TALKING SPORT - Latics doing it the hard way

IT’S never straight-forward with Wigan Athletic, is it?

Even when it comes to defending their FA Cup, they have to do it the hard way.

Latics could have been out of sight by the halfway point of their third-round tie against MK Dons.

At the end, however, it was they who were hanging on for a replay next week.

Neither side probably deserved to lose a pulsating cup-tie that had six goals, a missed penalty and plenty more thrills and spills.

In hindsight, perhaps we could have expected last weekend’s result – Latics had won just one FA Cup game at home in a decade.

While some Premier League managers may see it as a distraction, the FA Cup remains the most famous cup competition of them all.

And as frustrating as Latics’ result was, it was further proof, if any was required, of the magic of the cup.

Yes, it means another game being added to an already-overflowing schedule for Uwe Rosler’s men.

But ask the German whether he’d prefer a weekend off when fourth-round weekend comes round, and he’ll happily accept the added hassle for the chance of staying on the Wembley trail, in addition to their ascent up the league ladder.

Glass half-full? Without a doubt.

THE new Super League season is a month away and already Wigan look in great shape.

Recent history has taught fans to trust Shaun Wane’s judgement – he’s earned that right.

Which part-explains why the likely departures of Andy Powell and Epa Lauaki, so soon after Harrison Hansen’s exit, will be met in most quarters with unconcerned shrugs.

But some fans can’t help express a niggling concern over the left wing spot vacated by Pat Richards.

Admittedly, if a wily veteran was on offer for one season, I wonder if the temptation would have been there to bring him on board – similar to the way Matty Bowen has been recruited at full-back, to help nurture his successor (possibly Ryan Hampshire or Lewis Tierney).

But Wane has high hopes for Dom Manfredi and Joe Burgess, and bringing in a star winger on a three-year deal would only block their development. There are no shortage of bodies to fill the role – Anthony Gelling is also in the mix.

And if London recruit Dan Sarginson reaches the same heights on the pitch as his pre-season training scores, he could force his way in at left centre – making Iain Thornley another potential candidate for the left-wing spot.

THE painfully slow-death which was England’s Ashes campaign was particularly miserable for us ‘Poms’.

In the past, we’ve been able to shrug off defeat by saying “it’s only sport”. But after celebrating victories on courses and courts, in Olympic Stadia and in the French Alps, that excuse is now redundant.

FINALLY, we’re often hearing that newspapers are on the decline, but not this one. The Wigan Observer has had a year-on-year circulation increase of 7.2% – from everyone here at Martland Mill HQ, a heartfelt thank you.