GARY Caldwell admits to being ‘frustrated’ that Wigan Athletic left it so long before finding their true form.
Five wins from their last seven games have turned Latics from relegation probables into near-certain survivors heading into the final two games of the campaign.
Caldwell’s charges have been in the unusual position of receiving plaudit after plaudit from rival players, managers and pundits alike for their remarkable turnaround.
But the skipper insists, given the quality in the squad, they should never have been down there in the first place.
“It’s obviously frustrating to still be near the bottom of the table when we know we can play as well as we did against Newcastle,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“It was the same last season and we managed to get out of it in the nick of time.
“For whatever reason we didn’t get off to a particularly good start, and then we had that eight-game sequence before Christmas when nothing went right for us.
“Fair play to everyone at the club, though.
“We have all dug in and produced some absolutely big results against some top teams.
“We have to keep winning, though – and if we keep playing the way we have then we will continue to do that.
“We know we can finish it against Blackburn next weekend, and then hopefully enjoy the last game against Wolves here at the DW.”
Roberto Martinez’s decision to switch to three centre-backs is one reason behind the resurgence – with the last three home wins coming on the back of a trio of clean sheets.
“We had a chat amongst ourselves after the West Brom game, when we deservedly went in front but were pegged back by their only attempt in the whole game,” Caldwell acknowledged.
“We said that we’d have to be a lot stronger – especially at home – when we go ahead, and clean sheets were the key to getting out of trouble.
“That’s three now in the three home matches since then, and that’s very encouraging.”
And given the way Latics ripped into Newcastle last weekend, Caldwell is confident that the forwards can build on that solid defensive platform against Blackburn and Wolves.
“Our movement throughout the team, the threat we posed and the goals we scored were absolutely outstanding,” he added.
“To do it against a team as good as Newcastle – who had won their last six games – showed what a good performance it was.
“The work-rate from the front three was outstanding, and in football when you work hard you generally get your rewards.
“The front three all scored and hopefully that will give them the confidence to take their game up to the next level.”