05/06 Review pt4 – Middle of the Road

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Gary Teale
For me Teale is the one player who has exceeded expectations this season. Come on, how many of you thought that he wouldn’t get anywhere near the team? Instead he’s made himself a first team regular and the team has only looked anything like as an attacking force when he’s been on the pitch. I think we’ve actually seen him grow as a player this term and his recent Scotland caps should be the first of a few. At times he could take a bit more responsibility and assert himself on his team mates, as an example, I’m convinced that he presents a better option as a corner taker than anyone else we saw last season, but it’s up to him to prove it.

Lee McCulloch
I still don’t see what the big Scot gives us in a footballing sense, and yet I can’t argue that the team looks better or at least more solid with him in it. Really that is something that needs to be addressed if the team is going to push on next season. We need to be able to create chances from both flanks and if Lee is going to stay in the side we need to find a way of getting Baines past him a few more times. I know all this sounds like I’m criticising Lee, but I’m not, he’s an honest player, who works hard and gets stuck in and it would be a shame if he couldn’t get in the side, but we don’t create enough chances, and for me his inclusion on the left hand side of midfield is one of the reasons for that.

Graham Kavanagh

Whether he’s done enough to be in the starting line up next season I don’t know, but before we move on we should take a moment to reflect on Kav’s role as antidote to Jimmy Bullard’s ‘cover ever blade of grass’ style. He’s short of pace, but we knew that already. He’s not got the cutting edge, but that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Despite his limitations, the Irishman has managed to hold the Latics midfield together for the large part of the season, and for that we should be thankful.

Jimmy Bullard

Go on admit it, it’s going to be a bit like not having the family dog knocking about any more, isn’t it? Jimmy was always more spaniel than terrier though and sooner or later his antics were going to get him some kind of attention. This season’s Lee Trundle as far as the Soccer AM crowd are concerned and in some ways that has spoiled his relationship with (some) ‘tics more than his departure. There’s no arguing that Jimmy has had a good season, and he has come to embody everything (good and bad) about our style of play. Whilst I personally think we should have been looking to do better than Jimmy, during the summer shopping, it’s never nice to be forced into something. It will definitely be easier for Jewell to replace his influence on the pitch than it will his presence in the dressing room.

Alan Mahon

Mahon-y could be excused for feeling a little hard done to as he winged his way to the land of our six fingered cousins. He never got the chance that his ability deserved whilst at Latics and whilst he may be better suited to the Championship we’ll never really know what he could have achieved for us in the Prem, he might not have played with the energy or quite as much commitment as a Jimmy Bullard, but he could do more with the ball. Not everyone will miss him, but that’s football these days innit?

Damien Francis

After a good start to the season, Francis’s game slipped a little bit and he lost his place. “We told you so!” comes the cry from East Anglia, but as always we don’t know the full story. His lack of even substitute appearances suggests that warnings of his bad influence off the pitch may have some credence, but we’ve not seen hide nor hair of it. The press have linked him with a move away from the club this summer, which is fair enough I suppose but you can’t help but wonder whether his early season promise could be an indication of something better if he stays.

David Thompson

We only saw flashes of what the player, Jewell reckoned was trying too hard, is capable of, but maybe, after a career blighted by injury, that’s all we could expect at the top level. Thompson certainly showed that he still wanted to play football and did enough to show that, fully fit; he could present a more intelligent, but no less tenacious option in the middle of the park. By all accounts, it was Thompson’s choice to look for opportunities elsewhere and at the stage his career is at you probably shouldn’t blame him for wanting a more assured first team place somewhere.

Josip Skoko

What’s the world coming to when Latics are letting players that will be playing in the World Cup go out on loan? The situation with Skoko is very much a symptom of a small club trying to improve a good team. Anywhere else in our division and Skoko would have been happy as a squad player, indeed if it wasn’t a World Cup year he may have been here, but it’s Wigan and it was, so he felt the pressing need for first team football. With it being Stoke that were chasing him, they needed to ask twice of course. I’ll have to plead ignorance to how he’s done in the potteries, but it was enough to make he trip to Germany where he might get time to sit down with Chimbonda and discuss exit strategies.

Reto Zeigler

Came on loan from Spurs after being recalled from a loan in Germany, where he wasn’t getting enough starts in the right position. Slotted straight into a position on our subs bench, and it must have filled Martin Jol with great pleasure to see him fill in at left back, left wing and centre midfield. He did at one stage threaten to re open the “best left back” debate, but in the end did little to really impress. That said, he definitely has some talent and maybe just needs a little more experience to bring it on. I’m hardly waiting with eager excitement to see if he re-signs but I wouldn’t complain if he was back at the JJB next season, if only because he seems to be able to stay fit for longer than studs.

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05/06 Review pt 5 – The Way Forward

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04/05 Review pt3 – The case for the defence

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