The 12th Man: Long and the short(s) of it is we have started like this in the past
Latics have had an indifferent start to this campaign, which is very similar to last season's poor start. Defeat in the opening day fixture at Bristol was followed by an early exit from the League Cup at Oldham.
Last season it was defeat at Coventry followed by another reverse to Bury in the League Cup. If the pattern continues they will draw their first home fixture against Blackburn as they did against Doncaster last season.
Latics tend to be slow starters and the constant turnover of players means that things do not normally settle down until a few weeks into the season.
For Latics’ fans the next fixture has an even greater significance because of the return of former manager Owen Coyle to the DW Stadium. Coyle left Latics under a dark cloud when he was sacked after only six months in charge in 2013. He subsequently went on to manage Houston Dynamo in the MLS but he had another disappointing time in the United States. Houston finished eighth in the Western Conference, and finished 15th in the 20-team league, and failed to make the playoffs. Coyle left the club in May 2016 by mutual consent before being appointed Rovers manager in June this year.
Coyle got off to a poor start in his first game in charge, losing 4-1 at home to Norwich City, and choruses of boos rang out from Ewood Park as the former Burnley and Bolton manager was the target of the fans’ disgruntlement.
I’m sure Latics’ fans will also give Coyle a raucous reception on Saturday afternoon.
Many believe Coyle’s time in charge set back the club’s development by several years. The signings during his time in charge were generally regarded as failures, with only Nick Powell and recent departure Chris McCann proving a success.
At the time of writing Latics were still looking to bring in more new players and the likelihood is that to finance the deals several more players will have to leave the club.
Some fans have expressed their frustration with the lack of transfer activity but ultimately Gary Caldwell is the one nearest to the players and knows their strengths and weaknesses. His judgement proved correct last season and there is no reason to doubt his judgement now.
An Ode to Owen
Note: The author apologises in advance for this article, which may contain extreme misinformation and is for entertainment purposes only.
You know, I’m only now realising how much I miss Owen Coyle. In his few short months at the club, he offered much more golden comedic material than every other Wigan Athletic manager combined – and yes, that includes good old Brucey Bonce.
Of course, ‘Columba’ didn’t seem so great at the time. Those exasperated Blackburn Rovers fans already petitioning for him to be sacked clearly share that sentiment, especially after last weekend’s crushing 4-1 defeat to Norwich City.
But now he’s in some other town playing noughts and no crosses with another chairman’s chequebook, we can truly appreciate the Legend of Lancashire’s hysterical genius. Now he and his misguided signings are long gone, we have the perfect opportunity to admit he made Wigan Athletic a more pleasurable place to be.
If Coyley hadn’t made emergency adjustments to the DW canteen menu, we would never have even thought of sampling the delightful orange glucose soaked strawberry doughnut. Heck, I’m now certain such a thing was a myth, and I ate one every day for three months.
…Allegedly. Apparently someone destroyed all the menus so I have no proof.
And without the Olympic standard table tennis tables OC had installed in the DW reception area, Ben Watson could never have qualified for the Wigan and District Ping Pong Preliminaries held at Higher Ince Leisure Centre in November 2013.
…Allegedly. Apparently Watson prefers not to mention he crashed out in the first round.
So when Owen Coyle walks onto the DW Stadium turf this Saturday, please do not boo, jeer or chortle uncontrollably at his borderline obscene blazer and Hawaiian shorts combination. Instead, offer a round of heartfelt applause, the thanks he never even had a chance to receive.
Thank you for laughs, Coyley! Keep on chucklin’.
Admittedly, it hasn’t been a great start to the season, but I can’t remember the last time Wigan Athletic started a season well.
Back-to-back 2-1 away defeats at Bristol City and Oldham Athletic, tied in with the antics of the transfer window, have not provided us – or Gary Caldwell for that matter – with the ideal preparation.
However, we must remain positive, because we started the last campaign in similar fashion and we all know how that one ended.
Disappointing defeats in league and cup, as well as players not knowing whether they are coming or going. It all sounds too familiar, but we must have faith in the powers that be.
Yes our squad is thin at the moment and injuries haven’t helped, but we have three weeks, give or take, to get rid of dead wood and strengthen.
I have no doubt Caldwell has targets lined up and that we will sign players because he is under no illusion, he knows just like we do that we will struggle in the Championship if we don’t recruit.
The fact that No. 10 and 11 are free on our squad list is encouraging, as it means Will Grigg won’t have to do it alone.
