As disappointing as last Tuesday against Sheffield United was, Saturday against Chesterfield was equally as rewarding.
Gary Caldwell’s men once again dominated the first half as goals from Max Power, Reece James and Michael Jacobs saw Latics leading 3-0 at the break.
In all honesty, it could have been even more as Latics scored three in a game for the third game in a row.
Seven points from the last three games with nine goals is an excellent return, and could have been even better if the side hadn’t capitulated as it did in the last 20 minutes against the Blades.
It was pleasing on Saturday to see the lads close the game out and, if anything, maybe the result against Sheffield United has acted as a wake-up call.
So it’s on to bottom-of-the-league Crewe on Saturday, and another chance to make up ground on those sides above us in the league.
With a bumper following of over 2,000 expected to travel the short distance to Gresty Road, it has all the hallmarks of a classic Wigan Athletic away day.
We just need the lads on the pitch to do the business for us, and maybe those unimaginable thoughts about promotion could become a bit more realistic.
Will Grigg and Chris McCann missed out on Saturday, and the former in particular could be a welcome addition to the side if he’s fit.
Crewe score goals, but they also concede as we saw in the JPT tie earlier this season.
Strikers like Grigg, Jordy Hiwula, Craig Davies and even Haris Vuckic could be key for us on Saturday.
We’re well into a crucial period of games at the moment and, with only Walsall to come in the next couple of weeks who are above us, it should
be a great chance to pick up the
points that will push us towards promotion.
We’ll have a better idea of how our season is going come the start of the spring.
Let’s hope it’s as positive as we all hope.
All aboard the promotion bandwagon.
Next stop Crewe, full steam ahead!
Another three-goal show at the DW Stadium last Saturday saw the Latics put to bed an in-form Chesterfield side.
Game done and dusted by half-time?
Well, I thought it was, but you can never tell.
And when Ollie Banks pulled a goal back for the visitors with just 10 minutes of the game left, I must admit my heart had a little flutter with memories of Sheffield United still fresh.
But we saw the game out with ease in the end and so we march on.
There is a real positive vibe around the place at the moment – and why wouldn’t there be?
We are starting to fly and our performances are being rewarded with a great run of results.
At this stage last season there was a lot of doom around the place, negativity was the buzz-word, and to be honest we were already a lost cause.
In our last six games we have won four and drawn two.
The corresponding period last season had us drawing two and losing four of those six fixtures.
No wonder the fans, players and the club are so upbeat.
Of course six games is just a snap shot of the season, and the form we are now in must be continued until May if we are to have a realistic chance of making the top two.
Can we achieve it?
I believe so, but we need to keep Max Power and David Perkins fit and playing to their current capacity. They really are the engine room of the team.
So on to Crewe, and another large away following for the Latics.
The club sold out our initial allocation of tickets in a matter of days, leading another 600 being made available, which have almost been sold out too.
There will be over 2,000 Wiganers at Gresty Road, the season so far has been one big party, and long may it continue. Up the Tics!
Wigan Athletic must be the only football team in the country where supporters can’t sit easy despite holding a 3-0 lead in a game.
Another fine first-half performance in which they scored three brilliant goals put Latics in a dominant position for the second half against Chesterfield last weekend.
However, just like we had seen against Sheffield United just a few days before, we strangely decided to sit back and invite Chesterfield on to us.
I can’t of been the only person in the ground nervously watching on as Chesterfield nicked a goal out of nowhere, and looked to be coming more and more into the game.
In the end, we held on for the victory, but I’m hoping it isn’t starting to become a trend.
Are we becoming tired during the end of games more than other teams in this league? I hope not.
But the onus should be on us to go and attack teams.
We have the better squad, so we need to ensure we are using it to the maximum.
Despite the apparent negativity above, it is now just two league defeats in 20 for us now and, whichever way you look at it, that’s a brilliant record.
The performances in all those 20 may not be as convincing as we want it to be.
But it’s still a record that shouldn’t be belittled.
I can’t do a piece without mentioning the man making a lot of headlines this week, Max Power.
He was in and out of the side earlier in the season, with Gary Caldwell trying to decide on his best team.
But I think Power has now become the first name on the team sheet.
He can tackle, he can score, he can play it simple, and also can knock a defence-splitting ball as well.
Add that to the attitude he shows and the desire to wear the shirt, and you’ve got a brilliant midfielder.
