It’s never too late!
The one thing I can safely say during Warren Joyce’s tenure is that results and performances have been all over the place.
This, therefore, can be construed as a good thing too!
It arguably means that in our next game we could perform completely differently.
If we perform completely differently against Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham than we did against QPR and Forest, then it must be a good thing surely?
The biggest unknown as I write these notes concerns whether the manager himself will be fit to attend these games, which, given the magnitude of the fixtures isn’t ideal.
The wall of silence could be a bad thing, is there something the club isn’t telling us?
Or it could be a good thing, a deliberate ploy to galvanise behind closed doors, get the win at Ewood Park on Saturday and then hit the fans with the rallying call on Sunday. We can but speculate.
Our previous record at the Rovers isn’t exactly glowing with wins and they got their first under Tony Mowbray midweek.
I must admit that whereas a lot of people laughed at the appointment, I actually think Mowbray is a decent manager who has made some bad choices of clubs.
I recall him taking West Brom to the Championship title, only for the goodwill to erode away as the patient passing game he favoured didn’t get the desired results in the higher division (sound familiar?).
With the right environment, he is undoubtedly a half decent manager, but quite whether the saga at Blackburn represents that environment I’m not sure.
Elsewhere, Burton appear to be pulling clear, and if it wasn’t directly impacting us, I’d be pleased for them. However, Bristol City are getting firmly dragged into the mire.
What other teams do is completely irrelevant unless we can string a few wins together however.
There’s no point me being critical over our past results because as I say, things can change very quickly.
Whereas it may look terribly grim right now,
IF (read this in Size 72 font please as it is a very, very big IF) the other teams around us struggle and we somehow start scoring and winning then we could be in a lot healthier position in a matter of days, let alone weeks.
I don’t like to put the boot into the club or individuals who have made mistakes over the years as we have had so many good times watching Wigan Athletic and a distinct lack of bad times over the last 20 years, and bad times are something no football club is immune from.
So what can I say without bursting into a chorus of Chumbawumba, except enjoy the ride, even if this particular “ride” has you tearing your hair out in frustration at present.
Another week in the life of Wigan Athletic, not much to report.
A depressing draw against one of the poorest sides we’ve seen down at the Dave Whelan stadium this season and the cancellation of two media appearances by the manager due to ill health.
It never rains but it pours.
Let’s begin with that draw against Forest.
We’re in to the must win match territory now and as such I would expect the team to treat matches as just that. Must win.
You can forgive not winning or even losing a match if the side have done all they possibly can to get the points and we simply haven’t done that in enough games this season.
Forest came in to the game in a wretched run of form and missing three of their first choice centre backs. For us not to even have an attempt on target in such an important game is unforgivable.
It’s been a constant trend through Warren Joyce’s tenure about being difficult to beat and stopping the opposition play, which undoubtedly he has achieved but we need so much more. Especially in the position we are.
Playing for draws is fine if you’ve already got the requisite number of points to survive and you’re just playing your season out.
But when your status as a Championship side is at threat you need to be attacking teams and going for wins.
Following the game an interview with the manager saw him bemoaning our lack of creativity since we sold Yanic Wildschut and Michael Jacobs has been injured.
Not something you can disagree with but equally he brought 13 players in January.
Why didn’t he address that then?
And equally there should still be enough creativity in that side to score every now and again if we played to the players’ strengths.
Ian Such of the Pie at Night podcast reminded me this morning of an interview with the much maligned Uwe Rosler in 2014 in that glorious spring where we reached the play-offs and a second FA Cup semi-final.
“Wins is what we need and all that will do so that’s what we’re going to do – go out to win.”
That interview was after we had beaten, strangely enough, Nottingham Forest 4-1.
What a refreshing idea, aiming to win a game of football.
I was a late call up for BBC Radio Manchester’s Monday football hour earlier this week along with Paul Middleton from the Mudhutter when Warren Joyce had to pull out due to ill health.
The timing of that and the subsequent postponement of the fans forum were disappointing but these things happen and one can only hope Warren gets well again soon.
I know a lot of people thought the timing was convenient but Warren seems the type to fight his own corner.
Indeed it would have been interesting to have his take on our current situation and what he ‘really’ thought about our results over the last few months.
Blackburn on Saturday is even more crucial than before.
Typically they’re experiencing the new manager bounce we never had as Tony Mowbray makes his mark.
Four points from two games and a win over Derby makes them favourites on Saturday.
Defeat at Ewood Park could be critical for our chances of playing in the Championship next season. I’m not confident but stranger things have happened.
First and foremost, whatever caused Warren Joyce to postpone both his appearance on BBC Radio Manchester on Monday evening and of course the Fans Forum scheduled for Wednesday at the DW Stadium, I wish him a speedy recovery and sincerely hope that he is in the best of health.
It’s a great pity that the Fans Forum didn’t go ahead as I believe that it would have provided an excellent opportunity for a ‘clear the air’ from all sides.
There are a great deal of disgruntled supporters at the moment, understandably so with our precarious league position, who despite being battled hardened with seasons of previous relegation scraps have a mountain of questions regarding our current playing style that appears to be so self defeating, or at least unproductive.
Maybe there is solid reasoning behind the manager’s decision to play the way we are at the moment, or perhaps it could be his favoured way of setting the team up, it would have been interesting to find out and to have entered debate on the matter.
