12th Man: From bad to worse

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This horrible season just goes from bad to worse, Saturday brought another morale sapping defeat and sadly a completely toothless performance from players who are an awful lot better than what they served up on Saturday afternoon.

Malky Mackay as of yet hasn’t been able to stop the alarming slide that has been prevalent all season long. As I said last week the deeper we look in to the situation at the DW Stadium and it’s clear that those issues go deeper than the manager alone. Like many teams before us a second season of Championship football is becoming a real struggle and if we’re not careful we could end up sleep walking our way in to League One.

Saturday was depressing for many reasons but primarily the lack of effort and application from the players, Roberto Martinez could be accused of a lot during his time as manager but his players always tried. They may not have been good enough to play the particular style of football that Roberto wanted them to on a consistent basis but there was always the effort and application there, none of that was present on Saturday and a very average looking Norwich side in the end got an easy win.

Mackay has had over three weeks in the job now and will have a better idea of what players are up for the fight and those that aren’t. Up to now bar a decent performance against Middlesbrough I and many other Wigan supporters have seen previous little evidence of a change in fortunes or indeed style to be linked with the new manager. Uwe Rosler enjoyed an immediate response and near meteoric rise up the league after he took over last season, Mackay as of yet hasn’t been able to influence such a dramatic change of fortunes.

The continued exclusion of strikers such as Andy Delort and Oriol Riera is baffling when a side such as ours is in desperate need of goals. One can only hope that those players along with Martyn Waghorn (when he returns from injury) are offered an opportunity to show what they can do alongside the hardworking but much maligned Marc Antoine Fortune.

Admittedly there’s still a long way of the season to go but there has to be some signs of recovery from this squad soon otherwise Wigan Athletic could well be returning from whence they came a lot sooner than anyone expected.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 12th December 2014

12th Man: Deep Trouble

Deep Trouble

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If people didn’t realise the trouble Wigan Athletic were in before the trip to Hillsborough they certainly do now. A 2-1 defeat to a side without a win in eleven games leaves Latics firmly entrenched in the relegation zone and most definitely in a relegation battle. I think Saturday showed that our problems go a lot deeper than Uwe Rosler and his departure won’t simply lead to Latics climbing the table and fighting for promotion.

It was the same old story on Saturday as Latics dominated a game in terms of possession and chances created but as with the side under Uwe Rosler they just couldn’t convert that superiority to goals. Marc Antoine Fortune works hard but looks so isolated on his own up front. I’m not advocating a return to 442 but he certainly needs more support up front, the support should be coming from Callum McManaman and James McClean on the wings but so often on Saturday Fortune would drop deep leaving no one in the box to convert those chances.

Mackay has had a good couple of weeks to work with his players now and with no midweek games in that time hopefully there has been plenty of time on the training ground to put his ideas across. Not having Shaun Maloney available on Saturday would have been a big blow after his virtuoso performance against Middlesbrough the previous week. But there were encouraging signs from Mackay earlier this week about whether the Scotsman can get himself fit and if he can he will surely feature against Norwich on Saturday.

Despite the controversy surrounding his appointment players have been queuing up to praise Mackay and his methods so far, if he can galvanise that support in the squad and get the players reaching their optimum on a more consistent basis Latics will hopefully start to climb the table and we can improve on what has been a truly terrible season so far.

            Andy Delort got himself on the score sheet again for the Development squad in midweek and along with Oriol Riera he must be due a call up for the first team very soon. Both are proven goal scorers and although they haven’t shown their best so far both players are surely worth a go. The same should be said for Martyn Waghorn who after such an impressive four months with Latics last season seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

Like Rosler before him Mackay has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, how he manages to keep all the players happy and hit on a winning formula at the same time will be the key test of his management skills.

SEAN LIVESEY

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