DEFLATED Dale boss Keith Hill called Wigan the Manchester United of League One after seeing his struggling side comprehensively dismantled at Spotland.
Goals from Jason Pearce and Michael Jacobs consigned an overpowered and outpaced Rochdale side to their seventh league game without a victory.The Latics,by contrast, are now ten unbeaten.
And while Hill was angered by his own team’s errors, he said his players cannot be expected to compete with a side who played in the Premier League just two years ago.
“Financially,Wigan are the Manchester United of League One,” he said. “There’s no question about that. The resources they’ve got, the players they can afford – we cannot contend with that.
“But you can’t give the elite teams of League One an upper hand and we did. The first 20 minutes just passed us by without us even competing and that’s disappointing.
“It’s frustrating at the moment. I’m dealing with inconsistencies game after game, collectively and individually. The players we had running last season – they don’t seem to be making those same runs or making decisions as quickly.
“Maybe that’s down to injuries, maybe not just feeling it.We’re not quite there and it’s my job as a manager to get to the bottom of it.”
Considering Rochdale are a side built on dominating possession, their rank inability to string three passes together – especially in a woeful opening quarter - unsurprisingly irked Hill.
Wigan can take much credit for that.The away side’s physical power and aggressive pressing harried Dale’s players into a succession of hasty passes and aimless hoofs. Dave Perkins, in particular, was a fizzing pinball of trips, tugs and tackles that prevented Rochdale building any kind of rhythm.
Nevertheless, plenty of simple balls went astray or, worse, straight to a Wigan boot.Worse sides than the Latics will punish that kind of profligacy and, in the 16th minute, Dale made one mistake too many.
First, Rhys Bennett clattered Jacobs. Then, when the Wigan midfielder floated a free-kick to the back post, the home defence stood frozen as Pearce rose unchallenged to head home.
CRACKER: Michael Jacobs celebrates scoring the second goal for Wigan after Jason Pearce had put them ahead, inset