Writer: Pete Reece
Date:Monday August 4 2014
Five Reasons Why We'll Get Promoted This Season, Five Reasons We Won't
Vital Latics journalist Pete Reece, aka Noel Wards Leg, gives us his take on the season ahead:
+1 Uwe All Season
Rösler's record was great last season, taking us from 13th position in the Championship to fifth in half a season with an average of 1.78 points per game. Extrapolate that performance over the whole season and it would have given us 82 points (nine more than in reality) and taken us to 4th position by the end of the season. Not a massive difference you may think until you factor in the following.
+2 Uwe's Pre-Season
In his meet-the-website editors meeting and on several other occasions, the manager made the point that the players he had inherited did not have the required levels of fitness to play his high pressing, counter-attacking style. Even though he worked hard on that from December onwards, he insisted that it would take a pre-season of his own brand of fitness training to get the players playing his way.
+3 No Europa League
While it was Owen Coyle who was manager in charge for the bulk of these games, there can't be much doubt that this kind of competition is very trying for a club like Wigan Athletic. Although the squad had size, there probably wasn't the depth of quality to really rotate the players and give a rest to our key performers which then had a knock-on effect for the rest of the season. 62 games is a punishing schedule and while we can't rule out more cup runs, Latics' programme will definitely be easier this season with three fewer trips abroad and less distraction from other competitions.
+4 His Own Team
While there were few complaints among fans last season about Owen Coyle's recruitment efforts, it became much clearer as the season progressed that to play Uwe's way you need a different type of player. Technically adept, willing to train hard and prepared to run themselves into the ground seem to be the pre-requisites for the gaffer. Take our full-backs last season. While James Perch and Steven Crainey were very solid defensively, they were never able to pose much of an attacking threat and didn't have the required engine to get up and down the pitch as wing-backs. First recruits in the summer? New wing-backs. His own players, with no distractions from the merciless Europa League and a full pre-season could easily be worth an extra ten points to us.
+5 Key Players
High on Latics' fans wish-list for this coming season will be key players playing at their peak: Shaun Maloney back to his best after the adversity of his hip operation last season, Callum McManaman performing at the levels which won him Man of the Match in the FA Cup Final and Ben Watson, fully recovered from his second leg break in as many seasons would be wonderful. Their performances supplemented by Oriol Riera finishing those gilt-edged chances, which we saw so often last season as the ball whizzed unconverted across the box, could be the difference for us that turns a border-line promotion campaign into the real thing.
-1 Squad Deficiencies
While the signing of Oriol Riera has all the hallmarks of a mini-coup in the transfer market, what would happen if he got injured in the first game? What if he doesn't settle? It's a big burden for him, unalleviated by the absence of another big hitter in our ranks. Were we to rid ourselves of the ridiculous Grant Holt then money may be freed up for recruitment in that area. A second goal-scorer along with a play-maker and tempo setter in the Jordi mould is badly needed. These are deficiencies which cannot fail to go unnoticed by the powers that be but the problem really lies with the second point.
-2 Reduced Budget
The club's income has been reduced by £12m from last season. I'll just repeat that. Wigan Athletic FC's turnover this coming year will be £12m smaller than last year's. The loss of £12m is not something you can hide from although the parachute payments are designed to protect clubs locked into long contracts with Premier League players which means that in theory we have better players than most other clubs. Lower salaries for the likes of Gary Caldwell and Ben Watson, and the loss of Jordi and Jean Beausejour will not cover that hole in the budget so big money signings are out of the question.
-3 Loss of Key Players
Let's make no bones about it. The loss of Jordi and Jean (and possibly one or two others before the deadline at the end of August in order to cover that £12m shortfall) will be felt. Jordi was often the only one who could break down the packed defences we are likely to come up against and he came up with several crucial goals. He had a particularly good rapport with Jean when he attacked down the left wing and his crosses and incisive passes behind the defence will be almost impossible to replace. If we were to lose James McArthur, Callum McManaman, Shaun Maloney or Ivan Ramis before the start of September, with perhaps little or no time to find the right replacements, then that would be a considerable blow to our promotion chances.
The relegated teams will all prove to be a threat. Norwich are debt free and well run with a great deal of stability. Cardiff and Fulham have pots of money which they have been busy dipping into. Derby are perhaps everyone's favourites already while we can expect strong showings from clubs like Blackburn, Forest and Ipswich with their wealthy backers. Bolton did a good job of raising their game in the second half of last season and Bournemouth and Brentford may be surprise packages. Wolves may be a on a roll too after their promotion campaign and Latics fans fear the sale of Nouha Dicko could come back to haunt them. In short, the season is possibly going to be even more intensely competitive than last season and along with Derby there are several teams who will have their eyes on the two automatic promotion places.
The one bugbear which some fans seem to have with Uwe Rösler is his team selection. He has insisted time after time that if it was good enough for Sir Alex Ferguson, then rotation of his players is good enough for him too. He wants to keep them fresh, on their toes, reward players for their efforts in training as well as in a match situation and of course, provide genuine competition for places. Many fans though believe in playing your best players every single game and that the old philosophy of 'never change a winning team' is still a good maxim even in the modern era. If the team don't start their season well, as Uwe's Brentford didn't last season, then expect this to be the stick with which those fans will beat him.
There are so many uncertainties in the Football League Championship and expect this season to be no different. Latics fans may feel that they have the right manager to take them forward but, they will be asking, does he have the tools to do the job? Optimism may be well-founded but it is likely to be tempered by the knowledge that other clubs are out-spending Wigan Athletic. Success though may come through unexpected sources such as James Tavernier delivering on his promise and delivering fantastic crosses. Or perhaps will it be the traditional Wigan values of determination and fight, demonstrated above all by our Chairman and talismanic captain, that will see us return to the Premier League on the 2nd May next year?
Fancy a crack at our Championship Prediction League, sponsored by Wigan Away Travel, well if you do get yourself registered and start studying the fixtures for the opening weekend of season.
The prediction league will have monthly cash prizes for the best performing predictor and the overall winner at the end of the season will win the coveted Wigan Away Travel Championship Prediction League trophy.
The league will also be supporting our chosen charity for this year the Team Tilly charity which is raising funds for Alder Hey Children's Charity, Tilly is my granddaughter and I know first hand what a magnificent job Alder Hey Children's Charity do.
The entrance fee is £15 of which £5 goes straight to the charity and £10 goes to the prize fund
To find out how to join and get more info simply click here
Hello It's The End Of Summer.
Check out the latest PWU podcast, this edition is a look back at the preseason.
The podcast can be listened to by clicking the embedded player below or downloaded to listen at you leisure by visiting www.buzzsprout.com
Date:Monday August 4 2014
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