Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'The pain of administration will never go away, but something special is building at our football club, something you can’t help but feel pride in...'

Our panel of Latics experts run the rule over another fine week for Latics, ahead of the weekend visit of struggling Morecambe...

Paul Middleton:

Well, it’s nearly April and we’re still on for promotion, and still on for 100 points. I’d forgo the ton-up, obviously, if it guaranteed a quicker than expected return to the Championship, but I’m not ruling it out. We’re good enough to do it, and there’s only really MK Dons in a position to catch us unless we blow up like Devon Loch. Rotherham are still looking easily good enough to take the other spot, and I’m really not bothered whether we go up as champions or runners-up. Ultimately, it won’t matter. I think a lot of credit has to go to Stephen Humphrys and Gavin Massey for recent performances. Massey is looking better than he has in about three years, and Humphrys is showing some of the form that brought him goals at Rochdale. He’s also one of the hardest working players in the squad, and is a right nuisance for defenders. That allows others to do more off the ball as well as on it, and it has paid dividends. On a slightly different note, apparently our free caps are on the way. I wish I was surprised that Latics fans have mithered enough for the club to still be talking about it, but this is exactly how our fanbase likes to roll. Fair play for Talal et all to have come through with what should really be a long forgotten thing. I do, though, want to say something about season tickets for next year, and how I think the club have got it wrong. Not the pricing, that’s fantastic, but the time constraints on people to renew. When energy, fuel and food are rising at an unprecedented rate, the club has given only three weeks for fans to buy for next season before the price goes up. The next milestone, for claiming the same seat, is the end of April. I believe this is incredibly short sighted, and one of the very few things the club has got wrong. I am fortunate that I can find the money to renew before the end of March, but many will not be in such a position. I get that other clubs do it, but that doesn’t make them any more right than us. Given a choice between someone paying a gas bill or feeding their kids, and buying a Latics season ticket, there will only be one winner. We are not a club where, if one person doesn’t buy a ticket there’s another waiting to take their place. We are a club where, if one person doesn’t buy a ticket, it's just one fewer ticket sold. I just hope it doesn’t backfire to the extent I fear it might.

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The Latics players enjoy the win at CreweThe Latics players enjoy the win at Crewe
The Latics players enjoy the win at Crewe


Well four points on the board this week, and a bit of a disappointment only taking one from MK after taking the lead. But if you'd have offered those results this time last week, we'd have taken them. We seem to be walking a tightrope with suspension of late but, as long as they don't all hit at the same time, we should be okay. Season tickets launched in March? Well, I never! This will split opinion, but it looks like the club is more organised these days. And you will never please everyone. It's Wigan Athletic, there would be moans if they were free season tickets. Stay safe, ad best of luck to all the Joseph's Goal walkers this weekend.

Matt Auffrey:

