The decorations are up, Noddy Holder is on the radio, Christmas party season is in full swing.
And we’re about to head into football’s always-hectic festive programme, which usually plays a significant part in the end-of-season shake-up.
Take two years ago, when Latics were only on the fringes of the promotion picture, before a commanding 2-0 victory at Barnsley saw them hit the Christmas period with momentum, which they carried on all the way to May.
At the 19-game mark, Latics are an incredible NINE points better off than they were in 2015/16, when of course the side ended up as champions.
Given Paul Cook’s men have not even found top gear so far, that is hugely encouraging.
I’ve said at the start of the season that, looking at the squad strength at the DW, the major obstacle to Latics winning promotion could be complacency – and I stand by that.
Next up at the DW Stadium this weekend are Fleetwood Town, whose manager Uwe Rosler will certainly need no introduction to Latics fans.
I’ll be honest, I always like Uwe during his time here, and even wrote a ‘Talking Football’ piece on the day he was sacked asking for him to be given more time. That said, I totally get why the difficult decision was made, and it would indeed have been a monumentally difficult task to turn things round.
Things didn’t go swimmingly for either Latics or Rosler in the immediately aftermath – in the club’s case, you can say that again!
But what a job the German has done over the last 18 months over on the Fylde coast.
He won’t need any additional motivation to put one over Latics, of course, on his first return since leaving.
But it’s up to Latics to keep their minds on the job in hand, as they have done since the shock home defeat to Bradford, and get into the groove ahead of the holiday season.
It may have slipped under the radar, but Antonio Valencia made his 500th career game in midweek for Manchester United.
I’m well aware most football fans outside the Wigan area were asking ‘Antonio who?’ and ‘how much?’ when Sir Alex Ferguson shelled out £16million to replace Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
But as he approaches 10 years at Old Trafford, he’s repaid that fee many times.
Valencia has to go down as one of the very best players ever to play for Latics – and one of the very few to have moved on from Wigan to bigger and better things.
Here’s to the next 500!
Footballers these days at times get a bad press – some of it deserved, some of it not so.
But the sight of Will Grigg signing autographs for star-struck Fylde fans, over 10 minutes after full-time, in the freezing cold, was heartwarming all round.
The FA Cup third-round draw, which will take Latics - or Fylde - down to Bournemouth evoked some fond memories.
Is it really almost five years since Latics ventured down to Dean Court on a freezing cold Tuesday night to take the first significant step towards Wembley? Mauro Boselli – we salute you!
This week’s ‘reasons to love modern football’ comes from Alexander Netherton, via Twitter:
“Bayern Munich fans threw fake €500 notes at Neymar last night. Bayern have spent the last four winter breaks in Qatar, are sponsored by a Qatari airport, have sponsorship deals worth €1.5bn and their president went to jail for a €28.5m tax fraud.”
Moral highground or what?
Regular readers will be aware of my complete and utter disdain for the Checkatrade Trophy, which has become a complete laughing stock after Premier League side were allowed to field Under-21 sides.
But any remaining fans of the competition will no doubt have appreciated Leicester fielding an Under-21 at Scunthorpe in midweek featuring SIX players over the age of 21, including £45 million worth of talent.
And the hope of bringing through more home-grown British talent might just have been affected by the appearance of a Ghanaian, an Austrian, a Frenchman, a Nigerian and an Argentinian.
A quite magnificent Twitter exchange here between two Crystal Palace fans following news of the proposed ground redevelopment at Selhurst Park:
@Decpo_CPFC: “We have £100m to spend on a new Main Stand but they still can’t get rid of the f*****g poles in the Arthur Stand.”
@Decpo_CPFC: “The beams that hold the stand up...they are poles that support the roof.”
@CPFCPolska: “Hahaha sorry mate. Greetings from Poland.”
Quote of the Week:
Nile Ranger: “People need to remember I haven’t had a proper pre-season in four years, and this year I was in prison. I was sitting in a cell for 23 hours a day while others were doing their fitness work, so I’ve been playing catch up and I’m not quite there just yet.”