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.

Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Advertisements

A murky future for Latics – a Chinese buyout or Mike Phelan?

A murky time for Wigan Athletic.

 

These are unsettled times at Wigan Athletic. A team that has relegation staring in its face unable or unwilling to show the urgency needed to stave it off. The departure of the Head of Football Operations with barely a murmur from the fans. A new contract for a player who has hardly made an impact this season. The Sun newspaper telling us that another of Alex Ferguson’s men could be taking over as manager. Then the blockbuster rumour that Dave Whelan is looking to sell up, with a Chinese consortium visiting the facilities at Christopher Park, Euxton and the DW Stadium.

The players are surely caught up in this too. It has been an awful season with so many of last year’s squad finding the step up to the Championship division tough.

Some will say that the squad just has not had enough quality to compete in the higher division, but there were players of flair and high technical quality there at the start of the season. Nick Powell was always going to be a risky signing, given his horrendous problems with injury in recent years, and so it has proved. Saturday’s cameo appearance shows what a difference he could have made if he could have stayed fit. Jordi Gomez was another flair player and he had a great record in the Championship division with Latics and Swansea.  Gary Caldwell used him sparingly, Warren Joyce too, being seemingly content to shunt him off to Spain in January. Joyce also lost Latics’ most dynamic player and potential match winner, Yanic Wildschut, to Norwich City’s over-generous offer in January. Alex Gilbey too had shown flair early in the season before receiving a serious injury from which it took him months to recover.

Having had to make the massive shift from the possession football of Gary Caldwell to the hoofball of Warren Joyce the players have lost much of their ability to pass and receive the ball. Moreover with the end of the season approaching and League 1 beckoning, so many will be unsettled. Until the last couple of games a willingness to fight for the cause has rarely been lacking in the players, who have suffered so many heart-breaking defeats by fine margins. The seeming lack of urgency is surely a manifestation of a feeling of insecurity for so many of them. They know that the last time Latics were relegated there was a huge exodus of players, with 22 new players coming in.  Indeed some may have already been told to start looking for another club.

Matt Jackson’s departure was labelled as “the end of a consultancy period” on the club web site. After rejoining Latics in 2011 the ex-team captain had taken over as Head of Football Operations. Interestingly the club communique tells us that Jackson had not been involved in player recruitment for the past 18 months, although he was part of the newly formed Player Recruitment Department from the summer of 2015. Jackson was heavily involved in the Latics Academy and the switch to Euxton.

The announcement of a new two year contract for another ex-captain came as a surprise to many of us. Craig Morgan was a rock upon which League 1 was won last season, but has not had an easy time this year. Injuries and an infection have limited his availability and the 31 year old has made just 12 starts and 5 substitute appearances this season.  The contracts of Jussi Jaaskelainen, David Perkins and Stephen Warnock are also due to expire in June.

Given the results it is appears more and more unlikely that Graham Barrow will continue as manager next season. Indeed there are even rumours that a new manager may be brought in before the season finishes. Doing so would give a new incumbent the opportunity to decide on contracts and the players he would like to keep.

For weeks now we have heard rumours that ex-Hibernian and Rotherham manager and Bolton and Everton player, Alan Stubbs was a frontrunner. The rumours may have been fuelled by the fact that John Doolan, who was Stubbs’ first team coach at Hibs, has already rejoined Wigan. Moreover Stubbs will have been visible watching his son, Sam, play for Latics’ youth team and development squad. However, the assertion that ex-Manchester United assistant manager, Mike Phelan, might be taking the reins has already been met with concern by fans.  It also appears that a return for Gary Caldwell is a possibility.

To add to all of this uncertainty the alleged visit of a Chinese consortium is of even more import. The visit might well be tentative, but is this an indication that the 22 year Whelan dynasty will soon come to an end?

Much has been said and written about DW’s incredible success at the club. If he had not taken over in February 1995 what would have happened? Would another buyer have come in and made the investments that Whelan made? Not likely. The club was not an attractive proposition at the time, languishing in the fourth tier with attendances so often below 2,000. Its only real asset was Springfield Park. Whelan invested  with a mission to propel his home town club into the Premier League. Estimates vary as to how much he put into Wigan Athletic, but the figure appears to be somewhere between £90 m and £100m.

