Latics second-half performance against Norwich City on Tuesday night was in complete contrast to their woeful first-half display and proved that they must be more attack-minded if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
Warren Joyce has mainly adopted a 4-5-1 formation since his appointment at the club. The emphasis has been on packing the midfield to both keep possession and make it hard for opponents to pass the ball through the team, but the 4-5-1 formation has essentially been used to avoid defeat.
However, this formation has not delivered the points to get the club out of the relegation zone. The team are currently the lowest scorers in the Championship and unless there is a change of system they are likely to be relegated.
An alternative is the 4-4-2 formation, which may not be a fashionable system, but Leicester City employed it to great effect last season in winning the Premier League.
Having two dedicated strikers means that the midfield and defence needn’t delay their attempts to get the ball forward. Unlike Joyce’s formation with only one striker, 4-4-2 allows the two-pronged attack to drive forward without having to wait for support from the midfielders.
Will Grigg is a striker with good all round ability and an excellent goalscoring record, but he has been expected to do too much on his own this season.
He has been asked to lead the line, provide link-up play, track back and score the limited opportunities he gets. It has been a thankless task.
However with the signing of Omar Bogle and Mikael Mandron, Latics now have an opportunity to pair Grigg with another striker.
Bogle made an impressive start to his Latics career with two goals against Norwich City on Tuesday night. But it was only when Joyce changed from a 4-5-1 formation to 4-4-2 at half-time and pushed Will Grigg up alongside Bogle that Latics became an attacking force.
Some media reports have suggested that Grigg cannot play alongside another striker but this is just speculation and the evidence on Tuesday night was that he could.
The best strikers are adaptable and can contend with minimal midfield support. Latics lacked width in the first half against Norwich and it was only in the second half with two wide midfielders and two wide full-backs that they put more crosses into the box.
By forcing Norwich to stretch their defensive line to counter the threat down the wings, this left defensive gaps through the centre for Grigg and Bogle to exploit.
The double act of Grigg and Bogle have two great role models in former Latics strikers Nathan ‘Duke’ Ellington and Jason Roberts and if they can go some way to emulating that dynamic duo they will have great careers ahead.
Latics success is, of course, not just dependent on the formation, but unless they can get more players in the final third they will not score enough goals to survive. Surely the time has come for the combination of Grigg and Bogle to be given their chance.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 10th February 2017.