The 12th Man Coulmn: Latics need to stop killing themselves with individual errors

Don't Panic! Not wanting to go all Corporal Jones on you but, with four defeats in a row, now may be the time where some of our support start to panic.

Friday, 16th September 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:00 pm
Adam Bogdan

Indeed many of the more hysterical of our supoort across social media were calling for the manager’s head on Tuesday night.

A ridiculous over-reaction considering Gary Caldwell’s comparisons to the Messiah little more than three months ago.

Now isn’t the time to panic, and it certainly isn’t the time to sack the manager, tear up the blueprint and start all over again.

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I think the club would accept it’s been a difficult reintroduction to life in the Championship.

Whereas the last time we were in this division we were still one of the top dogs financially, we certainly aren’t any more.

Even those fabled Premier League parachute payments are a drop in the ocean compared to other clubs in the league.

As such it’s probably taken a bit more time to get our targets in and over the line this summer, and a further stretch of time to get them up to game speed.

Many commented that the side that finished Tuesday night is the side that should start against Fulham, such was their dominance and performance against Norwich.

Nathan Byrne and Jordi Gomez were central to that improved second-half performance, and they’re still miles behind the rest of the side in terms of fitness and game time.

Once we have everyone in the squad up to speed I’m sure we’ll see an up turn in results.

Although it’s important not to panic, we do need to pick up results to stop the rot.

Hopefully the lads have taken inspiration from Tuesday’s second-half performance and can put the defensive mistakes to one side and get that three points against Fulham.

Do that, and our season can really get underway.


Bigger picture

There is no doubting Latics have had a disappointing start to the season, but some of the comments from fans on the various social media forums do beggar belief.

Much of the criticism of the manager’s tactics and players attitude is way wide of the mark.

It is fair to say Latics could easily have had more points on the table if it were not for some crazy mistakes.

In every game so far they have been competitive and, when they have lost, it was not by more than one goal.

Fans pay their money and have the right to express their opinions, but some just don’t see the bigger picture.

The level of negativity and despondency after only seven games in the Championship is quite shocking.

Calls for Gary Caldwell to be sacked, and to say the team is not good enough, are very premature.

Latics comfortably won the League One title last season under the guidance of Caldwell, and there was always going to be a transition period as the manager and team adjust to the step up in quality in the Championship.

With 14 new signings, injuries and suspensions it was inevitable that it would take time for the team to come together.

I’m sure no-one at the club is shirking the responsibility for the results, but everyone should be aware they have been beaten in the last week by two of the top teams in the Championship, in Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich.

Despite the negativity from some fans, there are plenty of positive signs that results will improve.

The return of Craig Morgan and David Perkins can only give the team a boost.

And the performance of the returning Jordi Gomez at Norwich showed what an important player he can be for the club.

There are also indications the new players are starting to settle, and if they can eradicate the silly defensive mistakes then the club can move forward.

This team is still in development and the fans need to show patience.

The Championship has consistently shown any club is capable of beating another.

The margin between success and failure is now extremely tight.

The fans that vent their anger at Caldwell’s team really ought to take a step back, understand this is a new group of players in a higher division and support them rather than constantly berating them.


Goals are there

Four losses in a row, has consigned us to 23rd spot in the league.

The last two games have both been 2-1 defeats, against Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich, and the start we’ve made has been disappointing to say the least.

But with only seven games played, there’s still plenty time for us to get up and running.

Normally, the experts say were you’re in the league after 10 games is round about the position you’ll finish come the end of the season.

But they don’t always get it right, do they?

One thing is for sure: Gary Caldwell needs to find a formation and a team, that plays week in, week out.

Because the constant chopping and changing of the team and the many systems he’s tried already is part of the problem.

Also, it seems at the moment, as if he doesn’t exactly know what his best XI is yet.

The other part of the problem, is how easy we’re to score against.

Out of seven games in the league, we’ve only kept one clean sheet.

On the other hand, going forward, it’s clear for all to see – if we keep creating chances, we’ll score goals with the attacking ability at our disposal.

After all, we’ve only failed to score in one game – the 1-0 home defeat to QPR – and that is hugely encouraging.


Top-draw stuff

A History of Wigan Athletic v Fulham: The Stat Brat Guest Column.

Wigan Athletic v. Fulham is a fixture spanning almost exactly 300 thrilling years of Football League history.

