Paul Kendrick looks at five things we learned from Wigan Athletic’s 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa that edges them closer to the relegation trapdoor.
Wigan Athletic have been behind the 8-ball for some time - now they officially need snookers. Heading into the international break they are seven points adrift of safety with only eight games remaining. More worryingly, most of the teams directly above them - including Blackburn, Bristol City and Burton - have shown fighting spirit in recent weeks, and an ability to pick up points when it matters.
Stephen Warnock was missed every bit as much as was expected. Indeed, Latics had to switch from a four-man defence to a five-man backline to cover the loss of the previously ever-present Warnock, with Graham Barrow admitting the four-at-the-back system had alarmed him in training without the skipper’s reassuring presence. Fortunately, this international break has come at a good time, and he shouldn’t miss any more games.
The players are unquestionably playing for the shirt and playing for Graham Barrow. There may be question marks about the quality of the squad, and the recruitment both last summer and in January. But there can be no doubt that the Latics players are leaving everything out on the field every week. The faces of them all as they trudged off on Saturday showed that in abundance.
Ryan Colclough could still have a huge future with Latics. The young winger, who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at League One MK Dons, failed to impress Warren Joyce, who reckoned his fitness levels were ‘a joke’ on his return. But he was thrown on in the second half and showed a few nice touches as Latics chased the game, and could be pushing for a start when the action resumes in a fortnight.
Steve Bruce retains a soft spot for Wigan Athletic. Almost eight years after leaving, Bruce still looks back fondly on his time at the JJB/DW Stadium. When asked in the post-match press conference if he feared for his old side, Bruce waxed lyrical for a good two minutes about a club and a side - the class of 2008 - he reckons is ‘the best team I’ve ever had in management’. How Latics could do with some of that Premier quality at the moment.