Wigan Athletic against Rotherham United.
DW Stadium,Wigan. Saturday afternoon.
For one side, it’s already all about next year – drawing a line underneath a car-crash campaign and trying to bounce back into the Championship at the first attempt.
And then there’s Rotherham United, whose own relegation to the third tier was confirmed at the weekend.
All right, I’m being facetious.
It’s not quite over for Latics – mathematically at least.
But only a quite remarkable series of wins now can stave off the inevitable and a return ticket to a division that treated us all so well last season.
Based on what we all saw against Ipswich on Tuesday night – the 176 hardy souls who made the 500-mile round trip down, plus the couple hundred who watched the beamback at the DW – there’s two hopes.
Slim and non.
And Slim just left town.
Listening to Graham Barrow pick through the bones of an awful night for both him and the club was agonisingly painful.
A man who so obviously bleeds blue and white, who’d sent the side out with such passion and belief following a spirited display in defeat at table-topping Newcastle last weekend, struggling to come to terms with the capitulation he’d been forced to witness.
This wasn’t defeat to a swashbuckling side playing at the top of their game.
This was defeat to a woeful Town side, low on confidence themselves after eight games without a win, who’d been gift-wrapped three goals, three points, and surely safety by a Latics outfit supposedly fighting for their own lives.
Barrow admitted there’d been strong words in the dressing room after the game.
“It was a one-way conversation. I wasn’t in the mood for a two-way discussion”.
The players surely won’t have needed telling what they collectively served up wasn’t good enough.
Or that they owe the fans a big response this weekend against a Millers side that have been relegation certs for several months now.
However, no Latics fan will need reminding that arguably the lowest pointof the season came on Boxing Day, when Rotherham were three-up by half-time – and it could easily have been six, such was Wigan’s complete and utter ineptitude.
A couple of second-half goals gave Latics hope of a game that should have long-since been out of their reach, but it did little to gloss over the glaring cracks.
It’s far too late to do anything about that and, more than likely, this season as a whole.
But with four home games left out of the remaining six fixtures, Latics owe it to their supporters to show them something – ANYTHING – to give them hope over the summer months.
Otherwise it could be a long, long spell out of the limelight...
Stat of the week:
Brighton have won 16 home games this season – the most by any side in any professional league in Europe.
OBVIOUSLY I do not need to tell you where Latics are headed for their next away game, on Easter Monday...
Philosophical quote of the week:
“You can be with three boxes of rice, three kilos of potatoes. But if you don’t have fish...a potato cannot play the role of a fish.”
– Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvahal does his best Eric Cantona impression.
A dog stopped play for six minutes during the Halesowen Town-Skelmersdale United clash at the weekend.
Obviously he was on loan from Blackburn ROVERS.
Tickets are now on sale for the third annual Joseph’s Goal charity game at Ashton Town FC, with the Latics Legends – skippered by Emmerson Boyce – taking on Arjan De Zeeuw’s Dutch Masters.
The Latics Legends are looking for a third win in a row, having ruthlessly dismantled a Hollyoaks XI 10-0 in the inaugural showpiece in 2015, before seeing off De Zeeuw’s Dutch all-stars 2-0 a year ago.
Graham Barrow will be in charge of the Latics Legends, and is even hoping to be fit to have a run-out himself in the engine room.
Also confirmed to play are Emile Heskey, Graeme Jones – who still holds the club record for goals in a season – Stuart Barlow, Nathan Ellington and Don Page, with more big names to be announced over the coming weeks.
Tickets for the game – which will take place on Friday, May 19 (7.30pm) – are on sale from the Latics ticket office and via www.wiganathletic.com/tickets