Graham Barrow has spoken for the first time about stepping into the Latics hot-seat, Warren Joyce’s axing – and his blueprint to avoid the drop.
Barrow will take charge for the final nine games of the campaign as ‘interim manager’ following Monday’s sacking of Joyce.
He’s wasted no time in signalling which area of the pitch he’ll be focusing most of his attention.
And he also called on the players to ‘stand up and be counted’ – and give the fans reason to believe again.
In his first interview since stepping up to the role, he told the Wigan Observer: “It’s all about commitment. The players have got to step up and be counted.
“You can look at the stats all day, and you see our lads covering more ground than the other team most of the time.
My head’s buzzing with what’s going on and I’m looking forward to the challenge
“But it’s also about where you’re running to, and what you’re running for. I want to see more players gambling, running into the box.
“There’s only one place you’ve got to be to score a goal, and that’s in the penalty area.
“You’re never going to score a goal from the halfway line. We have to look at it, set up a little bit better, and go for it a little bit more.
“We have to score more goals in training and we’ll score more goals on a Saturday.”
When chairman David Sharpe called time on Joyce’s reign – after 24 games, which produced only six wins – there was only one man he turned to. And there was never any doubt that the call would not be answered in the affirmative.
“We were all in the building, and I got a call to go and see the chairman,” Barrow revealed. “He asked me would I take over, and I didn’t hesitate. I’ve never flickered when I’ve been asked to do so in the past.
“When I woke up this morning, that was it, I was awake. You can’t turn over and have a lie in now!
“My head’s buzzing with what’s going on and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“It was a huge disappointment to see Warren leave, as it always is when this happens.
“But we’ve all got over the events of Monday, and we have to pick things up fast – because time is of the essence in the position we’re in.”
Barrow is also under no illusions as to how he plans to shape the future – starting with Saturday’s huge six-pointer against Aston Villa.
Latics are 23rd in the table, four points from safety ahead of tonight’s fixtures involving relegation-rivals Blackburn (against Fulham) and Wolves (against Brentford).
“It’s a case of tweaking a few things, trying to get players forward into more attacking positions, while knowing the best side is similar to what we’ve been playing,” Barrow recognised. “I think I can rely on the senior players to back me up, because they’ve done that all season.
“To be quite honest, I’m looking more at some of the others to stand up and help the senior lads. They have got to step up and be counted.
“I want to see more players gambling, running into the box.
“If we can get a performance, and the result, we’re looking for, it can be a massive lift for everyone.
“It’s obviously not just down to one game, but it is massive for us all.”