Wigan travel to our local rivals Bolton Wanderers tonight in what could be a make or break fixture for manager Uwe Rosler. Latics were one of the Championship promotion favourites this season but have slipped to 19th in the table and have only won three matches all season. If they lose to Neil Lennon’s revitalised Wanderers they could slip into the bottom three and Rosler’s position would be under threat.
Some supporters have already been calling for a change in manager after the poor start to the season and the midweek 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Brighton did not help matters. Comments on social media suggest that Rosler has lost the backing of the fans and that a change may be necessary.
The former Manchester City striker has gone from hero to villain in the space of less than 12 months. Rosler took over from Owen Coyle in December 2013 and had an immediate impact on results, leading the team to a FA Cup semi-final and a play-off spot, but this season they have been unable to recreate that form and have only won three games, drawing seven and losing six.
The manager has talked about the disappointment of losing the FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal and the hangover the team has suffered ever since. To be so near to a second successive FA Cup final clearly took a lot out of the players psychologically.
Latics went into the play-offs against QPR having played 60 competitive games and the two-leg semi-final was a bridge too far for a squad that was stretched to the limit.
Following the failure to get promotion there’s been a large turnover of players with Premier League quality players such as Jordi Gomez, Jean Beausejour and James McArthur all leaving the club. Long-term injuries to midfielders Ben Watson and Chris McCann have not helped the cause.
Some of the manager’s recent signings have struggled to make an impression and the fans have questioned his decision-making. Goalscoring has been the major problem, with only 17 goals in 16 games.
Rosler has signed strikers Oriel Riera from Osasuna and Andy Delort from French Ligue 2 team Tours, but neither has been able to establish themselves in the team and have only scored one goal between them.
Rosler has accumulated a large squad of 31 players and it appears that he does not know his best line up. Injuries to Welsh international Emyr Huws and captain Emmerson Boyce have not helped matters but the constant chopping and changing in formation and starting eleven seems to have affected the players’ confidence and morale appears to be at a low ebb.
Changes to the backroom staff only seem to have exacerbated the situation with a new first team coach Eric Black coming in at the beginning of the season following John Doolan’s surprise departure to Hibernian.
I’m hoping that Uwe and Latics can turn it around tonight and produce a performance like they did at Derby County, but if not the clamour for a change will only get louder.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 7th November 2014.
Bolton are under just as much pressure, so get stuck in, press high again and enjoy the game. The best team will win on the night.