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It wasn’t glamorous, glorious, or sexy in the least bit, but Wigan Athletic just secured two crucial results. We’ve completed our 17th and 18th away days of the league campaign and have accrued a super impressive 40 points from this season’s away fixtures. There is not another team in League One who have mastered the art of the ‘business trip’ like Latics this season. We’re not the most prolific scoring team in the league (that would be Oxford), and don’t possess the league’s top goal scorer (that would be Ross Stewart of Sunderland). Despite our games in-hand on top-of-the-table Rotherham, they still have a vastly superior goal differential, which will practically serve as another point on the board as we aim to unseat them over the next month and a half. Latics hold few notable superlatives with respect to the rest of the division, but our stellar away form has put us in a class by ourselves. Even Rotherham, who have only allowed FIVE goals away from home this season, have earned just 38 points from away fixtures despite playing one more match than Latics. Therefore, It should come as no surprise that Leam’s team did indeed neutralise the league’s form side, MK Dons, on their home ground last Saturday and made light work of bottom-of-the-table Crewe in Cheshire during the middle of the week. We were missing several key players in both matches, yet adjusted as necessary, and put in two great defensive shifts on top of scoring a few important goals. Despite conceding an 88th-minute equaliser on Saturday, minutes later when the full time whistle blew, a strong feeling of accomplishment persisted. Latics achieved their goal of not letting MK Dons gain any ground on them in the league table, and in turn, lifted a massive weight off their shoulders. This weekend’s opponent, Morecambe, are making their club’s competitive debut at the DW and are winless in their last 11 matches. The Shrimps are a few days removed from a 5-0 loss at lower mid-table Shrewsbury and it’d be easy to assume Latics will just as easily have their way with the out-of-form visitors. I and many others had a similar vision going into the Sunderland match several weeks ago and the end result was an indisputable home loss. We are not in a position to put the 'Believe' bus on autopilot yet. I have no doubts Leam and his staff will prepare for anything but a walk in the park this Saturday. Speaking of walks, bon voyage to everyone who will walk over a marathon-and-a-half for Joseph’s Goal from Morecambe to the DW over the next two days. It looks to be a phenomenal event for a tremendous cause, and I encourage everyone to support as they’re able to do. Just as many of our fans will be on their feet for the charity walk, we recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of a major milestone that led to our club getting back on their feet again: Talal’s letter to the fans about Phoenix 2021’s purchase of the club. As we approach more joyous one-year anniversaries over the next few months, let's continue to rack up the achievements for this current season. Three points on Saturday will be a great next step on our quest towards success.

Emma Peters:

As we go into the final stretch of this campaign I think it would be fair to say Wigan Athletic Football Club has had arguably its most successful season in several long years. It's not really a secret this year's target was largely to settle the club - on and off the pitch. It is a business at the end of the day, and I think we've managed that exceptionally well. Behind the scenes, what has been achieved over the last 12 months has been remarkable. On the pitch, nothing short of heroic. Holding the position we do in the league table (second place, four points behind top, three points clear of third, and still with games in hand) and being able to go to clubs like Rotherham and MK Dons and take a point at each is a great achievement. Under normal circumstances, anyone would say it's just little Wigan punching well above their weight again, but this time it's not. We are a very well, very cleverly run club with the finances, talent and personalities to enable us to compete very very well in this division, and everything we have achieved so far has been well deserved. It's very "******* Wigan" of us. Quite obnoxious really. Moving on, it was always going to be too much to hope Langy would be able to resist the urge to acquire his 10th booking of the season a week before the deadline, wasn't it? It became obvious partway through the first half at Crewe we miss him (and James McClean, who opted to watch Tuesday night's game in the stands with the away fans) when he isn't on the pitch. There's been shouts this week he needs to 'calm down' and not pick up so many cards, but I actually disagree. The passion and emotion and the aggression he plays with makes him the player he is. He cares, a lot, about the performances and the results we take from the fixtures and if we take those things away from him, no he probably wouldn't get as many bookings as he does, but we'd also be in danger of changing the player he is, removing the creativity and 'flair' if you will. That being said, as much as he was missed, we did all right at Crewe without him, didn't we? Big shout to Josh Magennis, who finally managed to get his first goal over the line for the club, helping us to a very important three points on the road! Now, I feel like a broken record, but my word, how good has Will Keane been this season? Just the 18 league goals for the 'Tics under his belt, he is flying up front! Further back up the pitch, yet more appreciation for Tom Naylor and Jack Whatmough. Consistently solid every single game, even when one or the other could be having an 'off' game. Perfectly confident Nayls could intercept a meteor heading for Earth, and has anyone actually seen Whatmough not win a header? Like, ever? I feel there could be a very tight margin between the two ex-Pompey men for this season's Player of the Year award. Has anyone checked on Portsmouth, by the way? They must be sick with envy and in a serious state of mourning at the loss of those two. The Leam Richardson Effect! Last shout of the week, as we approach the fixture against Morecambe on Saturday, we also approach this year's Walk4Joseph. If you're not taking part in the walk itself, please have a good root down the back of the sofa for any bits of loose change you can find and throw them in the direction of Joseph's Goal. Anyway, I'm off to ponder the fact Tom Naylor was on his way to League Two about 30 seconds before he signed for Wigan, and if anyone is in need of a yellow card, Callum can lend you one, he's got loads!

