Spyin' Kop - Wigan v Liverpool - Saturday 17th November

Posted by StevenLFC on November 14, 2012, 06:09:39 PM

Liverpool v Wigan Athletic
Saturday 17th November
Kick Off: 3pm

This Saturday sees Liverpool play host to Wigan Athletic in what many feel is a game Liverpool need to win if they have serious Top 4 ambitions this season. Liverpool go into the game on the back of a hard earned draw at Stamford Bridge whilst Wigan lost to West Brom at home. Liverpool lost this fixture last season 2-1 and will be doing all they can to ensure they aren't on the end of another defeat to a Wigan side they have often struggled with in the past. To get the view of some Wigan fans ahead if the game, I visited their fan forum This Northern Soul to ask them a few questions. (Be warned, they REALLY dislike Suarez!)


Wigan Athletic have been a Premier League side since 2005, yet there always seems a worry at the beginning of each season that relegation looms. We know your chairman and club are renowned for selling players for a good profit and the club do seem to be financially sound. However, from the outside looking in it looks like it will be hard for the club to advance if that patrern continues for years to come, do Wigan fans get annoyed at what seems like a lack of progression or ambition?

Old_wolf: There's a perceived lack of ambition, particularly where the cups are concerned, but, sadly, there are few clubs that aren't selling clubs. Our scouting has been very good in general and we've benefited financially from the likes of N'Zogbia and Moses in the recent past. We don't have anyone of that ilk at the moment, but the finances are much more settled so that £8m cash sale every summer probably isn't quite as crucial.  Martinez is copying the Liverpool approach of the 80's and trying to imprint a style of play throughut the whole club. If it works, a good team will always match a team of good players.

NRP: I'm sure some get frustrated, angry even, but if we're honest, there's not really another option.  Having financial stability is one thing, but being cash rich is totally different and whilst we're getting to the first, we're far from the second. That's not to say that we've reached a plateau, or hit some kind of glass ceiling, we've just got to settle in for the long haul and come up with a different way of progressing.  For example, a cut of this summer's potential transfer kitty went on improvements at the training ground. 
That's not going to get us 15 goals this season, or next, but hopefully will reap us some long term benefits that will help us build the sort of infrastructure that we'll need to really make a go at establishing ourself in the top half of the table. 

As for ambition, you're talking to a club who's only ambition 20-years ago was to make it to the end of the season. With our crowds and revenue any continued presence in the top flight is a success and we shouldn't be about to apologise if that ambition doesn't meet the Sky generation's expectation of what a Premier League club should be, then stuff them.

The_Pon: I can only speak for myself, but I don't see it as lack of ambition. Top and bottom of it is that you can count the Latics fans outside a 20 mile radius of the ground on one hand, and we're regularly slated for small crowds (despite getting >20% of the population of the town week in week out). That means small income; your lot and United especially have income streams galore to keep the kitty topped up despite big debt; we rely on Sky money and sweet FA else by PL standards, and shrewdness in transfers is a necessity for us. Oh, and we have minimal debt.

Roberto Martinez, he met with Liverpool in the summer. How would you describe him as a manager and how did you feel when he went and spoke with John Henry?

Old_wolf: He's a very good young manager with his own views on how the game should be played, though some of us have question marks over just how flexible he is to other strategies. To be honest, most of us thought his meetings with Liverpool were a mistake as the job is very much a poisoned chalice. Your fans were looking for a "big" name and he wouldn't have had much slack cut for him as he tried to change your style of play.

NRP: I know accounts differ, but it seems clear to me that Bobby didn't just meet FSG he was offered a post at Liverpool. I guess it will be a while before we really know which post and why he turned it down, but I don't think he was particularly the man that they wanted.

Untypically for a young, continental manager, Martinez does seem the sort who would be happy with just the role of 'head coach', that's not to say that he doesn't work as part of a team at Wigan, but at both here and Swansea he's had complete control of the football side of things and I think that's what he'd be looking for out of any offer to go elsewhere.

Luckily for us, that might seem him staying here for a while. Which isn't a view shared by all of our fans, but as a Liverpool fan I'm sure you can appreciate the benefits of having the team lead by 'one of your own', someone with a real sense of where the club is from and where it could go to. 

He's obviously well rated within the game and will continue to be linked with other jobs whilst he stays with Wigan and some are bound to interest him enough for him to go and have a chat, I'm fairly laid back about that, again something that others don't hold the same view on, but so be it.

The_Pon: Was never worried really. Football aside, he's a smart bloke and one could see that he wouldn't take the job as 'head coach' as it'll take more than coaching to bring glory back to Liverpool. Poisoned Chalice could be defined by LFC's managerial position, given the expectation and lack of on-field strength to deliver it. That's not saying you're poor, but a million miles from the title race, which is what most of the red scousers I know want and expect.

After the home loss to West Brom, Wigan Athletic have eleven points from eleven games, how would you describe your season so far?

Old_wolf: Disappointing. We've played consistently averagely with small periods of good play interspersed. Saying that, we're clear of the bottom three so there must be some cause for optimism if we're not playing well and are still mid-table.

NRP: It's poised.

We've not really struggled to the 'point a game' level, but three games ago we were well behind that mark and we're only a couple of bad games away from being on our arses. To the same extent we're only a couple of good results away from looking like a top half team.

The real target at the moment is not to slip into the sort of slump that saw us in a terrible position at the halfway point last season. That might seem a little bit unambitious given how we finished last year, but if we can get in a better position and finish strongly like we have every season under Martinez, then we might surprise a few people.

