JEREMY Corbyn wouldn’t appear to be a natural fit for the front cover of Wigan Athletic’s 2015-16 season review DVD.
But believe it or not, the new Labour leader could be the highly-unlikely lucky charm behind Latics’ ascent to the summit of League One.
September 12, 2015 was a hugely-significant day for both Corbyn and Latics.
After Corbyn was appointed as Ed Miliband’s successor in the morning, Latics made the short trip to the Potteries, where they narrowly lost 3-2 at Port Vale.
Which happens to be the last time Gary Caldwell’s men lost a league game on the road.
An incredible five-month journey that’s taken them from mid-table to within a single point of the automatic promotion places.
Exactly half a league campaign has been played since that day – 23 games in all.
From them, Latics have accrued a fabulous 45 points.
A tally that, if replicated over the course of the season, would be enough to secure an immediate return to the Championship.
Wigan’s most recent form has been even more impressive.
The last nine games have harvested 21 points, from six wins and three draws, that if anything could and should have been more (two points thrown away against both Sheffield United and Crewe).
A continuation of that points-per-game ratio and they’d be threatening the 100-point target that David Sharpe was aiming to ‘smash’ League One with.
Sharpe and Caldwell always maintained that Latics should be judged over the course of the campaign.
Not after a patchy start that was always inevitable due to the high player turnover last summer.
Now, while all of the teams at the top are experiencing some kind of wobble, Latics are getting even stronger by the game.
The next side in their sights are second-placed Walsall – their opponents on Saturday week.
The opportunity to move up into the top two in nine days’ time is a tantalising incentive to make sure nothing untoward happens this weekend against Oldham.
Indeed, if there is an upset on Valentine’s weekend, it would surely be of Wigan’s own making.
At present, the only side that looks capable of halting the Latics juggernaut could well be Latics themselves.
IT’S only a couple of months since Barnsley stuck by under-fire manager Lee Johnson, despite a wretched run of eight league defeats in a row that left them rooted to the foot of League One.
Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bury made it seven league wins on the spin for the Tykes , a remarkable run which has lifted them into the top half of the table, just days after booking their place at Wembley in the final of the JPT.
Johnson, though, wasn’t around to enjoy it, having taken the decision to jump ship to Championship strugglers Bristol City at the end of last week.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.
We’re all well aware that loyalty is a largely foreign concept to a fair chunk of those involved in football these days.
But wouldn’t it have been nice to see Johnson repaying a bit of the faith shown in him by Barnsley and staying put...at least until the summer?
A COUPLE of Championship managers were sacked this week, with Paul Clement leaving Derby and Neil Redfearn parting company with Rotherham.
The potting of Clement, from the outside, simply beggars belief, with the Rams only five points off top spot and a third of the campaign still to go.
And the Millers’ decision to dispense with the services of Redfearn was also a tad surprising given he’d only been in the job for four months. The game appears to have gone mad.
If you don’t believe me, consider this fact: Nigel Adkins is the longest-serving manager in South Yorkshire.
He’s been in charge of Sheffield United for a mere eight months.
JOHN Pemberton is one of the front-runners for the managerial vacancy at Barnsley. Which got me thinking – can we get a decent XI from place names in and around Wigan?
The answer is ‘yes’...enough for two full teams!
John Pemberton, Jake Orrell, Mark Winstanley, Peter Atherton, Cesar Aspull-icueta, David Lee, Paul Scholes, Paul Ince, Ian Crook, Matt Lowton, Dean Ashton, Wayne (Appley) Bridge, Matt (Up) Holland, David Platt (Bridge), Gareth Whelley, Eddie Newton, Eric Black-rod, Marus Bridge-Wilkinson, Scott (Kitt) Green, Fitz (Norley) Hall, Jeff and Jim Whitley.
Manager: Jimmy (Beech) Hill.