Graham Barrow wants his players to give the Wigan Athletic fans something to cheer about this weekend as the fight for safety intensifies.
The 62-year-old, who’s been in charge alongside Andy Welsh this week in the enforced absence of Warren Joyce, is a Latics legend after serving the club in virtually every capacity – including captain and manager – during an association spanning over three decades.
And he says the Class of ‘17 should need no more motivation than to reward the fans that have kept the faith during a difficult campaign to date.
Despite lying second-bottom of the Championship with only 12 matches to go, Latics will be cheered on by over 1,500 fans at Ewood Park – and Barrow wants that faith to be repaid.
“We’ll have great support there but, as I always say, with the Wigan people, you have to give them something to shout for,” acknowledged Barrow.
“If you give them something to shout for, they’re right behind you.
“They’re quite unique, in their own way, I’ve always found.
“Wigan people will tell you to your face how they feel.
“If you’ve had a good game, a bad game, an indifferent game, they’ll tell you – and then they’ll have a drink with you.
“That’s how it used to be in my playing days, and they’ve not changed.
“If you give them an honest performance, you’ll be rewarded with their support.
“If you put your heart and soul into your performance, you’ll get the backing you deserve.
“Any player who wants to make a name for himself at this club, just put in 100 per cent on a Saturday.”
A bumper away following could well tip the balance in the favour of the visitors whose last victory at Ewood – in 2012 – saw Rovers relegated to the second tier.
“I went to Blackburn the other night with Andy Welsh, and I could picture where the Wigan fans will be, and where the players will be warming up,” revealed Barrow.
“And I think the inspiration they’ll get from that – when they come out on to the pitch – they’ll be fine.
“It’s what a footballer plays the game for, really – great atmosphere, great stadium.
“No disrespect to any of the League One grounds, but going to Villa Park and Molineux this year...that’s what you want to stay in this league for.
“And there’s more than enough games left to win to stay up. For me, it’s more about the mentality and the performance.
“If we get them, then we’ll be in line to have a victory.
“You’ve almost got to try and take the pressure away from the players – even though it is a pressure situation – to get them to perform.
“The players don’t need to look at the league table to know how big a game this is.
“We’ve got a good group of lads here. They just need to get the bit between their teeth and show what they’re made of.”
Barrow has settled back into the role of temorary boss, having filled the role several times before – including earlier in the season after Gary Caldwell was sacked, when he oversaw a 1-0 victory at Cardiff.
“I’m just in a cupboard, and they keep wheeling me out when they need me,” he smiled. “I’ve been privileged to work for the club as long as I have, and I’ve obviously seen some fantastic things.
“This club is a very big part of my life, and I’m proud to be able to help wherever I can.”
Michael Jacobs, who’s missed the last three matches with hamstring trouble, is hoping to make a welcome return. Fit-again Alex Gilbey is also pushing for a start.