Big win for Latics and under pressure Cook – Wigan Athletic 5 Bolton Wanderers 2


Joe Garner gave Latics an early lead

Relegation threatened Wigan Athletic recorded an emphatic 5-2 victory against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers and relieved the pressure on manager Paul Cook.

Latics took an early lead when Joe Garner headed home from Reece James’ free-kick and went further ahead in the 51st minute following a deflected finish from Gavin Massey.

Four minutes later Wanderers keeper Remi Matthews made a major blunder allowing Michael Jacobs to steal the ball off him and set up Nick Powell for an easy tap-in.

The visitors then pulled a goal back through Gary O’Neil on 62 minutes but Latics restored their three goal lead when Michael Jacobs produced a stunning finish from the edge of the box.

Substitute Sammy Ameobi added a second for Wanderers on 80 minutes but Latics soon restored their three goal advantage when Nathan Byrne found substitute Leon Clarke at the back post to head home the fifth and final goal.

Latics move up to 19th in the Championship table and three points above the drop zone. Wanderers remain in 23rd spot and eight points from safety.

After some poor performances in the defeat at Blackburn on Tuesday Cook made three changes to his starting line-up with Christian Walton, Nathan Byrne and Cedric Kipre coming in for Jamie Jones, Lee Evans and Jonas Olsson.

Latics got off to a great start as they went in front after only four minutes. Reece James’ excellent free-kick found Garner in the box and the former Preston striker headed home from close range.

Wanderers were hitting high balls up to their two big strikers but the Latics central defensive partnership of Dunkley and Kipre held firm.

The hosts could have doubled their lead before the break as Powell played in Antonee Robinson and the USA international forced a superb save from Matthews.

Just before the interval O’Neil was denied by the excellent Walton at his near post.

Latics started the second-half brightly and soon doubled their lead when Powell slipped the ball into the path of Massey who drove forward before hitting a shot which deflected off a defender and the post before finding the back of the net.

Just four minutes later it was 3-0 as keeper Matthews was dispossessed by Jacobs and Powell was left to casually knock the ball into an empty net.

O’Neil almost immediately managed to pull a goal back for Wanderers to make it 3-1, but the prospect of a comeback was short lived as Jacobs broke clear and produced an unstoppable finish from the edge of the box.

Christian Walton produced a superb save with his legs to deny former Latics loanee Callum Connolly before Ameobi did reduce the deficit on 80 minutes.

But a minute later Latics got their fifth when Byrne’s deep cross to the back post found substitute Clarke who headed past Matthews.

Byrne might have added a sixth before the end when he crashed a shot from distance against the post, but it had been a very special victory for Latics against their local rivals and Paul Cook can sleep easily tonight.

Posted in Bolton Wanderers, Championship, Gary O'Neil, Gavin Massey, Joe Garner, Leon Clarke, Michael Jacobs, Nick Powell, Sammy Ameobi, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics press the self-destruct button – Blackburn Rovers 3 Wigan Athletic 0


Paul Cook out of luck and out of ideas

Dark days at Wigan Athletic as Paul Cook’s team engineered their own downfall and gifted Blackburn Rovers an easy three points at Ewood Park.

After enjoying plenty of early possession Latics contrived to present Rovers with three goals following defensive mistakes.

Reece James recklessly fouled Harrison Read in the penalty box after 39 minutes and Danny Graham comfortably converted the resulting spot kick.

Early in the second half substitute Callum McManaman set up Nick Powell but the former Manchester United midfielder was unable to capitalise as he headed narrowly wide of the target and soon afterwards Chey Dunkley’s miskick allowed Graham the easiest of tasks to add his and Rovers second goal.

Rovers wasted further chances to increase their lead before Jonas Olsson provided another gift when his poor back-pass allowed Bradley Dack another easy finish.

Latics remain in 20th spot in the Championship table just three points above the relegation zone while Rovers are comfortable in 16th spot.

The visitors made one enforced change from the team defeated at Reading on Saturday with Lee Evans replacing Nathan Byrne who had to miss out due to illness.

In difficult wet and windy conditions Latics enjoyed the majority of the early possession but Rovers went closest when Bradley Dack forced a good save from Jamie Jones.

Neither team carved out any clear cut openings until eight minutes before half time when Latics gave away a penalty. James caught Reed with a high boot and referee Chris Kavanagh had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Graham stepped up and fired Rovers into a one goal lead going into the interval.

Cook replaced Gavin Massey with McManaman at half-time and the winger had an almost immediate impact when crossing for Powell but the midfielder was inches wide of the target with his header.

