Talking football: Looking beyond results, progress is there

Michael Jacobs showed some promising touches
Michael Jacobs showed some promising touches
4
Have your say

AS footballing inevitabilities go, there was nothing surer than Leon Clarke scoring for Bury on his return to Wigan in midweek.

The big man had failed to locate the proverbial cow’s backside with a banjo during much of his ill-fated loan spell at the DW last term as Latics crashed out of the Championship.

In fact, Clarke wasn’t even around at the end of the campaign – despite Latics crying out for a goalscorer to save them – having returned to parent club Wolves.

“We didn’t fancy him, we sent him back...he obviously had a point to prove,” acknowledged Gary Caldwell after the game. And what a point he made as Latics crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle.

The frustration was exacerbated by the fact that if Clarke had played like he did on Tuesday during his loan spell last term, Latics may well not be in the same division now as the Shakers.

On a positive note, Wigan’s newest striker signing, Will Grigg, is off the mark, and his link-up play with Michael Jacobs was another massive plus.

So too was the performance of Jordan Flores on his full debut, which was almost marked with one of the best individual goals ever seen at the DW!

Admittedly, two straight defeats was not the way Latics wanted to start the campaign.

But looking beyond the results, the performance against Bury was light years better than that offered up on the opening-day at Coventry.

Yes, Latics again paid a high price for their inability to translate good possession and territorial advantage into something tangible on the scoreboard.

But with a new team trying to get to grips with each other, that is only natural.

And there were definite signs of that understanding coming along in midweek, with the front two in particular looking dangerous in spells.

What Latics badly need is a win – any win – to lift the pressure.

And, although it won’t be easy on Sunday against a lively Doncaster outfit, their performance for an hour against Bury is at least something for Caldwell to build on.

*************

IT was a strange opening weekend in the Football League, as three of the favourites to win promotion from League One found themselves in the relegation zone on Saturday evening.

But the most bizarre moment was seeing the Doncaster Rovers defence parting life the Red Sea to allow Bury a last-gasp equaliser.

The game had been poised to end 0-0 when, trying to return the ball to the visitors from halfway after an injury break, Harry Forrester (right) succeeded only in finding the top corner of the Shakers net.

To restore order, Rovers then allowed Bury’s Leon Clarke to walk up the other end and level the scores.

Leaving a couple of potential issues: Would the Bury board be happy at having to shell out a goal bonus for what was basically a hand-out? And, more importantly, what about the Donny goalkeeper’s bonus for keeping a clean sheet which, through no fault of his own, literally slipped fell through his fingers?

*************

READERS of Jamie Redknapp’s column in a well-known national newspaper could not have failed to have been impressed at the inside knowledge gained from his ‘Ten To Watch’ in the new Premier League season.

“I always try to avoid the obvious players” write Rednapp, before including £49million man Raheeh Sterling, £32million striker Christian Benteke as well as World Cup-winner Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Can’t wait for Jamie’s upcoming ‘Ten To Follow’ in the Champions League, presumably set to include the little-known trio of Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez...