Graham Barrow has lifted the lid on his ‘absolutely stupid’ first week as Wigan Athletic interim manager as he aims to finish it with three precious points against Aston Villa.
Latics turned to Barrow on Monday after Warren Joyce’s four-month tenure as boss came to an abrupt end.
And the 62-year-old says the following days have been a blur as he plots a way out of the relegation mire.
“It never leaves you – it’s absolutely stupid,” Barrow acknowledged.
“I’ve probably nearly crashed the car three times this week, because I’ve been thinking about the team for Saturday.
“I found myself driving the car with no fuel the other day, in a world of my own.
“I was watching TV the other night, and I may as well have turned it off – I didn’t have a clue. The missus said: ‘What are you watching?’ I said: ‘I haven’t got a clue!’
“I was thinking about Aston Villa, and what I wanted to do with the side.
“It just takes over your whole life. I’ll hopefully be okay when I’ve got Saturday out of the way.”
Chairman David Sharpe was left with no option than to wield the axe on Joyce after a run of results that saw Latics in danger of losing touch with their relegation rivals.
After loud booing at the end of each of the last two home games, against Nottingham Forest and Bristol City, Barrow says the first step is to get everyone signing from the same hymn sheet once again.
“We need unity now,” he recognised. “We need everyone behind us.
“And that’s always been the case at this football club. I appreciate everyone has an opinion about everything in the modern game.
“But can we please put all that to one side and just give it a go for the last nine games, and get behind the lads?”
He also feels the time has come to release the handbrake and go for broke – regardless of the consequences.
“Months ago when I took the side at Cardiff (after Gary Caldwell’s sacking), it was a bit more relaxed – because there was plenty of games left!
“Now there’s not so many games left, and we feel we have to take risks.
“The risks we take could blow up in my face – but I feel I have to take them.
“I’ll not get thanked if I don’t, and I won’t get thanked if I do.
“But I accept that’s part of the job – and it’s what the people want to see. I think we have to be seen to be having a go, to be attacking the goal, and trying to win the game.”
Barrow also revealed the training ground has not been a place for the faint-hearted this week as he’s tried to get his message across to the players.
“It would have been easy to go down the route of all softy-softly with them,” Barrow admitted.
“But because of the circumstances, and the situation we find ourselves in, we’ve decided to challenge them all week on improving their performances – hopefully starting this weekend.
“I would say the message has got across to the players...gradually, yes.
“I wouldn’t say it was there instantly.
“There wasn’t anything wrong with what they were trying to do on Tuesday, but I wasn’t that convinced that people were right, mentally.
“But as the week’s gone on, it’s improved, and Thursday was a really good day.
“I would say it’s been semi-harsh at times. There has been a realisation of the position we’re in.
“When you’re in the kind of position we find ourselves in, in a relegation battle, everybody suddenly becomes over-cautious. We want to try and throw all that caution out of the window – get out there and enjoy it, and look forward to the challenge.”