LATICS fans give their verdict on the draw against high-flying Walsall, the midweek victory at Crewe where a star was born, and Satutday’s tough trip to Bury:
Referees, we just love to hate them, this season that love, or hate has grown to an all time high or is it low, with some of the most inept performances from the match officials that I have ever witnessed.
Back in our Premier League days we succumbed to the dubious decisions that always appear to befall the so called ‘little’ clubs. We had our tormentors and protagonists, Phil Dowd was the scourge of the Latics for a while and he was most definitely not Paul Jewell’s favourite official.
It didn’t just stop with Dowd though, there were many occasions that match officials appeared to be swayed by a large home crowd, a vociferous well known opposition manager or a plethora of superstar players surrounding them baying for blood.
At the time I often thought about Football League ref’s and how much fairer they would be, well that was a pipe dream!
The standard of performance from the match officials this season is quite frankly disgraceful, they aren’t biased though, just very, very poor.
Andy Haines and his team on Saturday were a prime example of this, making decisions that were just blatantly wrong, for both sides, no consistency at all and the sending off of Craig Morgan was a joke.
The week before in the home game against Millwall the ref, Geoff Eltringham, gave the visitors a free kick when their defender slipped in the penalty area when there was no player anywhere near him.
This poor refereeing has been a feature of this campaign and one that is driving myself and some of my fellow fans mad, surely the Football League can identify these shortcomings and get their match officials on training courses, either that or get some new blood into the game.
Latics overcame Crewe on Tuesday night and progressed to the Northern Area quarter-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, making the dream of a third Football League Trophy success a real possibility. Wigan have previously won the trophy when it was the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985 and the Auto Windscreen Shield in 1999 and they will be hoping they can win it again this time around.
If Latics are to reach Wembley they will have four games to navigate: the quarter final, semi-final, and a two legged Northern Area Final, before they would face the Southern Area winners.
Bristol City might provide a good omen for Latics. They won last season’s trophy and went on to win promotion from League One.
They are also the only club to win the Football League Trophy three times. I’m sure Latics would love to emulate them and win the trophy for a third time. They will also be conscious that a good cup run could have a similarly positive effect on their own league form.
Putting together a winning run in the JPT will certainly ensure a positive vibe around the club and can only boost the players confidence. The competition rules of the JPT stipulate that the manager can only make a maximum of five changes from the last league line up, which means that many fringe players will get valuable game time, if the cup run is extended.
As more players are involved in the JPT, the whole squad will have a greater chance to impress and this can only be beneficial to Gary Caldwell’s plans. The manager will have an opportunity to evaluate his players’ form in a competitive environment and decide whether they are ready to play in the league team. More competition for places can only boost performances and the further Latics go in the completion the desire and determination to play at Wembley will become more real.
The draw for the Northern Area quarter-final takes place tomorrow morning on Sky TV.
There are plenty of strong teams left in the competition, but as Latics have shown in the recent past, they are capable of beating anyone on the day.
Latics are, of course, no strangers to Wembley having played there on four occasions since April 2013, and another visit would be a fantastic achievement for Gary Caldwell’s emerging team.
Only one loss in eight games, unbeaten at home, on the periphery of the play-offs and through to the next round of the Johnstones Paint Trophy.
Some would deem that a successful start to the season but still there are rumblings of discontent amongst the Latics faithful.
I left the stadium on Saturday surprised and a little disappointed at the reaction to the draw with Walsall.
Admittedly it was a game we should have won, but the fact we came out of the game with a draw after going down to 10 men while on top is testament to this team and its ethos.
If we’re being truthful, a draw against one of the top sides in the division shouldn’t require a reaction like that anyway.
I understand that the style of football we’re playing under Caldwell will always divide opinion amongst Latics fans, as it did under Roberto Martinez before him.
But we need to get used to it – because it isn’t going
anywhere. After last season and the disastrous reign of Malky Mackay the club will stick with this for as long as it takes.
In all the games I’ve seen so far this season I’ve been entertained and that was the case in point again on Tuesday as Latics progressed to the quarter finals of the Johnstones Paint Trophy.
I said at the time it was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had watching Latics in a long while.
It’s a competition that’s often derided but I think most Latics fans would be happy with the value they got for their £10 ticket.
With the draw coming up on Saturday let’s hope it’s a favourable one as Latics aim to return to Wembley.
Another whirlwind week as a Wigan Athletic fan, nothing has changed there then.
Last Saturday, we looked to be on the verge of beating second placed Wallsall at the DW Stadium, but we couldn’t hit the back of the net despite having several chances.
We were looking at climbing high into the League One play-off picture until another sudden twist turned the game on its head. Craig Morgan received a straight red card and our backs were against the wall.
An in-form Wallsall side pushed for the winner in the last 20 minutes or so, but the most pleasing aspect for us is that our players dug in and worked hard to make sure we didn’t lose the game; which also preserved our unbeaten home record.
Fast-forward to Tuesday night in the JPT at Crewe - where we missed a second minute penalty and fell behind twice.
Never mind falling behind TWICE!
If this was last season and we had missed a penalty then conceded, we would have crumbled.
However, this campaign is different, you can see from the squad that Caldwell has assembled that there is a real togetherness.
We have all the traits that we were lacking last season: Team spirit, fighting spirit, high work rate, character and, last but certainly not least, passion.
Any team that shows those kind of qualities has a real chance of being successful and, equally, any Latics team that shows those qualities can easily win over the fans.
We have saw it in the past with the Wigan teams that played under Paul Jewell and Steve Bruce, both historically managed the club to two of it’s most successful seasons.
I feel like I’m in danger of repeating myself but this 12th Man lark is harder when we’re doing rather well!