For a team lauded for their attractive playing style, and for having a manager among the brightest talents in the top division, Wigan have had an appalling start to this season, and will be looking for 2012 to offer more than their embarrassing third round exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Paulo DiCanio’s Swindon Town.
The first step towards changing the flow of Fate is changing the way the team is performing on the pitch – Martinez’s men are rightly praised for some of their attacking play, but they lack a killer instinct that means the majority of their good work isn’t translated into goals and points. A good deal of blame has to be aimed at Hugo Rodallega, who has failed to live up to his reputation so far this year and Wigan seriously miss his goals, as they currently have the lowest goals scored in the division, and the second highest number of goals conceded, a figure that wouldn’t look quite so stark if the goals scored column read a few more than 18
Very few players are currently punching their weight, and that seems to be the story of the season so far, as Patrick Van Aanholt would attest: the Dutchman who looked a real prospect while on a short loan at Newcastle a couple of years ago failed at Wigan and his loan deal was cut short at the start of this window for the benefit of both parties. So that is another hole in the squad that Roberto Martinez will have to address this month.
If they want to survive in the top division this year, something has to change at Wigan, and unfortunately for Martinez, if results continue on their current trend, he may well find himself as the third managerial casualty of a season that has seen the dismissals of Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock. With the latter’s ability to squeeze success out of limited resources, Chairman Dave Whelan might suddenly become a little more motivated to make his own manager’s seat available.
What They Need
A stengthening rod right through the middle of the team: centre-half, centre midfield and centre-forward are all positions in need of strength, though Dave Whelan might argue that only one position can be dealt with at this time, unless someone is moved out.
With Alex Ferguson known to have affection for the club, the opportunity to take a couple of younger players on loan until the end of the season might appeal, and Darron Gibson would fit the bill at CM, with few in the Manchester United crowds convinced he has what it takes to cement a position in the starting line-up at Old Trafford, and the return of Paul Scholes confirming as much. His team-mate Mame Diouf could represent the option up-front, with the striker having suggested a temporary move to Wigan would suit him, and give him the right opportunity to impress Sir Alex.
Chances are, the majority of Wigan’s business in this or any future window will follow the same blue-print established in former windows: unearthing cheap, talented players who can be developed and pushed into first team service in a short period of time, before potentially being sold on at a profit. The Scottish league has traditionally offered some spoils, as well as lesser known foreign markets, but time is not a luxury Wigan have at the minute, and neither is room for experimentation. Like never before, the team staring down the barrel of relegation need established Premiership players who will sure up the team and who won’t cost a small fortune.
Unfortunately, Wigan find themselves counted as something of a “stepping stone” club where talents come to be nurtured and introduced to the biggest stage and then leave, usually having boosted the club’s finances to a supposedly bigger club, kicking the fans in the teeth and creating an unfair image of the club. Charles NZogbia should consider himself the chief instigator of such a negative effect, though he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.
All that means is that any players currently at Wigan with half an ounce of talent will find themselves scrutinised by the great and good of the scouting world from the Premiership’s other clubs: names like Hugo Rodallega (despite an awfully disappointing season so far), James McCarthy, Maynor Figueroa and Mohamed Diame will certainly be looked at, if not swept away entirely, and someone must surely have already started proceedings to snaffle up Victor Moses.
Few of those names will likely be considered expendable by Martinez, but you get the feeling he won’t have any control over what happens in that respect. In terms of who is surplus to requirements, there can’t be many names, though Martinez will certainly want to get more out of Hugo Rodallega if he stays and from Shaun Maloney who hasn’t set anything alight since he came in during the summer.
So, Wigan fans, what do you want to see during this window? Will Whelan invest the necessary money to keep Wigan up? Is Martinez still the right man for the task? Let us know below…
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