The Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan saw two managers taking their first steps in charge of their new clubs. David Moyes will have been fairly pleased about the way that his team controlled large passages of the game, whilst Owen Coyle appears to have already altered the mentality of what was, under Roberto Martinez, a possession focused, passing team.
Anyone that tuned in to watch the match on Sunday afternoon will not have needed to watch for too long before realising that Owen Coyle has already changed the philosophy created under Roberto Martinez during the past four years. A much more direct style was clearly on show, with defenders regularly looking to pick out Grant Holt with long passes. The former Norwich striker did okay and managed to bring teammates into play now and then, but there was something quite sad about seeing this type of football. I couldn’t help but feel that Wigan had taken a step back when keeper Scott Carson aimlessly kicked a ball down the pitch in the hope that someone would get on the end of it, only to see a United player comfortably control it and begin an attack.
There were periods during the game when Wigan played well and put United under pressure, and who knows what might have been had Robin van Persie not begun the season as he finished the last one; with the goalscoring touch of a confident player at the peak of his powers. However, the neat, intricate passing moves we saw help them to FA Cup glory only a few months ago are no longer in such favour, with an apparent desire to get the ball up the pitch much quicker than under Martinez.
This is not necessarily a negative thing, if it is done in the right way and for the right reasons. Perhaps Owen Coyle believes that the near relegation escapes of the past few seasons have shown that the methodical triangles and possession priority have not worked for Wigan and therefore he wants to implement changes as soon as possible. I would agree that they were a side under Martinez that excited as much as they infuriated. Whilst they had the ability to outplay and beat sides of the calibre of Manchester United and Arsenal, they could just as easily lose to fellow strugglers or throw away a winning position.
I believe that they must have a good chance of promotion back to the Premier League and that Owen Coyle needs to be given time at his new club to create and develop his own identity and philosophy. It’s just that I quite liked the old Wigan and hope that the football team don’t start employing old fashioned, route one tactics and sacrifice style in the pursuit of points. They have shown us that it is possible to do both and they just need to add consistency to their game.