Author Archives: Dan Rodenby

Wigan Athletic fans need to give Cook and the new boys time, agree?

There was quite a meltdown following Wigan Athletic’s defeat to Leeds United on Saturday, with some even suggesting Paul Cook is not the man to take this club forward. Outrageous, this early.

We are three games into a 46 game season. Give them 10 games, see where we are in the table and how good or poor performances are, then we can start talking about who has a future here.

A majority of our signings this summer have played very little or no even Championship football – Kieffer Moore, Jamal Lowe and Joe Williams just a few examples. Moore was outstanding on Saturday, that’s a huge positive. We have a striker that bullies opposition defences, Lowe looks dangerous, Windass was brilliant against Cardiff.

Why all the negativity?

I accept Preston was terrible, it was, I was there. The effort, quality, everything about the match was just poor. No excuses, we must do better than that. I was critical myself of Cook last season, particularly his tactics away from home, however at the end of the season I was happy with our position and points total, so he did his job. To reach the next level, yes we need to do better, Cook needs to improve, just give him and the team time.

This current squad excites me, the potential is there. Don’t jump on their backs and expect too much too soon, building partnerships on the pitch takes time. After that Cardiff game, a majority were saying aim for play-offs, now it’s suggesting Cook should go after losing to Preston and probably the best team in the league. Don’t overreact, back the side.

Our next three league games are Middlesbrough, QPR and Barnsley. They are the sort of games we should be picking up points from, not Leeds with 10 men for 70 minutes.

Wigan Athletic fans still happy despite loss to Leeds Utd ‘Just beaten by a good side with a touch of help from the ref’

Wigan Athletic was handed their second Championship defeat of the season after Leeds United defeated The Latics 0-2 at The DW Stadium.

This was Wigan’s first league defeat at home since New Years Day, some record. A shame it had to come to an end against Leeds, I guess they got the revenge they were desperate for.

The Latics travel to Middlesbrough and Charlton now, before facing Barnsley back at home at the end of the month.

Let’s see how Wigan fans reacted to their side’s loss at the weekend…

2 weeks of the transfer window left, what do Rochdale need to do

Rochdale have enjoyed a solid start to their season, taking five points from their opening three league matches, and beating Bolton 5-2 in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

The Dale won their opening day fixture at Tranmere Rovers 2-3, with striker Ian Henderson grabbing two and loanee Rhys Norrington-Davies netting on debut. In their opening game at Spotland, Rochdale drew 1-1 with Doncaster Rovers and 0-0 yesterday. It’s been a good start to the season, how far can Brian Barry-Murphy take them?

It’s a big two weeks for them into terms of the transfer window. Rochdale needs to add depth to a good starting 11, to be competing at the right end of the table come May. They have arguably the best goalscorer in the division, Henderson, however an injury to him would leave them light on goals.

Also, although they’ve scored nine goals in three matches, they’ve still conceded five which is a worry. Obviously if you sacrifice defensive thoughts to score more goals, you are likely to concede more, however Murphy may be looking to sign a central defender to help steady a leaky defence.

I think Rochdale have an exciting team, a manager that wants to succeed and is supported by the fans. They’ll have a good season, however, their lack of depth does worry me, when you look at teams like Sunderland and Portsmouth, in comparison. If Murphy can perhaps poach a couple of loan players and pick up a couple of permanent signings to bolster his options, particularly in defence, then Rochdale will be well prepared for a shot at the play-offs.

Leeds United hunting for revenge against Wigan Athletic today

Oh, Gavin Massey runs down the wing for me. The Leeds United documentary is out on Amazon now, watch it for the meltdown when Wigan Athletic destroyed Leeds’ promotion charge.

Stuart Dallas says Leeds are “chomping at the bit” to face Wigan tomorrow. The Latics pulled off a shocking victory on Good Friday despite being a man down for 76 minutes and conceding the opening goal. You couldn’t write it.

I’ll be honest, I thought Leeds deserved to go up last season. They were the best team to visit the DW Stadium, by a country mile. It was like playing a Premier League team. However, Sheffield United stuck with them all season, won 0-1 at Elland Road and held their nerve in the run-in.

Leeds lost their star striker Kemar Roofe to Anderlecht in the summer but did strengthen with the loan signings of Helder Costa and Eddie Nketiah. Their squad is full of talented, technical players that will dominate most Championship sides. Wigan has to be up for the fight today and attack Leeds with pace and confidence. If we turn if like we did last week at Preston, it’ll be a cricket score, although I’m confident that won’t happen at home.

I’m expecting a feisty affair today. Leeds will bring 75,000 fans, Sam Morsy is back and Leeds will do everything to beat us. We’ve got a very good home record, while Leeds are still the best side in the league in my opinion. The first goal is massive if Leeds grab an early lead they are brilliant at keeping the ball. Whereas, Wigan score a lot of goals at home and might just shock a few. Game on.

BBM should set up his Rochdale back 4 like this to frustrate Shrewsbury & take the 3 points

Rochdale have enjoyed a good start to the season, The Dale won their opening game 3-2 at newly-promoted Tranmere Rovers, before drawing against Doncaster at Spotland.

