The 12th Man: All we are saying is give us...something!
Obscure moments from my youth part 546.
An FA Cup tie at home to Carlisle United in 1989.
The travelling Cumbrian support could perhaps best be described as being a touch excitable, only for them yet again to have their bubble burst by the mighty Wigan Athletic.
At 2-0 down and with their day completely deflated, they struck up a chant which has stuck with me to current day.
Probably ripped off but it was the first time I had heard it, and to the tune of one of John Lennon’s post-Beatle works, it simply went “All we are saying, is give us a goal!”
It’s probably just as well that Wigan Athletic fans haven’t adopted it, as this season in particular we could have found ourselves singing it 22 times.
Therein lies the problem.
To use another, more contemporary chant – that’s why we’re going down.
At the start of the season, most football fans have the tendency to peer all the way over to the last game of the season and start speculating.
Who could forget two years ago when we drew Brentford away?
“Ooh what a great place to celebrate promotion!”
That worked out well didn’t it?
Sometimes it does, as per Blackpool last season.
Yet moving to current day and Leeds at home looked like a particularly feisty fixture right up until a few weeks back.
Now it’s something of a damp squib, with the forthcoming Joseph’s Goal charity game at Ashton Town in two weeks attracting considerably more excitement.
As a mate of mine, perhaps harshly said: “It’ll be nice to watch some players we actually like for a change”.
Back to the damp squib, which is not to be confused with a damp squid.
For one, living in the water as it does, how would a squid be anything other than damp? Secondly, a squib is actually a kind of firework.
Now I suppose we have seen some kind of fireworks at the DW in the last few weeks, Nick Powell playing the role of Guido Fawkes – with the fetching beard to match. Yet across the course of the season, there hasn’t even been a squib on the field most weeks.
Even a squid which rapidly got extinguished might have generated a round of applause.
So come on lads, give us a goal on Sunday at least.
Occasionally, you do get these daft-as-a-brush end of season games where both teams cast aside any negative shackles and just go full on gung-ho.
A team that’s been so shot shy they’ve spent large parts of the season giving each other “don’t you pass that white thing to me” style glares aren’t going to turn into the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters overnight but it might just put a tiny bit of cheer into a truly grotty season.
I’ve been told off in the past for claiming to be some kind of voice of the fans, and it seems that if you have two Wigan Athletic fans in a room, then you’ve got an argument.
Yet I think I’m on safe ground speaking for the majority when I say if they go out and have a go and come off second best, the fans will appreciate it.
So let’s treat Sunday as an early audition for next year as the new Wigan Athletic enter a new chapter, in a new division.
It will tell us exactly how big of a job any new manager has got and give us hope and confidence for the future.
Another new adventure awaits us Latics fans.
Relegation confirmed so it will be League One next season, so what?
Whichever division this club plays in I will be there supporting, I didn’t feel we would be going down last August, but I wasn’t arrogant enough to rule it out completely
We have competed in a very tough league and unfortunately we haven’t met the mark, so in the now famous words of club skipper Stephen Warnock we dust ourselves down and go again.
The squad of players that we have is without question good enough to be very competitive next season, there is much to look forward to and we should have a chance to see the Latics score some goals, win some games and get the crowd lifted again on home soil.
The big downside of relegation though is the potential loss of jobs for ancillary staff at the club, this is one negative aspect that many fans don’t consider.
I just hope that anyone who finds themselves under threat has as successful as possible outcome.
We will soon see the unveiling of the new boss, many names linked at the moment.
Hopefully this time round it will be someone for the long term and bring some much needed stability, the constant chopping and changing has been very much counter productive.
Despite relegation and having no manager I do feel surprisingly optimistic, I am looking forward to August when we get going again and the possibility of some winning football. Whatever happens I’ll be there.
Up the Tics!
The season’s almost over and what an horrific season it’s been from start to finish.
No one would have thought we’d be in this position when we were crowned champions of League One just a year ago.
The summer transfer window was the start of the downfall.
