Warnock wants response from ‘embarrassing’ afternoon

Stephen Warnock
Stephen Warnock

Wigan Athletic defender Stephen Warnock has been there and done most things during his long and distinguished career.

Premier League stalwart? Check.

Champions League winner? Check.

England international (and World Cup squad place)? Check.

The 34-year-old is also one of the most brutally honest pro’s around.

And he pulls no punches whatsoever when assessing last weekend’s defensive horror show at Nottingham Forest.

“On a personal level, it wasn’t good enough,” he told the Evening Post.

“Defensively, we could have stopped their goals, and we’ve sort of let the lads down a little bit.

“We’ve been working on that this week and hopefully we’ll put it right.

“It’s a case of watching videos, learning from it, getting an understanding of where you need to be and how you need to play.

“With the amount of possession we had against Forest, we’ve dominated the game.

“Silly mistakes have cost us – and it’s not good enough really.

“When you score three goals away from home, you expect to come away with the win, so it’s disappointing.”

In contrast to last term, the Latics rearguard has been a mix-and match exercise in the early stages of this season, with injuries and suspensions playing havoc with boss Gary Caldwell’s plans.

Not that Warnock even contemplates using that as mitigation.

“No, I don’t think you can blame that,” he argues.

“There is an element of communication, but players should be able to sort the situation out.

“We’ve just got to learn from it, and understand we are good enough to compete at this level, at the higher end of the table.

“We know that, we’ve just got to cut out the little errors that are costing us at the

moment.”

Nor does Warnock try to absolve himself from blame, having been shunted inside from left-wing back to centre-back to cover a gap.

“It’s been different for me and, while there are no excuses from the weekend, it’s lessons that can be learned for me,” he added.

“It is a new position for me, I’m used to having someone outside me, and being the little bit wider on the pitch.

“It was a horrible lesson for me to learn at the weekend, and it was an embarrassing one.

“But it’s one from which I’ll come back a lot stronger for.”

Warnock and his colleagues have been working hard on the training ground this week to make sure they bounce back this weekend when QPR visit the DW Stadium.

Rangers will also be looking for a response to the disappointing home defeat to winless Preston last weekend – but Warnock says it’s not necessarily a good time to be playing them.

“There’s no easy games in this division when you look at it,” he acknowledged.

“There’s no gimmes, nothing like that.

“You get punished in this league a lot more than you do in League One.

“You’ll find it’s the same in the Premier League – you get punished for things you wouldn’t get punished for in the Championship.

“The level goes up a notch with each division, and you’ve got to learn that as quickly as you can, and understand you need to be more clued in for longer periods in a game.”

Warnock does feel, however, that a return to the DW Stadium – where Latics are unbeaten this term – will give them an advantage.

“QPR are a quality team, with lots of good players within the team,” he said.

“But we feel we’re capable of beating them, especially at the DW where we feel we’re at our strongest.

“If you want to progress and be at the right end of the league, you’ve got to win your home games and also pick up points away from home.

“I think if we’d have picked up a point at Forest it might not have been a bad result, if you follow it up with a win against QPR.

“But obviously it’s an even bigger game now where we have to bounce back.

“We’ve showed we can dominate games at this level, which I think a few people might have doubted with us just coming up from League One.

“Not only have we shown we can do that, we’ve shown we have players who are more than capable of winning games, and we need to get back to that.”