12th Man: Reaction time

The end of the run was going to come at one point, losing to QPR on Tuesday night shouldn’t take away from the magnificent results of the last two months. The key for Uwe Rosler and his side are how they bounce back from Tuesday night’s disappointing result.

There was nothing wrong with the performance on Tuesday night, in terms of chances created it was similar to many of our recent games. The difference being this time that Latics couldn’t convert their dominance in to goals as the lads came up against a Robert Green in inspired form in the QPR goal. If the side can put in a similar performance on Saturday at the Reebok Stadium they have a great chance of securing another three points.

Results went in our favour on Tuesday and all of our rivals for play-off places also slipped up so there’s no need for Tuesday to be seen as a disaster as long as the side bounce back against our rivals. The reaction from previous defeats under Uwe has been outstanding and more of the same will be needed on Saturday.

Bolton have been poor this season, for a side with so much money spent on it their performances haven’t been up to standard but they are still a dangerous side on their day as was shown with their emphatic wins over Blackburn and Leeds earlier this month.

An injury damaged Latics side will have to be at their best to come away from Horwich with a win. Speaking of injuries it was heartening to see Gary Caldwell back on the bench on Tuesday night, the Scotland captain has endured a torrid time with injuries over the past eighteen months and to have him and his fellow country man Shaun Maloney back in the fold is a massive boost to our push for the play-offs.

A final word should go to the hardy souls walking to the Reebok Stadium from Wigan on Saturday afternoon, the walk 4 Joseph aims to raise much needed funds for our FA Cup winning mascot Joseph Kendrick and the Joseph’s Goal fund. This follows on from the success of the walk 4 Emma appeal that took place the last time we played in Horwich.

If you’re heading over the hill on Saturday get behind the lads and of course offer your support to those making the walk to Horwich. With any luck we’ll have a similar result to the one we had in February 2012 both on and off the pitch..

 

12th Man: Can we do it again?

Amazing, outstanding, unbelievable – how many more superlatives can you use to describe this Wigan Athletic side?

James Perch celebrates with his Wigan Athletic teammates

Each week I say the same and each week Uwe Rosler’s team manage to find new ways to astound me, following the win over Cardiff City in the FA Cup fifth round last month Latics were handed the draw nobody wanted. Manchester City, a City side that had gone on to another level since we beat them in last season’s FA Cup final.

Most people, me included expected it to be the end of our cup adventure. It had a natural symmetry to it. Here we were facing City again, what better way to go out than against the supposed best club side in Europe and the side who we beat to win the cup last season? I was expecting a valiant defeat and would have been happy to keep the score down.

Like last season’s final nobody gave Latics a chance ahead of the game, it was seen by all the press and commentators as a forgone conclusion that City would be progressing through to a semi-final against Arsenal and returning to Wembley for the second time this season.

But as with May 2013, write off Wigan Athletic at your peril, the returning hero influenced a performance that would break City hearts as Championship Wigan Athletic knocked Manchester City out of the FA Cup again. Uwe was quick to reference Roberto Martinez in his post-match press conference and the performance on Sunday was very similar to that of the league game at the Etihad last April when we only lost in the last few minutes and pushed City all the way.

Uwe said that the performance of Roberto’s team that night was near perfect and he tried to replicate that by bringing back to the 3-5-2 formation and with his own particular brand of pressing it worked. The atmosphere when Jordi put us ahead and James Perch scored the second was fantastic and we were truly in dream land. It couldn’t happen again could it? Lightening surely doesn’t strike twice and despite a nervy last half hour where City threw everything at us it did strike twice.

Epitomised once again by the fantastic performance of the ageless Emmerson Boyce Latics had beat Manchester City against the odds. We’re heading back to Wembley and I couldn’t be happier. To defend our cup with such great distinction is credit to the players and credit to the management.

 It would have been very easy for Uwe to look to concentrate on the league when he came in and although promotion is our clear priority to still be fighting on both fronts is a massive achievement and it could be argued that the cup performances are influencing our league performances.

When the dust settled on Sunday’s game thoughts turned to Wednesday and the return match with Sheffield Wednesday. With other results not going our way and no league game on the Saturday before it was essential that we got a win to keep in touch with those above us. It wasn’t the best performance and they left it late but we got that win.

To win games like Wednesday night when you aren’t at your best is a sign of the character running through this side. Be it FA Cup or be it the Championship we’re making people sit up and take notice of us again.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post Friday 14th March