The match certainly wasn't a great one but we got a good look at how we can play against a top club. A top club that has a history of kicking our butts... at least this time it wasn't such an over the top defeat. James McClean appeared to be our strongest player this time around. He looked very positive whilst playing and made some good moves, he was a constant threat down the left hand side. Personally, I think he made a few silly mistakes, he should have passed on several occasions instead of crossing or keeping the run going, but all in all these are mistakes that all young players make. A match like this well most definitely help the lad's development.
It was interesting to watch Coyle's "boot-it-to-the-big-man" strategy in use against the biggest club in the country. In fairness, it failed miserably, however that doesn't meant it will always fail, I mean, this is Manchester United, they know how to counter that strategy well. However, once Wigan had settled down, we began to see the passing game return and it was far more threatening. Maloney saw more of the ball, even though United were obviously trying their hardest to keep him out of the game, and McClean's runs were threats they couldn't ignore. Ben Watson wasn't as strong as he has been in the past, I'm not sure if he was nervous but his passes were often stray, but his free kicks were brilliant and when the passes found their marks, we saw the instant threat they created.
60 minutes in we saw a triple substitution. Honestly, they were all good moves, except removing McClean. McArthur, whilst doing nothing wrong, didn't particularly shine so I can understand taking him off. Holt was a bit of mouthy sod this game and he really did nothing since United's defensive wasn't letting the feed through. Fortune's style certainly suited the game more.
Now, here's wear it gets silly. McClean came off for McManaman. Why oh why didn't Maloney drop to an Attacking Midfield role so that McClean and McManaman could rip up the wings? Those two would have provided such a threat that United would be forced into dealing with them, leaving Maloney free to work in the middle. That, or they'd still focus Maloney and only one of the wings, leaving another weaker. They can't focus all three sides otherwise the focus is too weak and we'd get through anyway! It looked a certain way to come back, I can't explain how much I'd have love to have seen this strategy in motion.
Looking forward, we certainly have what it takes to fight for straight promotion, I'd be VERY surprised if we don't come back up, though of course one can never quite predict how a season will play out. Given time, I think Wigan will evolve as a club and certainly remain in the top 6 for the majority of the season. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the boot it up formula Coyle seems so fond off, however, when that didn't work the team went to the passing strategy and the difference was obvious. Wigan are showing adaptability, something crucial in every good club and something that will earn us promotion. We've got a strong team now though I think bringing in one or two more decent players would be a wise move. Deadline day isn't far off so let's take advantage!