The Newcastle Aftermath – Where To Now?By: Nick | January 3rd, 2011
At the conclusion of yesterday’s home match against Newcastle the words uninspired, lacklustre and predictable immediately came to mind. Prior to the game, expectations had reached a new high for most Wigan fans (at least this one anyway). A string of good results, firstly with a win away at Wolves and than drawing with ten men against Arsenal had seen the side climb out of relegation contention. For me, the Latics were finally showing attacking intention in the last third of the pitch and also looked to have cured their defensive woes that so affected the beginning of the season. However, as they did so consistently in the previous campaign, Wigan’s form suffered a severe dip and the side looked poor in comparison to what they showed against an in form Gunners side. All in all it was a disappointing performance across the board, and some areas definitely need imediate attention from coach Martinez.
What first comes to mind is creating an effective attack without the presence of Charles N’Zogbia. To be brutally honest a player of his calibre wont be around at the club for too much longer, as we were lucky that he was not snapped up by Birmingham last term. In the short term, he is still sidelined for two more games after receiving a red card for a fierce headbut against Arsenal. The only player that came close to replicating N’Zogbia’s natural ability to attack was young Tom Cleverley who came close with a couple of decent goal efforts and combined well with those around him. Our other midfielders didn’t fare quite so well, as Jordi Gomez and Hendry Thomas offered very little, Ben Watson’s free kicks were average at best and Mohamed Diame went missing in the later stages of the game. What saddens me is that Cleverley and N’Zogbia may not be around for much longer meaning that a replacement of value needs to be found fast. So the question is will someone else step up? or will someone new need to be found in the transfer market?
Another area which needs to be addressed is the tactics employed by Martinez. One of the main reasons that Wigan were never able to strike back effectively against Newcastle was that the side simply sits to deep. For much of the match Hugo Rodallega cut a very lonesome figure upfront and in the later stages, out of frustration took several speculative shots. Thus Wigan’s inability to score a decent amount of goals lies with a lack of support rather than ineffective strikers (an argument could be made against Boselli). Rodallega has done very well for himself producing 5 goals so far this term.
There is clearly too much a gap between the midfielders and the forward line, which lends itself to counter attacking and long ball play. These styles may ensure occasional wins, but are in no way convincing at all and can be all to easily snuffed out (as seen in the Newcastle game where the Latics were barely allowed any room to play).
The Newcastle game was potentially a platform for Wigan to leapfrog the other struggling sides, but instead we remain in the thick of a tense relegation scrap. Wednesday’s fixture away to neighbours Bolton has now become more crucial, as a loss would only mean deeper trouble. A more attacking approach would be greatly appreciated.