The_Pon: Frustrating. We've played we'll in a few games, got some decent points on the board, being well clear of the drop zone (normally our home this time of year). On the other hand, we've been disappointing at home, and regularly failed to capitalise on good performances. Inconsistency also remains a big problem.

Which of your players have impressed you this season? Anyone not performed as well as expected?

Old_wolf: Di Santo started well and finally seemed to have learnt how to score and Kone, despite having the first touch of an elephant, has something about him. Both McCarthy and McArthur have had solid starts too, though Maloney and Beausejour, who were big parts of the success last season, have disappointed. I was sceptical about Ramis after he cost us two goals in his first game, but he's looking a much better player now.

NRP: Overachievers? I think that pleasure would have to go to Ivan Ramis. Ten minutes into his English league debut he'd given away a penalty and gifted Chelsea a goal, since then he's really grown into the role and looks like he could be a star, until someone offers us some money for him. An honourable mention should also go for Franco di Santo. I've always been a fan, but mainly because he always plays with a smile on his face, this season he's taken to a more prominent role with relish, just in time for his contract to run out next summer!

At the other end of the scale, a few people have been average, but no worse, unfortunately one of those has been Shaun Maloney who was the focal point for our attacking play in that great run last season, he's not at the disappointment stage yet, but it would be great to see him fire in the next few games to getting our season really going.

The_Pon: Kone looks a good player; he's found the net a few times and is strong and quick. Ramis looks strong at the back, and James McArthur is getting better and better, though injured at the moment. Beausejour was awesome last season, but hasn't been up to the same standard so far this term. Boycey is getting too slow to be the rock he used to be too.

I'd like to ask you about Liverpool if I may? Our new manager is Brendan Rodgers. What did you think about the appointment when it was made, and how do you think he's done so far?

Old_wolf: He's a decent manager who built on the foundations Martinez put in place at Swansea and had undeniably a good first season last time, but he's a lot to learn and it's a major risk for Liverpool to go with him. Personally I think he'll fail, but that at least partially depends on how much time your fans and your board give him. As an outsider, I'd say he's been average at best so far.

NRP: You'll have to go over my Twitter feed from the summer and count how many times I mentioned that Rodgers is Jose Mourinho's mate, to me, that was and still probably is the over-riding factor in Rodgers' appointment. Only time will tell whether he can live up to the billing now he's got the job.  Liverpool are now in the positon where they need rebuilding almost from the ground up and there's nothing in Rodgers' past that would say he can work well in that environment.

No matter how good a job he did at Swansea, he was finishing off the job started by others, he might be a good coach (I honestly don't know) and if that's the case then maybe we should be discussing the rest of the team that Fenway pulled together this summer, because Liverpool's 'problems' won't only be remedied by good work on the training ground.

Was surprised. He's not really done much apart from one good season with Swansea, where he largely took on RMs team and style. Saying that, maybe a young, fresh approach is what LFC needs, after bigger names have failed for two decades.

Wigan won the corresponding fixture last season 2-1 and have a decent record against Liverpool, are you confident of getting a result on Saturday?

Old_wolf: Yes and no. There are few games that I don't expect or hope to get something from and Liverpool, especially the way they've been playing the last few seasons, aren't in that group. Our record in the last twelve months or so against the teams that are thought of as the "big" ones is good as have been most of our performances, so, if we can repeat that, a result on Saturday is perfectly possible.

NRP: Never, I'm confident we can turn up, put a shift in and cause you problems, but you need so much more to get anything out of away games at this level. We've shown that we can consistently control long periods of games against you, but Rodgers' Swansea held us to nil twice last season and scoring is likely to be our biggest issue again this weekend.

The_Pon: Having done Spurs away last weekend, I'd say yes. After losing to WBA at home in the last game, I'd say no. So I'll say maybe.

Do any of our players worry you ahead of the game?

Old_wolf: If he stays on his feet, Suarez and Sterling has certainly hit the ground running.  Hopefully he'll start hitting a dip in form this weekend.

NRP: Honestly, no. As I said above, I think we've shown that we can get the better of the play against you and although there are some changes to your squad this time around, there aren't any that will have me losing sleep.  Oh, him?  Not really because a) I don't think that he's good enough to control a game on his own and b) I've got this childish irrational thing where I can't accept that any player that I take a dislike to is any good. Suarez is mentally filed with the likes of Parker, Terry and Lampard as players that won't even get begrudging respect from me, if I can help it.

The_Pon: No. You don't have any real stand out megastars; some may say Suarez, but as I detest him with every fibre of my being, I'm with NRP that I'll never say anything good about him. When I heard the garbled words 'potential broken leg' and 'Luis Suarez' in the noisy pub on Sunday, my hopes were raised... Not a Terry fan but was gutted nonetheless that Suarez' career isn't over.

hinesy: we don't censor the words of other fans, but RAWK would appreciate it if every reply to this excellent series didn't just concentrate on the above comment. Thanks.

What side do you think Martinez will put out?

Old_wolf: Probably the same side that has started most games this season with McArthur back in place of Watson if he's recovered from his injury.

NRP: The strongest one he's got available. Stability has been our strong point this season and we've suffered a bit for the lossoif Alcaraz and more recently McArthur. Hopefully our midfield terrier will be back, but there's been little to no word on Alcaraz for a while.

The_Pon: The same one he's put out all season. Only question mark is whether McArthur or Watson will play.

Finally, fancy making a prediction?

Old_wolf: If it's not postponed, it'll be either a win, a draw or a defeat.

NRP: A hard earned draw 1 - 1.

The_Pon: Not really. Could go either way depending on which Wigan turns up.

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