He’s been linked with a move to clubs in higher divisions, which I can understand, but I hope he sticks with us and helps us back up the leagues.
Saturday gives us another opportunity to extend that run, and stretch our unbeaten run to seven games in the league at Crewe.
Over 2,000 Wiganers are making the trip as well, which shows just how much we’ve got on board with what the Caldwell and the team are trying to achieve here, and how enjoyable this season has been.
It is also a nice and loud answer to Jeff Stelling as to our thoughts on having to play Crewe this weekend, and whether we’d sacrifice the FA Cup win for Premier League football.
Not a chance Jeff.
I’ve always said that if we maintained a solid place in the play-offs throughout the Christmas period, we could kick on in the New Year and launch an attack on the automatic promotion spots.
And here we are – over halfway through the month of January – and it’s a month that’s been kind to us.
We’ve signed fan favourite Yanic Wildschut on a permanent deal from Championship leaders Middlesbrough, and we’re in absolutely devastating form.
Since 2016 started, we are undefeated in four games – including a draw in our only away game at Scunthorpe – and seven points out of a possible nine from our three home games.
We’re now just four points off second-placed Walsall with almost half of the season to come.
But it could have been and definitely should have been just two points – as we all know about us somehow blowing a 3-0 lead at home to Sheffield United to draw 3-3.
During my last 12th Man piece, I spoke about how this month could make or break our season.
And at the minute it’s looking like making it – providing we keep up our relentless form.
I’ll be the first to admit that after our 2-0 defeat at Coventry on the opening day, I wrote on Twitter that I thought Gary Caldwell was the cheap option as our manager.
It was a comment made in the heat of the moment.
And in fact it was my dad who suggested I have some patience.
Well I did, and I’m glad I did, because Caldwell has been extremely impressive in the ensuring months.
We sometimes forget that he was part of a backroom team that had to overhaul the squad, the squad that he has galvanised in just over half a year, and got them playing a similar style to the one which brought us success under Roberto Martinez.
We are finally starting to look like the side that we’ve always had the potential to be.
Now we’ve got to build on our recent results and really kick on for the rest of the season.
Latics’ two recent games against Sheffield United and Chesterfield have demonstrated the importance of getting it right at both ends of the pitch.
At 3-0 up against United, the team didn’t close the game down and they neglected their defensive duties, allowing an unlikely comeback by the Blades.
However, last Saturday’s convincing 3-1 victory at home to the Spireites means Latics go into tomorrow’s away fixture at Crewe Alexandra in confident mood.
In particular, the first-half performance on Saturdays was a joy to behold, with superb goals from Max Power, Reece James and Michael Jacobs giving Latics an unassailable lead.
If Latics can continue their blistering forward play they must also show greater resilience in defence.
With the addition of Reece Wabara, they now have a player who has the potential to fill the position permanently.
If Wabara can make the position his own, it will give Donervon Daniels the chance to fight for one of the ‘crucial three’ centre-back positions.
Captain Craig Morgan and vice-captain Jason Pearce have made the other two centre-back places their own with consistent performances, but the third centre-back position remains problematic.
Caldwell will be familiar with the importance of the ‘crucial three’ at the back.
During the club’s most successful period in the Premier League and FA Cup triumph, Roberto Martinez’s innovative use of the back three was the foundation.
Martinez was one of the first managers to lead the way in adopting a back three in England, and others soon followed.
In the 2011/12 season Wigan were looking for a solution to their disappointing early form, so Martinez introduced a change in formation to 3-4-3.
In the last 10 games of the season, which featured six wins, many of which were against the top teams, they dominated their opponents.
Caldwell was the club captain at the time, and he saw at first-hand how successful this system could be.
Every outfield player contributed to the attacking play while the Latics back three of Caldwell, Alcaraz and Figueroa were outstanding and gave nothing away.
A major bonus of the system was the flexibility – given different types of opponents or a change in personnel, they could adapt to 3-4-2-1.
During the last 10 games of 2011/12 and at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, the formation was a base 3-4-2-1 that at times looked like a 3-4-3 and at times like a 4-4-1-1.
The ‘crucial three’ provides flexibility without sacrificing too much defensive strength.
Martinez designed a playing system that has a back three and one up front and six players who can adjust as required – which Caldwell is now utilizing successfully in League One.