The club is surely more sellable in 2017 than it was in 1995. It has a more tangible “brand” after its successes in recent years – winning the FA Cup, reaching the final of the League Cup, eight years in the Premier League. But other than its players what assets does it have? Both the DW Stadium and the Euxton facility are owned by companies linked with the Whelan family, not the club itself.

Should the Whelan legacy continue we can expect continued financial backing for the near future at least. The club will be expected to be as financially self-sufficient as possible, although achieving that whilst maintaining success on the field of play will be a challenge. Wigan Athletic’s fan base has grown to maybe five times what it was in 1995, but still does not match those of the majority of clubs in the Championship. It is more akin to those of clubs in League 1. Moreover to maintain attendance levels the club has had to resort to cut-price season tickets. Put simply, the club will not have the revenue to seriously compete, even in League 1, unless there is backing from the ownership.

However, although Dave Whelan will surely provide a buffer for the club in the near future there appears to be no way that he will be making the scale of investment he has in the past. Given the club’s current predicament it is highly unlikely that it will reach the top tier of English football again in the foreseeable future.

Eleven of the twenty four clubs in the Championship are now owned by overseas investors. Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Wolves are Chinese owned.

In the long term it is unlikely that the Whelan family will continue to inject funds into Wigan Athletic. There will surely come a point where they will say “enough is enough”, but would anyone be tempted to buy a club that does not own its own stadium or training ground?

It is a time of uncertainty at all levels within the club. Ownership and management issues further cloud a murky near future.

 

Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Latics fans react to Forest result on social media

einstein

Another sterile performance from Wigan Athletic resulted in a 0-0 draw with an undistinguished Nottingham Forest side. Latics did not have a single shot on target.

Forest manager Gary Brazil summed things up by saying: “I thought we handled them well. Only Bogle got into the game. It wasn’t a game for the purist. There was a lot of duels and fighting and a lack of quality with both teams in the attacking third. The biggest thing I take away from it is the clean sheet, and I take a positive from the fact a team fighting for their lives has made it tough to get a result and we were resilient. I don’t recall our goalkeeper having to make a save, and I thought the back four and goalkeeper were really good.”

We had had some hints from Warren Joyce that he was not going to change his ultra-cautious approach, despite the fact that it has not been producing results. Yesterday morning before the game he was quoted by Wigan Today as saying: “Just throwing the kitchen sink at it, you’ll get absolutely battered because you’ve got no way, no method of play. The opposition is always there to try and stop you as well. There are some good sides in this league and some good players but we’ve hurt them and stopped them creating chances. That’s what you’ve got to do – that’s the idea of football.”

The manager is sticking doggedly to his belief that the Latics team’s “scrapball” approach is the best way ahead. Moreover in the week he hardly raised his level of credibility by saying: “It’s not an easy situation for players coming into this side because any player we’ve signed has been signed because they’ve not been playing at other clubs.

But Mikael Mandron had been playing regularly at Eastleigh and he made his first start yesterday. However, he was replaced on 58 minutes by Gabriel Obertan, who had only a smattering of games for Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. Once again Joyce had chosen the defensive option of playing central midfielders in the wide positions, but he later switched Max Power for the return of Alex Gilbey after 5 months out through injury.

There are only 12 games left for Joyce’s new players to make their mark. Omar Bogle, Matt Gilks and Ryan Tunnicliffe are already established, with Jamie Hanson showing his versatility by playing at right back yesterday. James Weir has had a couple of appearances, Marcus Browne one as a late substitute, but Alex Bruce, Jack Byrne and Josh Laurent have not yet appeared.

Will the new players have sufficient impact to steady a sinking ship? Will Joyce amend his negative tactical approach? More than that – will Joyce remain Wigan Athletic manager?

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

vitalkitchensink

Colin Prunty on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams noted pigeons:

Memory (only memory) from this game was in the first half and that group of pigeons in the Latics final third in a little group grazing what little grass was on the pitch. They were never disturbed and there isn’t much else you can say to that is there?

Owdmon on Latics Speyk commented

I have not posted on here for quite a while but after today`s abysmal performance i came on here to share my thoughts, but after reading the forum nearly all of them have been well documented in the above posts, but here i go anyway. When Joyce was appointed i saw it as a poor decision by the club , but i would give him time and support him up to and just after the transfer window, allowing him to bring his own players in and given them time to blend. A few weeks ago i thought he had proved me wrong after we had a couple of back to back wins. Well since the Utd game unfortunately things have gone back downhill drastically, with totally inept performance`s, team selection and tactics. After today performance I`m afraid to say my first instincts of him where correct, this guy is totally out of his depth .

