Wigan Athletic 0 Middlesbrough 1: Southgate tells Aliadière to find the action replay button

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The Independent Football

Great talent can be a burden as well as a gift. Ask Jérémie Aliadière. Rated on a par with Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry when he graduated from France's acclaimed academy at Clairefontaine, he carried a frightening weight of expectation from the moment he began his career.

Little wonder now that the 25-year-old from the outskirts of Paris is seen as an underachiever. It is a label, however, that Gareth Southgate thinks he can yet shed.

First, the Middlesbrough manager believes, he must learn to memorise and visualise the moments when his ability brings him success. Such as Saturday's 89th-minute winning goal, rewarding a performance of backs-to-the-wall defending by his team-mates with three unexpected points from their only away win all year.

"He just needs that evidence of scoring to give himself belief," Southgate said. "It's only by doing it that you can play that video in your mind that says you can go on and score goals. We feel he can do it. He's a good finisher in training."

As he swept the ball past Chris Kirkland to leave Wigan deflated after 89 minutes spent pummelling Middlesbrough, Aliadière's goal was only his sixth in 33 Premier League starts since Southgate paid £2m to sign him from Arsenal 18 months ago.

"He has doubts about himself, but all players are like that," Southgate adds, playing down any suggestion of mental frailty. Revealingly, however, Aliadière seems happy with his current position, away from the sharp end, on the right of midfield.

"I have a different job to do," he said. "Every game I play I want to score goals, but now I'm in a different position I have got a defending job to do. I'm trying to concentrate on that."

Yet, brought inside and pushed up higher as Southgate reshuffled his pack to counter the threat posed by the roaming Wilson Palacios, he showed he still remembers what strikers have to do, reacting quickly when Stewart Downing's cushioned header turned Didier Digard's cross into the match-winning chance to leave Steve Bruce, the Wigan manager, open-mouthed in disbelief.

"It was one of those days when we tried everything but it just didn't go our way," Bruce said, rueing the end of a four-match unbeaten run.

Until the goal, with Palacios and Lee Cattermole dominating the middle, Wigan had been the vibrant force, leaving Middlesbrough no option but to rely on valiant defence. Chris Riggott stood out in a makeshift back four and Ross Turnbull was superb in goal.

Goal: Aliadière (89) 0-1.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Figueroa; Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios (De Ridder, 85), Kapo (Koumas, 67); Zaki (Camara 81), Heskey. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Taylor, Kilbane, Brown.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Turnbull; Hoyte, Wheater, Riggott, Grounds; Aliadière, O'Neil, Shawky (Digard, 58), Downing; Alves (A Johnson, 79), Mido. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Emnes, J Johnson, Walker, Craddock.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Wigan Zaki, Cattermole, Scharner.

Man of the match: Riggott.

Attendance: 16,806.

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