The 12th Man: Latics fans have their say
What a difference a week makes.
I spoke in last week’s column about Preston being a season defining game. It was a game that Latics really didn’t deserve to lose and if truth be told couldn’t really afford to lose before kick off.
The result left a lot of the Latics faithful downhearted and Gary Caldwell under some of the more intense pressure of his reign. It needed a performance and change of fortunes at home and we certainly got that four days later.
Wolves came in to the game on the back of an excellent run of form and had been one of the more consistent sides in the opening weeks of the season.
Gary Caldwell’s decision to rest Will Grigg and start Adam Le Fondre against his former club paid dividends as Latics got that goal that had been missing for the past two weeks. Wolves came back strongly and equalised through another individual mistake.
It looked as though another win would allude Latics but Will Grigg who had replaced Le Fondre late in the second half had other ideas and there was no way back for Wolves after Latics got the winner in the 88th minute.
The win at home to Wolves could well be the season defining game we needed. The key is now to follow that up with another good performance and some sort of result away to Brentford on Saturday.
What a difference a win makes, three little points
Brought fun and eased the doubts where there used to be pain
At Preston there was no cheer
Against Wolves there was no fear
The gloom has gone its now clear
Since Will scored that goal
Oh, what a difference a win made
We’re out of the bottom three
The Latics fans can’t be edgy since that moment of joy
Did Will have a boy?
It’s heaven when your strikers score, the game just flew.
What a difference a win made
Now can we have another one too?
Am I happy with the win on Tuesday? You bet your life I am, there was plenty to admire in the game, without getting carried away of course, Adam Le Fondre scored a super little goal, created by the Power and Perkins combination that has been missing so far this season and Will Grigg added to the joy of becoming a new dad with scoring a last minute winner.
The defence looked solid enough, though there was the customary unforced blip that led to the goal, but we’ll over look that with the positivity that the three points and subsequent climb out of the bottom three brought.
Brentford on Saturday who, under Denis Smith, are flying at home, fortress Griffin Park it is being referred to, well we’ll see about that, keep the momentum going with at least a point as we head into the next international break and it will be an exciting Autumn programme ahead for the Latics.
What a difference a win makes.
Up the tics!
It was great to see Latics get back to winning ways against Wolves on Tuesday night.
It was a hard fought but deserved victory against a very good Wolves team who had recently beaten Newcastle and Brentford. Prior to Tuesday’s game Gary Caldwell faced a lot of criticism and it appears that some of our supporters have taken a dislike to the manager and want him to fail. The negativity towards Caldwell from some quarters is very strange indeed.
The Scot did a brilliant job last season, rebuilding the club, transforming the playing staff and winning the League One title in his first full season as manager, but some fans are set against him. Latics haven’t had the best start to the season, but it's fair to say that Caldwell’s team hasn’t been outplayed so far and they haven't been beaten by more than one goal in any game.
They have dominated possession in most games and their performances deserve to have more points on the table.
In a very tight division and were any team is capable of beating another. Fine margins will dictate who wins the points. A defensive mistake, a top quality strike, a refereeing decision, an injury to a key player can all decide where the points will reside. So the resentment towards Caldwell and his style of play remains hard to comprehend.
For the uninitiated, Caldwell believes in possession, building from the back and trying to play football on the ground. His previous managers Bobby Robson, Gordon Strachan and Roberto Martinez have influenced his footballing beliefs. But he is also his own man, a modern manager who is still learning and developing all the time. He is still one of the brightest youngest managers in the Football League at 34-years- old, and he has already shown that he is more than capable of being a success at a higher level.
The current vitriol directed towards Caldwell is often irrational and covers everything from Latics style of play, the formation, his connection to Roberto Martinez and being stubborn and sticking to his football beliefs.
Whatever some detractors think Caldwell will continue to instruct his players to play the ball out from the back and pass their way to success. This style of play is not unique to Latics; it is a progressive system that has been successful with many top teams.
Rather than constantly criticizing the manager the fans should be congratulating him on having a well thought out system of play.
It is still early in the season, we are a new team in a new division and we don’t have the resources of some of the bigger clubs in the Championship.
Latics are not far off becoming a good team and Caldwell should be given the time to deliver better results. The backbiting needs to stop now, the fans need to get behind the manager like they did last season and the club can continue to move forward.
Tuesday’s 2-1 victory against Wolves seems relief all round with everyone associated with Wigan Athletic, as we finally picked up 3 points after no win in 7 games.
Super-sub Grigg was on hand to calmly round the keeper and send the DW into ecstasy, as the game looked as if it was petering out for a draw.
