Talking football: Latics need to come out fighting after Blade attack

Wigan Athletic let slip a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 against Sheffield United
Wigan Athletic let slip a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 against Sheffield United
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Well, what was all that about then?

Like probably most of you, I’m still in a state of shock after the events of Tuesday night at the DW.

Scarcely have I seen Latics play as well as they did for three-quarters of the most one-sided game imaginable.

To coin a cliche, had it been a boxing contest, it would have long-since been stopped by the referee.

But also, rarely have we seen the side defend as inadequately and look as rattled as it did for the last quarter.

Okay, that also happened a fair bit in the car-crash that was last season...but you get my point.

These are different times in ‘the ‘New Era’.

Amazingly, Latics were indebted to goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen for pulling off a stupendous save from Billy Sharp deep into stoppage-time to deny the Blades a winning goal!

The feeling of complete desolation among the Latics playesr as they trudged off was in stark contrast to the utter jubilation in the aftermath of the previous home game against Gillingham, only five days earlier.

On that occasion – as it has been so often this term – it was Latics who came back from the dead to clinch victory from the clutches of defeat.

And Latics surely can’t complain too much at, for once, being on the wrong end of last-gasp drama.

Already this term they have inflicted late heartache on Chesterfield, Peterborough, Swindon, Fleetwood, Gillingham, Millwall and Bury – either drawing level or pulling off famous victories – to accrue an additional 13 points which could so decisive in the end-of-season shake-up.

The two dropped points against Sheffield United will naturally mean more to Gary Caldwell at the moment – as they are the most vivid in his memory.

But when the Latics boss sits back and reflects on the situation, he should feel hugely encouraged about the way things are going in general.

Latics accumulated seven points from a possible nine over the festive period, from a hat-trick of far-from-easy away fixtures.

Victory over Chesterfield on Saturday – which, while it won’t be easy, is well within their capabilities – would mean the same points return from a trio of home games in the space of just nine days.

With virtually half a season still to come, Latics will surely come on even stronger as the heavy pitches and general wear and tear become more of a factor in the promotion run-in.

Boasting the biggest – and arguably the best – squad in League One, Latics still look well placed to hammer home their advantage over the coming weeks, heading into the always-important Easter period.

Given what we’ve already witnessed this season, it’s not like anyone in the division would be massively shocked to see Latics leave it late...before eventually achieving their goals in dramatic fashion.

After all, it’s what we do.

He’s one of the most feared figures on British television.

And he was in the directors box of the DW Stadium on Tuesday night watching his beloved Sheffield United facing Latics.

Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett may have a reputation for trampling all in his wake on ITV1’s daytime quiz show ‘The Chase’.

But even he had to wind his neck in towards the end of the game after being spoken to by a steward following his over-zealous celebrating of his side’s late leveller!

It was also great to see another familiar face in Danny Wilson also sat in the directors’ box in midweek.

The proud Wiganer, of course, needs no additional reason to come to see the Latics in action.

But Wilson was also there on a scouting mission, ahead of Chesterfield’simportant visit here at the weekend.

The Spireites have enjoyed a huge upturn in fortunes since the shrewd appointment of Wilson as manager.

While it’s great to see Wiganers doing well elsewhere, I’m sure he won’t mind me hoping his next return to his home-town is a thoroughly miserable experience with Latics hoping to get back to winning ways.

Having the rare luxury of a couple of days off last weekend, I happened to catch a small segment from Sky’s ‘Soccer Saturday’ programme, that I used to remember as being pretty decent telly.

How things have changed.

With the FA Cup third round taking centre stage, the panel were discussing how important and relevant the famous competition was in this day and age of the Premier League ruling the roost.

“I’ve had a number of tweets from Wigan Athletic fans, telling me they wouldn’t swap their FA Cup win in 2013 for anything,” reported host Jeff Stelling, completely deadpan.

“Their next away game? Crewe,” he added, a smug grin now having well and truly taken over his facial features.

Cue guffawing from the panel of ‘experts’ in the background. I thought Paul Merson was going to wet himself at one point, he was laughing that much.

Only Matt Le Tissier seemed to grasp what winning the FA Cup will always mean to a club and a town.

Stelling, who has always prided himself on being a long-suffering Hartlepool fan, should have known better – much better.

Openly mocking a standard of football that is above that of his own beloved club and people is poor to say the least.

Indeed the complete and utter lack of respect shown to Latics, Crewe and lower-league football in general underline exactly what’s wrong with the ‘beautiful’ game at the moment.