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What did Fox and Windass bring to the Wigan Athletic party yesterday

Wigan Athletic kicked off their Championship campaign with a 3-2 victory against Cardiff City, in what was a pulsating encounter.

Cardiff took the lead in the first half thanks to a low strike from Joe Ralls. Josh Windass had a chance to level after the break from the penalty spot but saw his effort rebound off the post. Winger Michael Jacobs netted Latics’ first goal of their 2019/20 season before Windass redeemed himself and handed his side the lead.

Former Latics striker Omar Bogle scored, obviously, a gracious celebration followed as he cupped his ear to the home crowd – who had the last laugh? Wigan. As Newport boy Lee Evans scored an absolute screamer to make it 3-2. A goal worthy of winning any game.

Let’s have a look at a couple of things Paul Cook will have learnt from yesterday…

Josh Windass is ready to fill the Nick Powell void

It’s early days, one good game. My word it was promising though, outstanding in fact. He looked a different player from last season, worked hard, direct, ran with the ball, looked confident and terrorised Cardiff second half. When he missed the penalty I wondered whether his head would drop, not one bit.

The reaction was brilliant. An assist, albeit a little lucky, followed by a great finish to give us the lead. Keep that up Josh. He and us fans were desperate for that performance, he’s got the ability and we need someone to step in Powell’s shoes. If he keeps playing like he did yesterday, he’s in for a big season.

Danny Fox was the best signing we’ve made in a long, long time

Last season our defence struggled at times due to a lack of experience, Fox has completely transformed it. He’s got everything. Captain yesterday, the defender led by example, threw his body in front of everything towards the end of the game – just a very solid defender that gives everything you’d want from a central defender.

Another big plus is his footballing ability. I felt we went direct too early last season because Chey Dunkley and Cedric Kipre weren’t comfortable enough to play out from the back, through midfield. Fox is an excellent passer, always looking for a long diagonal or a pass into the two midfielders, which sets the tone. Latics are at their best when they play with width and energy, Fox starts that from the back. A brilliant signing and hopefully stays fit for the full season.

Wigan Athletic should line up like this against Cardiff City

Wigan Athletic kick-off their 2019/20 Championship campaign on Saturday against Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.

Dan, from The Football Manc Cave, looks at how Paul Cook’s side might line-up at the weekend.

Latics have completed the signings of Dujon Sterling, Joe Williams and Jamal Lowe, however, it may be worth integrating them into the squad for a week, before they play.

David Marshall will be given the number one shirt and make his Latics debut, without a doubt. Poor Nathan Byrne has another huge battle on his hands to keep his starting right-back spot, last season the challenger was Reece James, now Sterling has the job. Danny Fox will marshal the defence, alongside Chey Dunkley or Cedric Kipre – personally, I prefer Kipre, better on the ball and also a better defender. While new signing Antonee Robinson will slot in his regular left-back role.

Midfield

Captain Sam Morsy missed the final friendly against Burnley, however, it’s been confirmed as a minor knock, and he’ll be ready to go on Saturday. I expect Lewis McLeod to partner the Egyptian in midfield, with Lee Evans playing in the attacking role. Cardiff will be well organised and have quality up front, Evans can drop into midfield when we are without the ball, just offering that extra protection.

Michael Jacobs will be hoping to stay injury-free this campaign, and kick-off with a couple of goals and assists. He’s one of our best players when fully fit, so I’m expecting him to start in his favoured position, left-wing. It’s unknown whether Gavin Massey will be fit enough to start if not, Anthony Pilkington is in great form and will slot in without a problem.

Strikers

The striker role was difficult – Joe Garner or Josh Windass…I went with Garner simply for his physicality and work hard. To get a result on Saturday, we’ll have to work extremely hard, win our battles and defend set-pieces well. Garner is good in the box at both ends, hopefully, he gets off the mark with a goal and takes us to a win.

Was Rochdale The Making Of Cardiff City’s Mendez-Laing

A name very much on the end of most Cardiff City fans tongue last weekend was that of scorer Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who doubled his goal tally for the season in the final game of the season.

