Possession may be nine tenths of the law but in a lot of football debate there is much discussion around whether it actually matters. After bulldozing Barnsley 4-0 many fans were cheekily asking what the possession stats were, in a token nod to our former manager’s obsession with them. Their valid inference being: who cares what they were, we scored four goals!
It is however also an undeniable fact that if you’ve got the ball then your opponents can’t score. Unless you’re Gary Cald….I mean Titus Bramble. Yes that’s a better example. Therefore, setting aside defensive mishaps the more possession you have, the less the opponents have the ball whether you are creating something with it or purely retaining it.
I was sat on row 6 on Sunday and watched Shaun Maloney shake his head in disdain as the ball was launched long down the flanks even by someone like Boycey who will be acutely aware that the diminutive Glaswegian would much prefer a ball to feet. I suspect we just got a bit panicky given the calibre of the opposition and thankfully we won’t be facing teams like United every week any more.
Basically I have not seem a game featuring a Wigan Athletic team for a long while where we had so little of the ball. Yet even so we showed some qualities which will be more desirable over the forthcoming season – we’ve seen too many capitulations against United in recent times to know that possession means nothing, defensive grit and yes, occasionally booting it up the field to give the defence a breather is a necessity.
I suspect that had Roberto Martinez been manager, we may have had more possession, maybe even played well for an hour but then gone on to concede 5 in the last 30 minutes if we go off precedent so there is a lot to be said for mixing up the play to serve a purpose.
I think the only conclusion we can draw is that it’s best to not get hung up on the style of play and let’s try and take a step back and just start to enjoy our football again. I have no qualms about the great signing of Grant Holt and dearly hope he can be the 20 goal a season man we need, a target up front but in all honesty he is a decent player with his feet as well.
Bournemouth next on their own patch and whereas a lot of people seem to be saying that their 6-1 defeat to Watford was a good thing, I’d always be wary of a backlash in these circumstances and personally I don’t care one jot about what style of football we play so long as we can pick up those precious three points.
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Wednesday 14th August 2013
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