GARY Caldwell insists Wigan Athletic are heading into Saturday’s League One clash against Blackpool in a confident mood.
Despite fans being left disappointed last weekend as a return to Wembley was snatcehd away in the JPT by Barnsley, the Scot says that result won’t act as a yardstick by teams preparing to face Latics.
Saturday is now gone, and we’ll be judged on what happens at 3pm this Saturday against BlackpoolGary Caldwell
Instead, Caldwell feels his side’s league form provides a more accurate litmus test, and is determined to see them continue their recent run which has seen no side in the division better their 17 points form the last eight games.
“Saturday is now gone, and we’ll be judged on what happens at 3pm this Saturday against Blackpool,” he said.
“And we’ll be ready for that.
“I don’t think we can lose sight of the fact we’ve only lost one game (at home to Burton) since September 12, which is a fantastic run.
“We’re still the form team in League One – in the last eight games, we’re top of that table.”
Aside from the 1-0 reverse against table toppers Burton, Latics were held to a 0-0 draw against Southend in their last league outing on November 28 – but Caldwell has warned people not to forget how smoothly his side have been running prior to those games.
“In football, you can quickly lose track of how well you’ve been doing, because we’ve lost one and drawn two of our last three games,” he explained.
“We have to focus on the positives, we are still the form team in the league, and we’ll go into the Blackpool game with confidence because of that.”
While a win at home to relegation-threatened Blackpool on Saturday won’t lift Latics above fifth, the place they currently occupy in the table, it should squeeze the gap between them and the front runners.
Punters will be keeping a close eye on developments at Gillingham, where Burton look to stay top, while also hoping Blackpool’s neighbours Fleetwood can do them a favour when they host Walsall.
A win against Blackpool could put Latics within two points of the automatic promotion places – at least until Coventry visit Sheffield United on Sunday.
And such scrutiny adds up to pressure which is difficult part of a footballer’s job according to Caldwell.
“You can’t rest at any point,” he said.
“It’s not like athletes who are preparing for an Olympics every four years. In football you are judged every single week, and that is difficult.”
But the manager says his players are already getting over their unwelcome Cup exit and are focusing on getting the most from the festive period.
And while he hasn’t set targets where league points are concerned, Caldwell expects his players to bring their high-tempo approach to training to matches.
“In the past I’ve looked at points target and it’s always difficult to gauge what your points are going to be,” he said.
“I try to prepare the team to win the next game, as we have done all season, and that means Blackpool.
“You get the data back from the weekend, and you don’t think it’s going to be as high as it actually is.
“My fitness coaches get worried when they see how much running the guys are doing, and it makes me happy to see them wanting to train and ready to work.
“As a manager, that’s something I love to see.”