Many Rochdale fans, however, will have good memories of Mendez-Laing during his spell at Spotland under Keith Hill. After not really having much impact at Peterborough during his three-year spell with the club, in which he found the back of the net four times. Being loaned out became the norm for the winger.

Three back-to-back loan spells at Portsmouth, Cambridge and Shrewsbury left Mendez-Laing looking broken. In came Rochdale in the summer of 2015, with Kieth Hill believing he could revive the winger’s fortunes and get him playing as he should be.

Signed on an initial one year deal, Mendez-Laing didn’t have an ideal start with mounting injuries pushing back his league appearance to October. Nevertheless, Hill thought if he could get Mendez-Laing up to match fitness on a regular basis he’d have some player on his hands.

The winger scored roughly one goal in three games and it was a no-brainer to activate his second-year option on his contract.

During his second season at the club, he turned up in the big games when Rochdale needed him too, and carried the team a lot towards the end of the season as Dale pushed for a playoff place.

His turn of form and performances didn’t go unnoticed, and Cardiff City came calling for the free agent in the summer of 2017 after he rejected a Rochdale contract.

He helped the bluebirds in their quest to be promoted to the Premier League, however, an injury-ravaged first half of the season put a dent in his momentum.

Rochdale fans, what memories do you have of Mendez-Laing and did you think he had what it took to play in the Premier League?

Solskjaer Sees Just How Big a Job He Has at Man United, After Dreadful End To The Season

Well, the Premier League season as finally come to a close, it was a nail-biting season for some fans, and it came down to the last game to decide who became Premier League champions.

However, if you’re a Manchester United fan, like myself there was nothing to celebrate, in fact, it was a dreadful season, to say the least. After witnessing an utter shambles in the last match of the season at Old Trafford against relegated Cardiff City, it’s clear to see that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a massive rebuilding job on his hands.

The team needs a massive clear out, there’s a lot of deadwood within that Manchester United team, from back to front, and there are players within the first team that aren’t quite good enough. The defence is shocking, three of the defenders who played in our last game were terrible, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Ashley Young have simply not been good enough and Ole needs to move them on, recruiting a right back and a centre back to partner Victor Lindelof.

Then there’s the midfield…Paul Pogba gets a lot of stick off the fans which I’ve heard first hand myself. Yes, he’s been inconsistent but it’s not entirely his fault. In my opinion and many Manchester United fans will probably disagree with me, Pogba is a talent but he needs good players around him.

Unfortunately, with Ander Herrera leaving on a free, he hasn’t got good players around him, and I don’t feel Pogba can carry a team on his own.

Just look at our neighbours Manchester City, their midfield consists of four very good players. I want Pogba to stay put and for Ole to build the team around him, recruit one or two creative midfielders to help Pogba and to take the pressure off him.

Scott McTominay isn’t good enough to play in the first team, and Nemanja Matic is defensive, Fred and Andreas Pereira need to step up to the plate.  With Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial upfront and the likes of Mason Greenwood coming through the ranks, if these three starts firing then the attack isn’t too bad, although I’d move Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez on and cash in on them.

The other factor is that the players aren’t fit enough to play the style of football Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to play. There looked burnt out, so first and foremost Ole needs to get the players fitness up to standards where they can maintain fast and attacking football.

Solskjaer will no doubt need to replace departing and departed players such as Herrera and possibly Juan Mata, with rumours circulating about Pogba’s future, Ole may need to replace him.

There’s no doubting that the job Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as got is a massive job, and from what I witnessed at Old Trafford on the final game of the season the rebuilding process is going to take three years. I’m just hoping that the hierarchy at Manchester United stick with Ole, and back him by not becoming a club where we sack are managers willy nilly.

Furthermore, I also worry with Ed Woodward in charge at the club, that Manchester United will never progress. The only way that will happen is if Ed Woodward is sacked, and again I can’t see that happening unless the Saudi Arabia royal family buy the club. Then maybe they will sack Ed Woodward… but one can only dream.