Latics pressed for the equaliser but their good work was undone when a long ball from Rovers was not dealt with by Dunkley and Graham had an easy task to slot home past Jamie Jones.

The visitors tried to respond and Evans fired just wide and substitute Josh Windass forced a good save from David Raya, but the points were sealed on 86 minutes when Olsson’s back-pass was intercepted by Dack who finished calmly.

Either side of the third goal Rovers had very good chances to add to their tally through Joe Nuttall and Dack as Latics lost any semblance of defensive organisation.

This had been a disastrous performance by Latics which leaves them perilously close to the drop zone and desperately low in confidence.

Cook’s long ball tactics had proved ineffective and too many Latics players had performed way below the standard required for the Championship.

Basic mistakes had presented Rovers with three goals but it could easily have been five or six as Latics defenders offered limited resistance at times.

Even Latics player of the season so far Reece James had not been at his best, but others such as Evans, Dunkley, Olsson and Antonee Robinson should be ashamed of their performances.

Cook’s charges seem incapable of winning away from home and they could find themselves in the relegation zone if they lose at home against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

Posted in Blackburn Rovers, Bradley Dack, Championship, Danny Graham, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cook on the brink? Reading 3 Wigan Athletic 2


Nick Powell scored the opening goal

Wigan Athletic failed to capitalise on their dominance and succumbed to a late Reading fight back to slip nearer to the Championship relegation zone.

Latics went ahead through Nick Powell after 20 minutes and, although Reading equalised through a John Swift free kick in first half injury time, Joe Garner restored their lead on 64 minutes.

But with Latics looking to see the game out the Royals equalised through Mo Barrow’s 30-yard strike on 89 minutes and with the clock showing 97 minutes Yakou Meite broke Wigan hearts with a stooping header at the back-post.

Latics are now below Reading on goal difference and are just three points clear of the relegation zone with ten games still to play.

Paul Cook made four changes to his starting line-up from Tuesday night’s defeat at Derby  County, with Antonee Robinson, Jonas Olsson, Powell and Garner replacing Danny Fox, Cedric Kipre, Lee Evans and Leon Clarke.

After an even opening period, Latics started to take control of the game and went ahead after 20 minutes when Powell produced a neat finish from a Michael Jacobs cross after some excellent work by Reece James in midfield.

Latics again threatened when Powell set up Jacobs but his shot was well saved by Emi Martinez.

At the other end, Tyler Blackett’s cross found Garath McCleary but his effort was saved by Jamie Jones.

In added time at the end of the first half the hosts drew level when Swift’s excellent free kick beat Jones from the edge of the area

Early in the second-half Gavin Massey forced Martinez into another good save before Chey Dunkley fired over the crossbar from a James corner.

Latics went back in front on 64 minutes when Powell’s attempted overhead kick found the unmarked Garner at the back-post and the well-travelled striker finished with aplomb.

Dunkley forced another good save from Martinez before the keeper produced a superb reflex save to deny Powell at close range.

Martinez then presented Latics with a golden opportunity when he rolled the ball into the path of James but the Chelsea loanee was unable to capitalise and fired wide of the target from 25-yards out.

Samy Morsy then produced a stinging 25-yard strike but a full stretch Martinez was equal to the task.

Cook replaced the tiring Massey and Powell with Kal Naismith and Leon Clarke and Latics lost their attacking threat. Naismith looked uncomfortable on the right wing and Clarke was once again out of sorts.

With the clock ticking down to 90 minutes a lack of composure by Latics was to prove costly.

Morsy allowed a free kick to be taken quickly while out of position and with James off the pitch, Mo Barrow was allowed plenty of space to run into before firing past Jones from 30-yards.

Latics’ inability to manage the game out proved even more costly on 97 minutes when from a corner Meite was allowed to head home unmarked at the back-post.

It was a game that Latics shouldn’t have lost and their inability to win away from home is proving to be their achilles heel.

They have won only one game away all season and that was at Stoke back in August. If they are to survive they must pick up more points on the road.

The pressure is mounting on Cook and the next two fixtures against local rivals Blackburn (a) and Bolton (h) could well determine the manager’s future.

Cook did so well in getting Latics promoted to the Championship but if there isn’t a quick improvement he is likely to take the club back to League One.

Latics are in the relegation mire and in a downward spiral, if they don’t get a win very soon Cook will surely lose his job.


