Uwe Rösler meets the fans

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With a packed house assembled in the Marquee on the eve of a new season, it didn’t take long for notoriously forthright Wiganers to get to the point in this lively Q&A Session.

The event was hosted by BBC’s George Riley who took to the stage to introduce Rösler and CEO Jonathan Jackson for 90 minutes of grilling. There was a lot of insight albeit nothing completely revelatory and the main take away from the evening was just how well the current manager comes across as passionate, determined yet also warm, engaging and funny.

So let’s dive in. Sorry if it’s not in any structured or logical order. The questions were asked randomly about a myriad of subjects and I’m playing back what I heard below also in a somewhat random order.

Nevertheless, you could have put your mortgage on two of the first three questions to be asked and the first concerned the furore over Brentford target Adam Forshaw.

Rösler confirmed that two bids had been made and rejected and left it at that for now. With regard to the adverse reaction received from West London, he explained that the club made what it felt were two fair bids for a player at that level and with those attributes.

He cited Ashley Westwood and Luke Murphy’s moves from Crewe to Villa and Leeds respectively as similar deals in that price range where League One midfielders were purchased. He stopped short of responding as to whether the club would go in for a third bid.

A particular blunt question followed about Grant Holt where Uwe was asked whether he was in the manager’s plans for the forthcoming season or whether he “was going to get rid of him”. Rösler explained that he and Grant had on several occasions had frank discussions whereby both explained what their expectations where and there are some differences. These were not completely irreconcilable but Holt would not be featuring in the first team squad for the foreseeable future and the club is trying to find a solution (i.e get rid).

With this in mind, it was asked whether there were any moves afoot to bring back Nick Powell. Rösler explained that he was a very talented player with great presence and awareness on the field, yet he felt that he never quite had the same impact upon his return from injury. Without answering the question, it would seem this one was a no.

Similarly, with attempts to keep Jordi Gomez, Rösler explained that he would have loved to have retained the Spaniard, stating that he is a brilliant footballer with a great mind and understanding. Indeed, Rösler admitted that Gomez taught him things on occasion due to his studious nature around the game. However, despite the club offering a decent contract, the lure of the Premier League was too strong and this is something that the club cannot compete with.

Talk of centre forwards was brought on after one fan suggested that the reason Leicester and Burnley got promoted is because they had one or even two twenty goal a season strikers and this is perhaps where we are lacking (if we assume that the aforementioned Holt is a write off).

Rösler explained that the club have looked at several players but the going rate for a proven Championship striker is too much, mentioning the obvious Ross McCormack transfer but also giving the example of Lewis Grabban who after one good season was commanding a fee of £3m and £25k per week in wages.

However, Rösler made it clear that he will be using the loan market to bolster his squad where required once the transfer window closes and also that he expects his wide attacking players to chip in with more goals, a role Waghorn seems suited to. He also believed Oriel Riera is that goalscorer who plays in the box and given his record in La Liga last year is set for a great season.

And in terms of other current personnel, Rösler explained that he gave Callum McManaman “homework” over the summer (i.e to get fit) and was delighted to see that he had completed it and is shaping up to be a key player for this season.

He also elaborated on his plans for James McClean who is currently out injured but was likened to a “wild horse” by Rösler. Someone who is very direct with great pace and he’s looking to utilise not only on the wing but possibly as a second striker.

The gaffer showed a very astute knowledge of the club’s finances and stated that the way the club operates is one of the reasons he joined as there are “short lines of communications”. There are no sporting directors or senior coaches to go through first, if he wants a player he just speaks to Jackson or Whelan.

With this in mind, he explained his desire to slowly overhaul the squad and bring the average age down and mentioned that we couldn’t afford two experienced left and right backs this season so has had to bring in younger players (possibly referring to the release of Crainey).

He gave an update as to the injury position of key midfielders with McCann & Watson nearing fitness and also confirmed that Shaun Maloney was fit but unlikely to start on Saturday. He added that a fully fit Maloney would be a tremendous asset for the club as he is the one player who has that vision and ability to make something happen and unlock a tight defence.

And finally on the squad he was asked about the fact that it contains three decent ‘keepers and how to manage that situation. He revealed that the No.1 shirt was currently between Carson & Al Habsi and he will let them know Friday which one has got the nod. Lee Nicholls wasn’t mentioned, which is a shame and may point to a further loan move.

Tactically, he explained how he likes to operate either a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3 morphing into a 4-2-3-1 at times and as another astute fan noticed, he has moved the technical areas around in order for him to be closer to the linesman to shout at him as he felt the away teams at the DW were getting an advantage from this!

A question was asked around the fact that Latics have been asked to make numerous long distance away trips this year to the likes of Brighton, Cardiff and Norwich and whether this is fair on the fans, let alone the players.

An enlightening response was given by Jonathan Jackson, who explained that this was a deliberate trial move undertaken by the Football League this season following feedback that fans preferred to see and attend “local games” played on a Saturday as it would give them more opportunity to go to away games.

Certainly a controversial move and Jackson also mentioned that advanced discussions were underway with plans to beam certain games back to the DW in an interesting development.

There was also much discussion over the high and low points of the season past and how it felt for Rösler, not only to return to Man City in the FA Cup but win at the Etihad. As ever, this was met with a very direct response – namely that Uwe saw it as an opportunity to put his team against the best in the country and he was made up with the reaction he got from his team out of it. He also mentioned the influence of Graham Barrow and Roberto Martinez, using the FA Cup final as a blueprint as to how to beat City, albeit it with adding some ideas of his own given the change in personnel.

Uwe was questioned about the penalties and was candid enough to admit that he didn’t think for one minute that the game would go to penalties. The logic around putting Gary Caldwell up first was purely because he had fresh legs and a fresh mind after coming on as sub. Interestingly, Gomez wasn’t down to take the penalty in normal time after missing his previous two but snatched the ball before the agreed penalty taker could.

He also said that the cup run, as marvellous as it was, perhaps cost us later on in the season in light of those disappointing results against Millwall, Yeovil and Blackpool at home. Yet even in the play offs he felt he did more than enough to beat QPR over two legs and he was inconsolable at the end. Somewhat amusingly, he revealed that Shaun Maloney had come up to him to pat him on the back saying “Come on gaffer, get your head up. Come on gaffer, we’ll do this next season” while Gary Caldwell was trying to raise the rest of the team’s spirits.

Finally, he was asked in which games he felt that the style he wanted to impose was reflected. He responded that right from the off against Bolton they took it on board and steamed into them to go 2-0 up in 30 minutes and he amazed how quickly they picked up the pressing game. However, they also ran out of steam after 35 minutes and were left hanging on.

Other games mentioned were Forest and Ipswich away, tough places to go and we dominated them and of course Reading at home which was a stunning display of first half football akin to that Newcastle game.

In conclusion, he feels he has a much better squad now than when he joined and there’s a much better camaraderie with a full pre-season behind them. He’s not targeting games but simply wants his players to go with the mentality that every game is winnable and they have the ability to match that attitude.

The night ended with a quiz hosted by Worbo off Vital Wigan and a raffle all to raise funds for Josephs Goal and as a side story on the night, Paul Kendrick, Joseph’s dad and Latics sports reporter revealed that a staggering £130,000 had been raised to date for the charity through various means and implored everyone to run in the Wigan 10k again this year.

Yes, well about that…..

Finally, a mate of mine, Chris Marsh filmed most of the night on his phone (technology eh?) and has made it available on You Tube for those of you have the time to scrutinise my attempts to remember it all first hand: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCyQfARUmVOrvHfyR9xazflg/videos

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