IT’S that time of year again when most of us prepare to put our feet up and pig out – and the football season kicks into overdrive.
The New Year is barely a fortnight away, but Latics face five matches between now and January 1 that will go a long way towards shaping their campaign.
Just as their miserable run of six straight defeats – including four in the Championship – sent them on a downward spiral that saw them part company with Owen Coyle and European football, a similar run in the opposite direction would propel them back into the promotion picture.
The arrival of new boss Uwe Roser has already seen a huge feel-good factor embrace the DW once again.
And the dramatic derby-day victory over Bolton at the weekend was the best way of cementing himself in the supporters’ affections.
A successful festive programme would not only improve that standing, but also put Latics in a great position to attack the second half of the campaign when their strength in depth should hopefully come to the fore.
I WAS surprised Wigan Warriors weren’t even nominated for team of the year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday. Especially when the last rugby league club to clinch the double, St Helens, won the award!
To the Beeb’s credit, they did pay homage to Wigan’s crazy year. In saluting Latics’ historic FA Cup triumph, and Warriors’ fabulous double, they managed to overlook the other sporting exploits. The victorious British Lion, the World Championship medallist from Wigan Harriers, the international players of both rugby codes, the other success stories.
But still, no other town got such special attention, and even if the start of the piece (cliches about George Formby and pies) was cringeworthy, the ending – a sign reading “You are now leaving trophy-town” – couldn’t help fill me with an immense sense of pride.
IT’S Christmas and I’m broke, so I’m thinking of asking Steve McNamara to buy me a lottery ticket. It’s sure to win, given his recent good luck.
To recap, he’s been kept on as England coach on a part-time basis – even though he’ll be based 11,000 miles away, working as an assistant coach at Sydney Roosters.
This is not a criticism of McNamara – a nice guy with good intentions – but of his bosses at the RFL.
In a statement, chief executive Nigel Wood said it was his “great pleasure” to confirm the new deal, saluting the “advances” made during McNamara’s full-time, four years spell. “Considerable progress,” was how he labelled it.
McNamara has yet to beat the Kangaroos and, in total, has won just one of seven Tests against Australia or New Zealand.
That’s far fewer than predecessors Tony Smith (4 of 9) and Brian Noble (5/12).
Many have taken issue with the fact McNamara will be based in the NRL, and won’t be able to keep tabs on the vast majority of his pool of players who compete in the Super League in 2014.
But my biggest grumble is over the decision to overlook better-qualified English candidates like Shaun Wane and Brian McDermott.
Both have won trophies domestically. And under either, I would guess, England would have avoided the embarrassments of disciplinary issues off the field, and a pre-World Cup loss to Italy on it!