Posted in Championship, Joe Garner, John Swift, Mo Barrow, Nick Powell, Reading, Wigan Athletic, Yakou Meite | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Done Deal – An Insider’s Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business by Daniel Geey

Done Deal1 pic

If you are interested in the inner workings of the football industry this could be the book for you. Sports lawyer Daniel Geey provides insights into what goes on behind the scenes with high stakes transfers, television rights negotiations, player negotiations, player misconduct or multi-million pound club takeovers.

Geey’s clients include Premier League football clubs, international players and agencies; he is therefore able to provide first-hand accounts of what is involved in the business side of the game.

The transfer and contract process is explained in some detail and Geey gives an example of a headline transfer fee of £35m that could reach as high as £71.3m over the length of a player’s first contract. He uses Liverpool as an example, if they pay £35m for a Brazilian international player.

The transfer agreement may state that Liverpool pay:

* £35m up front;

* £5m on both first and second anniversaries of the player’s transfer;

* £5m if the player makes 50 appearances for Liverpool; and

* £5m if the player wins the Champions League and the Premier League with Liverpool (£2.5m per win).

When salary, performance related bonuses, image rights and agents fees are factored in from a headline transfer fee of £35m, the total investment that Liverpool may need to pay could therefore reach as high as £71.3m over the length of the player’s first contract: £35m (transfer fee) + £26m (wages) + £3m (signing on /loyalty bonus) + £1m (performance-related bonus) + £5m (image rights payment) + £1.3m (agent commission).

Agents are a particularly controversial part of multi-million pound deals and Geey is very sympathetic to their role and importance in getting a deal done but, nevertheless, it is hard for the reader not to think that they get paid far too much.

UEFA says agents made more than €3 billion between 2013-17. The FA now recommends that agents only get 3% of the player’s income (or in the case of an agent acting for the club) 3% of the actual transfer fee.

Geey states that the problem with such a recommendation is that agents usually receive 5-10% on particular deals. Since the recommendation has been in force – not much has changed – so far.

But it is reported that FIFA are recommending sweeping rule changes including the reintroduction of an agents exam, an end to players’ agents representing multiple parties, fixed commission percentages and a transfer clearing house for all monies to be paid when a transfer occurs.

Geey believes that moves by UEFA and FIFA to curb remuneration would be contested and would end up in court. But despite the author’s protestations it is impossible to deny that he is part of the system and benefits from high fees for his legal football work.

The football economy is now extremely lucrative and the riches available in the Premier League have attracted a new type of predominantly foreign owner. In the accounts for 2016/17 published in 2018, 18 of the 20 Premier League clubs made a profit. Only Chelsea and Sunderland made a loss.

Clubs will also work hard at separating various partnership assets to maximize the commercial inventory that they can offer to potential partners. This can be taken to extremes: it was reported that the home strip for Swedish side Mjallby AIF contained 13 different sponsors and Puebla FC’s home shirt for 2009 advertised nine.

Money is now regrettably at the forefront of the game. New figures released by Deloitte in 2018 set out that the European football market is now worth £21.9 billion. The value of commercial deals and broadcasting rights to a club that wins the play-off to reach the Premier league will no doubt soon break the £200m mark.

The financial deals at the top level are now breathtaking and the transfer fees almost beyond comprehension. For those involved in these deals, agents, lawyers, banks, marketing and PR agencies, the financial rewards are as you can imagine significant.

Geey has provided a thorough analysis of how the football business works at the top level but it is hard not to conclude that the astronomical amounts of money involved now take precedence over on the field matters.

Done Deal – An Insider’s Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business by Daniel Geey. Published by Bloomsbury Sport, price £16.99.

This review first appeared in the March/April 2019 of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Daniel Geey, Football Law, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A golden opportunity wasted – Derby County 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Gavin Massey

Gavin Massey

Wigan Athletic wasted a golden opportunity to move clear of the Championship relegation zone when Derby County came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the iPro Stadium.

Latics had taken the lead through Gavin Massey on 25 minutes after a quick break by former Derby winger Michael Jacobs had set him clear.

In a scrappy game both teams struggled for continuity giving the ball away needlessly and it looked as though Massey’s early goal might be enough to give Latics all three points.

But out of the blue substitute Mason Bennet’s acrobatic overhead kick levelled the scores on 62 minutes and when Latics failed to clear their lines the Rams scored the winner on 78 minutes when Scott Malone finished from close range.

Latics remain in 19th spot in the table and just three points above the drop zone. While Derby remain in seventh spot they are now on level points with sixth placed Bristol City.

