Steve Bruce faces the biggest challenge of his eleven month tenure. How to turn round a club in free fall
In November 2007 Steve Bruce accepted a reported kings ransom to become the Latics’ manager for the second time.
He inherited a team in the relegation places who had won just two games for 12 games,was low on confidence and seemingly destined for relegation.
History shows that he turned the team around and secured Wigan a comfortable mid table position fuelling optimism that this season would be the season that we would kick on for a top ten or maybe even UEFA cup spot.
The end of October finds us with the same number of points as last season when he took over and once again in a relegation spot having lost four games on the bounce the last two with two of the worst performances seen since we came into the Premier League. Steve Bruce confirmed that last night’s performance was the worst since he took over which if you remeber Bolton away last season and Villa at home on Sunday puts that comment into perspective.
With no new signings possible until January, Bruce has the unenviable task of turning round the existing group of players and making them a viable Premier League team.
What is interesting is what has gone wrong. Pundits were praising our performances earlier in the season but not now.
For me it centres on the size and quality of the squad.
Twenty one outfield players means in theory that there is cover for every position but looking at the bench last night there is probably only Kouams and Bramble who would be considered first eleven players with the otheres clearly substitute material only. Some of the squad such as De Ridder ajd Kapo may have the silky skills and flair but in my opinion they don’t have the battling grit needed for a Premier League scrap such as the one we find ourselves in.
Another issues is that too many of the players that got us out of the mire last season are currently underperforming such as Palacios, Scharner and Boyce. With no alternatives Steve Bruce is forced to continue with them .
The third reason in my opinion is that the goals from other than Zaki and Valencia have all but dried up. It is over five hours since anyone else other than Zaki has scored for Latics.
The fourth reason is the lack of quality ball to the front two. On Sunday and from reports last night it seemed as if we were unable to string two passes together, never mind create real chances. The half chances we do create if they don’t fall to Zaki are wasted , Kapo De Ridder, Heskey and Scharner all being guilty recently.
Now is the time for Steve Bruce to step up to the plate and take whatever steps are needed to secure the points needed for survival.
Currently,in my opinion, only five players are worthy of a place in the team; Kirkland, Melchiot, Cattermole, Valencia and Zaki. With his meagre resources Steve Bruce will have to either find the solution on how to re-energise the other first team players or gamble with the sundry squad members.
Portsmouth away isn’t an easy game to start a revival and with Stoke at home the following week points are needed urgently
Nobody is calling for Steve Bruce’s head but now is the time for him to justify the faith shown in him by the club.