It’s even more encouraging that we are linked with striking quality such as Lee Gregory and Patrick Bamford, but pushing those deals through is a completely different battle.
Whilst I think we will recruit appropriately, it can’t be stressed enough that it’s not as simple as throwing money about.
The brutal reality is that we aren’t in League One anymore. This is the Championship and we no longer have the biggest budget in the division.
We can only use the resources that are at our disposal, and if those resources consolidate our position in the Championship then I’ll be a happy man.
Just remember that it’s a long season and everyone can beat anyone.
No worries over cup exit
In the space of four days, Latics have lost both their opening games, away to Bristol and also away to Oldham. In both games, we’ve been undone by goals in the last 10 minutes.
Some will say, we were hard done by not to grab a point on Saturday, but in this league if you virtually defend your own box for 45 minutes you’re always going to be up against it. But on the other hand, if we play exactly like how we did in the first half, I am confident we’ll stamp our authority on this league in the weeks to come.
Bristol basically did to us what we were doing to numerous teams last season.
Throughout the half we would dominate long periods of possession, and create chance after chance. Also scoring late on in games was something we were renowned for to secure us vital points.
Being knocked out of the cup by Oldham maybe a positive rather than a negative, as with 45 league games still to play over the course of the season, it definitely might benefit us in the long run.
Even though we’ve suffered two defeats, tomorrow’s game against Blackburn must be one, Caldwell and the players will fully believe we can grab all three points from, due to Rovers’ 4-1 loss to Norwich on the opening day.
And of course Saturday marks the return of a certain Owen Coyle.
No alarm bells
It’s been a disappointing week for the Latics but nothing that should be setting the alarm bells ringing yet.
I wasn’t there on Saturday so can’t comment on the performance but from afar it looked as we were the best team in the first half, managing to nullify the threat posed by Bristol whilst also looking threatening ourselves.
It was disappointing to hear how much we tired in the second half but with any luck that will resolve its self with the extra fitness training the lads have done in pre season starts to pay off.
A lot of the same can be said for Tuesday’s defeat to Oldham.
Bar the 05/06 season and a couple of times when Roberto was in charge we’ve hardly ever troubled the latter stages of the League Cup so I’m not surprised to see us knocked out again – the disappointing thing is we were handed a relatively simple draw and had a decent chance to progress until we were reduced to 10 men.
We’re looking very light in some areas and established players more and more seem to be linked with exits.
I’m not worried though – David Sharpe and Gary Caldwell did more than enough to earn a bit of patience and trust from the supporters.
Yes it’s been a disappointing week but you don’t win anything in August. If last season showed us anything it’s that the start of the season doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on where you finish up at the end of it.
Let some of the injuries clear, add in some much needed reinforcements and see where we are in a couple of months.
Look who’s back
Coyley is back at the DW Stadium on Saturday with his current club Blackburn Rovers, just how long that particular marriage will last is very much open to speculation but I wouldn’t be surprised to see divorce proceedings started before Christmas.
His arrival for our first home game of the season will certainly add some spice to what is already a tasty dish.
Over the past few seasons we have had some real meaty encounters with the Rovers, both at the DW and Ewood Park.
There was ‘Chicken Gate’ in 2012, a hen was released onto the pitch half way through the second half in protest against the Venky’s, a late Antolin Alcaraz goal being enough to condemn them to relegation that evening.
There was also the game of the two hat-tricks, Marcus Bent and Santa Cruz with three goals apiece, that game ending 5-3 in Latics favour. Plus quite a few more high scoring encounters, we could be in for a treat.
Both clubs, after suffering open day defeats, will want to get their season started and we should witness an open game of football. Gary Caldwell will need to do a bit of reshuffling, Jake Buxton’s red card at Oldham gives the Latics centre back a three game suspension, starting with this one.
The emergence of Luke Burke could ease the Latics boss’ defensive worries, the 18-year-old made the jump from youth team to first team look comparatively easy last Saturday at Bristol City, Burke enjoyed a solid performance and was a shining light for the Latics on his full debut for the club.
Caldwell has called for more bodies to be brought into the club.
He says that they are working hard to bring new faces and more quality to the squad, there are lots of names being bandied about at the moment, some of which are quite exciting,.
With the transfer window less than three weeks away we should see some movement soon.
I am really looking forward to be back at the DW Stadium tomorrow, the long haul starts now and there will be many highs and lows over the coming months. Hopefully we can start off with a real high by beating Blackburn and sending Coyley back to East Lancashire with his tail firmly tucked between his shorts.
Up the tics!