Opinion: Key month in survival race

By Paul Farrington
Last updated : 17 January 2012

There has been the news this week that Hugo Rodallega will not be sold during the window, despite being out of contract in the summer as the Latics run the risk of losing him on a free.

It would also appear that there isn't too much money available to the Latics boss with free transfers and loan signings being touted.

Should the Latics make a success of this season and survive in the Premier League, this will be in no small part to Martinez pulling a very big rabbit out of the January loan market.

The Spaniard has had very mixed results in the transfer market to date with the club. For every James McCarthy, or Victor Moses, there are a number of players who haven't made the grade.

Perhaps the biggest gamble of them all, almost £6 million spent on Mauro Boselli, can be viewed as the prime reason for the present perilous position at the foot of the table.

The Argentine striker was hotly tipped as the man to fire the Latics twenty goals a season and help achieve a top half finish.

Instead, it is another Argeninian, Franco di Santo, who has found the net more frequently. Boselli now represents an expensive cast off, plying his trade on loan in South America with the Latics still believed to be paying a share of his inflated wages.

There are more, historically the list is growing, but of the present eleven serious questions can be raised as to the signing of Shaun Maloney who has contributed nothing to the team since his August arrival for £1 million.

Added to the departure of Charles N'Zogbia and the frightening loss of form witnessed from Hugo Rodallega and the Latics are left hoping for the best from a plucky, hard-working Irishman, and a Chelsea cast off who insists on scoring from deflections only.

A quick look at the league table clarifies matters. At present, after 21 games the Latics have managed to score just 18 goals and conceeded an alarming 42.

At the corresponding point in 2008/09, Steve Bruce's final season with the Latics, we we're placed seventh, yes you read that right, seventh in the table having scored 25 goals and conceeded just 22. We had already amassed 31 points compared with our present total of 15.

We had just beaten Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 courtesy of a headed goal from Maynor Figueroa and all the talk was positive, this was possibly the best Wigan Athletic squad ever assembled.

That squad was decimated by departures in the January transfer window and this has continually been the case ever since.

With £6 million of striker playing for somebody else, £5 million spent upgrading training facilities, and a dearth of talent on the field. The signs appear ominous for the Latics.

For all the positive signs of the Chelsea, Liverpool, and Stoke games over Christmas, our consequential home capitulation against Sunderland confirmed the desperation of our present situation.

Whilst without doubt the club as a whole is far better off for Roberto Martinez and his footballing mentality, this has come at a cost. The present first eleven is lacking in the quality and skill to survive in the Premier League.

Almost two years ago Roberto Martinez told a group of supporters that it would talk him six transfer windows to get the squad he wanted. Ironically this is the sixth such window and the present squad is as weak as it has been for a long time.

Two of our better players, Momo Diame and Hugo Rodallega are poised to leave on free transfers in the summer, whilst our major creative impact from the past two seasons (Charles N'Zogbia) has been replaced by improved facilities and the permenant addition of Ali Al-Habsi.

Then there is Tom Cleverley's return to Old Trafford that has never been replaced.

Our defence is also much the worse. Say what you please, but we have conceeded a goal a game more this season than we had at the corresponding point three seasons ago.

For as long as we conceed freely and fail to score we're going to be at the wrong end of the table.

Thankfully we're in touch with survival, but it is going to take something special this month if we're going to do enough to survive. The present bunch are just not good enough.

N'Zogbia

Wigan Athletic Match Reports


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