The final straw today were his tactics of playing two upfront but with no width to give the pair any service and when Obertan a natural winger came on he played him up the middle then he took Bogle who looked our must dangerous player, off. I can`t attend the fan`s forum on Wednesday but can someone please ask him if he his Owen Coyle in disguise.

Sean (DJKENNO) @KennouUTJ  gave his view on the entertainment:

Worst game of football ive ever seen

WN5 on Latics Speyk commented:

If you thought the second half at QPR was bad,this was worse. Today we managed to reach new levels of turd. Other than a Max Power cross Latics failed to make the Forest goalkeeper work, thankfully for us, Forest are just as garbage and Matt Gilks was a total bystander bar 1 good save from a deflected effort.

Ultimately I thought the performance was dire, how Joyce can set up at home with Power and Tunnicliffe as wide men is baffling. Morsy looks a shadow of the player of a few weeks ago due to being moved into a holding midfield role -WHY!? I get the argument about the pitch but I thought our style of play was equally as poor. There were various times were the likes of Hanson, MacDonald and Buxton opted to hoof the ball into the channels rather than try and build a move.

Another horrendous setup from Joyce. Taking Bogle off for Will Grigg shows how inept he really is. Anyone with eyes can see Grigg is a poacher- why bring him on when you aren’t creating chances? How Tunnicliffe lasted the 90 was beyond me, no way on earth is he a better option than Kellet or Colclough – both of whom would offer attacking flair although Mr Joyce doesn’t seem to like that.

Absolutely no improvement from the Caldwell days. In fact we probably look less like scoring than we did back then!!

Lowey on the Cockney Latic Forum cannot understand Joyce’s intentions:

What I cant get my head around with his tactics is that they must be completely foreign to him too no way he employed anything remotely like them at United. Pack your bags Warren

Philip Moss @mossylatic tweeted:

WJ: “On another day some of the chances go in.” – no, they wouldn’t because NONE of them were on target.

Cupwinners on the Cockney Latic forum commented:

Today was the perfect opportunity to gain 2 points on 3 of our nearest rivals. If we lose next week the vengaboys will have proved that getting rid of your manager can save your season.

For me he has to go, totally out his depth. If Sharpe thinks he’s worthy of keeping his job he needs to go to specsavers, that was as poor as I’ve seen even under Malky and Coyle so please go and thanks for……………. I give up

He added:

While walking over the bridge I heard 3 different groups of fellas all saying the exact things. No width, all midfielders doing the,same job, Why did he bring Obertan on and play him up front when he’s a wideman, Why take off Bogle when were desperate for goals ?, 7 minutes won’t make make a sod of difference. I’m sorry but I don’t blame any player. This manager thinks that if he floods the midfield we can stifle the opposition. Zero shots on goal is embarrassing.

And why the F bring on Gilby for 35minutes when he hasn’t played for months on end with bad injuries. 10-15 minutes would have been enough. Joyce, you did a fantastic job at Utd but it’s time to throw the towel in at Wigan and fook off, your out your depth. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out were your going wrong.

Andrew @ndrewwafc also mentioned pigeons:

It is genuinely worrying when a flock of pigeons spent more time on the right wing than any of our players.

Filmoss on the Cockney Latic forum said:

I was fairly hopeful of him being a success when he first arrived but the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say and it is now quite patently obvious that the guy is clueless and out of his depth!

Dave Carter on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams said:

Depending how his contract is structured, we may not be able to afford to pay him up

Trevor Silcock on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams responded:

Dave we may not be able to afford to keep him on, I’ve been one who thought he was the right guy to take us forward how wrong was I,love the club and always will but that today was bloody disgraceful SACK HIM lets move on

Adam Melling @AdamMello89 also commented on the entertainment:

Us and forest should be automatically relegated for arguably the worst game of football thats ever taken place Terrible display #wafc lots of effort but no game plan. Grigg ready to come on at 66 mins but only on pitch at 83! WJ out of his depth.

Th10 on Latics Speyk commented on Mandron’s performance:

I thought he was the only positive from today. He won headers and his hold up play was good. For me once he went off was when the Forest came into the game more. I know I’m clutching at straws here, but I wanted to say I think he did well today. Was far more involved than assombalonga was for them and he did more today than Craig Davies did in 18 months!

