Lessons to Be Learned But Will Uwe Take Heed? – 14/11/14

rosSo Uwe Rosler has left Wigan.

A disastrous run of only three wins from seventeen league games, which saw the team plummet into the relegation zone, was more than enough for trigger happy owner Dave Whelan who duly acted as judge, jury and executioner yesterday and fired Rosler after less than a year in charge.

When the dust has settled and he has finished licking his wounds Uwe will doubtless look back at his short spell in charge and wonder what on earth went wrong and how things changed so quickly for him.

The Wigan job ticked all the boxes for him:

  1. A club based practically on the doorstep of his family home in the North West of England
  2. A higher salary
  3. A Premier League quality stadium in which he could strut his stuff
  4. A squad jam-packed with experience and talent that would surely challenge for an immediate return to the top level
  5. A generous playing budget augmented by the parachute payments that the club was receiving
  6. An owner who would back him with all the resources he needed to win promotion

It all so nearly went totally according to plan last season, with Rosler accorded near-hero status for orchestrating a magnificent FA Cup run which saw him return in triumph to his old team Manchester City and then take Arsenal to extra time in the semi-final at Wembley, before losing a heartbreaking penalty shootout.

The first glimmers of doubt came after the unsuccessful playoff campaign which fizzled out in frustration and disappointment against Queens Park Rangers.

An over cautious approach in the home leg left his team hamstrung, with only one striker named in the team and the match duly ended goalless – a massive opportunity wasted.

After taking an early lead in the return Uwe refused to go for the jugular but characteristically funnelled his team backwards in the hope of clinging on to the narrow advantage, handed the initiative back to a home team who had been on the ropes and eventually subsided to a two-one defeat.

A seemingly certain victory magically turned into defeat owing to his innate caution and over theorising.

The season therefore ended in a series of might have beens rather than in actual achievement, but surely the foundations had been laid for an assault on the Premier League this time around?

His squad was weakened in the summer when key midfielder Jordi Gomez joined Sunderland on a free transfer and James McArthur moved to Crystal Palace for seven million pounds.

Long-term injuries to Chris McCann and Ben Watson further diminished his options, but Whelan fully supported his manager in the transfer market, and this is surely where Rosler came unstuck.

He was given the majority of the McArthur money to play with, but bought badly and at the top of the market, and none of his expensive captures have stepped up to the plate.

Much vaunted striker Andy Delort joined with massive expectations and at great expense from Tours, former Barcelona B striker Oriol Riera arrived from Osasuna for two million pounds and after a long and debilitating saga, midfielder Adam Forshaw finally completed his move from Brentford.

Neither striker has contributed even one goal to the cause and, rather than becoming a vibrant and positive influence, Forshaw has been an invisible and peripheral figure, shunted backwards to play in a defensive role in front of the back four, where his creativity and energy has been stifled.

At Griffin Park, Rosler headed up an experienced and comprehensive back-up team who provided massive support in the key areas of player recruitment, analysis and preparation.

Despite all his efforts, he was only able to bring Chris Haslam with him from Brentford as Head of Performance and ended up working with the existing coaching team of the grizzled veteran Graham Barrow and Eric Black.

Rumours and scuttlebutt filtered back to Brentford ears regarding Uwe’s apparent concern at the lack of quality of the infrastructure and backroom staff that he inherited, and I believe that it was in these crucial areas that things really started to go wrong for him.

Uwe did not have his own men like Alan Kernaghan and Peter Farrell with him, and was left to fend for himself, and I suspect found himself floundering, particularly when it came to player recruitment.

There is also a natural hangover after playoff failure, as Brentford know all too well to their cost, but with the level of talent he inherited and also brought in, surely Wigan should have performed far better?

There did not seem to be a regular and consistent pattern of play and players were moved in and out of the team.

It was particularly illuminating to watch his last game in charge, the local derby at Bolton Wanderers.

A solid if mainly counter-attacking first half display did not receive the reward it deserved, but Wigan were a different and far lesser team after the break, their heads went down after a couple of quick and easily avoidable home goals, and they disintegrated into a spineless, shapeless and demoralised rabble who could not wait to scuttle back down the tunnel at the end of the match.

Always the most demonstrative of men, Uwe went puce on the sidelines, apoplectic at the lack of organisation and desire, unforgivable in any game, but particularly in a local derby.

His team appeared to have disowned him and he them, as his post match comments made clear, and it sounded as if he had as good as signed his own death warrant, and a parting of the way appeared inevitable.

I have previously written in great depth about Uwe and his time at Brentford (http://tinyurl.com/l2pvvgs) and do not intend to go over old ground, but it would appear that nothing has really changed with him.

Wigan supporters complained about his constant tinkering in team selection, regular changes in formation, his innate caution, negativity and over-analysis, and his overriding reluctance to take the handbrake off.

Those comments could just as easily have been written a year ago by most Brentford supporters, who felt exactly the same way about him.

Rosler has performed at his best when he is the underdog, and is quite brilliant at setting his team up to defend, draw the sting out of the opposition and then hit them on the break, as Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have found to their cost.

He has, however, proved to be totally out of his comfort zone and left floundering when he is expected to set the tone and take the initiative and the attack to the opposition.

Can he recognise his shortcomings, learn from them and adapt?

That is the key question, and why I said at the beginning of this article that a period of introspection and self-analyis is surely required.

Andy Scott lost his job at Brentford because his approach had stopped working both on and off the pitch and had been rejected by his players.

So what did he do next?

When given another excellent managerial opportunity at Rotherham, he apparently proceeded to repeat everything that he had done at Brentford, with identical results, and was sacked in under a year.

Leopards find it extremely hard or even impossible to change their spots.

Uwe is now slightly damaged goods but he is an immensely talented manager with some character flaws and will be in immediate demand.

If he can recognise and address his shortcomings and reinvent himself, perhaps at a club with more limited ambitions than Brentford and Wigan, then he will thrive, as indeed I hope he does.

If he allows history to repeat itself yet again, then he is doomed.

It is totally up to him.

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