Five things we learned from Reading (away)

Shaun MacDonald
Shaun MacDonald

1 Not every ‘Great Escape’ story has a happy ending.

Latics used to hold an annual ‘Great Escape’ during their Premier League adventure, but have failed now in both of their efforts to pull it off in the Championship. As David Sharpe admitted on Saturday night, they simply left themselves with too much to do.

2 The players will be hurting as much as the fans at the moment. Not for the first time this season, you could tell by their faces as they left the field they had left everything out there. The effort has never been in doubt this term. The problems have been elsewhere - in particular last summer’s recruitment, as well as......

3 ......Shooting. Practice. Desperately. Required. Aside from fishing the ball out of his net on five minutes, Matt Gilks barely touched the ball all afternoon. All the action was at the other end, but Ali Al Habsi was only really called on to make a couple of decent saves. As Stephen Warnock pointed out, Latics created enough chances to have won more than one game. The inability to convert any of them has been a feature of the season.

4 You have to feel for Shaun MacDonald. Not only are Latics heading for League One, the Wales international midfielder is facing several months on the sidelines after breaking his tibia and fibula at Reading. With a World Cup in Russia on the horizon next summer, it’s a hammer blow for one of the most genuinely nice footballers around. We wish him well. If attitude has anything to do with it, he’ll be back.

5 Ali Al Habsi remains a class act. Not only is the Oman No.1 rightly regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship, he also oozes quality off the field as well. While everyone around him in the mixed zone was waxing lyrical about the Royals’ play-off aspirations, Al Habsi was talking to the Wigan press corps about his hopes that his former club would be back as quickly as possible. All class.