Tony Moon:

Oh what a night, middle of March in 2022,

A comfortable win it was, away in Crewe.

One step closer, and what a night.

And, what a team, every player really gave their all,

And Josh Magennis finally scored his goal.What a team and what a night.

In the stand, we got a funny feeling when the second hit the net,

Cos the crowd, are thinking of promotion, you can bet.

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Oh what a night, three points clear and still two games in hand,

And TEN points clear of little Sun-der-land.

But they get big crowds! Oh what a night.

And what a club, Talal’s got everyone upbeat again,

Looking forward to next season, when,

We won’t play Horwich, ‘cept in t’ Cup.

And us fans, we get a funny feeling that we’re on our way back,

To t’ Championship, wi' all them other Lancy teams, what a craic!

Oh what a night, back at Christmas, we were full o’ nerves,

But all the first team squad including all t’ reserves,

Have been doing the business, what a night.

Just 10 more games, winning half ‘d mean it’s good as done,

Winning seven‘d mean promotion’s won,

Let’s start wi’ Morecambe … Up the Tics!

Sean Livesey:

We've 10 games left, 10 cup finals, 10 games in order to right the horrific wrongs of the summer of 2020. Can Latics do it? On the evidence of the last week – most definitely. As disappointing as the penalty shoot-out defeat to Sutton was, Leam and the lads followed up in the best way possible. The performance in Milton Keynes was very good, and arguably should have led to all three points but with the kind of form Franchise FC were in, a point away from home was a very good result indeed. Especially when you look at the players missing due to injury and suspension. Yes Ben Amos should have done better with their equaliser but, ahead of the match, everyone would have taken a point, knowing the two games we had in the next week. The visit to Gresty Road followed the same path as the home game against Crewe. Latics were by far the better side, but a steadfast Crewe regard - coupled with yet another referee falling for every time wasting trick in the book - meant it looked like we would be heading into the break with a worrying 0-0 against their name. Thankfully, Josh Maggenis decided it would be the ideal time to bag his opening goal for the club. He’s had a torrid time since he arrived and, by his own admission, could have done better. But as with Charlie Wyke and Stephen Humphrys before him, he’s retained the support of his manager, and you wouldn’t bet against Josh getting further goals over the next 10 games. So on to Morecambe on Saturday. They pushed us all the way back in January, but now seem a shadow of that side. With a new management team in charge, and without a win in 11 games, we’ll go in as overwhelming favourites. But we know football doesn’t work like that. We need calm and level heads at this stage of the season, and thankfully Leam Richardson has that in spades. It’s a year this week since the takeover by Phoenix 2021 was ratified and completed. Who would have believed the progress we’ve made since then? I bet even Talal and Mal Brannigan are surprised. All credit goes to those staff both in the boardroom and in the dug-out, along with those hardworking staff who helped to bring our club back from the brink. The pain of administration will never go away, but something special is building at our football club, something you can’t help but feel pride in. And we’re 10 games away from sealing the first part of that. Saturday also sees the return of the Walk4Joseph charity walk in aid of Joseph's Goal, to find a cure for the rare genetic disorder NKH. This year, instead of walking to an away ground, the walkers - led manfully by Martin Tarbuck - are walking FROM the away ground to the DW Stadium. Best of luck to everyone involved.

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If you would like to sponsor one of the Joseph’s Goal walkers – who will include Mal Brannigan, Richard Bramwell, Dr Jonathan Tobin and Jonathan Jackson – click here https://www.justgiving.com/team/walk4josephmorecambe