A hidden gem

Robert Sanchez joined in the summer from Brighton and Hove Albion. The youngster has started the opening three matches, and despite conceding seven goals, it’s looking like Brian Barry-Murphy has found his number one for the season. Sanchez spent time on loan at Forest Green Rovers during the 2017/18 campaign, so will be looking to impress this time around in a higher division.

Jimmy Keohane will operate at right-back again, the versatile Irishman has played a number of positions since signing for Rochdale last summer. A reliable player that will do his job pretty much anywhere on the pitch.

On the other side, Rochdale look to have found a gem in the loan signing of Rhys Norrington-Davies from Sheffield United. The left-back has already chipped in with a goal and an assist in the opening two league games and just provides an extra attacking option to Barry-Murphy. It’s important that full-backs add that width and quality into the box, particularly when you have a striker like Ian Henderson, who usually profits from opportunities.

Experience

Jim McNulty provides that experience and leadership needed in central defence. At 34, the defenders best years are probably behind him. However, his leadership skills and influence off the pitch, are priceless to The Dale. He will be partnered by new summer signing Eoghan O’Connell, who signed from Bury. The Irishman made 31 appearances last season and has headed to Rochdale hoping to continue the solid form that saw them promoted to League One.

Shrewsbury Town is one of the hardest places to go in League One, however, The Dale are the underdogs and are scoring goals, I give them a big chance of getting a result.

With Wigan Athletic’s midfield looking like this, Leeds Utd stand no chance

Wigan Athletic host Leeds United tomorrow, with both hoping to bounce back from disappointing results.

The Latics lost 3-0 to Lancashire rivals Preston North End, while Leeds drew 1-1 at Elland Road against Nottingham Forest, in a game they largely dominated.

I thought we lost the game in the midfield last week, whether that was down to personal or Paul Cook not matching up against Preston’s three-man midfield is another question.

Anyway, let’s have a look at how I think our midfield may look tomorrow against Leeds.

Wigan’s Midfield

Sam Morsy will come straight back into the side after he missed the first three matches with a hamstring injury. A vital part of our team will enjoy a big match vs Leeds on return. He just leads by example, with his pressing, energy and desire. A massive miss at Preston. Alongside him, I’d go with Joe Williams. I thought he was very good during mid-week vs Stoke City. A tough tackler who will support Morsy in midfield. I feel we need more protection to our defence, if we play 4-2-3-1, that’s four attacking players on the pitch. That’s enough to hurt teams, the two behind them are there to recycle the ball, and win it back when you lose it.

On the right side, I’d go with Jamal Lowe. Again, he impressed me against Stoke. Gavin Massey will be pushing for a start, but I just feel like a big-money signing (in Wigan terms) will give that crowd an extra lift. Lowe has bags of pace and energy, what a time to score your first goal, hint hint.

On the other wing will be Michael Jacobs. Although he was poor at Preston, everyone was. Jacobs was outstanding on the opening day vs Cardiff City, so deserves another chance now he’s back to full fitness. One of the players who are brilliant at home, playing higher up the pitch, away from home he seems to struggle due to that lack of blistering pace.

In the central attacking midfield spot should be Josh Windass. He ripped Cardiff apart on an opening day win, grabbing a goal and assist. At Preston he seemed to play as a second striker, it didn’t suit him as we had nobody to play him through on goal. Windass is better dropping deep and running at defences with pace, I expect Moore to make his home debut and link up well with Windass.

Are Rochdale dark horses for promotion?

It’s early doors, but Rochdale has made a pretty good start – scoring goals and picking up points.

I give Rochdale a chance of finishing play-offs or higher for one big reason, Ian Henderson. One of the best and most proven strikers in that league, over the past five seasons. A goalscorer gets you so far in that league. If they keep him fit, he’ll score 20+ goals and I just wonder where that will take them.

Brian Barry-Murphy did brilliantly last season after taking over, keeping The Dale in the division, albeit comfortably in the end. He’s an ambitious young manager, with the backing of their support, who knows how far he can take them.

Josh Lillis is a very good, experienced goalkeeper. Jim McNulty provides strength and leadership at the heart of the defence. Rhys Norrington-Davies looks a great find from Sheffield United, the defender has provided a goal and assist already.

Matt Done is a quality player in that league, guarantees creativity and goals from midfield, but the outcome of their season rests on Henderson I feel. If they can keep creating him chances, defend solidly, they’ll be challenging at the right end of the table.

Henderson has two goals in the first two matches. It’s no fluke, he’s done it time and time again. I’m amazed a Portsmouth or Sunderland didn’t sign him this summer. Ok, he’s not a glamorous name, but with service, he’ll get you out of this division. Sunderland took a £4 million punt on Will Grigg which is looking like failing, Henderson would’ve been peanuts considering his age. A guaranteed goal scorer.

It’s very early days, however, Rochdale has started the season brightly, exciting times for the fans.

