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Wigan...an analysis


JohnM
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its not that the fans aren't there and not that they don't care they are in the pubs and at home watching the game on tv, i go to the match on a friday night on my own these days i used to go with sometimes 4 or 5 others.

i now meet them in the pub after the game and they all have there opinion on why we lost again i believe this is pretty much true in every rugby league town, we need to find a way to get them to spend there money at the ground rather than in the pub.

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Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes
I can barely define the shape of this moment in time

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The article mentions long term decline but goes on to say the club is not too far off.

What is doesn't mention is that Wigan won the Grand Final in 2018 which was Shaun Wane's last game as head coach. Then came the Edwards debacle leaving the club with Lam in charge. From the outset his team selection and tactics (if any) seemed questionable. This has been constant discussion with fans for as long as Lam has been in charge.

The real problem is that Lam can't anticipate and cope with changing circumstances. We went to Hull KR having played five more game than the Rovers. Lam though, thought his team could match HKR with a fast paced and high intensity game. How wrong could he be! Too many mistakes from a young team who were fatigued both physically and mentally. At one point Wigan played 8 games in 37 days and still have played more games than any other club. Last Friday, he against selected his young forwards yet left Clubb and Clark out of the squad and only played Bullock for around 15 mins in the one spell. Not one Wigan fan can understand why Lam is still in his job. Who in their right rugby mind would play three front rowers against Saints aged 20,21 and 22. Anyone could see it was going to be men against boys and it was. Playing Clubb for his short minutes and both Clark and Bullock for long minutes might not have won the game but it wouldn't have been as ridiculously one sided.

As for crowds, they've been in decline since 2011 yet I didn't think 16300 was bad at all after the Covid problem and the fact the Wigan had zero chance of winning the game. 

Next year Wane returns and he will have a pack of forwards who will be tough as they come and a complete change and hopefully and improvement on Lam's disaster. French will be back and hopefully we'll see something of Field's talent and real pace.   

 

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Manchester United went 26 years without winning the league title , Liverpool 30 

It isn't Wigans God given right to be the best or win trophy's 

There crowds as footballs biggest clubs didn't fall off a cliff , neither should Wigans 

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Red John, no quote, if you are saying SL needs a dominant club  in order for SL to thrive rather than say a competitive league then ......  then, if find that depressing. 

That is, the St PieLoins lose 1k attendance each.  The rest gain 500 thinking they might win.

That has to be more healthy surely? 

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TESTICULI AD  BREXITAM.

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59 minutes ago, corvusxiii said:

Red John, no quote, if you are saying SL needs a dominant club  in order for SL to thrive rather than say a competitive league then ......  then, if find that depressing. 

That is, the St PieLoins lose 1k attendance each.  The rest gain 500 thinking they might win.

That has to be more healthy surely? 

That is not what I wrote... to put it another way.

competitive can be based on poor standards together with your competitions poor standards or competitive can be against high standards of yourself and the competition. High standards in this case relating to the standard of play on the park to attract and excite sufficient fans.

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3 minutes ago, redjonn said:

That is not what I wrote... to put it another way.

competitive can be based on poor standards together with your competitions poor standards or competitive can be against high standards of yourself and the competition. High standards in this case relating to the standard of play on the park to attract and excite sufficient fans.

I know, I'm on a substantial amount of Ouzo myself but with the best will in the world I've no idea what you're on about.

If close competitive standards don't provide the best options for a competition then... As I say I missed the point of your last post.

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TESTICULI AD  BREXITAM.

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3 minutes ago, corvusxiii said:

I know, I'm on a substantial amount of Ouzo myself but with the best will in the world I've no idea what you're on about.

If close competitive standards don't provide the best options for a competition then... As I say I missed the point of your last post.

enjoy your ouzo,,,

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11 hours ago, Damien said:

I'd agree with parts of it but it's a little over the top and sensationalist. The writer makes out how bad things are but then contradicts himself at the end with a point I was thinking reading it, namely that things have been far worse. The club structurally is far stronger than it was back in the 2000s.

