SEVEN points from the last nine available, 5th in the table and a run of winnable league games on the horizon, things are certainly looking up for the Latics.
At the start of the season a consensus around my friends, considering the overhaul that took place during the summer, if we are in a playoff berth come the end of October then we’d be delighted.
Max Power, his performances, particularly over the past month have been absolutely top notchBarry Worthington
That is exactly where we find ourselves, not only that we are also playing with style.
At Bradford on Saturday there was another side to the Latics, the battlers, we came across a real harum scarum side, Bantams boss Phil Parkinson has put together a team of fighters with an extremely direct style of play.
Cheap season tickets ensure that Valley Parade is rocking for every home game, no place for the faint hearted, but we stood firm, battled and came away with a very creditable point.
With the team settling down into the season and putting in good performances one player in particular, in my opinion at least, has grown in every game he has played.
Max Power, his performances, particularly over the past month have been absolutely top notch, his energy is boundless, he is disciplined enough to perform his defensive duties, but also he is creative enough to supplement the attack as can been seen with two goals in two games against Colchester and Peterborough.
The former Tranmere man arrived at the Latics with a good reputation and he has certainly not disappointed.
He’s tenacious in midfield and an obvious desire for the game which is infectious to those he plays with, at just 23 his best years are in front of him.
In Power we could have found ourselves a player that will be at the heart of the team, and the club, for many years to come.
So we are feeling very positive and confident at the moment, but it is important not to take things for granted, as the saying goes, pride comes before a fall and it is Halloween on Saturday, we face Swindon at the DW Stadium, a club in turmoil, managerless and languishing next to the bottom of the table.
Hopefully we will be focused and not put in a horror show, I would expect us to brush them aside but we must be professional in our approach and not complacent.
With Walsall and Gillingham facing each other and Coventry and Burton having tough games, we could steal a march on the four sides above us this weekend, if results go the right way we will be up to fourth and just five points off top spot, but there you go, I am getting carried away with myself again. Up the ‘tics!
A return of seven points from a possible nine with two difficult away games thrown in for good measure is an excellent return for Latics and sets Gary Caldwell and the lads up nicely for a key period of games.
It has been a slow start to the season in many ways but was it ever going to be anything else?
With a brand new squad of players to bed in, a drastic change in style of play and all the upheaval of relegation meant that we were never going to start the season in blistering form.
Indeed many of the Latics faithful said before the start of the season that they would be happy with a season of consolidation and then a promotion push next year but as it is and with the current performances I think that would be a disappointment.
After two hard away games we get a welcome return to the home comforts of the DW, Swindon look to be in turmoil off the pitch at the moment.
Still without a replacement for Mark Cooper who was sacked by chairman Lee Power earlier this month, Power himself has been in charge for the last two games and looks to carry on as caretaker manager on Saturday.
Where Latics have been unbeaten in nine games Swindon have failed to win in the same number of games.
Everything on paper points to Latics keeping up their impressive run of form but be wary of a wounded Swindon – they scored two goals in the last five minutes last weekend to earn a credible draw with play-off chasing Coventry.
It’s been over three years since our last game against Swindon, when a very different Wigan Athletic exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle following that defeat Roberto Martinez’s side went on one of the best runs of any Wigan Athletic side in history, playing fast, free-flowing football and wiping aside some of the biggest names in the game.
It would be nice if this new incarnation could follow a similar path as we look to get back to the Championship.
A note about the FA Cup draw – many wanted a non-league side but Bury could still be the ideal tie.
One of the main concerns about Latics early season performances has been their poor defending. Many of the games have seen lapses of concentration, defensive mix-ups and even bizarre own goals.
Richard O’Donnell, Leon Barnett, Donervon Daniels and Reece James have all looked shaky at times and with the absences of captain Craig Morgan and vice captain Jason Pearce they have shipped more goals than was acceptable.
However, the defensive display at Bradford City showed signs that the team might be mastering the art of defending. Latics had to endure an aerial bombardment on Saturday with the home team winning fifteen corners overall. During the first half they forced six consecutive corners, but the defence was resolute and held firm.
The Bantams adopted a physical approach throughout, with centre forward James Hanson making life difficult for the Latics three centre backs, but they stood up very well to the test and were only breached once.
The return to the team of the captain Craig Morgan has certainly helped to steady the ship.
The experienced Welsh international is cool under pressure and his organisation of the defence is starting to have an impact. The former Bolton Wanderers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen has added greater stability and seems to have inspired confidence in those around him.
Richard O’Donnell is a fine shot stopper but he struggled to build a rapport with the other defenders. Chris McCann is now playing in an unfamiliar role as a defender but he has started to settle and was excellent under pressure at Valley Parade.
Jason Pearce is regaining match fitness and was on the bench for the Bradford game, but he is likely to return to the action and add his strength and experience in the near future. If Latics can master the art of defending then they will continue their upward trajectory. They are only five points behind second place Walsall.
If they maintain their excellent home form and keep picking up points away from home they will not be far off the automatic promotion places come May.
Gary Caldwell said it was a great week for Wigan Athletic getting 7 points out of 9, and I would agree with him.
Two great wins against Colchester and Peterborough were backed up with a battling draw against Bradford at Valley Parade.
And the point we gained in Yorkshire was a great result in the end in my eyes.
Earlier in the season, I think the physicality of Bradford would have been too much for us, and they would have come away with all three points.
But not on Saturday, as our defence stood firm against the likes of James Hanson and were unfortunate not to be on the winning side.
All of the above has pushed Latics further up the table into the play off positions, and the only way for us now, in my opinion, is up.
Caldwell’s young squad are ambitious but sometimes naive, but with the older guard in the form of Craig Morgan, Chris McCann and David Perkins adding the experience that we crave, performances are now starting to come together.
We face Swindon Town on Saturday, and it’s another big game in terms of keeping our league position.
With just five points separating the team’s between 4th and 15th, it’s imperative we keep our unbeaten form at the DW Stadium going.
If we do that, we’ll be looking more comfortable, and edging ourselves further towards the promotion picture, and further away from the chasing pack in the middle of the table.
IF we needed any evidence that our team which Gary Caldwell has assembled are genuine promotion contenders, then last week was that evidence.
Last week we had three games in seven days, including two tough away trips, and we came out the back of it with seven points from nine and our name in fifth place in the table.
Starting with Colchester at home. It had the potential to be a tricky game as they had previously beaten league leaders Gillingham and favourites for promotion, Sheffield United.
However, we all know what happened by now. We put in our best performance as a team for well over 18 months and ran out 5-0 winners.
That result won us over as fans, but the big question was ‘can we back it up?’
Just three days later and we faced a long and tough trip down to Peterborough, who were on fire since Graham Westley took over.
But we showed that fighting spirit again and even though we blew a two-goal lead, we managed to pick ourselves up and have the confidence to take the lead one more time and battle for another three points.
Finally, we finished a harsh run of fixtures with a solid point at Bradford. Yes, we should have won and had nine points out of nine, but to get a point at Valley Parade where they bombarded us with set pieces is very respectful in my eyes.
It must be a great feeling for the Latics’ players who go out on the field every match day, knowing that the person next to you wants exactly what you want and wants to put their body on the line; something we didn’t have last season.
It’s certainly great for the fans to see because we have all the makings of a promotion winning side: the spirit, the ability to score plenty of goals in any match and we retain possession better than any other team in League One.
Teams already don’t want to play us, so just imagine what it would be like if we can retain some consistency.