Of the 3,827 matches played since Octember 1716, precisely 3,825 have been drawn. And there is a good reason for this.

In 1720, King George Graham I declared that all competitive matches between the sides must end in a draw.

Some grisly consequences of not adhering to the monarch’s wishes are documented in the Diary of Peter Person, Rector of Fulchester (1722):

“Foot-ball is a peculiar sporte. Ffor neglectynge to ensure that Fulhamme and Wiganne played out a disappointinge 1-1 drawe … managers of both sydes were sybjected to ten thousand beatings with rotten leeks wrapped wythe stinging nettles.

The actual result, 1-0 to Fulhamme, wasse immediately expunged from the recorde.”

Though branded ‘archaic’ and ‘anti-entertainment’ by many throughout the centuries, King George’s law has survived to this day.

Only two Latics-Fulham matches have not ended in a draw, and those were abandoned due to ‘excessive nudity’ (1876) and an ‘overzealous fire alarm’ (1997).

Since King George did not rise from his grave to vaporise the participants with his celestial laser mouth cannon, it is assumed he is happy enough with these excuses.

Over half of the 3,827 contests have ended scoreless – 1,677, to be precise.

1,230 have finished 1-1, while 576 have ended 2-2.

Five finished 5-5, and one finished 6.543-6.543 (Bayesian estimate).

The highest-scoring game was on 1 April 1760, when both teams conspired to play a sneaky trick on the assembled crowd and aim for each other’s goal.

The Wyganne Evenying Poste notes the final score as 76-76.

Wigan’s Hacker Hobbs, who scored 23 goals in that match, went on to win the league’s Golden Boot with a total of 56 goals that season.

The lowest scoring game was on 15 January 1902, when both sides were deducted three goals for ‘hiding the referee’s shorts’.

This remains the only time in recorded history that any team finished with a negative goal count – the final score was –2 goals to –2.

The past century has been much more predictable, however – most modern Wigan-Fulham matches start and finish with all 22 participants playing a board game in the centre circle.

As a teaser, Saturday’s game of choice is expected to be Pop-Up Pirate or Hungry Hungry Hippos.


Ful of hope

With four points from seven games, the league table doesn’t show pleasant reading for Wigan Athletic fans.

With four defeats in a row, it’s very important for the morale and confidence of the team that the lads can pick up a win against Fulham.

The arrival of Yanic Wildschut and Nathan Bryne at Norwich changed the game, and nearly saw Wigan gain a point.

The pair injected the side with a much-needed pace increase, and made an impact on the game.

Jordi Gomez scored on his first start since his return, and looks set to keep his place in the starting XI.

Will Grigg has maintained his firing form of last season, scoring an impressive five goals so far, and it will be exciting to see what the arrivals of Adam Le Fondre, Nathan Bryne and Kaiyne Woolery can bring to the side.

We are very capable of beating Fulham and should take confidence of our second-half performance at Norwich into the game.

It’s a really important game, and a good chance to get points on the board – which could be very crucial for the team going forward.


Defensive woe

The 2-1 defeat at Norwich highlighted exactly what’s right and wrong with Wigan Athletic at the moment.

Going forward, we can score goals against any team that we’ll face this season.

Will Grigg has continued his goalscoring form so far and Michael Jacobs, Alex Gilbey and Yanic Wildschut look like they can do a decent job at Championship level.

Nathan Byrne looked sharp on his debut, and Jordi Gomez even grabbed his first goal since returning to the club.

Our attack is everything that’s good for Gary Caldwell and us Latics fans.

However, what continues to be bad is our defending – or lack of it.

It’s not the personnel, because Reece Burke, Jake Buxton, Stephen Warnock and the likes can all apply themselves in this division.

It’s the way Caldwell wants them to play – he even admitted as much on Tuesday.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way getting on our manager’s back here.

But I do think he’s being slightly naive.

I do understand he wants us to play out of the back and to be brave in possession.

But the players, such as Adam Bogdan and the defence in front of him, don’t look comfortable playing that way.

That uneasiness makes them hesitant on the ball, leading to costly mistakes that give us a mountain to climb.

We’re our own worst enemy – and it has to stop.

Losing can become a nasty habit, but losing cheaply makes it even worse.

I know it’s early days but, if we continue to play risky possession play in our own third of the pitch, we will be continually punished – and it will be a long campaign.