellent start to the season, following the frustrations of last year when he just could not hit a consistent run of form. There are few English players who can match him for skill when he is at his best. McManaman remains just 23 years old and is such an exciting talent. The irony for Latics fans is that once McManaman adds consistency to his game he will be the target of the elite clubs that dominate English football. A transfer fee between £20m-£30m is not out of the question.

McManaman could become that 20 goal per season striker that Latics have lacked since the days of Ellington and Roberts. Last season he was usually played wide and scored three goals in 19 starts and 13 appearances off the bench. He has already exceeded last year’s goal tally with four goals in his first five league starts. Moreover the goals have been superbly executed.

It is to be hoped that McManaman can steer clear of the injuries that have impeded his progress over the past year or so. Being a flair player brings him extra attention from opposition defenders and Rosler has already publicly stated his views that the player needs due protection from referees, which at times he has not had. In recent matches Rosler has adopted the 3-5-2 formation, with McManaman able to operate in a free role upfront. That role not only gives him more of the ball, but makes it harder for defences to mark him out of the game. Playing on the wing in a 4-3-3 formation will remain an option, but if Rosler is to get the best out of his key flair player he will need to look at playing him in a role that is not so restricting.

James McClean has not featured so far due to an ankle injury sustained in pre-season training. McClean was called into Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad this week, but the manager considered him short of match fitness. McClean can be such an exciting player with his pace and aggression, but too often flattered to deceive last season. He has a career record of scoring a goal in every five appearances, but last year could only muster four goals in 25 league starts and 14 times coming on off the bench.

McClean and McManaman are different types of players, but with similar strike rates during their careers. Having had to play on the left so frequently during his career McManaman packs a strong punch with his left foot, although he favours his right. McClean showed that he can use his right foot to score goals at Ipswich last season, with a well taken goal from a cross from the right. Owen Coyle sometimes put him on the right, but he looked like duck out of water, seemingly too left footed to adjust. Rosler also tried him there without conspicuous success.

McClean cannot be faulted for effort, frequently helping out his full back and going forward on his marauding runs. At his best he adds enthusiasm to the team and can cause panic in opposition defences. The Irishman is still only 25 years old and his best is yet to come. Perhaps a switch from the left wing to the kind of free role that McManaman has been enjoying could open doors for McClean. The Irishman’s career record shows that he can score goals and make assists. If he can improve his finishing this season he will make a major impact.

Shaun Maloney can certainly score goals, as well as provide assists. Despite his lack of match fitness he has been called up for the Scotland squad to play Germany. At 31 years of age and an injury-struck career can the fan favourite make his mark on the season? Rosler certainly has him in his plans. Only time will tell if the Scot can stay fit and produce that same brand of skillful football that we have seen from him at his best. His combination with Waghorn for a beautifully engineered goal against Birmingham was a joy to see and whetted our appetites for what is to come. Maloney had spotted Waghorn’s run and laid the ball into his path for what appeared to be a simple tap-in.

Grant Holt’s future at the club remains uncertain. The player has had a nightmare time at the club and the abuse he has taken on the social media goes way beyind the norm. A fresh start at another club would appear to be the best case scenario for the player. But at 33 years of age, with his salary expectations, will it happen?

Rosler now has a much stronger strike force, with variety to match. His challenge will be in getting the best out of each of those players. With good service from midfield the strikers he has are capable of scoring lots of goals. We will then see the end of the goal drought that dogged Latics’ promotion chances last year.

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Have the loan players let Latics down?

 

 

Last night’s bore draw against Queens Park Rangers leaves Latics with a mountain to climb in the return game on Monday. After 61 matches this season can Uwe Rosler motivate his players to find sufficient energy and motivation to give it a real go at Loftus Road?

Significantly there were no loan players in the starting eleven to face QPR. Nick Powell and Josh McEachran were not even named in the squad. Jack Collison and Nicky Maynard were on the bench and the latter was called into play with less than 20 minutes to go.

The situation last night was calling for someone to come off the bench and do something special, as the game drifted towards a goalless draw. Maybe Powell could have chipped in with one his spectacular goals and McEachran’s passing might have unlocked QPR’s dogged defence? It was not to be.