Salford City: Taking League Two football to new levels

Salford City is the talk of the town, with that brings expectation and pressure. Can they deliver and win a third promotion on the bounce?

Many expected The Ammies to breeze through the National League last season, however, that wasn’t the case. Salford was made to settle for the play-offs, in which they defeated AFC Fylde in the final at Wembley, 3-0.

The bookmakers made Salford immediate favourites to win League Two, following the hype created by football fans, I can only assume. It’s their first-ever season in the EFL, and despite having a billionaire who is a part stakeholder in the club, they must abide by Financial Fair Play rules and have to remember, they are still only a League Two club, one step at a time.

The class of 92 ambition

I admire their ambition. The class of 92 aren’t doing this as a publicity stunt or a job on the side, they want to take this club to the very top. Some people will like them, others will hate. They are following all the same rules as the other 23 teams, if anything, it makes the rest of the league try 10x harder to beat them. “Let’s get one of over on Neville & co. Let’s show them what money can’t buy” etc.

Salford has a good manager in Graham Alexander, someone who has experience of both playing and managing at a lower level. It’s important to just do your job. Do the basics, sign hungry players, play simple football and win games. They haven’t been caught up in the whole media hype, it’s just a club going about their business and achieving their targets like every other club.

We all know what social media is like these days. In a couple of months the hype and talk will die down, they’ll be treated and talked about just like any other club.

Wigan Athletic desperate to find cure for away woes

Wigan Athletic’s start to the 2019/20 season has suggested they are in for more of the same. Good home performances, but poor away.

The Latics won 41 points at home during the 2018/19 Championship campaign, the 10th best in the division. While winning just 11 points on the road, the joint worst in the league.

No other team had a bigger points difference, in terms of home/away points. Wigan’s was 30, while Brentford’s was 28 – who were the closest to The Latics.

You could argue that as long as you hit a points total you’re happy with, by the end of the season, it doesn’t matter where or how you get to that target. Although, if your home form suddenly goes out of the window, you are in big, big trouble.

I’m not going to pretend I know why our form at home is so much stronger than it is away if I did know I’m sure Paul Cook would be on the phone. However, Saturday’s performance at Preston was terrible, there’s no point covering it up. If we want to progress this season we have to do better on the road.

I do worry whether our squad has enough experience, fight and grit to succeed away from home in this division. Preston started with a midfield three on Saturday, we had Lee Evans and Lewis McLeod who just got overran and outbattled all day. Without trying to sound harsh, why did Cook expect any different to happen? These two aren’t defensive midfielders to start with, they are good technical footballers, not Sam Morsy who is brilliant at winning the ball back.

The midfield battle

The game of football is won and lost in midfield, on Saturday you could see from minute one that we were never winning that midfield battle. I wonder whether it’s time to pack the midfield, play with two quick, wide wingers and a target man up front. A 4-3-3.

Josh Windass was an absolute passenger on Saturday. We were too deep to play him in behind, and couldn’t get the ball off Preston most of the time, due to the lack of numbers in midfield.

Whatever happens, going forward, we need a serious shakeup. We can’t afford to just rely on our home form again, it’s not fair on travelling supporters.

If Wigan Athletic start these 3, they easily beat Stoke City

Back to the DW we go. Thank god after Saturday. It’s only a League Cup tie, however a good opportunity for players that haven’t started yet to showcase themselves for Wigan Athletic.

Wigan Athletic host Stoke City in the first round of the League Cup. Latics return home after losing 3-0 to Preston on Saturday, while Stoke City have started the season poorly, losing 3-1 to Charlton Athletic in their second league game.

So, a return for Nick Powell may be on the cards. However, let’s take a look at a few players that may start for the home side…

Jamal Lowe

This is a perfect time for Lowe to start his first Latics game. There’s little pressure on the match, of course, we’d like to win, but it’s not a competition we’re likely to win, so it’s a bit of a free hit. I felt we were crying out for a Lowe type player on Saturday, someone with pace and quality around the box. We just lacked creativity on Saturday, all too pedestrian and predictable. Let Lowe have a go, he may well earn himself a starting spot vs Leeds United on Saturday.

Callum Lang

It’s likely Lang will be loaned out again, following the arrival of Bright Enobakhare on deadline day. However, I think the youngster has earned himself an opportunity to start a competitive game for Latics. Stoke’s defence looked very poor vs Charlton, perhaps this will be an open game and a one with plenty of goal scoring opportunities. Lang is a natural finisher, what better way to start his career, than with a couple of goals on home debut.

Joe Williams

Williams arrived from Everton during this summers transfer window, with a big reputation. He’s known for his tough-tackling and hard work, we could’ve done with that on Saturday. Although Preston had an extra man in midfield, that Cook didn’t match up against, we got completely dominated. Lee Evans and Lewis McLeod aren’t defensive midfielders in my opinion, especially away from home, good footballers yes but tough midfielders that can win battles, I’m not so sure. Williams sounds better suited to them affairs, let’s give him a chance and see what he’s got.

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