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Championship’s finest stunned by wildcard Wigan (part 5)

15 games in to the season and my newly promoted Wigan side find themselves as the surprise league leaders after a blistering unbeaten start. The first quarter of the season has seen us stun the likes of Blackburn, QPR, Cardiff, Ipswich, Fulham, Bournemouth and Wolves, with solid performances both home and away.

Expectations

Board expectations we’re to avoid a relegation battle but with the quality of players brought in I had thought more towards a mid-table finish. Our unrelenting start has surprised me though, on this kind of form we should realistically be looking towards the play-off’s as our new target. I don’t want to get too carried away by dreaming of promotion as form can be very fickle, a couple of bad results, a few injuries to key players and things can quickly take a turn for the worst.

Cross, cross, cross!

We’ve stayed true to our style of play from last season by continuing to pepper the opposition box with crosses, but we’re no longer able to rely on Jermaine Pennant (last seasons biggest provider of assists). Pennant’s physical attributes are rapidly declining now but my transfer policy has been to recruit players with similar technical attributes in the wide areas.

Robbie Brady has been in scintillating form on the left flank and leads on assists so far, but before the summer transfer deadline closed I manage to bring in some much needed help. Aiden McGeady’s loan move from Crystal Palace should ease the burden on Pennant, while I continue to scout for a younger successor. I also brought Jack Colback in on loan, a real coup for the club. I’m just hoping that we can afford the future fee of 4.5 million come the end of his stay, but at the moment the bank is completely empty.

Assists in the Championship from the last 15 games

Away days

In a previous post I alluded to giving our away tactics some more consideration because we’d struggled to pick up points outside of the DW Stadium.

Our style of play has served us well with 35 of 68 goals coming from crosses, mostly from the right flank, a position occupied by that man Jermaine Pennant. Perhaps I need to consider a different approach for away games though.

I wanted to continue to incorporate our crossing style but with a more compact and defensive stance, so we could defend in numbers but explode on the counter attack. This could benefit us in away games and against stronger opposition.

So, introducing our new 5-3-2 WB formation and team instructions:

5-3-2 WB formation

I’ll keep an eye on our away form as the season progresses to see whether it’s been effective or not.

Momentum

Getting Wigan to where we are now has seen us rely heavily on the loan market to get the best players possible through the doors. There’s no way we could have afforded 1 million for Mings, 3 million for Brady and 4.5 million for Colback, not to mention wages and signing-on fees. I just hope we can keep this momentum up so that hopefully, come the end of a successful season, we get a big enough kitty to make some of these deals permanent, otherwise we risk going backwards.


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