Punching below our weight?

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I don’t like getting critical over footballing matters. Indeed, I prefer to pour scorn as a nation of bedroom football managers tell the actual manager of their football club everything they’re doing wrong via the medium of the internet.

I’ve always done my football writing from a cultural perspective: fans are there to support the club not to throw tantrums because we’re not top of the league.

However, something doesn’t seem quite right at the good ship HMS Wigan Athletic right now and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Despite a squad strong enough to generate two decent first elevens, we appear to be languishing in the lower half of the table and performances, with one or two exceptions appear to be distinctly mediocre.

Furthermore, the teams we have faced so far have been no great shakes. The real big hitters are yet to come: Forest, Wolves and Derby in the next 4 or 5 weeks plus a nervous looking reunion with Brentford for Uwe Rosler.

I understood the criticism of Coyle because I felt the squad he had inherited and assembled was effectively a Premier League side and should have been far higher up the table. I feel now that Rosler has incredible quality and depth to play with as well. Maybe he also made a rod for his own back because he had such a brilliant impact last year in cup and league?

We have most definitely been punching below our weight in all but two home games and the manager has made some strange team selection and tactical decisions. Why drop Riera? Indeed, why can’t Waghorn or Maloney even get briefly off the bench?

Why so defensive? Playing three centre halves and Kvist – who is decent but by all intents sits in front of our back four in front of our other defensive midfielder.

This is all fine if we are flying, or indeed eking out 1-0 wins but we’re not. Those eleven players on the field should be playing out of their skins, safe in the knowledge that if they don’t, there are eleven more capable of replacing them. Yet at Huddersfield we looked distinctly pedestrian at times against a poor team who were there for the taking.

I’ll leave it there for now. Like I say, I’m not a football manager, nor do I have aspirations to be one. I don’t know the answers nor am I about to suggest what they might be in the vain hope that Dave Whelan is reading and is about to make me an offer I can’t refuse.

It’s early days yet, and we have a completely new midfield in place. They will take time to gel, I can accept that. Yet, I’d suggest that unless we can extract four points from the next two games then even the play offs will start to look ambitious and the squad we have seems capable of so much better.


First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 19th September 2014

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