“What do you think of that Wigan Athletic manager Rosler, any good?”
I’ve been asked this question a couple of time in the last week or so, once from a guy waking up from an afternoon checking out pub décors, or he was on his way to nirvana via alcohol? I’d thought about this posed question on numerous occasions and still the answer is broad and not very specific…“I don’t know”.
Rosler has held this coveted position for twelve months, collectively [he and the team] should be doing better, a lot better. They current linger in the Championship relegation zone. Yes, the very same team that most pundits had as favourites to win this league.
The latest defeat, 3-1 at local rivals Bolton Wanderers, now puts Rosler’s future in serious doubt.
So what has gone wrong, and how good is Uwe Rosler?
When Rosler came to Wigan in 2013 having served a limited apprenticeship as manager of Brentford, fans tentatively welcomed his appointment. He arrived as a manager who instilled an ethos of keeping the ball – pass, don’t give it away. Pass and move. Don’t hit long aimless balls up field. Goalkeepers who, when in possession, rolled it out to a back line comfortable on the ball, waiting for numerous midfield maestros to take possession and create harmony with like-minded forwards.
Fans attending the first two or three home games were shocked and elated at the pace, rhythm and style they were seeing before them.
After the debacle of Owen Coyle’s stewardship, the difference was akin to a bitter drinker being introduced to cognac, a painter and decorator introduced to the art of Turner. Folks from a background of pies, piers and pits wanted to see blood and guts football, but with style. It was rumoured season ticket holders could attend appointments with the Samaritans under the cover of darkness so great was the culture shock.
Previous manager Roberto Martinez offered flair, panache, players committed, totally committed. Jack Russell terriers on two legs, hurrying, scurrying the opposition and occasionally biting hard in the tackle. The baying locals loved it. It was crash, it was bang, it was wallop and it wasn’t rugby.
Football as an art form was back. This manager “Doesn’t wear shorts”, a reference to Coyle’s match day attire from the Wigan fans, providing a canvas easy on the eye, to which everyone could appreciate.
Last season, to his credit, Rosler never wavered, this was how to play the beautiful game, pass, pass, pass. When the flow, and interplay, worked it was a joy, a wonder to behold. The spirit of Brazil and Barcelona had arrived in Wigan.
They made it to the Championship Playoffs. However, the toil of European football, a semi final encounter with Arsenal at Wembley resulted in stamina deficiency as the finishing line loomed.
Not to worry, next season will be our season. “What can go wrong?” seemed to be the general opinion.
As in life, when events are going well, analysis isn’t high on the list. That medium only kicks in when things go wrong, so was there any need to access the impact a young kid from Manchester United was having on Wigan resurgence? Nick Powell was loaned to Wigan for six months.
Arrogance, cockiness and surety of foot soon combined to make him the team’s leading goal scorer. He decided to replicate Paul Gascoigne’s refuelling habit one night and wasn’t seen in a Wigan shirt again after April 2014.
Then we had the enigma named Jordi Gomez. Oh how the Wigan fans detested him. Too slow, too lazy, too handsome, and too Spanish.
Rosler arrived and got him fitter, and with fitness came goals, with goals came accolades, and with accolades came a transfer to Premier League Sunderland. Over 20 goals between them in a season, gone and needing to be replaced.
Oriol Rieria signed from Spanish team Osasuna and Andy Deloit from French team Tours were bought to up link up with existing forward Marc-Antoine Fortune. Collectively this season they have managed to amass three goals between them in any meaningful competitive games.
He didn’t make the headlines, didn’t score lots of goals, played each and every game but oh how Rosler misses his talisman, James McArthur. He was the engine room in midfield, rolled up his physical and metaphorical sleeves, giving a sweat laden job week in, week out.
McArthur was sold for £7 million to Crystal Palace in the summer, not a transaction Rosler would have sanctioned.
Bolton did to Wigan what Wigan would have done to Bolton this time last season. They pressed high up the field, pressed quality players into making elementary mistakes. On at least a dozen occasion they made Wigan’s goalkeeper punt fifty/sixty yard balls up to a lone striker.
A lethargic, confidence sapped midfield was unwilling to join in. Gone was the patient build up, interplay from back to front, running off the ball. Some of the exiting substitutes faster sprints were the ones to get off the field.
It’s sad to witness the demise taking place at present. Expectations are high. Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan has only one objective – to get his beloved team back in the Premier League, but it isn’t going to happen this season.
Maybe last season was smoke and mirrors, conjured up by the goals of Powell and Gomez. The incoming magicians keep fluffing their chances.
So the next time someone blurts out the beery question, “What do you think of that Wigan Athletic manager Rosler, any good?”, I will honestly be able to say “I don’t know”. I’m not sure anyone does at this point in time.
If Rosler doesn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat soon, Dave Whelan’s wand could soon be in action to make another manager disappear.