July 15, 2024

If they aren’t shopping lists, and they aren’t crib notes for a forthcoming driving test, then what exactly could those little pieces of paper be all about?

Once again, television cameras spotted Wigan Athletic players surreptitiously passing notes between themselves during the Rochdale game on Saturday. Cue wolf whistles from the East Stand, who only yearned for a brief glimpse of these mysterious love letters.

But the exact contents of each individually handwritten note have been closely guarded, and for good reason – they’re top secret match strategies.

“It’s tactics,” admitted Sam Morsy following the match. “You can see they’re working. At different stages of the game, the opposition will have spells where they’re threatening, and it’s just to nullify their threats.

“We obviously do a lot of due diligence on the opposition to nullify their threats, as you could see today. They didn’t really cause us many problems. They maybe had a spell in the last ten minutes.”

And those little bits of paper are proving an effective good luck charm – they had already carried tactics to defeat Bradford and, latterly, Swindon on Good Friday.

“Friday night was a fantastic performance and result, and today it was just about getting three points. We didn’t want to play fantastic and draw 3-3 – it was just about getting the win.”

Switch to 3-5-2 and I love you

McAleny Rochdale
A winning message: Conor McAleny celebrates his goal. (c)Bernard Platt/WAFC

Sometimes football management isn’t as easy as bellowing three-word instructions to the nearest player in earshot. When quizzed about the paper memos at his post-match press conference, Latics manager Gary Caldwell elaborated:

“At half time we changed to a 3-5-2 similar to how we played on Friday. But then we didn’t know how they were going to set up for the second half, and we felt the way they did, by being so deep, we could afford another defender off and keep Stevie Warnock in that left centre back position.

“Yanic could then be the wing back on that side, and Haris [Vuckic] gave us great threat through the middle by playing with the two number 10s. With Max [Power] and Haris in there it caused them a lot of problems, and we could get space in wide areas through Yanic [Wildschut] and Conor [McAleny].”

And after a perfectly planned and executed Easter weekend, would Caldwell settle down for a deserved rest in front of the Millwall-Burton game on cable television?

“No, I won’t. I’ll put my feet up and probably put my head in a bucket of ice.”

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