Caldwell had come under heavy scrutiny following the 1-0 defeat to Preston last Friday. Many fans where calling for the managers head, but what we don’t need is a knee jerk reaction following the recent run of results, as we’re nowhere near, in the type of position that occurred 2 years ago.
Seemingly there was no better way to answer his critics than to get the win which lifted us out of the relegation zone.
Everytime I’ve watched us so far this season, no team has played us off the park, either we’ve just lacked a cutting edge going forward or defensive mistakes have cost us, as it so nearly did on Tuesday.
After the referee blew his whistle for the final time on Tuesday evening, you can tell how much it meant to the players to finally get a win. Hugging and congratulating eachother. It just shows that they’re together as a team and are infact fighting tooth and nail to put the bad start right.
Saturday’s trip to Brentford will be another tough task, as in their last two home games they’ve scored nine goals. I think a point would be a good result for us, heading into the international break.
We didn’t just lose to our local rivals who we hadn’t played competitively for 11 years, the defeat actually meant we fell to rock bottom of the Championship for the first time in the club’s history.
For the first time in his spell as Wigan Athletic manager, Gary Caldwell was scrutinised by some of the club’s fans and was possibly feeling the pressure following poor form and a bad run of results.
Credit to Caldwell, he stuck to his guns. He came out and faced the hard-hitting questions that the media threw at him.
The Scotsman vowed that Wigan would continue to play the same way, the passing style that saw us cruise to the League One title.
And it came up trumps on Tuesday night, as we secured a 2-1 victory at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Caldwell made a big call to drop Will Grigg to the bench and hand Adam Le Fondre his first start for the club.
Again, that call was rewarded as Alfie gave us the lead after just five minutes.
Yes, we rode our luck a little bit but you can argue that luck is one of the elements that has eluded us so far this season.
Luck or not, you can’t fault the boys’ team spirit at 1-1 to keep going until the final whistle.
That desire finally paid off as Grigg came off the bench to score a last minute winner, just to make sure we hadn’t forgot about him.
So hats off to Caldwell in what’s probably been one of the toughest weeks in his short managerial career.
He took the stick and he believed in his philosophy, but, most of all, the players showed that they believe in his philosophy too.
On to Brentford this Saturday, which will be a very tough trip indeed. In their last two home games, they’ve beaten Preston 5-0 and Reading 4-1.
Our defence hasn’t been great at the best of times during this campaign; however, if they come at us with all out attack we do have the pace and skill to cause them problems on the counter attack.
The name’s Nosey Barstool, Private Investigator.
I have been assigned a curious case concerning the disappearance of one Jordi ‘Gordon’ Gomez’s luxurious beard, which went missing on the morning of Friday, September 23.
The following data was collected with two remote controlled drones positioned above the Wigan Athletic training ground in Euxton, Chorley on Monday, September 26.
They flew for precisely 46 minutes before being shot down with an automatic table tennis serving machine shortly after 10am.
Could Jake Buxton have ‘borrowed’ Jordi Gomez’s beard?
Certainly, the burly blocker’s chinfluff seems much thicker than usual this week – a mere coincidence, or did he callously remove every last beard wig from J-Go’s open locker?
Is Gomez’s goatee lost in a time warp that swallowed at least 35 minutes of the Preston game, floating amongst half-peeled football stickers and Premier League Pogs somewhere around 1995?
Gaz Caldwell did mention he dropped a Championship point or three down there.
Did Jordi take one look at Adam Bogdan’s burgeoning neck squirrel, instantly scream ‘there’s no beating that’ (in Spanish), and spend a whole night plucking every last hair from his finely-chiselled jaw?
That would explain why Gomez appeared a touch red-eyed (and why Bog Man seemed overly smug) at Deepdale.
Perhaps there are plans to regrow the Gomez beard for charity, possibly as part of a wider fun day at the DW Stadium?
Maybe Dan Burn will offer to lock himself in a pillary while punters toss mouldy oven bottoms at him for £1 a go (50p extra for tiger rolls)?
Or did our one man Spanish Armada simply take a mid-afternoon siesta on the DW pitch, waking to find a myopic groundsman had mowed his beard along with the grass?
Here, the trail goes cold.
My employer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, can no longer afford to pay me in brown sauce sachets from his local tapas restaurant.
Though these two facts are purely coincidental, I must end my involvement in this case with immediate effect.
27 September 2016
PS. For reference, please find enclosed Jordi Gomez’s missing beard hairs.
Don’t tell anyone I gave them to you, OK?