King_deZeeuw06 on Latics Speyk responded:

Totally agree any chance of winning the game was over when he went off. Him and Bogle were a real handful he probably won more headers than any striker we’ve had since Heskey! Very impressed just needs some better service.

True Believer on Latics Speyk added:

The lad had some good points but was raw. However a fine prospect for the future and given our problems up front this season worth a punt up front in the next couple of games. The problem today was the lack of a winger to give both of the strikers service, it meant that one or the other was chasing down balls out wide. I would like to see them play closer together and be competing for crosses and knock downs as I think this is what they would thrive on.

OnLoanfromEnfield on Latics Speyk looked at Joyce’s past and present:

Or perhaps he spent 10 years hanging on the coat tails of others and knew his time was up ? The ‘sound’ foundations that he put in at United u23s are there to see since the beginning of their PL2 season …… If anyone else watches them on a regular basis, you will know what I mean. The correct job for the Coach was assistant manager job at Villa …. Our foolish Chairman (like so many others) then gets burned by hiring this Ferguson legacy and all the ex cronies that come along with that. How many of these United protégés have achieved anything ?

The Fan Forum and the Radio Show tomorrow will be interesting … only because people will be too polite to ask anything and will lap everything up. The club is trying to treat fans like mushrooms by opening up …. Something that has was totally been lacking since the summer. (I could be wrong here as I only know of one F.A.B so far. But if there has only been one F.A.B meeting there has to be another meeting with fan respresentatives … these are the EFL rules and not the club being generous.)

At the base of Dave Whelan’s statue … it should really read …. “I wished I had bought Manchester United”

#uptheexUnitedrejectsonthecheapTICS

I don’t think we are going to be relegated as the players still have a fighting attitude. There is trying not to lose and trying not to lose.

studz
Like us on Facebook, or follow us on twitter here.

Losing a winning mentality?

Will Craig Morgan still be a Latics player three days from now?

Will Craig Morgan still be a Latics player three days from now?

Last season Wigan Athletic developed a winning mentality. After an indifferent start with one win in their first five matches, Latics went from mid-December to mid-April without losing a league game.  The losing mentality of the era of Malky Mackay that had caused relegation had been reversed into a winning mentality by Gary Caldwell.

Of course the circumstances of Mackay and Caldwell differed greatly. Mackay had been cast in the role of hatchet man, presiding over the departures of 11 senior squad players between the beginning of January and mid-February 2015. Given the lack of money available to sign new players, Mackay was to bring in loanees, free transfers or bargain basement signings. Relegation was almost an inevitable consequence.

Mackay will be remembered as one of the least successful managers the club ever had. Moreover the football his teams played resembled fight-ball more than anything else. By the time Gary Caldwell took over with just five league games to go it was too late. Not only was the squad weak, but the players had developed a losing mentality. It was not an easy start for the Scot.

The jettisoning of players was to continue over the summer with only remnants remaining when the new season opened in August 2015. But unlike Mackay, who had been hamstrung by the club’s reluctance to invest in quality new players, Caldwell was to find himself with the financial backing he needed from new young chairman, David Sharpe. Wigan’s wage bill was to dwarf most of the rest in League 1 and they invested around £1 million in centre forward Will Grigg.

However, after a disappointing start to the season the knives were out and the keyboard warriors were lively on the social media. There were those who thought Caldwell was wrong in wanting to play “the right kind of football” in League 1. How could he expect lower division players to bring the ball out of defence, playing the type of possession football that was the hallmark of Latics’ play when Caldwell had been captain? Some fans advocated a return to 4-4-2.

Caldwell was to prove them wrong. He stubbornly stuck to his beliefs, playing with a lone striker, not being afraid to switch between a back three and a back four. At times his tactics seemed to go haywire, but they mostly worked. Over the course of the season he was to use 34 players, a remarkable amount of turnover for a team that was to go on to win its division. At times it looked like there were too many players coming and going, but somehow Caldwell forged them into a cohesive unit. The bottom line was that the players all knew what the manager expected from them. He had ingrained in them a way of playing.

