JAMES Perch can’t put his finger on why things have gone so wrong at Wigan Athletic over the last fortnight but has backed his teammates to come through it stronger.
Two weeks ago, Latics were just a win away from a play-off place with a game in hand and with a great shout of qualifying in Europe.
However, they go into today’s game with Millwall on the back of four straight defeats, managerless and with their Europa League place looking weak.
The 28-year-old doesn’t understand why things aren’t clicking but insists it isn’t affecting confidence in the camp.
“Before the Leeds game we got battered by Derby and on Wednesday there were no signs of a lack of confidence,” he said.
“We kept the ball, we passed it about well but we just didn’t hit the back of the net. We can’t seem to put our finger on what has gone wrong at the moment, it’s just one of those things.
“I think we will come out of it the other end and be a better side because of it.”
After starting a number of games throughout the season, Perch was mysteriously left out of the squads to face Brighton and Zulte Waregem.
He returned to the starting line-up on Wednesday against Leeds to take up a new role under caretaker manager Graham Barrow.
It was a new role for the former Newcastle man to get used to, playing in a central three at the back with Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour on the wings.
“It was very good to get back playing, obviously I missed a couple of games,” said Perch.
“I thought we played all right, it was just the two set-pieces that killed us, I don’t think they threatened us much more than that really.
“I’ve played it a couple of times but I’ve not played it as a centre-half, I’ve played it as a wing-back.
“I like it, it’s a good formation, I thought it worked great. There were bits in the game where we controlled it and looked like the stronger team.
“I thought we looked like we were always going to score until the suckerpunch that hit us with the second goal.
“Up until that goal I thought we were on top but I think that just killed us.”
Perch admits Coyle’s exit wasn’t such a big shock to the players.
After losing three on the bounce, a disappointed Dave Whelan met with the manager and it was decided he should leave.
The utility player says the squad has reacted well though and has praised Barrow’s input during the week.
“The gaffer going wasn’t much of a shock,” admitted Perch. “In one way he wasn’t in the job for long but at the same time, the results weren’t going our way.
“When the results aren’t going well, your neck is on the line.
“To be fair to the gaffer, he was brilliant when he game but the results didn’t go his way and that was that.
“It’s been a good reaction in training though. Graham has come in and took charge and everyone respects him.
“We’ve treated him as a manager and he’s approached it the same. It’s worked and he’s been superb.
“It helps that we know him because when it’s a rocky period like this, it’s good that someone you know comes in and stabilises things instead of everyone going and someone coming in quick.
“It’s good that Graham can come in and stay part of it until however long it takes until the chairman finds a new manager.”
Perch has had some interaction with Barrow before... when he acted as a peacemaker between the Latics coach and Newcastle assistant manager John Carver.
The pair clashed at half-time last seasons when the two sides met at the DW Stadium following Callum McManaman’s challenge on Massadio Haidara.
“I was in the middle of all that,” laughed Perch.
“I was holding JC back and Graham was there trying to rip his head off!
“He’s a bit of a no-nonsense character but you don’t really see that side of him when he’s training and stuff.”
Perch is hoping for a recall to the side when Wigan travel to Millwall today.
Latics are desperate to stop the rot and he reckons that their reaction to Coyle’s departure will stand them in good stead.
“It’s not an easy place to go,” added Perch. “Everyone knows that.
“Millwall is a tough place but I think we are good enough to go there and get the three points.
“It’s been a case of getting our heads down.
“You can’t really start thinking about who it’s going to be or start preparing for someone you think it might be because it could turn out to be someone different.
“We just have to wait until the chairman appoints someone and see what happens from there.”