There are major issues though and he is spot on with some of them. The policy of thinking everyone is replaceable has been downright disastrous and something that fans have been warning against for years. Young players seem to see the club as merely a stepping stone and that is a direct consequence of the culture the club has created. The aura has certainly gone and stalwarts like O'Loughlin and Liam Farrell are from a different era. No one club players have really come through to replace these. More recent players that have come through have come and gone. All the good ones seem to leave before their peak. I am sick of letting players go with a free pass of signing them back if it doesn't work out. None come back better.

As a club we should be bigger and better than that. Wigan as a club in the late 80s and 90s strived to be the best in the world, bar none. I know the salary cap comes into this but it certainly is a tough sell when standards decline so much. Continually seeing the best players being sold with a string of 2nd rate NRL imports and cheap English players replacing them isn't going to entice fans back, certainly not to a 16k average. Stars put bums on seats.

The policy of allowing players to go to the NRL with the 'first refusal upon return' clause that we have seen with many in the last few years is irritating as it just smacks of a transparent attempt to appease fans as one (yet another) of the club's promising talents is departing. I think that policy may be seen by some fans as acting as an encouragement to players to try their hand at the NRL as the risk career wise should they not succeed over there is removed.

Nobody can blame players that want to test themselves in the NRL but over the last few years we seem to have far more players leave for the NRL compared to the likes of Saints, Leeds and Wire. I'm not sure why that is but it does add to the general ennui as once a promising youngster emerges from the academy thoughts immediately turn to how long it will be before we lose them to Australia. It didn't used to be that way and combined with uninspiring performances (even when we were winning things under Shaun Wane) it isn't surprising that some fans have decided to spend their time and money elsewhere.

I hope that the decision by George Williams to choose Wire rather than returning to Wigan will see the policy ended as the 'agreement' has been shown to be meaningless. You also make a valid point about the trend of these players returning as much less effective versions of the player who left for the NRL. This is another reason to end the safety net return 'agreement' when a player leaves for Australia.

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I don’t see Wigan as a club in decline per se. I see a club who have made some bad decisions over a number of years. Both on the field, in terms of retention and recruitment, and also off the field where there seems to be some senior decision makers with an inability to recognise their short comings.

IMO Wigan as a team have been ordinary for some time, but have been good enough compared to the other teams around them to still feature at the top end of the table.

I can’t foresee any major improvements with a new coach, but whoever it is will hopefully be able to persuade those in senior management that some serious changes need to happen for Wigan to be able to call themselves ‘contenders’ once again.

Shaun Wane will certainly add some steel, but think they need a bit more than just that.

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14 hours ago, Exiled Wiganer said:

Personally, I think Wigan have completely taken their eye off the ball as a business. As a (minuscule) shareholder, I am amazed and saddened that we are turning ourselves into a youth club rather than a club that aspires to greatness; the club was created for the purpose of fielding a strong first team, and the spectators know what that looks like. As I have mentioned elsewhere, this administration seems to believe that spending millions on community initiatives and developing our home grown talent (whom we happily let go as soon as they do well) is a sensible model.

That has never been the Wigan way before - thousands of Wigan people will pay to watch Brett Kenny play, with respect only his closest family and friends ever paid to watch Martin Foy.

They just need to look at the approach that has worked for decades - people want to be entertained, not see a glorified Academy side, and don’t care where they come from. We had Kenny for half a season but his performances inspired years of followers. A Jamie Lyon or Ben Barba would put thousands on the average overnight. If we want to get people through the door, campaign to ditch the salary cap, ditch all the “development” initiatives - that’s the RFL’s job, not ours - and get in whoever we can from wherever we can. 

I think there are a lot of good points in this. I think the player development element is clearly a good thing to have, but I also think it shows how small time we are as a game when we constantly crave teams having players that went to the same school as us, or were born within 5 miles of the stadium. 

