Uwe Rosler reflected on a controversy-filled first game in charge of Wigan Athletic by praising his players and the supporters at the Ljudski Vrt Stadium despite a 2-1 defeat to NK Maribor which ended Latics’ European adventure.
With Rubin Kazan triumphing in Bruges over Zulte Waregem it meant that the winners of the game in Slovenia would progress into the Round of 32, and for the vast majority of the game only one side looked destined for the three points.
However, lady luck was with NK Maribor on their 53rd anniversary as a number of refereeing decisions conspired against Rosler’s side and gifted the home side victory.
After the game, Rosler admitted to being ‘gobsmacked’ by the decisions made by the Polish referee Szymon Marciniak to not only award Maribor a soft penalty before the break but subsequently send-off Chris McCann for a second extremely harsh yellow card:
“Sometimes in football you come up against circumstances you cannot control,” said Rosler, “and tonight the players certainly deserved a better performance from the referee.
“We controlled the game, made them tire because of how well we kept the ball and everything was going our way apart from the 30 seconds after we scored our goal.
“One or two players switched off and we allowed Maribor to get too close to our box. Having said that it should never have been a penalty; the shot has hit Chris’ (McCann) thigh and bounced onto his arm but there’s nothing he can do to avoid that.
“To then send him off was gobsmacking, but we’ll take everything on the chin and move on.
“Overall the players did everything that was asked of them and showed a great hunger to win the game with the backing of a terrific number of supporters who made the journey.
“The players soon realised they had to give something back to them for their efforts and it was just a shame in the end that we couldn’t get the result we deserved.”
All eyes are focused on Sunday’s massive derby encounter with Bolton Wanderers at the DW Stadium, and whilst Rosler admits there is much work to be done in order to prepare the players for the game he hopes a determined mentality will see the team through the most demanding of fixture schedules during the festive period:
“Fitness is the big issue now and making sure we recover in time for Sunday’s game, so the medical staff will all be working hard to get the players ready for the derby.
“The big problem we have over the coming weeks is time; there isn’t enough of it to fully work with the players on the training ground, but we have to come through this intense programme and when we get to January, when the schedule is less congested, then we can put even more things into practice.”