Writer: Paul Thorp
Date:Wednesday February 15 2012
Paul Thorp takes a look at the strength on the bench at Wigan Athletic:
When it comes to team selection, the first thing I'm sure we all do when the teams are read out, is run through the team, work it out who will fit where, and how the bench offers options to change or cover if we need it. I suspect I am not alone in that I might not have chosen the same 11 as Roberto on Saturday, but it was still fairly obvious who would slot where, and how we'd line up.
If any given fan disagrees with the first 11, they can scream it from the safety of the stands, the pub or the internet. We all know it's not ever going to be tested. Only one man's theory is ever tested, only one man puts his credibility on the line week in week out and that's Roberto. He got it right, others might have too, but only he got to prove it.
I must admit I expected to see Momo Diame in the side following his return from the African Cup of Nations. I wondered why, and have covered that elsewhere. Clearly every selection decision is one taken after much thought, and probably consultation with the backroom staff. Before I began to second guess this process, unfortunately my thoughts strayed into considering the number of people that would just come up with the fairly simple answer, 'it's obvious, why he's not playing, it's because Roberto is bonkers'. I pity them, because I know some people not only think that, but actually believe it as well. How they managed to buy a ticket without help is beyond me.
Thinking about Diame, I turned to the rest of the bench, and thought immediately that it was as strong a Wigan Athletic bench as I can remember since I've been going, which is admittedly not very long in comparison to some, but still there can't have been that many benches stronger.
This is one of the improvements that we've seen over Roberto's time that hasn't yet translated itself into first team results, and so has probably gone unnoticed by most fans. I know Roberto has mentioned the strength of the squad once or twice, but at the same time appreciate it's hard to listen when we are bottom and have a couple of bad runs under our belt.
I have picked the same fixture for the previous 2 seasons as it fits in with Martinez's reign and my short history and compared the players on the bench. I would be interested to see how some of the fair minded old timers compare them to the players sat on Steve Bruce's or Paul Jewell's benches.
On Saturday we had - 13 Nicholls, 23 Stam, 07 Crusat, 08 Watson, 19 Jones, 21 Diame, 20 Rodallega
I believe that there are lots of options and ways to change the game on that bench had we needed it, as well as the requisite cover for injuries. Last year we drew with the following bench - 12 Pollitt, 13 S Caldwell, 24 Piscu, 32 Robinson, 14 Gomez, 21 Diame, 38 McManaman
In 09-10 we lost 4-0 with these guys on the bench - 29 Stojkovic, 04 Amaya, 06 Thomas, 15 Gomez, 16 Sinclair, 09 Scotland, 18 Moreno
This is a snapshot, and I haven't picked out any other fixtures and done the same exercise, or gone further back for this fixture, but looking at Saturdays bench, keepers aside, not only do you have six players, all with a very realistic chance of coming on, but you also have six players all of whom you feel have a realistic chance of affecting the game positively.
We have cover for injuries across all years, but the further back you go, the less game changing the players would be and the more they would be there just to cover for injuries, or to gain experience, or make up the numbers.
Last year there are arguably a couple of players that you would actually have fancied at the time to make an impact, (Diame and McManaman), Gomez would fit into the 'he might impact if you're lucky', the other 3 were purely cover. Looking at the 09-10 bench you arguably only need to look at Gomez and Sinclair. Sinclair because he has gone on and developed elsewhere, but judging him on his Wigan form, wouldn't make today`s bench and Gomez has obviously developed into a first choice player, or is at least far and away better than the same Jordi Gomez that sat on this bench. Hendry Thomas is about the same in that he is still a reserve/cover player. You wouldn't touch the rest with the proverbial bargepole.
I wouldn't fancy any of that bench to change the game, or is it looking back knowing they never did, making me think like that?
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Date:Wednesday February 15 2012
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