Our top clubs shouldn't just be behaving as sensible player production lines with a relaxed attitude to the best moving on, they are entertainment businesses, fans want star names, they want showbiz, they want newspaper transfer gossip etc. You will never hear me criticise signings that just don't work out like SBW, Inglis, Burrell, Eastmond, Thomas etc. those clubs were out their going for it and gambling somewhat. 

I think Wigan have become a little too 'gentlemanly' rather than a ruthless business who will do everything to dominate the game. 

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7 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

A lot of the issues at Wigan are symptomatic of the issues facing the wider game. Similarly, a weaker Wigan means a weaker game more broadly.

It was a pretty strange strategy essentially letting players get signed by NRL or RU clubs and then bring them back when it didn't work out (I can't think of a single example of a player being better on his return).

Those type of signings aren't the ones to excite the fans - if it had gone well for the player then Wigan essentially wouldn't be able to afford them.

Edited by Scubby
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7 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

A lot of the issues at Wigan are symptomatic of the issues facing the wider game. Similarly, a weaker Wigan means a weaker game more broadly.

I agree to an extent, but Wigan have made different choices to many other clubs. 

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21 minutes ago, Scubby said:

It was a pretty strange strategy essentially letting players get signed by NRL or RU clubs and then bring them back when it didn't work out (I can't think of a single example of a player being better on his return).

Those type of signings aren't the ones to excite the fans - if it had gone well for the player then Wigan essentially wouldn't be able to afford them.

Indeed, and I think whilst Wigan do have the best youth system in the league, I don't think they have understood how that impacts them commercially. Especially when so much of that youth heads for the NRL.

I do wonder how much of it is the cap being restrictive and how much it is that Wigan see spending big as a bigger expense than any decline in interest.

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37 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

A lot of the issues at Wigan are symptomatic of the issues facing the wider game. Similarly, a weaker Wigan means a weaker game more broadly.

Exactly, it is by no means just a Wigan problem. It is certainly a game wide problem.

I've already said what I think Wigan's problems are so won't repeat. However the funny thing is that Wigans media output this season is far better than I can ever remember. It is real high quality stuff and their has been some great engagement, during Covid when the schools shut the online stuff for kids was fantastic. It is the fundamental things that are going completely wrong, and have done for some time, and it really doesn't matter how good the PR is when there is no substance to it. Fans just see right through it.

 

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24 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I agree to an extent, but Wigan have made different choices to many other clubs. 

They have, but like I said Wigan are both representative of wider game issues and a good barometer of where the sport is at.

For example, if Wigan are happy to let their best talent go to the NRL and can still operate at the top of the table and still have amongst the top 2 average crowds in the league despite a significant decline, then that is both a Wigan problem and a warning to the wider game.

Edited by Tommygilf
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5 minutes ago, Damien said:

Exactly, it is by no means just a Wigan problem. It is certainly a game wide problem.

I've already said what I think Wigan's problems are so won't repeat. However the funny thing is that Wigans media output this season is far better than I can ever remember. It is the fundamental things that are going completely wrong, and have done for some time, and it really doesn't matter how good the PR is when there is no substance to it. Fans just see right through it.

The Costa Coffee Yorkshire Warrior badge was the ultimate for me in demonstrating a board that is totally disconnected from their fans.

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17 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

They have, but like I said Wigan are both representative of wider game issues and a good barometer of where the sport is at.

For example, if Wigan are happy to let their best talent go to the NRL and can still operate at the top of the table and still have amongst the top 2 average crowds in the league despite a significant decline, then that is both a Wigan problem and a warning to the wider game.

That is certainly part of the trouble and is a direct consequence of the falling standards of Super League. Wigan have still been competitive and have still won things with this policy. They were a few seconds from winning the Grand Final last year. At times a glorified u21s team plays and still wins. That really shouldn't be happening.

A Warrington or Catalans should be spending more and signing stars to force Wigan to retain theirs. If Wigan don't then they fall down the pecking order. As a Wigan fan I am happy with that as it means a better and more exciting Super League. That is the way of most sports, and was the way in RL for 100 years. That is not those clubs faults of course but it is certainly an issue the game faces.

