12th Man: Sooner rather than later

It’s been a torrid past seven days for all Latics fans. That sounds dramatic for an away draw and a narrow home defeat but the manner of Tuesday nights game is what will cause the most concern.

Ipswich came with a clear plan to rough Uwe Rossler’s side up and it worked perfectly. There were cynical fouls galore with Callum McManaman facing the brunt of it in the first half. Ipswich showed the same sort of fight and desire that Wigan Athletic showed so many times last season. That spirit has been sadly lacking for the most part this season.
Yet for all of that Latics could and possibly should have had a point with Oriol Riera’s volley a whisker away from gaining us a point.
Once again despite having the highest share of possession Latics failed to make the most of it which is becoming a common theme throughout this season’s performances.
Uwe described the Huddersfield game as a must win. After the last two matches Bournemouth on Saturday presents probably the most important game of Uwe Rosler’s 10 months in charge. Win and the season is more than salvageable with plenty to build on in the coming months. Lose and the pressure will crank up on both the manager, chairman and this squad of players.
I still have faith in the manager and players, Uwe Rosler’s burgeoning reputation didn’t come from chance but from strong performances on the pitch. I’m sure that he will manage to turn it around at Latics but it has to start sooner rather than later, where better than Dean Court?

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday September 26th 2014

12th Man: The pressure is on

The Pressure is on

It may only be September but already the pressure is on Uwe Rosler and Wigan Athletic. Following the six points gained from the Blackpool and Birmingham games many people thought we had turned the corner and that the next two games away from home would see a continuation of the sort of performances we showed before the international break.

For the first 50 minutes of the game with Blackburn this was reflected in our performance, Latics fielding new signings William Kvist and Andy Delort played with pace and purpose and should have been ahead before halftime. The penalty miss from Ivan Ramis was a kick in the teeth but not as big a kick as what came in the second half. Latics deservedly took the lead through James Perch before what looked like a complete capitulation in the second half. Whether the second goal should have stood is up for debate but Latics once again fell away in the second half which must be a worry to Uwe Rosler. The result didn’t reflect the first 50 minutes of the game but Latics once again left Ewood Park with nothing for their efforts.

The good thing about the Championship is the chance to turn things around quickly and Huddersfield presented that opportunity on Tuesday night. A 0-0 draw may not sound like a way to stop the rot but it was the first away point of the season and a game which garnered 60% possession and 14 attempts on goal should have given us more than a point. On another night the side could have been celebrating a 3-0 win as it was a goalless draw is all we had to take with us back over the Pennines.

Andy Delort and William Kvist have impressed in their first couple of games despite the negativity surrounding both games. Kvist looks a very classy midfielder even if he doesn’t have the same attacking impetus as James McArthur did in that position whilst Delort is reminiscent of a former Latics favourite in Amr Zaki the way he threw himself about on Tuesday at Huddersfield was a glimpse in to what we could expect if he and Oriel Riera can get amongst the goals this season we’ll be ok.

Our record so far this season has been frustrating, the squad we have now should and could be performing to higher level than it has so far but I still have faith in Uwe and the side to turn things around and see us climbing the table before long. People have already begun comparing Uwe’s record to Owen Coyle’s and despite what many say the manager isn’t above the criticism that comes his way. The buck stops with the manager but I have seen enough this season and since he arrived at the club to tell me Uwe Rosler is the right man to lead our club.

With the losses of Jordi Gomez, Jean Beausejour and James McArthur and up to nine new signings to bed in to our way of thinking and style of play it was always going to be difficult to hit the ground running. Consistency is the name of the game this season and as we prepare for our next home game on Monday evening it’s important that we keep up our relatively strong home record. A win would once again see us back in the mix and we know this side are capable of providing that.

Come on Latics.

12th Man: Strength in depth

The international break is always a strange time for a club our size. Especially now we’re back in the Championship, with only a handful of call ups and less emphasis on the heavy travelling of players from the Roberto Martinez and Steve Bruce era it should have had a beneficial impact over the last ten days. With plenty of time for new signings Adam Forshaw and Andy Delort to bed in with the rest of those players who haven’t gone on international duty.

Uwe Rosler can reflect on an improving if not sparkling start to the season. 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses isn’t promotion form but we also have to remember we’re only in September.

A glimpse of things to come was shown in the Birmingham game, Callum McManaman was unplayable and looks back to his best now he’s got over the injury problems that dogged him during last season.
Add to the performance of the players already here the signings of international class players like William Kvist who captained Denmark recently along with the permanent capture of Emyr Huws the future is looking bright for Uwe’s Latics. The strength of the squad is one of our strongest assets and where Uwe’s squad rotation policy will come in to play.

Blackburn represents one of the toughest tests of the season so far. Despite the issues surrounding the club Gary Bowyer has built a strong squad and with the ever prolific Jordan Rhodes heading their strike force they’ll be a dangerous side to face.

A largely second string Latics went to Ewood Park in May in what was virtually a dead rubber ahead of the play-offs. With a full strength side coming off the back of two resounding victories Latics will go in to the game full of confidence. Hopefully that confidence will be well founded on Saturday.


12th Man: What a difference

What a difference seven days makes, when I penned my last column we were coming off the back of our first win of the season and despite getting three points there was still an air of negativity around Robin Park as the club and managers ambition was questioned.Callum Mcmanaman and Martyn Waghorn

The overreaction was put in to stark contrast as Wigan Athletic swept aside Birmingham City with a fantastic performance and followed that up by having one of the strongest transfer deadline days in recent memory announcing four permanent arrivals. The lack of ambition and calls of derision towards the management of the club were quelled when the Latics secured their two main transfer targets of the summer.

Uwe described League One player of the season Adam Forshaw as his number one target to replace Jordi Gomez as our creative midfielder, there were rumours abound why the deal was being held up so I’m sure it was a relief for all involved when the deal was finally agreed. French striker Andy Delort had been paraded on the pitch at the DW Stadium ahead of the Birmingham game yet his club insisted a deal hadn’t been finalised, luckily that was just bravado from FC Tours as Delort completed his move on Monday afternoon.

Many of us me included thought that would be the end of our transfer business but as the departure of James McArthur was confirmed to Crystal Palace two more signings were announced.  Danish international William Kvist joined from Stuttgart and even more surprising the confirmation Emyr Huws on a permanent contract after impressing in his first month with the Latics. This softened the blow of losing James McArthur and gives the squad an extremely strong look about it. With Chris McCann and Ben Watson to return from injury Latics are flooded with quality options in central midfield.

Things are looking a lot more positive than they were just over a week ago and there’s certainly a feel good factor around the club at the moment. The signings on Monday showed the club’s ambition and the hunger to return to the Premier League. Performances have picked up over the last couple of weeks and with improving results and Uwe Rosler building a squad that would be the envy of many in the league it makes for an interesting season ahead.

Could we defy the odds again? Don’t bet against it.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 5th September 2014