While Latics assistant Leam Richardson admitted to looking for a first tussle with his old club Portsmouth when this season’s fixtures came out, he insisted it’s up to the players to make sure fans leave the DW happy with this afternoon’s result.
Richardson followed manager Paul Cook to Wigan after leaving last season’s League Two winners, and a hostile reception for the pair await from the North Stand at the DW from the traveling support.
But Richardson, standing in for Cook’s media duties yesterday, was quick to divert attention to the action set to take place on the field, and demanded the Latics squad justify their own support as they seek a fourth successive league win.
“The first and the only criteria we give our players is to make sure you come off that pitch and we can’t ask any more of you,” he said.
“If a positive result matches that, it’s excellent.
“If it doesn’t and they’ve given all they can, we’ll dust ourselves down and we’ll go again.
“It’s expensive to watch football now.
“It’s only right that players and staff give everything every single day and then come Saturday you make sure you don’t leave anything on that pitch because people deserve that.”
Portsmouth have had to deal with a mixed bag of results as they adjust to life in League One after winning promotion last term.
With four points from their opening three games, they sit mid-table, but Richardson is expecting them to challenge come the end of the season.
“We’re going to come up against a good team, a good club,” he warned.
“We’ll both be competing for very similar things this year.
“We left Portsmouth with a very healthy squad, with a championship-winning squad and a good team.
“We’ve got good momentum ourselves, so it’s got all the markings for a good game.
“It’s still early days - if come the end of May we are where we are now I’ll be made-up, but we’re four games in so we’ll keep our feet on the ground.”
But there is a part of Richardson which is looking forward to testing himself against Kenny Jackett’s side.
“You see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of friends,” he explained.
“It’s nice to compete against them. It’s a fixture with your ex-club and one you look for.
“It’s certainly one we are looking forward to.
“There’s the old cliche it’s another game but we’re looking forward to it in a positive way and fingers crossed come five o’clock on Saturday we’ll get a positive result.
“Kenny is a very experienced manager and he’ll have a good management team with him so it will be up to him to pick the bones of what he likes and dislikes with that squad and move forward with it.”
And as for that reception, Richardson thinks as time passes, Portsmouth fans will come to appreciate the work he did at the club with Cook.
“I’m sure he will get a very good reception once the dust settles because people will recognise the work he did down there,” he said.
“When you leave a club you have to leave it in a better place than what you walked into.”