12th Man: Ideal opportunity

James McClean scores against Sheffield Wednesday in last year's abandoned match at Hillsborough

James McClean scores against Sheffield Wednesday in last year’s abandoned match at Hillsborough

There’s been a dark cloud hanging over Wigan Athletic for the last week, the appointment of Malky Mackay has caused never before seen controversy for the club. This was compounded on Thursday and Friday as Dave Whelan’s unfortunate interview saw him accused of using racist and anti-semitic language – if these are the last days of Dave Whelan’s reign it will be a terribly tragic way for his twenty years in charge of Wigan Athletic to end.

Sadly all of that is out of our hands and it is now up to the FA as to whether or not they charge him, the club needs to as quickly as possible get back to what it does best and that is impressing on the pitch. With the sideshow clouding the build up to the game on Saturday many could have been forgiven for forgetting there was a football game taking place at the DW on Saturday.

Mackay’s return to the dugout was low key as was the result but it could yet be the turning point in our season. A point was probably a fair result but Latics will feel disappointed that they couldn’t hold on for all three points, especially when you consider the amount of chances we had in the second half. Mackay’s team selection was interesting as Uwe did when he first came in he fell back on to the players that have been the bedrock of the team for the last three seasons.

Ivan Ramis, Roger Espinoza, Callum McManaman Emmerson Boyce and Shaun Maloney all started with Uwe Rosler’s signings such as Emyur Huws and Oriol Riera on the bench. The performance was impressive with decent football throughout and the defence looked a lot stronger with Ivan Ramis and Leon Barnett back at the heart of it whilst Shaun Maloney looked to be something close to his old self. Mackay has stated that all of the squad will be given a chance to impress and if media reports are to be believed that also stretches out to the much maligned Grant Holt currently impressing on loan at Huddersfield.

Next up for Latics is a trip to Hillsborough to face a Sheffield Wednesday side without a win in ten games, a side with a similar run of form to ourselves. With the atmosphere around the club at the moment and relegation still a distinct possibility it’s imperative that we start to pick up wins to climb the table. The longer we spend at the bottom the more difficult it will be for us to climb the table. A trip to a struggling Sheffield Wednesday is the ideal opportunity to do just that, last season when Uwe first came in both trips to Hillsborough the abandoned match in December and the rearranged fixture in the New Year were two of the most impressive performances of Uwe’s year in charge. Let’s see if we can do the same again this Saturday and finally get this season up and running.

As a side note I celebrated my wedding over the weekend and my wife Jayne being the kind understanding Soul she is arranged for me and ten of my friends to watch the game in a box before our wedding reception in Manchester on Saturday evening. The treatment I and our party received from the club on Saturday was fantastic – from a presentation of a signed shirt on the pitch pre match to their outstanding service through the day. It was an example of our club doing what it does best, not what had been represented through the press in the last week.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 28th November 2014

12th Man: Moral dilemma

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I made my views on the potential appointment of Mackay clear last week, I felt it was the wrong appointment for the wrong club at the wrong time but now that appointment has been made where do I stand?

There’s a moral dilemma to the whole situation that sits uncomfortably with me – do you separate what has gone on from the football side or do you take the view that someone who has been involved in allegations like those isn’t the right fit for a club that has made such strides over the last decade to eradicate all forms of discrimination.

It’s a difficult decision to make and I’m unsure exactly where I fall. From a solely footballing point of view the decision to appoint Malky Mackay makes perfect sense. His record at Cardiff was particularly impressive and the football world with people including Neil Lennon, Mark Warburton and Harry Redknapp quick to offer their support to the man.

My focus is on Wigan Athletic and I don’t want anything to damage my football club, if Dave Whelan truly believes that Malky Mackay made an honest mistake and his appointment will benefit our football club it is a decision that we as supporters of the football club have to abide by.

Focussing on football it is far from an easy situation that Malky is walking in to, this Wigan side have talent in abundance but have shown little of that talent since the end of last season.  There is a peculiar mix of three managers worth of players at the club with all bringing different qualities and attitudes to the side. Malky needs to get those three factions pulling in the same direction as soon as possible.

If he can manage to unite the team behind him like Owen Coyle and Uwe Rosler failed to do we may well yet be able to turn our season around.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 21st November 2014

12th Man: Where do we go from here?

