…or credit where it’s due.
Last week’s assessment of the start of Owen Coyle’s Latics career ruffled some cages and rattled some feathers. I wasn’t trying to be controversial or attack the manager, but it got treated like that in some quarters and although I’ve had plenty of people tell me they agree with my sentiment the more vocal element of our internet support came out against me. Obviously I’m a very bad man.
Well, if it helps, I’m here to say that I was wrong, but before I get to that, I’ll tell you where I wasn’t wrong.
I wasn’t wrong to have formed an opinion about our pattern of play after nine games, that should be more than enough to work out what a manager is trying to do. Especially when you’ve a few years experience of him managing other clubs to fall back on as evidence.
I also wasn’t wrong in my assessment of the season up to that point. We’d been trying to play what I consider to be poor football, poorly. It wasn’t just a case of the players getting used to a new system, as far as I’m concerned the system, for what it was worth, was wrong and there wasn’t any indication that the manager was willing to try other approaches.
Which is where the apology comes in, because, firstly in the opening stages against Watford and again last night it appears that Owen Coyle may have changed his spots, if not his socks (and shorts).
I’ve plenty of comments about the standard of the opposition on Thursday, but it barely matters. I’ve heard plenty of people say we couldashouldawoulda had ten, but that’s by-the-by. What really matters is that from, the first to the last kick, Latics defended on the front foot, pressed their opposition and once they’d got the ball, they tried to keep it.
This was the first time this season I’d even seen Latics try anything of this sort, the formation had changed to the modern default of 4-2-3-1 instead of Coyle’s standard 4-1-4-1. This put midfielders in parts of the pitch where it was very difficult just to knock balls over their heads and made it nigh on impossible to mount an eight man defence by default.
It was clearly a different tack from Latics and it’s hard to argue that it didn’t work. Especially whilst five of our front six were from last year’s squad, less so when McCann and McLean took to the pitch, but maybe they’re just not used to it (takes tongue out of cheek).
Either way, I’m peddling the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ line again, but it’s not my take on things that matter, it’s the manager’s and it’ll be interesting to see what he does tomorrow.
The last time I saw Blackburn, they were a very confused side. Steve Kean was dragging them down to the Championship and didn’t seem to want to be there (Blackburn that is, not the Championship). The home game would probably have seen Latics win apart from one of the most ridiculous goals you’ll ever see. Both team’s fate were confirmed in the game at their place by Alcaraz’s late goal.
Rovers had a wobble last season, their nose dive continuing early on under Kean and seeing him out of a job before Autumn set in. Ex Latic Eric Back was then the first of about seventy managers who saw them through to 17th place and four points above relegation. Despite having the divisions second top scorer in Jordan Rhodes.
Ah, Rhodes. Allegedly the object of some ridiculous bidding from Latics in the last week of the transfer window. Ridiculous for Rovers because the deal didn’t even guarantee them what they paid Huddersfield and ridiculous for Latics because the £10m potential fee is waaaay to much for any Second Division club to be paying for any striker.
But still, the consensus appears to be that he, or some other striker is the answer to all our current woes. Woes that could quite easily have disappeared by the time you’re tucking into your Yorkshires tomorrow tea time.
Banished because we might all realise that the striker free, Powell led, system from Thursday wasn’t a happy accident but was a tactical master-stroke akin to Pep Guardiola’s efforts against Man City last week? Possibly, but more so because Grant Holt could be back in the squad.
I’ve heard some rubbish spoken about Holt this season, stretching to him being the worst signing we’ve ever made (that’s categorically Andy Saville by the way), but the simple thing is that we’ve just not been playing to his strengths so far. Holt excels when he’s facing the goal and if Latics can keep playing, like they did on Thursday then we might start to see the best of him.
Imagine that, our midfield playing in a way that we all know they can finally fronted by someone who can find the back of the net. Never mind an apology, I might even start to like the Bolton B….
Until then, have fun.,,,
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