Paul Cook once again changed his formation moving from 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3 with Jacobs and Massey coming into the team for Kal Naismith and Josh Windass.

‘Frank Lampard’s Derby County’ started brightly and Harry Wilson blazed over before Bradley Johnson had a header blocked as Latics struggled to keep possession.

The visitors looked nervous with Nathan Byrne and Chey Dunkley giving the ball away needlessly and Derby should probably have capitalised.

But on 25 minutes following a Rams attack Jacobs broke quickly and after evading a desperate lunge by a defender he put Massey through on goal and the winger returning from a long injury scored his second goal of the season.

Soon afterwards Latics had a glorious chance to double their lead when Byrne crossed for Leon Clarke, but the striker headed just over.

Bradley Johnson then had an opportunity for the Rams firing over the crossbar before Jacobs had a header saved by Scott Carson.

Latics one up at the interval and Derby looking out of sorts and the home fans getting restless.

The second half started scrappily like much of the first half with both teams giving the ball away far too easily.

But the game turned in the Rams favour on 62 minutes when substitute Bennett acrobatically flicked the ball high over Jamie Jones and into the top corner of the net.

Latics had a golden opportunity to go back in front a few minutes later when Reece James played in Jacobs but the winger fired across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post.

The visitors were now making far too many mistakes in defensive positions and the chickens came home to roost in the 78th minute. Latics once again failed to clear on the edge of their own area and when Bogle’s cross shot found Malone he was able to finish from close range.

Latics huffed and puffed in the dying minutes but they never really looked like equalising.

This had been a rare opportunity for a Latics away win as Derby had looked disjointed and low in confidence after a poor run of form.

But Latics had failed to capitalise on their lead and wasted the chance to put a six point gap between themselves and the bottom three.

Overall there had been too many poor performances by Latics players, with only James, and Jacobs and Massey before they faded, emerging with much credit.

16 away games without a win is an abysmal record by any standards and a huge improvement will be required if they are to get anything from Saturday’s six-pointer at relegation rivals Reading.

Posted in Championship, Derby County, Gavin Massey, Mason Bennett, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cook’s tactics secure point but will it prove to be enough in the long run? Wigan Athletic 0 Middlesbrough 0


Paul Cook 

Was this a point gained or an opportunity lost for Wigan Athletic?

Latics set up to frustrate promotion chasing Middlesbrough at the DW Stadium and secured one point in their fight for Championship survival.

The hosts rode their luck with Boro wasting two glorious opportunities to take the lead through Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher before Samy Morsy forced a good save from Darren Randolph.

Neither side showed much quality in the final third in the second half as Leon Clarke wasted a couple of good chances for Latics and Fletcher two for Boro.

The draw means Boro remain in fifth spot and nine points off the automatic promotion places while Latics remain in 19th place just three points above the relegation zone.

Paul Cook’s intentions were clear from his team selection and change of shape – no Nick Powell, Callum McManaman or Michael Jacobs – three centre backs in a back five and a 5-3-2 formation. Two defensive players Cedric Kipre and Nathan Byrne coming into the team to replace forwards Michael Jacobs and Anthony Pilkington.

This strategy to stop Boro proved effective but it also meant Latics posed little threat going forward.

Powell was reportedly unwell but McManaman was somewhat bizarrely not included in the 18 man squad after an impressive substitute performance last Saturday against Ipswich.

Middlesbrough pressed from the kick off and Chey Dunkley did well to block Ashley Fletcher’s early effort. But they should have taken the lead after only nine minutes when Jonny Howson’s shot flew across goal and Britt Assombalonga was perfectly placed to score but he somehow failed to hit the target from close range.

Latics’ best opportunity of the first-half fell to captain Morsy but he was quickly closed down by Randolph who made a good save at close range.

Boro always looked the more likely to break the deadlock and George Saville shot narrowly wide from a free-kick.

Just before the interval Mo Besic’s shot from distance forced a good save from Jamie Jones.

Latics had the first opening of the second-half when Evans crossed from the right and Clarke’s header almost found the top corner but the ball flew past the angle of post and crossbar.

Cook replaced Kal Naismith with Jacobs on 62 minutes and Latics did offer more of a threat down the left hand side.

But Boro should have gone ahead on 70 minutes when Fletcher was in the clear and rounded Jones but he only managed to hit the side-netting.

Substitute Pilkington had an effort from distance saved on 82 minutes, but neither team created a clear-cut opportunity in the remaining minutes and both teams had to settle for a draw.

Cook’s tactics had managed to secure a point but will it prove to be enough in the long run?

