“We’ve all got to take lessons from the performance, myself included” said Uwe Rosler post-match.
So often since his arrival Rosler has got his tactics just right. This time he got them totally wrong. Playing hoofball was never going to be the way to get a result at Burnley. It played into the home team’s hands.
Rosler made his usual rotations with Stephen Crainey, Jack Collison, James McClean and Marc-Antoine Fortune coming into the starting lineup, The German adopted a 4-3-3 formation, with McClean playing wide on the right and Beausejour on the left.
The Urban Dictionary describes hoofball as involving the ‘hoof”, a long punt up the pitch by either the goalkeeper or defenders, making sure that the ball travels at least 40 yards in the air. Wigan Athletic’s tactics in the first half at Turf Moor were precisely that.
The result was the ball pinging back and putting pressure on a shaky Latics defence. The left hand side of defence had looked particularly vulnerable and it came as no surprise when Burnley went ahead after 22 minutes. They broke through at pace on Wigan’s left, Dean Marney evading Leon Barnett and putting over a fine cross converted by Ashley Barnes as he timed his run perfectly, ahead of Emmerson Boyce. The home team’s second goal came in the 42nd minute with a superb inswinging free kick from Michael Kightly from the left, which evaded Al-Habsi and the Latics defence
With Latics 2-0 down and looking set for a hiding, Rosler had to do something at half time. He brought on Callum McManaman for Gomez and Rob Kiernan for the hapless Crainey, reverting to 3-4-3. McManaman looked lively from the start, but Burnley had clearly done their homework and singled him out for physical treatment.
The final whistle led to Burnley celebrating their promotion back to the Premier League – a remarkable achievement on a relatively low budget.
Following the tactical switch at half time Latics had a more balanced look, but in all truth Burnley could still have added more to the score.
Wigan’s football in the first half was reminiscent of the darkest of days under Owen Coyle. Burnley’s high pressing put pressure on Wigan defenders and they responded by hoofing the ball. The midfield was largely by-passed but when they did get the ball they were unable to do much with it. Even Jordi Gomez ended up putting through long punts, which were hopeful at best.
At times in that first half it appeared that Latics players were actually following instructions by playing those long, hopeful passes. Wigan have done this under Rosler before, but this time they were made to pay the price.
Wigan were unrecognizable from the side that had played such stylish football against Arsenal and Reading. One longed for the cultured touch of Shaun Maloney, but Rosler resisted the opportunity to bring him on. Roger Espinoza and Martyn Waghorn did not even make the bench. However, Waghorn appeared to have an injury after going off against Reading. Like Maloney, Espinoza has had a lay-off due to injury and in the long-run Rosler’s decision not to use either might well prove to be right.
So often over the past weeks Latics have had dips in their form that could be attributed to sheer tiredness, given the number of games they have had to play. Fatigue may have played a part in this performance too, but it was the approach that was more of a concern in this game.
Thanks to JJ of http://threeamigoswigan.com/ for this post.
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