'16 unbeaten isn't enough, we want more' - Wigan Athletic captain
Wigan Athletic may have gone 16 matches without defeat –but skipper Tendayi Darikwa is not about to rest on his laurels.
And he says it’s this constant desire to be even better that is underpinning Latics’ promotion push.
“It’s tough for any team at any level to go 16 games unbeaten,” Darikwa acknowledged. “But the gaffer and the staff are always on at us every day to be even better.
“We’re all proud of the run we’re on, but we want to make it 17, 18, 19, 20.”
The midweek victory at Morecambe made it 10 wins and a draw on the road since Latics lost at Sunderland on the opening day of the campaign.
Darikwa believes there’s several factors behind that ridiculous record.
“There’s no doubt the fans have given us a massive lift away from home this year, they really travel in their numbers,” he said.
“But also the way we’re set up to play, most clubs have a go at us when they’re at home, which gives us the chance to attack them.
“We’re also finding ways to win games at the moment, even when we’re not always playing to our best.”
While not quite as good as their away record, Latics’ home form is also impressive.
Darikwa recognises it’s a different challenge on home soil, with sides content to sit behind the ball, meaning Latics have to show patience.
However, with more goals in the last 15 minutes of matches than anyone else in the EFL, Latics have shown they’re willing to play the long game.
“Over the course of a 90-minute game, it’s so important not to get invested in winning after 30 minutes, 45 minutes or even 60 minutes,” Darikwa acknowledged.
“Sometimes it takes until the end of a game to break the deadlock, and we know teams are never going to make it easy for us.
“It’s about being patient, sticking to the game plan, and having faith that, when the chances do come along, we’ll be good enough to take them.
“We pride ourselves in going all the way to the end of games. And if you look at successful teams over the years, they’ve always had that trait.
“So many games are won and lost in the last 10 minutes, and it goes down to the mentality in the group.
“Obviously we’d like to have games sewn up before then, but it’s good to know we have that to fall back on.”
As one of the few survivors from last term, the Zimbabwe international is delighted with the way things have turned round under Phoenix 2021 Limited.
“After the troubles the club went through last year, we’ve obviously got a new group this year and I think you can see the spirit and belief shine through,” he said.
“It’s a great place to come in every day, and I think that’s been there to see in our performances this season.
“Since the new owners took over, things have really progressed quite rapidly off the pitch as well as on it.
“It’s a fantastic club to play for, and hopefully we can take the club to another level, back to where we feel it belongs.
“At the minute, we’re in a rich vein of form. But the main thing is to keep doing what we’ve been doing – taking each game as it comes and just focus on the next one.
“Gillingham will be another tough test, they’ll provide a very physical threat.
“Looking at the table, they need points just as much as we do.
"But we’ll be looking to finish off a good week to make it nine points from nine.”
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