With Manchester United facing Wigan Athletic on Saturday, I posed several questions to forum members of the Vital Football’s Wigan Forum Section.
Stretford End Arising: What are your thoughts on Saturday’s game? How are Wigan likely to line up? What formation do you think they will adopt and what team do you expect to be selected? Which players should United keep an eye on? Which United player do you think poses the greatest threat to Wigan?
worbo: I think it will be a very tough game for the Latics, never having taken a point from Man United is a big psychological hurdle to overcome but I believe we will get something out of the game this weekend, we are better away from home and our counter attacking style suits this. 1-1 for me.
We will line up 4-5-1 with Al-Habsi in goal, Stam, Gohouri, Alcaraz and Figueroa across the back, midfield for me will consist of Thomas, Diame, Gomez, N’Zogbia and Moses with Rodallega running the line up front. Expect a couple of tactical changes also to change the shape either at half-time or early in the 2nd half
N’Zogbia is our most creative player and I think the Old Trafford crowd will be surprised by just how good he is this season, if Moses does play his pace will cause problems for United defenders, he’s lightening quick.
centrelink1: Wigan don’t often vary in line up, and I would be very surprised to see anything other than our patented 4-2-3-1. Cleverley will probably be replaced by Stam, with Gohouri slotting in at right back, and Figueroa back at left back. Other than that, same team. Pacey players can often harm us (Lennon, Defoe, Walcott) and as such Nani will pose a huge threat if he plays. Hopefully he can intercept some more goals. N’Zogbia seemed to be massacred by Rafael last time, and I’d say Vic Moses poses a huge threat coming off the bench.
SEA: Tell us about Roberto Martinez; what type of manager is he?
worbo: Martinez is a thinker, he studies the game and cites Johan Cruyff has his mentor and wants to play the game in the way that Cruyff endorses. At times he can be frustrating and his substitute decisions can drive fans to despair, he can have a player stood waiting to come on 5 – 10 minutes but will only put them on when the passage of play is right in his mind.
His vision for the club though his fantastic, he wants to re-build the club from top to bottom, get all the sides, Juniors, reserves and first team playing the same style, he doesn’t want old journey men coming in but fresh hungry players who want to play for the club, we have a great manager, just a pity that all the fans don’t recognise this.
centrelink1: You’ll get some strong opinions about Martinez on here, both positive and negative. He believes in a flowing passing game, and sticks to these ideals. We won’t be parking the bus.
SEA: Many United fans have high hopes for Tom Cleverley; how is faring during his loan spell at Wigan?
worbo: Tom Cleverley is awful and you’d be much better leaving him at Wigan…well if I was Martinez that’s what I’d be telling Ferguson, Cleverley is a fantastic talent, he is a cultured midfield player with good passing range, isn’t afraid to shoot and he’ll stick his foot in a tackle as well. Really wish we could keep him.
centrelink1: Just broke into the side, and this is probably unfortunate timing. He looks good though; he has great awareness, is strong on the ball, and is good for link up play.
SEA: Which of the new summer signings have you been impressed by and who has disappointed?
worbo: Ronnie Stam, Antolin Alcaraz, Franco Di Santo and Ali Al-Habsi have all added to the squad, Alcaraz starred for Paraguay in last summer’s World Cup and following a shaky first game he has settled down to be one of the most consistent performers so far, assured on the ball, he reads the game well and skippers the Latics when club captain Gary Caldwell is out, considering he was brought in for a minimal fee a fantastic capture.
Ali Al-Habsi has come in on loan from Bolton and the Omani goalkeeper has made himself the first name on the team sheet, it’s no secret that Martinez wants to make his loan deal permanent and it looks like long time number 1 Chris Kirkland maybe on his way out as a result.
Mauro Boselli has failed to live up to expectations so far, we signed the Argentine striker for £6.5 million from Estudiantes and great things were expected, he had a big reputation as a goalscorer with a very good ratio, United had supposedly shown an interest in him and preseason he looked lively and was knocking the goals in, unfortunately he hasn’t been able to adjust so far to the Premier League, no league goals in 5 games though he has scored in the Carling Cup. I’m sure/hopeful that there is a lot more to come from Boselli before this season is out.
centrelink1: Franco di Santo, Ronnie Stam and Antolin Alcaraz have impressed. Boselli is yet to have an impact.
SEA: On Thursday I watched the reserve fixture between the two clubs; Callum McManaman impressed. Which other young Wigan players are worth keeping an eye on?
worbo: Joe Holt and young goalkeeper Lee Nicholls are both highly regarded, Nicholls is currently on loan at Hartlepool but still playing for the reserves, don’t know how that works.
We also have Roman Golobart who Martinez brought in from Spain last season, a big strapping centre back, only 17 years old, he featured in the preseason stuff, but Martinez likes to ease his young ones in.
Also James McCarthy and Victor Moses are both only 19 and already massive players for us, they are destined for big careers in the game.
centrelink1: Lee Nicholls, our young keeper on loan, is definitely worth watching. However, we are a relatively young squad, for a lower order Prem team, and Moses and McCarthy are both extremely young.
SEA: Favourite Manchester United vs Wigan match?
worbo: The first time we met at Wigan in the Premier League 6th March 2006, it was the first game after the Carling cup final and we got some pride back after failing to show up at Cardiff, 4-0 thrashing still smarts, anyway the game for me was typified by a tackle from Arry De Zeeuw on Ronaldo right on the touch line (see below) and like I said it was all about restoring some pride, which we did.
The game finished 2-1 to United but that doesn’t tell the story by half, Paul Scharner had given the Latics a 60th minute lead only for Ronaldo to equalise on 74 minutes, then with the game seemingly heading for a draw a 92 minute Saha shot crashed off the Latics bar and hit Pascal Chimbonda to go into the net for an own goal and United winner, gutted, but a great game of football.
centrelink1: Most of us would say the CC final, even though we got killed, historic occasion for the club.
SEA: Favourite all time Wigan player?
worbo: Without doubt for me Roberto Martinez, superb signing for the club at the time and his arrival, along with his two mates (Seba and Diaz) signalled the start of the Whelan revolution. You’ve got to remember we were at the bottom end of the bottom division and we got this cultured Spanish midfield player who electrified our midfield with his vision and passing, an absolute joy to watch.
centrelink1: Is a current Man United player.
SEA: Thank you worbo and centrelink1. Really is appreciated you taking the time to answer questions.
If you wish to discuss Saturday’s game with myself or other members of the Stretford End Arising community, you can do so in the Stretford End Arising forum