With both Rotherham and Reading winning their games the gap to the bottom three has now been reduced to only three points. Latics are anxiously looking over their shoulders.

It is fair to say that playing for a point at home is unlikely to secure Championship survival as Latics’ away form has been abysmal.

They now face a crucial run of away fixtures against Derby, Reading and Blackburn before they play Bolton and Brentford at home.

Surely they will need to set up more positively to attack the opposition if they are to escape the drop zone. Powell, McManaman, Jacobs and Massey must all have a bigger say in the remaining games.

Latics must start to pick up away wins but the signs are particularly worrying if Cook’s tactics and team selections are to set up defensively in home fixtures.

Posted in Championship, Middlesbrough, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lacklustre Latics leave it late – Wigan Athletic 1 Ipswich Town 1

Joe Garner scored the leveller against his former club

An out of sorts Wigan Athletic equalised in the 91st minute to deny bottom of the table Ipswich Town a rare away victory.

The Tractor Boys went down to 10 men on 25 minutes when the last defender Jonas Knudsen brought down Leon Clarke.

But they were in front on 34 minutes when Colin Quaner was adjudged to have been tripped by Chey Dunkley and Will Keane stepped up to convert the penalty. 

The hosts struggled to make the extra man count and missed a hatful of chances, with Clarke being particularly profligate, before they eventually equalised through former Ipswich striker Joe Garner in added time when he turned home Reece James’ cross at the back post.

Latics move up a place to 19th in the Championship table and five points above the drop zone while Ipswich remain rooted to the bottom of the table and nine points from safety.

Paul Cook made two changes to his starting eleven from the last Championship game against Stoke City, with Danny Fox and Lee Evans into the team in place of Cedric Kipre and Nathan Byrne.

Wigan had recently returned from a trip to Dubai for a warm weather break but it didn’t seem to have helped their form as they produced a lethargic first half performance.

Ipswich were much quicker out of the blocks and threatened early on. Jon Nolan headed wide for the visitors before Jamie Jones denied Keane by tipping his curling shot around the post.

Keane then had Ipswich’s best chance to go in front but he failed to make contact at the back post with the goal at his mercy.

Latics eventually fashioned a good opening on 24 minutes when Clarke broke clear but as he advanced towards goal he was pulled back by Knudsen, and referee Lee Probert awarded a red card for the defender.

The hosts were stunned 10 minutes later when Dunkley was harshly adjudged to have fouled Quaner in the penalty area, and Keane converted the resulting spot kick to give the visitors an unlikely lead.

Despite playing against ten men Latics struggled to respond to the setback and they went into the interval one nil down.

Latics did improve in the second-half but they found it hard to break down a resolute and determined Ipswich rearguard.

When the hosts did get opportunities they failed to take advantage. Naismith provided an inviting cross for Clarke and Windass but the two strikers got in each other’s way and a glorious opportunity was wasted.

Soon afterwards another chance went begging as Windass provided an excellent low cross to the back post but Clarke was unable to capitalise.

The Tractor Boys then threatened through Alan Judge twice and Trevoh Chalobah as they grew in confidence.

Cook needed to change things if Latics were going to get anything from the game and both Nick Powell and Callum McManaman were introduced on the hour mark.

Clarke had another opportunity on 58 minutes when Jacobs crossed from the left to the near post but the loanee striker couldn’t get his effort on target.

Windass had a shout for a penalty when a defender appeared to handle his shot in the area but referee Probert waved away Latics’ appeals.

However Powell and McManaman were now providing the impetus for Latics’ attacks and James was also getting forward to good effect down the right hand side.

Powell looked to have grabbed the equaliser with five minutes of normal time remaining when his header from James’ cross looked destined for the top corner but Bartosz Bialkowski saved superbly to deny him. 

Just when it looked as though Ipswich would hold out James’ cross found Garner at the back post and the former Ipswich man drew Latics level.

Relief all around the DW Stadium at the final whistle but this was surely a missed opportunity to move further away from the drop zone.

A big improvement will be required if they are to defeat play-off chasing Middlesbrough next Saturday.

Substitutes Powell and McManaman had been the catalysts for the second-half improvement and they have staked a strong case to start against Middlesbrough.

A fully fit Powell should surely be one of the first names on the team sheet as he is Latics’ most creative attacking player. FA Cup winner McManaman has not been given a fair crack of the whip under Cook and a start against his former manager Tony Pulis would seem an ideal time to rectify that.

Posted in Ipswich Town, Joe Garner, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment