One game at a time for Malky

Malky Mackay
Malky Mackay

MALKY Mackay says Wigan Athletic will continue to select their system and formation on a game-by-game basis despite a new-look five-man rearguard working a treat at Leeds on Boxing Day.

Latics recorded their first win under their new manager at Elland Road after introducing an extra central defender, which afforded wing-backs James Tavernier and Andrew Taylor added licence to go forward.

The result was the best performance under Mackay’s stewardship, as Latics looked rock-solid at the back in the face of some concerted Leeds pressure while, thanks largely to man-of-the-match James McClean, they also possessed a welcome cutting edge going forward.

However, Mackay will resist the temptation of making a permanent change to 5-3-2 ahead of tomorrow night’s visit of Sheffield Wednesday.

“I’ll continue to look at who we play, and it’ll be determined by who we play and how my own players are looking and how they rise to challenges,” Mackay revealed.

“If they do, they play. If they don’t, they won’t.

“That will determine the system, and the personnel and tactical shape.

“Everything is done on a team-by-team basis on who we’re playing against.

“We just looked at the way Leeds played, and I certainly felt there were areas that we could expose and certain areas that they were going to be strong in that we had to try to negate.

“There were also various tactical changes during the game as well, in terms of shape and personnel, and the fact we were able to handle all that was a big ‘up’ to my players and my staff.”

As well as tweaking the system, Mackay felt Wigan’s first clean sheet since October was down to better application from his defensive players.

“People made correct decisions at Leeds,” he acknowledged. “In terms of pressure, in both halves Leeds started with a high tempo, and we knew that would be the case.

“But apart from the one that hit the bar am I looking at too many actual chances on our goal?

“No, because our defenders defended in a fashion that felt that disciplined while we had to stand up to some real pressure.

“As the game wore on, the game opened up and Leeds ended running out of ideas, which is testament to the decisions we made at the back.

“I’m delighted and very proud of them in that respect.”

The Latics also chief also revealed the mystery of a piece of paper that was passed across the Latics back line at the start of the second half.

“It was just in response to their substitutions, and a change of markers we had to make,” Mackay added.

“They put three substitutes on, all big guys, and we didn’t want people mismatching which can cause issues.

“At the time we were under a lot of pressure from corners, and it’s something I do to get the message across.”