12th Man: Time to bounce back

Barnett @ SouthendA disappointing week for the Latics was rounded off by a well earned point at Southend, and although it wasn’t a classic by any stretch we did have chances to win it.

I suppose it shows the progress of this side that we’re disappointed with a return of 4 points from 3 games in a week.

Although we didn’t manage to get that elusive goal against Southend we showed our improved defensive resilience with another clean sheet away from home.

Saturday is the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways and get that bit closer to Wembley, although on paper everything points to a home win we shouldn’t underestimate Barnsley.

A break from fighting at the bottom of the table can do wonders for a side and we need to make sure that we go about the tie in the same manner we did Blackpool and Crewe before that.

I would expect starts for the likes of Hiwula, Murray, Kellet and Vukic who can count themselves un-lucky to miss out in recent weeks after their performances against Blackpool.

Saturday has the potential to be massive for the club and it’s good to see the game moved to a Saturday to get the best possible crowd. Both clubs should be applauded for that along with another excellent pricing initiative from the club. Let’s hope the lads make it worthwhile.

Originally published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 4th Deecember

12th Man: Don’t panic

It’s fair to say it’s been a mixed opening week for Uwe Rosler’s side and when I say mixed I’m being kind. The two performances against both Reading and Burton in the League Cup on Tuesday where nothing like what we’ve come to expect from Uwe Rosler’s Wigan Athletic, why was this the case?

Burton Albion celebrate after scoring against Wigan Athletic

It’s difficult to say, for the first 45 minutes on Saturday the lads looked in control and once we went ahead it looked like we would be getting the season off to a winning start. Uwe later explained that he had made a mistake in his starting line-up, it may have been the strongest midfield available on paper but all had missed elements of pre-season. James McArthur, Don Cowie and Emyr Huws had never played together and only Huws arguably had a full pre-season albeit with Manchester City.

When you add to the fact we are still missing Ben Watson, Chris McCann and James McClean whilst Shaun Maloney and Roger Espinoza missed most of pre-season you can see where our issues lie. To get a point after being so comprehensively outplayed in the second half against Reading could be considered lucky or it could be another example of last season’s battling and never say die attitude. It may well have been better for Uwe to play less of his household names and offer game time to Fraser Fyvie, Tim Chow and James Tavernier who had been given a full pre-season and featured in most of the pre-season games.

Burton on Tuesday was another story, a strong side were outplayed by a side two divisions below us and Uwe was right when he said the performance was ‘unacceptable’. It’s always disappointing to lose games and even though losing to Burton with the amount of internationals in the team is embarrassing I suspect Uwe will have been happy to avoid a Tuesday night trip to West London to face QPR again. Despite that there was a strong following in Derbyshire on Tuesday night and many like myself who had booked time off work would have expected better of a Wigan Athletic side.

It’s very early days and a positive result on Saturday would set us up well for the next week or so and put thoughts of that defeat to Burton out of mind.

As  Corporal Jones would say, ‘don’t panic’. Just yet.