Latics guest column - Dan Burn
The win at Birmingham on Tuesday night was exactly what we needed.
It was the perfect way to bounce back from the Blackburn game.
First half I thought we were brilliant, we kept the ball really well, created a lot of chances, and probably could have gone in even further in front.
Second half I thought we defended really well as a team, from the front to the back, and it was brilliant to hold on and get the clean sheet and the three points.
The most pleasing thing for me as a defender is the clean sheet.
It’s like scoring a goal for us defenders. It’s our bread and butter.
We’ve had quite a few clean sheets this season, which is something we like to pride ourselves on.
Obviously it’s also nice to get a goal at the other end – it’s been two years since I last scored, so it’s nice to be able to chip in!
It’s something I’ve thought for a while that I need to add to my game.
For my size, I think I should be looking at popping up with at least 10 goals a season.
It’s never really happened for me, but I’m looking to get a few more between now and the end of the season.
We looked at this block of six games between the international breaks as massive, where we needed to be picking up a lot of points.
The next two games see us take on Bristol City and Aston Villa at home, and we see those as two very winnable games.
Then it’s the international break, and we’ve got quite a few promotion-chasing sides to play after that, so we’re looking to pick up as many points as we can before then.
Bristol City this weekend is a proper six-pointer – and we’ve had quite a lot of those recently.
We didn’t do so well against Blackburn last weekend, but hopefully we can put that right with three points against another side down at the bottom.
If we could do that, it would do so much in terms of our confidence levels.
If we could manage to get out of the bottom three by the time the international break comes, it would give everyone a massive lift, and allow us to have a real go for the last nine games.
I wouldn’t say Saturday is make or break, because even if it didn’t go our way there’d still be time to put it right.
But the next two games are at home, and you’re looking to pick up as many points as you can at home.
We haven’t managed to do that over the course of this season – we’ve seemed to do better on our travels for some reason.
But if we do everything right, as we did at Birmingham, I’m hopeful we can come away with a good result.
As it stands we’re only three adrift, with 10 games to go, and it’s still all to play for.
If you look back to the Burton game in January, if we’d lost that, we would have been nine points adrift of safety.
It’s a race for everyone to try to get to that 50-point mark.
Personally, I think if you can get to 50 points then you’re safe.
It’s been 46 or 47 in the last few years, but you don’t want to be aiming for that and risking it.
At Fulham we left it quite late a couple of times – the first time we left it to the second-to-last game, and last year I think it was three or four.
It’s just not nice to be going into the last few games and still needing points to be safe.
Everything goes out of the window, and it’s a really tough slog.
If it does go all the way again, at least it’s something I’ll be used to.
I sometimes just wish for once I could be in a mid-table team, no chance of going up or down, planning the holidays early and being able to relax!
But at the end of the day, you’re in football for the excitement.
Although we’d rather be chasing promotion, it would be remembered for a long time if we could pull this off.
On a personal level, I’d like to think I’m playing well at the moment.
As I’ve said before, though, I don’t like talking too much about that because I don’t want to jinx myself.
Everything’s flying at the moment, but football’s a real roller-coaster of a journey, and things can go south very quickly.
What I will say is that my form is testament to a lot of other guys in the team, people like Bucko, Stevie, Shaun Mac, who do wonders for us.
I’ve said so many times that Shaun Mac has been unbelievable this season – so much of the work he gets through goes unnoticed.
He’s had to put his ego and pride to one side, as a ball-playing midfielder, and do a lot of the dirty work, which is testament to him as a player and a bloke.
I knew it would be tough at the start of the season coming here from Fulham.
It was always going to take time – for some reason I never seem to start a season well.
I always put in as much as I can in pre-season, but I always seem to start a bit slowly.
Added to that you’ve got moving to a new club, meeting new people, I was trying to sort out where to live, moving family round – it was a lot to concentrate on.
But now I’m able to concentrate fully on my football, and obviously I’m pleased with how it’s going.
I think the turning point was the home game against Reading (Latics lost 3-0 in Warren Joyce’s frst game in charge at the beginning of November).
There were some words said, and it was going to go one or two ways for me.
Obviously from then on I managed to start performing, and all that’s been quickly forgotten about.
It was nice to hear Graham Barrow say at the weekend that he hadn’t seen a better centre-back in the Championship.
First of all I think I need to send Graham some money...or at least make him my agent!
On a serious note, it’s nice when managers and coaches with as much experience as he has come out with stuff like that.
But I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself.
All I want to do is have 11 more good games between now and the end of the season and help us stay up.
And if I can pop up with the odd goal as well, that would be fine as well.