Talking football: Nothing to fear... but fear itself

Action from Latics' last game against Sheffield United, which ended in' a frustrating 3-3 draw
Action from Latics' last game against Sheffield United, which ended in' a frustrating 3-3 draw

LATICS won’t have it all their own way this weekend when they travel to Sheffield United.

But if they can maintain their performance levels from the last six or seven weeks, they certainly have nothing to fear.

Where's Everton again?

Where's Everton again?

A repeat of the first hour of the meeting between the two sides at the DW last month would be nice.Of course, a capitulation in the last half an hour allowed the Blades to cut Latics deep that night.

But I’m sure Gary Caldwell won’t be letting anything like that happen again any time soon.

I’ll certainly keep an eye on my tweeting – having issued a ‘Game Over’ message when Chris McCann put Latics 3-0 up last month.

In fairness, it was game over at 3-0 – as Caldwell readily acknowledged afterwards.

It was only Latics’ own woeful game-mismanagement that allowed their visitors back in to literally steal a point.

However, huge credit to Caldwell and Latics for not allowing that night to affect them on their otherwise solid charge up the League One table.

Indeed, if results elsewhere go their way this weekend, Latics can close to within two points of the top of the table.

And what a massive boost that would be after months and months of looking up at and chasing down the early leaders.

Saturday will also rekindle memories of one of the club’s greatest-ever days – the final day ‘Great Escape’ of 2006/07.

Latics had to win that day to avoid the drop into the Championship, and they did by the skin of their teeth.

A repeat result this weekend would keep them on track to get back into the Championship, the first step towards regaining their place at the top table of English football.

I TRUST we’re all back to normal now and over the ‘drama’ of another transfer deadline day.

At one time you really were guaranteed excitement.

But now it’s little more than a damp squib in the calendar.

The spoilsports at Sky have even taken away the threat of their roving reporters getting whacked by all manner of implements by removing the crowd of delinquents that used to surround them.

The clubs that did need to strengthen their squad in January did so well before Jim White had selected his tie for the big night.

The rest frantically looked around an embarrassingly bare cupboard, with Aston Villa showing their seeming acceptance of relegation by not even going for a panic buy.

We didn’t even have the sight of Harry Redknapp leaning out of a car window, revealing how close he was to signing Niko Kranjcar (“triffic player”) for the seventh time.

Sadly, my efforts at 5-a-side at Robin Park that night, in the shadows of the DW Stadium, failed to persuade Gary Caldwell and David Sharpe to make room in their squad for another box-to-box midfielder with a eye for goal!

But Latics will be reflecting on a very decent window of activity indeed, where they secured their top target (Yanic Wildschut), solved their right-back problem (Reece Wabara) and bolstered their midfield and attack with two of the best young players in League One (Sam Morsy and Ryan Colclough).

At the same time they have offloaded some high earners who weren’t going to be contributing much, to give Caldwell a stronger, leaner staff for the rest of the campaign. A job well done indeed.

“I NEED a new challenge,” revealed Pep Guardiola last month, after announcing he was to leave Bayern Munich this summer.

And the best of luck to him as he sets about the herculean ‘challenge’ of taking over the richest football club on the planet with a blank cheque book at his disposal.

EVERTON overcame the disappointment of bowing out of the League Cup to Manchester City last week to negotiate a potentially tricky FA Cup hurdle at Carlisle on Sunday.

Not bad considering they had to travel all the way from their new base on the south coast – according to American TV, at least!