Many mind-blowing decisions regarding the departure of players. Jason Pearce, Chris McCann, Sam Morsy, Reece Wabara and Ryan Colclough were all told they had no part to play in the Championship campaign, therefore they were either sold or sent out on loan.
The second decision of the season, which had me scratching my head was Craig Morgan being stripped of the captaincy, and it going to Stephen Warnock.
Therefore, when Gary Caldwell was sacked, we had to make sure we got the right man in, to help us get out of the bottom three, as other teams around us were also sacking their managers.
The decision to appoint Warren Joyce was the wrong choice at such a crucial point in the season.
Joyce only had three or so months at the club, and they were probably some of the worst months that I have seen for a long time.
When the decision came around to sack Warren Joyce, and then make Graham Barrow interim boss until the end of the season, it was too little too late.
Credit must go to Barrow though, he got the players fired up for games and you could see a difference in the players, which we just failed to see under Warren Joyce.
However, League One last season was probably one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had watching Wigan for as long as I can remember.
It’s crucial we get the next manager right preferably one we won’t need to sack six months into the season.
If we keep the majority of the squad from this season, just as Jonathan Jackson has said we will, then I’m confident we’ll be battling for the League One title once more.
So the season ended much the way it began, far from being outclassed in games Latics had been competitive throughout the season.
But we never did enough to make that competitive streak pay dividends.
Relegation to League One feels less of a shock than last time, mainly because it’s been coming for so long that not being relegated would have been a bigger shock.
Regardless of how it feels it’s still ridiculous to think that the side that did so much to banish the demons of 2014/2015 and that season’s relegation have themselves followed the same path.
Lessons clearly hadn’t been learned by the club and the sacking of Gary Caldwell, whether you like it or not, has had a detrimental affect on our chances of survival.
Not necessarily getting rid of the aforementioned Caldwell, we all have our views on that.
But regardless a new manager arriving in October should have had more than enough to turn the side around in that time, sadly we gambled on Warren Joyce who no matter what you think of the man as a person was a disaster for the club.
It’s going to take a lot to recover from this set back.
Yes League One isn’t as strong as the Championship, yes Bolton have gained promotion using a series of free agents and free transfers, but it’s still a difficult League to get out of.
As we discovered countless times in the late ‘90s to the early ‘00s.
If we can keep the basis of this squad together, many of whom won League One at a canter last season and couple them with a manager who plays positively but more importantly plays to their strengths, we may have a chance.
I spoke to Jimmy Wagg on BBC Radio Manchester on Saturday along with Paul Middleton of the Mudhutter about in an ideal world, who we would want as manager.
For the first time in a long time, I had no answer.
The lack of realistic candidates is startling and both an indication of how our stock has fallen from when Premier League-bound Chris Hughton applied for the job and an indication of how few decent managers are around.
Whoever the new manager is we’re desperate for stability in the football club.
Let’s hope that whoever the new manager is, previous history with the club or not, can provide that stability.
With Latics’ relegation to League One finally confirmed, the search for a new manager will now gather pace with an appointment expected by the end of the month or beginning of June.
However, Latics’ track record in recruiting managers is not a good one as they have sacked five managers since 2013 and have one of the highest managerial turnovers in the Football League.
It is fair to say they have made some poor managerial appointments, in particular Owen Coyle, Malky Mackay and Warren Joyce, and it is crucial that they get it right this time. Dave Whelan and David Sharpe have a shortlist of potential managers and hopefully this time they will do the due diligence and carry out extensive interviews with all the candidates.
There have been many managers mentioned in connection with the post but here’s my own personal shortlist of candidates that I would like to see interviewed.
1. The current Fleetwood Town and former Latics manager Uwe Rosler is probably the front-runner for the job but a lot will depend on which division Fleetwood are in next season. Rosler has done a remarkable job to get them into the League One play-offs on limited resources.
He initially did very well for Latics getting the team into the FA Cup semi-final and Championship play-offs in 2014, and he clearly has a good knowledge of League One and that will be required if they are to make a quick return to the Championship.
2. The current Northern Ireland manager and former Latics midfielder Michael O’Neill is in contention for the Norwich City job but if Latics could tempt him, it would be something of a coup.
