Wigan Athletic 1 Leeds United 1
Not the way we wanted the season to end, in a half empty DW Stadium conceding a sloppy goal inside six minutes but another spirited second half performance from a squad quite clearly running on empty gave us something to cheer as the curtain finally came down.
The sloppy nature of the Latics’ goal was a timely reminder of just one of the many tasks we need to complete this summer (find a third centre back to rotate with Bartley and Jansson) while the emotional serenading of Garry Monk throughout the game and particularly at the end as the whole squad came to salute us was hopefully another prod to Mr Radrizzani to “sign Garry Monk” as soon as possible. Listening to Monk on Radio Leeds on the way home from the game, that is not a simple matter of just agreeing terms with Monk, he clearly has a list of priorities for the summer and he is adamant he wants confirmation from the Italian that the club’s priorities are more or less aligned with his own before he commits. Let’s hope they are both equally courageous and determined to build on the foundations laid this year.
We find ourselves in an almost identical situation to that we were in at the end of the 2010/11 season under Simon Grayson. That year, carrying the momentum of promotion from League One, we also ended the season in 7th in the Championship with a side that looked as if it only needed a few more quality players. (Sound familiar?) Instead, we tried to go again by using academy graduates and with signings like goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and Michael Brown to replace Kasper Schmeichel and Bradley Johnson! Well, OK eventually we secured Andy Lonergan in goal but you get the idea! We all know that the policy of trying to rely on a few cheap loanees and throwing the academy graduates straight in at the deep end didn’t work and we paid the price in the following five seasons as we became mired in mid-table and a succession of like-minded owners tried in vain to find a manager who was also a magician. This time round we must do better than bringing in another Darren O’Dea.
We do appear to have a squad of players who are very much a tight-knit group, albeit the statement Garry Monk has given on Charlie Taylor today suggests he will not be part of that group next season meaning that another of those summer tasks will be to find a specialist attacking left back who can fill that void. I liked the way Monk was prepared to discuss Taylor’s absence and it does look very much like it is another example of an agent looking after his own affairs without too much concern for the reputation of the young players they are profiting from. If there is blame to apportion let’s place it at the right door.
So, come on Mr Radrizzani, get those talks going with Garry Monk, let’s this time around set our sights higher, build on what we’ve achieved this season and come out with an even stronger squad. With a few more talented players, another year under the belts of the likes of Vieira and Phillips and a full pre-season with the expanded squad we can surely compete from day one next season. I’m going to drink to that anyway! Cheers and have a great summer folks.
Wigan Leeds Utd
Possession 41% 59%
Shots 9 17
On Target 3 3
Corners 1 5
Fouls 15 16