Edited by Damien
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19 hours ago, Exiled Wiganer said:

You may be right, on both counts, but my central argument remains the same - the only thing that should matter to Wigan Rugby League Football Club Ltd is first team success, and employing dozens of people to do “development” seems (purely from where I am sitting) to be at best draining resources to no ostensible benefit, and at worst leading the club on a downward spiral. The bottom line is that we would get far better crowds if we had star overseas players in a winning or even entertaining side than fielding the dozen home grown “god loves a trier” players we currently have. Looking over the Hill, I don’t remember Scunthorpe and Long having gone to Cowley...

Codswallop

Where did lockers and farrell (both farrells) come from. Community work and then the academy.

The issue isnt diverting resources to the development its keeping hold of first team players.

Also where do you think the fans come from... the community.

If anything its the rise of the soccer team and the next generation growing up watching premier league soccer thats the hidden drain on fans

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9 minutes ago, Damien said:

That is certainly part of the trouble and is a direct consequence of the falling standards of Super League. Wigan have still been competitive and have still won things with this policy. They were a few seconds from winning the Grand Final last year. At times a glorified u21s team plays and still wins. That really shouldn't be happening.

A Warrington or Catalans should be spending more and signing stars to force Wigan to retain theirs. If Wigan don't then they fall down the pecking order. As a Wigan fan I am happy with that as it means a better and more exciting Super League. That is the way of most sports, and was the way in RL for 100 years. That is not those clubs faults of course but it is certainly an issue the game faces.

Exactly, they need challenging to keep them on their toes.

The Rhinos have had it a bit, and there has noticeably been more spending since the stadium was finished and the club has faced the middle 8s twice! 

I think it comes down to the word I hate most in sports, "sustainability", the plague intended to bore us all to death. It affects every aspect too, even tactics I think.

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17 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

The Costa Coffee Yorkshire Warrior badge was the ultimate for me in demonstrating a board that is totally disconnected from their fans.

Whilst I don’t think the decline is down to the rebranding I do think the actual rebrand (as in the logo and stuff surrounding that) and the timing of it will not have helped.

I applaud them for looking i yo the branding and updating it I just think it was so wide of the mark it really didn’t and wasn’t going to achieve what they expected.

 

IMO they needed to reinforce their history and standing within the game not try and shift away from it, it was terrible timing to di what they did I think.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

They have, but like I said Wigan are both representative of wider game issues and a good barometer of where the sport is at.

For example, if Wigan are happy to let their best talent go to the NRL and can still operate at the top of the table and still have amongst the top 2 average crowds in the league despite a significant decline, then that is both a Wigan problem and a warning to the wider game.

I think there is a slight over-analysis of the situation. 

Man Utd could make a load of bad choices now, win little for a decade, lose some fans, and still be one of the biggest clubs in the world of football. 

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42 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

The Costa Coffee Yorkshire Warrior badge was the ultimate for me in demonstrating a board that is totally disconnected from their fans.

I still get shivers when i see that badge.

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If I was a Wigan fan the only thing I'd be really concerned about is the declining attendances. The academy seems to still be very strong. The playing squad has holes bit it's nothing a couple of good signings can't fix. I don't rate Lam but he won't be around much longer. The pressing concern is getting fans back in the ground.

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8 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I think there is a slight over-analysis of the situation. 

Man Utd could make a load of bad choices now, win little for a decade, lose some fans, and still be one of the biggest clubs in the world of football. 

And yet...................United, under Ferguson were going nowhere fast until a particularly talented group of youngsters came up via their youth development program around, oooooh 1992 if I recall correctly. The rest, as they say.........................................

Which provides a degree of irony bearing in mind the subject of debate being one of imported goods over home grown, slowly matured, carefully nurtured, stars in the making!

It's nice to look back with fond memories and think how lucky we were at times to see these lads (and lasses) when they took their first nervous steps onto the pitch.

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