Ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford, we've set up a 'Q&A' with Pie Eaters Footie -- a Wigan fansite that was kind enough to do an exchange with us. As always, the majority of the questions were posed by you -- the readers -- while being supplemented by me as well. Without further ado, here are the fantastic answers from Happy Lactic -- be sure to check out their site for any Wigan news ahead of Monday's match.
TBB: A lot has been said about Dave Whelan's loyalty to his managers. Have you ever questioned his judgment? Speaking of Whelan, there has been mention that he may be stepping down as Chairman after this year while possibly turning over control of the club to his 21-year-old grandson, David. How do you feel about the man -- who is credited to building Wigan up from a team that was in the lowest division of the Football League to top-flight status in the Premier League -- turning over control to a 21-year-old kid?
PEF: Dave Whelan will always be a Wigan Legend no matter what. He earned that right the day he took over the club and kept us afloat. Many fans have been in the past against him,saying he doesn’t throw his money around like he should have that he still keeps us with that small club mentality. Yeah look where we are now, in the biggest league in the world, with the best financial structure, debt free and playing well. So Dave Whelan has done Wigan proud.
As for his grandson taking over, it will more be a face change at the club, something to get a spark going. I think at the end of the day, Dave wants to stand down and have a retirement which he is entitled too. He has been looking for some time for new investors but they have been hard to come by, yet if we stay up this year. Who knows come the summer.
TBB: How did you rate Tom Cleverley last season? Were you surprised by the way he hit the ground running in our midfield?
PEF: Not at all. I wish we could have kept hold of him. It showed at the start of our season that we missed him badly. Giving us that little extra edge and bite in the team. I really hope that he gets himself back on his feet and push to play for England because he is up there with Jack Wilshire.
TBB: Do you expect deals in January? What do you think Wigan needs to address in the January transfer window in order to bolster the club's prospects for another season in the Premier League?
PEF: A striker is a must, we need someone to come in and score goals. Chances are that it is going to be one of two players from Championship. That is either Nicky Maynard or Billy Sharp. Now on paper Billy Sharp looks better option having more experience and at only £3 million not too pricey. Yet the younger more erratic Nicky Maynard may prove a more attractive player that could move up to the Premier League.
Only time will tell. Yet Martinez has said only three players will come, one on loan and two will be bought into the club.
What have you made of Hugo Rodallega
this season? Do you think he misses his buddy Charles N'Zogbia
? Are you surprised by N'Zogbia's "poor" start to his Villa career?
PEF: Rodallega hasn’t had a season full stop. He never came back from the Copa America. We are waiting for him to return soon. He looked much sharper last two games he has come on against, back to his more explosive and bouncy self. This does happen to players when they are on international duty, by the looks of it, he came back too quickly.
Charles made the wrong decision from the off. He left to play in a left defensive role, end of. No freedom to play and take players on, and expected to track back and help out the defence. That is the total opposite of N’Zogbia’s game. Give him a ball and a goal to run at he will do it all day.
How the hell do you avoid relegation year in year out (asked as nice as possible haha)? Can you see a season in the near future where you are not tipped for relegation?
PEF: Lancashire charm and grit. It come down to the never say die attitude that the club has, as fans we have always been very resilient (the core anyway). And that has always moved on to our teams, so when the times get tough, then Wigan get playing.
Yes next year most defiantly (not because we will be relegated) but because the side Martinez wanted is finally here. Pass and move with pace and finding some way to score goals. there is a rosey future ahead especially with the talented young players that we have in our youth system.
Speaking of relegation, do you believe Wigan can keep the positive momentum from their recent results against big sides or do you believe a finish in the relegation zone is in the cards? It's asked because prior to their recent run of games where Wigan went 2-1-2 (asked prior to the Liverpool
match), the Lactics had been on a cold run dropping 8 eight in a row. Was Whelan suggesting publicly that Wigan could realistically go down?
PEF: No i reckon we are out of the rot now and only way is up. Otherwise what kind of fan am i? Yet there is something about this side, a kind of swagger about them that says look we know we aren’t world beaters but we are going to make life uncomfortable for you and so long as that continues the lads have nothing to worry about.
The way we are shaping up at times seems weird but I'm not complaining its picking up points and that is all that matters.
As for Whelan, he said that we could afford to go down and that there would be no need to panic. Yet why would we want to when we should be doing better than we are.
TBB: Do you feel Roberto Martinez is the right manager for Wigan? Your club play "attractive" and ambitious football, compared to the Stokes and other mid-table sides, but is Martinez over-reaching? Is he not buying/keeping the right players (perhaps lacking the funds to do so)? Can you elaborate a bit on Wigan's tactics? -- specifically formation, high line with pressing or defending deep, use of width or is the shape narrow, etc.
PEF: What Martinez likes to do, is play a deep back line, where there is always a man free to pick up the ball an old fashion sweeper. Then we have the two full backs who basically provide all of the the teams width defensively and attacking, yet Gomez and Moses are encouraged to join in to open up space in the middle.
TBB: Finally, would you mind offering up a predicted starting XI and a scoreline?
PEF: Ali Al Habsi, Ronnie Stam, Gary Caldwell, Antolin Alcaraz, Maynor Figeroa, David Jones, James McCarthy, Mohamed Diame, Jordi Gomez, Victor Moses, Connor Sammon
2-1 to Manchester United