Uwe Rosler

Last friday had a feeling of finality about it, the excellent win over Derby had been followed by a hard earned point against Fulham but the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion at Brighton the following Tuesday. It seemed that Uwe had one final chance to save his job. That chance was over when this expensively assembled Wigan Athletic side fell flat against their local rivals in the biggest game of the season.

One has to feel some sadness for how it’s ended at Wigan Athletic for Uwe Rosler, as Dave Whelan has continually stated in the last 24 hours – Uwe Rosler is a good man and a very good manager. There’s no doubt about it Wigan Athletic were revolutionised under the management of Uwe last season, a team that was sluggish and un-fit soon became a fantastic winning machine. That spell from February to April last season was one of the best I have witnessed whilst watching the club, only bettered by the end of the 2011-2012 season under Roberto Martinez.

After coming so close last season we all believed we would be flying high under the stewardship of Uwe this season. The fact that nearly twelve months after taking over Wigan Athletic are in a worse position than before he took over tells the whole story about this season.

Something has gone seriously wrong this season and after being backed so handsomely in the summer transfer market you can see why there was reluctance on the part of Dave Whelan to change managers yet again. Any new manager will have to work with what he has, there won’t be re-enforcements come January. The squad is already one of the largest in the league and the club simply don’t have the funds for another wide spread recruitment drive.

The appointment of Owen Coyle last season was unbelievable, it was the wrong appointment for the wrong club at the wrong time but there was an element of understanding in why Uwe Rosler was chosen as his successor.

Here was a young manager in a similar mould to Roberto Martinez, he didn’t besmirch the achievements of Roberto whilst manager of the club he embraced them he even replicated the tactics that gave us our FA Cup as we beat Manchester City to once again reach Wembley. He didn’t criticise the fans as Coyle did he embraced them and played up to the Wigan story, he added another chapter to that story.

So where did it go so wrong for a manager who performed miracles last season? Did he try to change too much too soon? Did he anger senior pros with his methods? Did he ostracise players? The situations of Grant Holt and Marc Antoine Fortune may well point to that. Whatever happened in the summer it hasn’t worked and a manager who seemed here for the long haul has been sacked less than a year after being appointed.

Where do Latics go from here? Dave Whelan spoke a lot about age in his interview in the aftermath of yesterday’s sacking. He’s 77 now and despite being in good health its imperative he gets the next appointment right, it could be one of his last as chairman. Many names are being touted about but the club need to decide what they want – do they want an easy fix that may well get them promotion or do they want to have somebody who will take a long term view of the club.

They were caught between both with Uwe Rosler and Owen Coyle with neither what the club really needed at the time. Whoever it is the priority must be to move up the Championship table as soon as possible, relegation to League One would be devastating for a club that had made such strides in the last decade.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 14th November 2014

12th Man: Business as usual

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It was a case of business as usual at Wigan Athletic in the last seven days. The euphoria of the win over Derby County was quickly replaced by the usual anger and disappointment as a certain three points was blown at home to Fulham and some comical defending gifted a win to Brighton on the South Coast, their first since August.

Does that tell the whole story of the last week? Not necessarily, the performances against both Brighton and Fulham were strong and with better defending we would have been looking at a haul of four points from the last week.
Sadly though we have now gone past the point of good performances being enough. We need wins and we need wins soon, nothing else is good enough now.

Uwe bristled when asked about the club’s position in the league table after Tuesday’s game but the fact is if we lose to Bolton on Friday night we could well find ourselves in the relegation zone.
That won’t be good enough for the club’s board and Dave Whelan, especially when we consider the amount invested in the side over the summer.
The club are approaching a crossroads, we’ve gone from the settled period of Roberto Martinez and a defined style of play to two managers in the space of 18 months.

I was a vocal critic of Owen Coyle’s appointment at the club and I still believe it was the wrong decision at the wrong time but Coyle’s record last season currently stands stronger than Rosler’s – the pressure on the manager is increasing and the honeymoon period is well and truly over. The club need to think very hard before deciding on the future of Uwe Rosler.

A decent manager doesn’t turn in to a bad one over night, but for Uwe’s sake let’s hope the club start to see enough positive signs to stick with the gaffer and get Latics back up the league table. Friday has a feeling of finality about it, a win once again can push us on. A loss in front of a partizan crowd could spell the end for Uwe. I personally hope he turns it around.


Whether he can or not, I’m unsure.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 7th November 2014