When Uwe Rosler took over in December he inherited a squad with an average age of around 28. There were ten players who had been signed over summer by Owen Coyle, together with those brought in during the Martinez era. Two of Coyle’s initial signings had been loan players, Nick Powell and Ryan Shotton. Both made favourable impressions during Coyle’s tenure. The Scot also brought in Marc Albrighton and Will Keane on short term loans. The former looked useful, but the latter could not establish him. Ironically Keane is now on loan at QPR.

Once the January transfer window opened, Rosler too, was busy in the loan market.

His first acquisition was young defender Tyias Browning from Everton on a one month loan. Browning had a good debut after coming on after half time in a 3-0 home win over Bournemouth. However, he gave away a penalty in the 3-0 defeat at Doncaster and never appeared again.

Nicky Maynard, aged 26, was signed on-loan from Cardiff in mid-January. The striker had been dogged by injury and was in need of playing time. He made his debut in the 3-0 home win against Doncaster. Since then Maynard has started in 13 games, coming on as substitute 5 times. He has scored 4 goals and made one assist. Maynard has struggled with the physical demands of the lone centre forward role and is probably better suited to a twin striker system.

The 21 year old Josh McEachran was then signed from Chelsea, on loan until the end of the season. He made a fine start coming on in the 57th minute against Charlton. His exquisite pass in the 88th minute led to Marc-Antoine Fortune getting an equalizer, which was later converted into a victory through a Jordi Gomez free kick. McEachran had successful prior experience in the Championship division, having played 38 games on loan at Middlesbrough last season. At the time he looked a very good loan signing. Since then he has made 8 starts for Latics, with four appearances off the bench. In 6 of his 8 starts he was substituted on or before the 68th minute.

The 24 year old Martyn Waghorn made an immediate impact on joining on loan from Leicester City. He made his debut in the 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield on February 8th. Waghorn was soon to become a key player in Rosler’s set up with his versatility and his ability to take set pieces. Waghorn has made 15 starts, with just one appearance off the bench in last night’s match. He has scored 5 goals and has 5 assists. He has now been given a long term contract.

Ryan Tunnicliffe, aged 22, was signed on loan from Fulham at the end of February. He had a successful loan spell at Ipswich in the first half of the season. He made his debut as a substitute in the 4-1 win at Nottingham Forest on March 1st. He made his last appearance against Bolton at the end of March. Tunnicliffe struggled to adapt to Rosler’s system. He started in three games and came off the bench in two.

The 26 year old Jack Collison was signed in mid-March on loan from West Ham. His debut was off the bench after 61 minutes in the 2-1 home win over Watford. Collison came with a lot of Premier League experience with the Londoners. After initially looking like he could slot into Rosler’s style of play, his performances have been disappointing. He has made 5 starts, with 6 appearances off the bench.

In the 61 matches that Wigan Athletic have played this season they have used 35 players, out of which 10 were signed on loan. Only Powell has been on a season long loan, the remainder being half season or less.

The most successful of the loan players have been Powell, Shotton and Waghorn. But it would be fair to say that Albrighton impressed in his brief stay.

Uwe Rosler had a successful track record in using loan players at Brentford. In fact they had four players in the squad that recently won promotion to the Championship, who the German signed on loan. Forward Marcello Trotta, on loan from Fulham, made 37 league appearances for them this season. George Saville, midfielder from Chelsea, made 40 appearances. Blackburn’s Alan Judge made 22.

When Rosler first started bringing in loan players at Wigan it added an extra dimension to the squad, let alone lowering its average age. However, as the season progressed and games came in thick and fast, so many of the loan players disappointed. That led to Rosler having to be over-reliant on his key players, who have struggled to maintain their high performance standards after being overloaded with playing time.

That was evident yesterday as a starting lineup without loan players looked jaded and unable to raise their tempo.

There has been criticism of Latics’ current crop of loan players from fans who say they do not have their hearts in the club and think they are above it. They cite the perceived lack of effort from talented individuals like Powell and McEachran who will go back to their elite clubs, Manchester United and Chelsea. However, Collison is unlikely to survive the end of contract cull at West Ham and Maynard faces another season in the Championship with relegated Cardiff.

Why those loan players have not played up to potential is hard to determine. Maybe some of the criticism is valid, but injuries and physical fitness might also be factors. The bottom line is that, Waghorn excepted, they have not performed up to expectations.

Ideally Powell and McEachran in particular will come back on Monday and show us all what they are capable of. They are both talented individuals who could make a difference in the pressure cauldron of Loftus Road on Monday.

The likelihood is that they have played their last games for Wigan.

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