Joyce makes case for Latics’ defence

Warren Joyce
Warren Joyce

Warren Joyce is hoping defence will be the best form of attack for the rest of the season as Wigan Athletic try to lift themselves out of the Championship drop-zone.

Second-bottom Latics travel to fourth-bottom Burton this weekend looking to reduce the six-point gap that currently stands between the two sides.

I take a real pride in clean sheets - every team I’ve ever coached or managed has conceded the fewest number of goals in any league they’ve ever played in

Warren Joyce

Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup has given the squad a welcome lift at a crucial point in the campaign.

It was also the second clean sheet in the last three games - which would have been a hat-trick only for a blooper from Jussi Jaaskelainen late on in the 1-0 home defeat to Huddersfield on January 2.

While Latics will obviously need goals to shoot them up the league ladder, Joyce says remaining tight at the back is a crucial part of the recovery plan.

“If you’re being a perfectionist, you want a clean sheet in every game you play, and you want to score as many goals as you possibly can,” Joyce told the Evening Post.

“I take a real pride in clean sheets - every team I’ve ever coached or managed has conceded the fewest number of goals in any league they’ve ever played in.

“That’s a fact, and you’re only able to do that if you’re organised and disciplined, and everyone knows their job and their role.

“I think there’s a position you’ve got to be in when the opposition have got the ball, and if you run and you close down and you tackle, and put your body on the line, you save goals.

“It’s that consistency to do that day in, day out, never mind every week on a Saturday, that makes the difference.”

There were signs during the Forest game that Latics were starting to click at the other end of the park, with Will Grigg breaking a 15-game scoring drought for club and country before Yanic Wildschut notched his fourth goal in the last five matches.

“The harder bit is the flair bit, the attacking bit, because the opposition is always trying to stop you doing your work,” the Latics boss added.

“That’s why the forwards get paid the X Factor money, because they’ve got that trickery and creativity in their lockers to score the goals that the fans want to see.

“Of course you need a balance, and a method of playing both with and without the ball.

“When you first come in, you try and make yourself hard to beat in the situation we’re in.

“And I think we have shown that in every game so far.

“The other bit is much harder, and we’ve had chances but haven’t taken them.

“Goals change games, and I’ve come in to the press room after a game and said the same boring things, about being unlucky and being disappointed.

“I do think that’s been true, though.”