Wigan Athletic - A Look Ahead
Vital Latics member onlyhereforthebooze takes a look at the Wigan Athletic squad ahead of the new season and examines the areas that he feels may need strengthening. Over to you onlyhereforthebooze:
The starting 11 of the last nine or ten games looks clearly first choice for next season and the only potential change is if Moses leaves. My personal opinion no doubt among many is that he needs to stay for another 18 months at least and take heed of Baines and Valencia rather than Ellington and N'Zogbia.
Obviously Ali is number one, and seems happy here so I can't see any change for the future season. Kirkland has left, and Pollitt's contract is up this season and looks like he will be released rather than offered a new contract. Lee Nicholls might be ready to step up as 2nd/3rd keeper (I know we like to alternate) but we it looks like we need one more depending what Martinez is OK with. Wouldn't be surprised if Pollitt is offered a new contract.
City have released a couple keepers in Stuart Taylor and Gunnar Nielsen and United have released Kuszczak who could be worth picking up as backups.
Ronnie Stam was one of our better players in the first half of the season, but was ousted in preference of Boyce defensive solidity. I much prefer Boyce there as he is better defensively and in this formation has offered a good goal threat on the end of Beausejour's crosses. It looks like Stam has fallen out and looks to leave in the summer in which case Martinez's target will surely be a young player to mould into that role when as Boyce can't continue forever.
On the left Beausejour has been a revelation, and I think we do have ready available cover in Figueroa who can occupy such a role.
Centrally we may have a problem. With Gohouri leaving for definite we have need of a cover defender. I though Lopez might be OK, but by all accounts he wasn't decent at the least against Wolves. He may get a couple more chances, but we are probably one more short even with him. Golobart has been on loan at Inverness all season and has some rave reviews including winning their player of the year after forcing his way into the team. He may come back and force his way into contention here. We definitely need one more, either a right back so we can put Boyce centrally, or a centre back.
Hull had one of the best defences in the Championship last season, and ex-Man Utd player James Chester was an ever present in that line up. Only 23 and may have needed a couple of full seasons rather languishing in United`s reserves, he could be one for us.
Other than that, if Stam were to go, the right wing back role is pretty specialist and someone like Nathaniel Clyne would be an obvious choice however Newcastle are on the verge of signing him for a believe £5m. If he does go, Ryan Taylor may become available from Newcastle as a result and I think he would suit that role.
The two James' have linked up so well in recent months. Their work ethic stands out above most things, and their role is now more in allowing other players to play whilst keeping the flow and shape of the team. I think Watson can probably fill one of these roles too if needs be, but seems better suited to a 3 in the middle. Thomas has left but didn't play so cover isn't really required for him. For Diame however it is, as we deployed him in numerous roles.
Our development team midfielders will more than likely be sent on loan rather than being integrated into the first team this season, so we will need to sign at least one defensive/central midfielder.
Stuart Holden was begrudgingly one of the few Bolton players I would covet and whilst he has stated he is willing to stay at Bolton, I think their financial woe means we could get him.
Other than him, I'm unsure who would suit us. The likes of Jamie O'Hara who would be available simply don't have the work rate for our formation.
We now play, as Bobby has always insisted with three strikers who have different interchangeable roles. We will see them link and switch in both attack, and in doing so defence. More importantly Moses, Maloney and Di Santo have a good understanding with each other, and even Gomez when brought in has been good (possibly after been influence by Maloney's performances).
Sammon is a hard to one get, as for someone so big and fast he hasn't really offered a lot, and struggles at times to hold the ball up. Whilst Rodallega didn't get a lot of game time in the last months, we still need a viable alternative for the central striker role.
Moses seems to be unable to make his mind up, and a deadline must be given to him this summer as we cannot afford for him to leave next summer for free. If he does go he isn't irreplaceable for us, as he often left us angered with his decisions not to pass etc and 6 goals isn't a great return for such a prospect. Alternatively he is such an outlet with his dribbling and is an outball when we are in trouble.
Nouha Dicko spent last season on loan at Blackpool to good effect, and Aleu Darbo has been signed against interest from Newcastle and Sunderland. Depending on how Martinez rates their development we may have these two bed in to the team or as replacements for Moses.
Would not surprise me if we got Marco Ruben.
We had agreed terms with him 2 years ago, and then Villarreal got cold feet at the last minute.
Now with them relegated they will need money and he will obviously be looking to play top flight football.
Michael Owen would be ideal as a bit part player for us, if it were to suit us. He could be a very good influence on our strikers, and they would learn a great deal. In return we would get a fox in the box type player when we are in need of a goal towards the end of the game. Something we really haven't had in a while.
There isn't anyone from the relegated side of this season who I'd be looking to take. Kevin Doyle has stated he will stay at Wolves and I think Fletcher and Jarvis may be picked up by the likes of Villa or Fulham who can outspend us.
If Moses were to go, and Bobby felt Dicko and Darbo weren't ready we would obviously need to replace him.
Wilfred Zaha from Crystal Palace has been mentioned and obviously has a similar profile to Moses. Whilst there have been figures bandied about approaching the £10m mark, I recall similar whisperings regarding Moses and he could well go for a lot less than £10m, but again I think he's out of our reach if we needed to replace Moses.
Luciano Narsingh got 8 goals for Heerenveen last season, and also managed the most assists in the entire league with 22. He has earned a call up into Hollands full Euro 2012 squad on the back of it, and is definitely a prospect. Heerenveen are solid financially and Van Basten is their new manager so I doubt we could attract/afford him unless he wanted away.
It does seem the club already have players earmarked and are working towards getting them onboard. No doubt not a single player mentioned will be one of our signings :)
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