The performance at the weekend against Forest was disappointing.
Well that’s one way to put it.
Despite a bright start in the opening three minutes we drifted further and further back and into our shells.
Our opponents were there for the taking, on a poor run of three straight defeats, their three centre backs missing with injury and they looked so low on confidence that if we’d have scored once then they’d have surely collapsed.
Instead of getting at them and amongst them we sat back.
The full backs didn’t venture forward in support or to offer width, the midfield four were lined up across the front of the defence and the two strikers were totally isolated.
The ‘new’ tactic of playing long balls into the channels for the strikers was a throwback to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s but without the same charge forward, I felt sorry for both Bogle and Mandron.
They worked their socks off the their team mates were held back on a leash.
Blackburn, Birmingham and then Bristol City in the space of a week, must win games, we say that every Friday in these columns.
The fans know it, listening to the players being interviewed they know it, but for some reason the coaching staff are still playing the long game. Spring is here, we don’t have long left.
Up the tics!
It’s difficult not to feel despondent about Latics’ survival chances after Saturday’s dispiriting performance at home to Nottingham Forest.
Manager Warren Joyce selected a team without any attack-minded wide players in a 4-4-1-1 formation and his team lacked the creativity to overcome a Forest team lacking in confidence after they had lost their previous three games.
Joyce seemed obsessed with not losing the game and he just didn’t do enough to try to win it.
If this approach continues it will surely mean that Latics will be relegated.
The club has gone backwards since the appointment of the former Manchester United reserve coach and they are mired in the bottom three with only 12 games remaining.
Not only have the results not been good enough but also the type of football served up is inferior to the Gary Caldwell era.
Caldwell had a system of play and the players knew what was required of them and that cannot be said of Joyce’s time in charge.
The players looked bemused by Joyce’s team selection on Saturday and his substitutions when they needed to win the game were baffling.
As Joyce becomes more desperate for results he has resorted to long ball tactics which are ineffective at this level.
Long ball tactics do not suit the players who have been used to playing through midfield and through wing-backs or wingers.
Joyce’s team lacked any width against Forest.
Admittedly Yanic Wildschut has been sold and Michael Jacobs has been injured but Joyce has players such as Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Colclough or Andy Kellett who can play in wide positions.
Wigan do have the strikers who can score the goals if they get the proper service. Will Grigg, Omar Bogle and Mikael Mandron are capable of scoring goals if other players can get the ball into the box from wide areas. Launching the ball up the middle of the pitch from 40 yards away makes it easy for centre-backs to defend.
Will Grigg showed his frustration with Joyce’s tactics after Saturday’s game by firing the ball at the advertising hoardings.
Grigg had been left out of the starting line-up but with 66 minutes on the clock he was readied to come on and yet Joyce delayed the change until it was much too late on 83 minutes.
Latics now have three massive season defining games coming up against Blackburn, Birmingham and Bristol.
Joyce must realise that Latics need wins and he must select an attack-minded team with wide players – draws are no longer enough to stay up – anything less and Latics will go down with a whimper.
Cracking The Autocorrect Code – A Teletext Quiz
Introduction (Page 1/5)
Greetings! I’m your host Bamber Boozer, and this is your latest instalment of the non-popular teatime teletext quiz you don’t have time for. Today’s task: can you guess the current Wigan squad player from their Autocorrect entry?
Remember to check your score below, scribble your ranking on a sticker for your shirt and draw your friends’ attention to it every two minutes. The first person to get over 100 points receives a free bottle of corporation pop worth –2p.
Round One (page 2/5):
Dinner on Danish Elves (3 points), Brian’s Full Cough (2 points), Omaha Bogey (1 point), Just Jasper Lynam (2 points), Rake Bookstall Ton (2 points), Even Wart Socks (2 points), J-Club Toe Guard (2 points)
Flashing advertisement (page 3/5): get ‘Mad Toad’ ringtones on your pocket calculator for the low price of your left arm! Go on, you’re never likely to use that arm anyway.
Round Two (page 4/5):
Licks Grill Bee (1 point), Mickey Mandrake (2 points), Auntie Kelp Pet (2 points), Reeks Lames (1 point), Fatty Bilks (1 point), Licks Brutes (3 points), Golem Gone Alley (2 points), Jeremy Handsome (3 points), Posh Lament (2 points), Babble Gal Overran (2 points), Gravy Kermorgant* (3 points)
*Note from Bamber B: ‘Yann Kermorgant’ is saved in my own phone’s Autocorrect dictionary, but your mileage may vary. I would program all the real Wigan Athletic player names into said phone, but it’s much funnier not to. ‘Tannic Wild Shots’, anyone?
Final Scores (page 5/5):
Over 100 points: Congratulations, you found the hidden cheat code behind Bamber Boozer’s bubbling pint pot. Now prepare for the inevitable backlash from ‘real quizzers’.
20-35 points: I still think you cheated, so I’m going to revoke your access to Google.com while I conduct a thorough investigation.
10-20 points: I believe you didn’t cheat.
But you probably should have, because it would have given you a tremendous amount of self-esteem to achieve a score higher than the total points available in this quiz.
1-10 points: Alright there, Coyley?
0 points: You are the real winner of this quiz by choosing not to play it.