Once again Wigan Athletic have started a season badly. Moreover the turnover of players has continued. The departure of central defender and vice-captain Jason Pearce was a shock, if those of Tim Chow, Emyr Huws, Lee Nicholls, Billy Mckay and Andrew Taylor were not. The seemingly impending departures of captain Craig Morgan and combative midfielder Sam Morsy add to the surprises. Morsy was only signed in January, as was Ryan Colclough who might also be on his way. Just a few months ago it looked like they were the kinds of young and hungry players who would form the backbone of the team in the future.

“We’re probably looking at bringing in four or five new players” commented Caldwell in May.

He has since brought in Adam Bogdan, Jake Buxton, Dan Burn, Luke Garbutt, Alex Gilbey, Jordi Gomez, Kyle Knoyle, Shaun MacDonald and Nick Powell, in addition to signing Stephen Warnock on a permanent contract. After the Forest defeat Caldwell stated his need to further strengthen “certain areas”, bringing in the “right” players.

Craig Morgan was the lynchpin of the defence last season, his calmness under pressure and ability to play the ball out of defence being real assets to Caldwell’s side. Together with Pearce he formed a partnership that had an impressive record. Latics had just one defeat, that on the last day of the season, when the two started together. Although there were concerns about a lack of pace which could be exposed at Championship level it appeared that Caldwell would keep faith in the pair, at least in the interim period until new central defenders could be weaned in.

Despite being in negotiation with Sheffield United over his transfer prior to the QPR match, Morgan was included in the starting lineup. Not surprisingly he was not at his best. It remains to be seen whether he can come to agreement with the Yorkshire club, but what is clear is that he is no longer in Caldwell’s plans.

Although he has help from a recruitment team much of Caldwell’s time has surely been taken up by the incomings and outgoings. Critics will say that his team selections and use of substitutes so far this season have been unimpressive, that opposing team managers have out-thought him.

Caldwell has been blessed by the emergence of a bright young talent in the 18 year old Luke Burke, but in the last two games he has left him on the bench, starting with players at right wing back who do not have the requisite skills or motivation to play in that position. Last season Caldwell would adjust the shape of the team to match the situation of the game, alternating between three at the back and a conventional back four. He has somehow been reluctant to do it so far this season.

Once again it has been a time of turnover, even though five league games have passed by as the ins and outs have been worked upon. The club has been through so much turmoil over the past couple of years. Caldwell works within financial constraints: in order to bring in new players the manager has to persuade others to leave. It has to be an unsettling time at the club for the members of last season’s squad that remain, who might well be wondering if they will be next.

Caldwell clearly changed his mind over the summer. Instead of bringing in 4 or 5 new players he has brought in 10. With the incomings are the outgoings, as the manager seeks to balance his wage bill. He acknowledged the difficulties he now faces entering the market for players in the Championship.

There’s key areas we need to strengthen, and we’re working extremely hard to do that. “It is difficult to do that, with salary demands and agents’ demands, it is a difficult process. We have to make sure that, even at this late stage, we don’t panic and get the wrong player. But I’m pretty sure we’ll have a few new faces come Wednesday.”

But is Caldwell doing the right thing by ditching players who had played key roles in a title winning side? Were those players not hungry enough, or not good enough, to play in the Championship?

His supporters will tell us that he knows exactly what he is doing and we need to be patient. Caldwell came to a realisation that the squad he had at the beginning of summer training did not have the wherewithal to be successful in a higher division. The new players he has brought in will take time to adjust to the roles Caldwell has in mind for them. Last season saw lots of players come and go, but the team was ultimately successful.

Caldwell will surely be relieved that the international break is coming up. It will give him a breathing space in which to finalise his staffing changes, with an opportunity to calm down any disturbed waters before the next match at Sheffield Wednesday on September 10.

It is to be hoped that he can inculcate in his players the type of winning mentality that will be necessary to be successful in the Championship.

Tightening up the defence

Craig Morgan - has three yellow cards in four league games.

Craig Morgan – has three yellow cards in four league games.

Will Grigg sent another message to his doubters on Saturday. His two opportunist goals at Nottingham had hauled his team back into a game where they had clearly been second best. What a shame his efforts were wasted by abysmal defending giving Forest a win in time added on.

In fact neither team’s defence looked solid. Witnessing the quality of Forest’s midfield play and the movement of their forwards one could have got the impression that they will challenge for promotion. So often they sliced through the Wigan defence like a knife. They scored four, and could conceivably have doubled that tally. But they have defensive problems. Grigg’s two goals were prime examples of opportunism as the centre forward punished the home team defence for their sloppiness.