O’Neill was named coach of the year at BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 after helping Northern Ireland qualify for their first major tournament for 30 years.
His team then went onto reach the last 16 of Euro 2016.
If Latics wanted him they would have to pay compensation to Northern Ireland but he would be an excellent appointment if it came about.
3. Former Latics midfielder Paul Cook is a strong contender for the job.
Cook played nearly 100 games for the club and featured in the squad, which reached the FA Cup quarter-final in 1987.
The current Portsmouth manager has led his team to promotion from League Two this season and previously managed Chesterfield to the League Two title in 2014.
Much could depend on the current takeover talks at Portsmouth with billionaire former Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner looking to invest in the club. Cook has proved that he can be successful in the lower divisions. He is originally from Kirkby and if he wants a return to the North West, then Latics would be the ideal club for him.
4. The Lincoln City management duo of Danny and Nicky Cowley have been sending shockwaves throughout the football world with their scientific approach to coaching.
They achieved promotion to the Football League and were the first non-league team to reach the FA Cup quarter-final in 103 years, beating Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley this season.
Their Sports Science methods include using ‘Hudl’ to send video clips to players and iCoach4Sport which provides statistics and data to analyse player performance.
The two brothers are the rising stars of the coaching world and their relentless approach to management has won them plenty of admirers further up the football pyramid.
Wigan Athletic Alternative Moments of the Season 2016-17
Kids in the East Stand capturing Shoetron in Pokemon Go! Instead of watching the totally uncompetitive Latics v Man United pre-season friendly.
Fans adding an extra ‘ooh’ to the Will Grigg chant for the English Football League Plus Cardiff Plus Swansea (And Newport County) Cup tie with Oldham ‘Real Latics’ Athletic.
Will Grigg (remember him?) setting up Craig Davies (remember him?) for a late equaliser against Birmingham at the DW Stadium.
Ahhh, this truly was the age of multiple Wigan Athletic strikers.
Gary Caldwell being controversially sacked in Rigalettos on World Pasta Day due to disagreements with David Sharpe over lemon curd pizza toppings.
The Latics media team burying a fake king underneath Robin Park Poundsavah to combat the power of Reading’s own car park king.
It didn’t work – Wigan lost 3-0, while the Royals went on to lift the Microsoft Paint Trophy.
Warren Joyce dreaming of the copy of FIFA Soccer he got for Christmas as his side were totally destroyed by bottom-of-the-table no-hopers Rotherham on Boxing Day.
Sadly you can’t reload to cover up your mistakes in real life.
The DW Stadium becoming entranced by Morsymania as ‘Small’ Sam’s magical sweatband helped his side to a rare home victory over Brentford.
Morsy’s goal might have been incredible, but this was also the day Latics learned to truly love Dan Burn for his ‘one touch, bash it to the Moon’ ethos.
Wigan and Preston contesting the ‘Real FA Cup Final’ in February.
Pretty much all of Latics’ 34 contracted goalkeepers have stopped penalties this season, but Matty Gilks’ double spot kick save in this game was the best I have ever witnessed at the DW Stadium.
Sam Morsy’s sweatband suddenly losing all its magical abilities as its owner was booked for daring to lurk within five feet of a falling Blackburn player.
Morsy would make few first team appearances after this incident.
King Joyce’s last stand: a laughably ineffectual home defeat to a lukewarm Bristol City. After taking a couple of days to consider his options, Sharpey smushed Caldwell’s leftover lemon curd pizza all over WJ’s freshly laundered shorts.
Not so ‘lucky’ any more, are they?
The unfortunate Jakob Haugaard trudging slowly back to Stoke after sustaining a [censored] shoulder injury in training.
This spelled the end of ‘Haugaardgate’, quite possibly the most exciting thing to happen to Wigan Athletic all season.
…Actually, I take that back – I just extracted 400 words’ worth of entertainment from the last eight months of (sometimes) footballing action.
In that sense, this has been the most exhilarating season since the days of Malky Mac!
See you in August for yet more of this nonsense, dear reader.