From our Guest writer Sigurd Sigurdsson
It’s been said that you don’t win the championship in October, at the same time you can set the foundations for relegation in this period . Have to stick with the prediction in the Wigan season preview that they’ll survive again Wigan Athletic Fighting the Good Fight . For this to happen they have turn around a run of very poor performances.
International break came at a good time as many of the players were able to get away to a different environment, which can be beneficial to a team struggling for confidence. Their last match was a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa away, while on the scoreboard this doesn’t look bad the reality was different. Out of the 4 consecutive losses in the league they have had, this was easily the worst.
* Man City 3-0 – They didn’t believe they could compete and Al Habsi was brilliant on this day which prevented this from being 6 or 7. The difference in class and bank balances were about the same on this day.
* Everton 3-1 – An improved performance with a score that was flattering to Everton who weren’t really doing much. Two late goals from Vellios and Drenthe when everyone had pushed up for the equaliser.
* Tottenham 2-1 – Two very different halves, the first was full of ineptitude of the highest order thanks to Al Habsi it was only 2. The second half was much better and disappointing they couldn’t get a point, but the level between both halves was almost as great as Cristiano Ronaldo’s ego.
Coming from the 2nd half performance against the Spuds playing Villa at Villa Park, where they’ve had an excellent record what followed was nothing short of garbage. The passes weren’t finding their team mates and it’s common knowledge Der Kaiser Gary Caldwell besides getting more cards than a croupier is one of the slowest defenders around. He was exposed badly by Agbonlahor’s pace, it’s not like Wigan were unaware of the this fact that McLeish teams are long ball merchants, losing the ball in key areas where they can pump it long to expose Der Kaiser’s lack of pace. The football was tedious from Wigan, we know Villa are going to be tedious, playing like that against a team that isn’t that good in the process making them look superstars isn’t acceptable.
All the problems that plagued Wigan last season, well there has been consistency but losing 4 on the hop isn’t the type needed. Naturally being a smaller side, the squad is going to lack depth if there are major injuries. At the moment the injuries to Alcaraz and Rodallega who are the best options of stopping and scoring goals respectively hasn’t helped at all. Though this provides opportunities for the other squad players who haven’t been able to cement places with any confidence.
Diamond Dave Whelan for all this foibles won’t sack Roberto Martinez nor should he, naturally there are small segment of the fan base who wants him sacked, then again there are people who think the BNP should be in power or Justin Bieber has talent. Martinez as a young coach has many lessons to learn which will improve him as manager, but he has to evolve and adapt to the circumstances around him with the squad he possesses. There have been some question marks about the players he has purchased, naturally they take time to adjust to the system and speed of the game, though question marks could be raised about the quality of scouting.
Defensively there have been mistakes which isn’t surprising, especially when Der Kaiser goes in at times when he doesn’t need to, create chances for the opposition. Boyce came back too soon from injury, Figueroa should never play in the centre. Defensive discipline is very important it doesn’t mean putting 11 men behind the ball, holding your line and keeping shape.
Next problem is the midfield. In this case it seems Wigan need to be a goal down before they decide to move the ball with any speed, it’s not about useless running which passes off as work rate because they lack the skill required to keep the ball and use it efficiently. The style of play in theory is fine, with short passing and keeping it along the ground, that’s the way to do it. The key to making this effective is move the ball quickly with one or two touches to have players in motion. This isn’t happening at the moment as the passing and build up is too slow, giving the opposition time to put men behind the ball. It needs the wide men or wing backs down the flank to stretch the defence to create space elsewhere, this won’t work unless players try and create space for the man in possession to pass to. Currently they’re more static than statues while aesthetically pleasing makes the attack like an Aero bar “bubbles of nothing”.
Martinez likes playing with the lone forward “Van Basten” Di Santo he has improved quite a bit, even then all of his goals have been deflections. He isn’t getting quality service from the midfield and a distinct lack of support as well. Victor Moses while getting more opportunities, still hasn’t improved his decision making knowing when to pass and when to take on players, he definitely isn’t N’Zogbia lite.
Lack of penetration from the midfield, moving the ball too slowly leading to few goalscoring chances which aren’t being taken, putting pressure on the defence and mistakes happen under pressure, especially when the goals aren’t going in on the other end. Wigan look inhibited but this is understandable losing 4 consecutive matches. Losing can be a habit as well as the poor form and results continue anxiety increases making it difficult to get out of these situations.
It’s easier to find problems, then to find solutions. The players who aren’t performing at moment, deserve to be dropped. There needs to be pressure coming from the bench. Crucat has potential to make an impact once he recovers from injury. Time for Shaun Maloney to be given more playing time, as Wigan need more creatively from the midfield. When they do introduce Sammon into games, they don’t need to hoof it long, he is capable with the ball at his feet. van Aanholdt has looked like scoring more than anyone in the midfield this season.
Thankfully this weekends match against Bolton sees a side who are in worse form than the Latics. This counts for nowt though when it comes to local derbies, this series of two matches are the ones the Latics want to win more than the others. It won’t be easy two teams low on confidence, could be quite an ugly spectacle with the odds of 1.60 Caldwell getting a card, but that won’t matter as long as Wigan win.
They’ve shown plenty of resilience during their time in the EPL and this is another time where it will be needed. The relegation battle is usually more interesting than the top of the table, the newly promoted teams of QPR, Swansea and Norwich have handled themselves quite well so far, Blackburn are poor. Hopefully Martinez can address some of the problems and the team can start posting some better results.
There is still plenty of time left in the season, but the foundations of Premier Leag
ue survival need to be reinforced this week with a win at home against Bolton or the knives will be sharpening and the sounds from the peanut gallery will grow louder and louder.
Tasmania via Tromsø
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