Wigan too played some attractive football. Alex Gilbey and Michael Jacobs supported Grigg from midfield and Shaun MacDonald gave a promising first half display sitting in front of the back four. But the defence looked shaky from the start.

Gary Caldwell had decided to continue with the experiment of playing Yanic Wildschut as a wing back, as he had in the second half against Birmingham in midweek. It proved to be an ill-judged move.

Not only was the Dutchman lost in the role, but Craig Morgan was left exposed. With so little protection from not only the wing back, but also the midfield, the captain looked a shadow of the player he was last season.  Morgan struggled for pace against speedy attackers flooding his zone.

Given his contribution to last season’s title winning team few fans will openly criticise Morgan. Granted he never was the quickest of defenders, but he was able to use his experience to get into the right positions and make the best decisions. Some doubt that the captain is the right man to lead a defence in the Championship, but acknowledge that he is not alone in lacking pace in the Latics back line. The assertion is that a slow moving defence will have constant problems against the speedy forwards that so many Championship sides possess.

However, rarely will Morgan be as exposed as he was on Saturday. The failure of the midfield to protect the defence was a feature of the team’s performance. The absence of David Perkins was fully felt. Last season he was invaluable in covering his defence in deep positions, together with Max Power, whose defensive performance was found lacking at Nottingham. Moreover Morgan has been moved from his preferred position in the centre of the back three, where speed is an asset but an ability to read the game is paramount. Last season Morgan received one red card and seven yellows  in 38 league appearances. He has picked up three yellows  in the first four league games so far.

Having conceded four goals, despite another fine performance by keeper Adam Bogdan, the defence will inevitably take most of the blame. The decision to jettison Jason Pearce, who formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Morgan last season, continues to be questioned by the pundits. Should that partnership have been maintained, albeit in a higher division of football, where they would have been more tested by the pace and skills of Championship level forwards?

The use of Wildschut as a wing back was a speculative attacking ploy by Caldwell.  Against a stubborn Birmingham defence defending their one goal lead Caldwell had withdrawn his wing backs and placed Michael Jacobs and Wildschut in those positions. It was a bold move, typical of what we have come to expect from the manager over the past year. There were times last season when Caldwell threw caution to the wind and risked his defence being badly exposed. On occasions he got caught out, with the opposition scoring from rapid counterattacks, but there were times when games were won as a result.

There are fans who prefer to see Latics play with a conventional back four, rather than with three centre backs and wing backs. The 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 played by Caldwell’s teams last year saw the wing backs pushed high up the field, almost like wingers. An inherent danger in any type of 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation is wing backs being caught far forward and centre backs having to deal with pacy wide players on the break.

It is a far cry from the days in the Premier League when Latics had two excellent wing backs in Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour who were not pushed so far forward. The two were so good at stretching the play by hugging the touchline and making themselves available to receive the ball from defence and support attacks. However, both played key defensive roles , the back three becoming a back five as they dropped back. On Saturday Wildschut looked lost when Forest attacked and Luke Garbutt made more of an impression in attack than in defence.

The three game suspension suffered by the experienced Jake Buxton, together with a long term injury for Donervon Daniels, has reduced Caldwell’s options in the centre of defence.  Following Buxton’s suspension Dan Burn was moved to the centre of the back line of three, with Morgan moving to the right.

With Buxton due to be available again for the match against QPR on Saturday, Caldwell might well opt for his experience on the right, with Morgan in the centre and Dan Burn on the left.  Although the manager did not include the 18 year old Luke Burke from the start at Nottingham, when the young player came on he once again looked the part. Despite his tender years he is the complete wing back. Buxton’s return could also enable Stephen Warnock to return to his more familiar position of left wing back. A return to 4-3-3 is also a possibility with a back four of Burke, Buxton, Morgan and Warnock.

A settled defence is key to Wigan’s chances of success in the Championship. Up to this point they have a record of W1 D1 L2, with a total of 4 points. Last year’s League 1 winning team had exactly the same record this time last year, as did Uwe Rosler’s team the year before which got relegated. It is simply too early in the season to predict what will happen later. Moreover both league defeats up to this point have come through goals in time added on.

In the meantime Caldwell will look at establishing a settled defence with a midfield in front of it that takes its fair share of defensive responsibilities.