Latics guest column - Jussi Jaaskelainen

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Jussi Jaaskelainen

There’s only five games to go now...but we’re not quite there yet!

We are in the correct position, though, and the last time we spoke I said the important thing for us was to keep winning and keep going.

Well, we’ve done that, and now we only need to finish the job.

We’re almost at the finishing line, but it’s never over until you actually cross that line.

We all know that, and we’ll keep preparing the same way for every game – starting with a massive test at Doncaster on Saturday.

Every game is tough if you don’t prepare well and don’t do your best.

We know if we’re at our best then we have a great chance of winning the game.

But if we don’t then we will make it very difficult for ourselves.

It’s great that we’ve been able to keep so many clean sheets this season.

It means that even if you can’t score a goal then you at least get a draw, and obviously if you can score you’re guaranteed to win.

We probably could have scored more goals against Coventry last Saturday, but the main thing was we won the game and it keeps the confidence and morale high.

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s 1-0 or 5-1 – a win is a win.

But having the ability to win a game 1-0 – as we have in each of the last three home games – tells you a lot about the mentality of the team.

And it’s not just about the defence and the goalkeeper when you keep a clean sheet.

It’s about the whole team.

And this is probably the biggest difference with the start of the season.

We were scoring goals then, but we weren’t able to keep many clean sheets, and that’s why we weren’t getting as many three points as we would have liked.

We just need to keep that going – and not look too hard at the records or the stats – and just get over the finishing line.

Away from Wigan, I was sad to see my old club Bolton getting relegated from the Championship last weekend.

There’s no point looking at what’s been going on for the last three years or so.

You have to start looking at the positives, and getting the club back to where you feel it belongs.

It’s a pretty sad story what’s happened, but you have to keep a positive mind and that’s the way forward.

They’re obviously looking for a new manager, and I feel Phil Brown (below) would be a very good choice.

He has very good experience in League One, the Championship and also the Premier League.

I feel they need to get a manager who knows League One inside out, and Browny at the moment looks the best option for that.

Kevin Nolan has also been mentioned, but he is still probably stuck between playing and managing.

He will be a great manager one day but maybe, at this moment in time, Browny would be the best choice.

As far as moving into management goes, I will hopefully be getting involved on the goalkeeping side, to pass on my experience to young goalkeepers.

I think I would be good at that job...but that’s it!

Hopefully that won’t be for another three years, because I still feel I’ve got a little bit left.

I recently signed a one-year extension to my contract, and it’s brilliant, I’m still feeling good.

From the first day I came here, the manager has had faith in me, as well as the chairman, and didn’t look just at my age.

I wouldn’t still be playing if I didn’t feel the way I’m feeling, and it’s great to have the chance to keep playing as long as I can.

Now is the time where everyone picks their Player of the Year, and I’ve got a couple of names in mind.

The hardest thing in football is scoring goals, so that’s one of the key criteria I’ve looked at.

Having said that, we also have a couple of midfield players that have been playing very well!

But really, our strength this season has been the squad.

You can see that with how many players we’ve used.

Towards the end of the season we’ve managed to find more of a consistent starting line-up.

But you can see on the training field how much quality we have and how hard we’re working.

There’s nobody moaning or groaning or not working hard.

Everybody has stuck together from day one since I’ve been here – and not the 11, the lucky ones, who are in the team.

The atmosphere here is great – and of course winning games helps that.

But the players are the ones who are creating it, and we just need to keep it going for five more games.

The league table’s looking really good at the moment – although I have to say I’m not someone who looks at it an awful lot.

All we are focused on is getting back in to the Championship as quickly as possible.

Given the position we’re in, we don’t want to have to go through the play-offs, because you never know what’s going to happen in football.

Since the first day I walked in last summer, the main aim was to get this football club back in to the second tier.

We’ve had great backing from the chairman to do that, and we’re nearly there...

Jussi Jaaskelainen was speaking to Paul Kendrick