The 12th Man: Wigan Athletic fans have their say

It's been a season of celebration for Latics so far
It's been a season of celebration for Latics so far
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Our panel of Wigan Athletic experts look ahead to the final weekend in the League One campaign - and hopefully a title-winning party in the offing!

Martin Tarbuck:

So, as the school teacher and beleaguered parents explain to their youngsters on sports day: there are no winners!

No, you are all winners!! Although really there are only two winners so far this season, soon to be joined by a third. Not that I would wish the play offs on anyone. Wembley trip or not, it has provided nothing but abject heartbreak for us over the years.

Incidentally, apart from daft Dack, who went all Kevin Keegan on us, the rest of the noise coming from the Blackburn camp, is that they are just happy to be promoted, and aren’t that bothered about the title. But then, they would say that, as they are in second place, and their hope of finishing top rests ultimately in our hands not theirs.

From our perspective, we’ve got pretty good at winning titles over the years but I certainly didn’t feel disappointed the last time we finished second in the table, so neither should we this time if that’s what transpires. Albeit it, THAT second place was a pretty significant second place and saw grown men and women weep openly in joy and disbelief as the Duke nodded home the third.

I would revert back to my comments from a few weeks ago, namely that I hope we win the title because this set of players and manager fully deserve it.

Yet the cruel nature of football is that if they lose to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, then arguably they don’t. So they know what’s at stake and it is up to them to go and deliver it. All we fans can do is go and support them, and we’ll certainly be doing that in abundance this weekend!

If they can’t take at least the point that we need to secure the title, well we’ve still had a pretty good season, so no hard feelings! Though it would grate me a bit given some of the gibberish that Mowbray, Dack etc have aimed in our direction.

Though having said that, had we been awarded a deserved penalty against Wimbledon last week when James Vaughan was given the WWE treatment, we could have already secured top place. So maybe you don’t get what you deserve. Even Paul Cook has said however, that the luck balances out over the season.

Yet, as someone far more statistically astute than me pointed out, we have had only 3 penalties awarded all season, the next to lowest of all League One clubs, and none at all since September.

For the strongest attacking team this feels odd. Meanwhile, Rochdale and Plymouth have had eight. Must be all the millions of fans they have that is influencing the ref in Plymouth’s case.

Anyway, I digress. Some seasons drag on forever, whereas others seem to be over in a heartbeat, and it comes as no surprise that this one falls under the latter category. Being up near the top of the league has something to do with it. Well, go on then, it has everything to do with it!

So whatever the score on Saturday, enjoy the day and celebrate regardless, as these times don’t come around so often (well, maybe they do for us!).

Same again on Sunday at the Party in the Park and again next week if you are attending the fantastic Joseph’s Goal events.

Then have a nice, long break for summer. It’s not as if it’s a World Cup year is it?

Stuart Glover:

It isn’t often that you can accurately measure exactly how close you came to winning something, but we could last weekend. A couple of inches. That is how close we were to being champions on Saturday.

While the pressure is off now, with promotion having been achieved, we have been led to believe that the team is now firmly focused on winning the league. So it was a surprise just how poor we were in the first half. There was very little to compliment the players for.

The second half was much better. Once Nick Powell came on you could just sense that something was going to happen. Even with him tending to pick up the ball in very deep positions. He did what he has done all season and waltzed around the pitch, leading opposition defenders on a merry dance, and exuding that effortless cool which is his trademark. It was mostly Latics in possession after the break, piling on the pressure, and trying to cope with some counter attacks from Wimbledon.

One of the features of this second half of the season has been Jacobs scoring, or being involved in, important moments and vital goals.

It is unlikely that he will feature in many people’s top five players of the season, but his contributions of late deserve to be noticed. Big players have a big impact at important times. Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Jacobs.

Wigan deserved another goal after being so dominant in the second period. And we should have had another one having a blatant penalty turned down. While it is refreshing to see a referee admit to making a mistake and apologising, as Andy Woolmer apparently did, it would be more appropriate for easy decisions like that to be made correctly in the first place. That said, and bearing in mind it is unlikely ever to be available at this level, I always have been, and remain totally against, the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in football.

Another chance came off a defender’s head and went no more than an inch wide. (OK I have just watched the highlights and it was more like a foot, or two, wide). But it was close.

That is why I can be so certain that we came within a couple of feet of winning the league! Yes, it would have been an own goal, and while it might not have been right to win the title on the back of an own goal and a heavy deflection, it would still have been totally deserved.

As long as Blackburn don’t get towards twenty goals on Saturday, just one point will be required to finish the job and secure the title. We have a terrible recent record at Doncaster. The only highlight was being there when Bolton lost 7-1 at Reading four years ago. While it would have been ideal to lift the trophy at home last weekend, a 4,000 away crowd will travel to Yorkshire to see a competitive game, and the title being won. It will be a great day out.

Ian Aspinall:

More than 4,000 Latics fans will be invading Doncaster tomorrow for what should be a massive celebration.

The 5.30pm kick off means that it will be a party atmosphere before and after the game, as Latics require only one point to secure the League One title against mid-table Doncaster Rovers.

Most independent observers would accept that Latics are the best team in the division. But any dissenters will have to be silent if Latics prove a point at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Both Latics and Rovers have received recognition by having four players in the PFA League One Team of the Year. Some of Rovers’ fans don’t seem to accept that Latics are likely to win the title and may not be magnanimous about finishing second.

Paul Cook has already commented that Rovers got ahead of themselves with their comments that they would win the league when they were leading the table but Latics had games in hand.

The rivalry between Cook’s team and Tony Mowbray’s has been an intense one and the title race can perhaps be summarized by the fixture at Ewood Park when Rovers were leading 2-0 at half time and were already congratulating themselves on winning the title but Latics stunned Rovers with two second-half goals and were the dominant team at the end.

If Latics secure the League One title, it will be Paul Cook’s second successive title – a year after he won League Two with Portsmouth – and his third promotion in four seasons.

Not only has Cook’s team produced results, but also the style of football has been exhilarating and the way that the team constantly pushes forward has provided great viewing for the fans.

The likeable Scouser has done a remarkable job transforming the club from relegation no hopers to likely Champions and the future looks bright with him in charge. Nothing is certain in football but it would only be fitting if Latics crown a magnificent season with the League One title.

Sean Livesey:

So it comes down to one game, one final afternoon. Not promotion thankfully- I’m not sure my nerves could have coped with something of that magnitude being on the line.

Instead it’s the nice to have, but not essential title up for grabs on our final fling with League One. As with everything this season it’s in our hands.

There’s been some debate this week about the biggest League following for Wigan Athletic in recent times and although no definite answer was offered, this Saturday’s trip across to Doncaster must be up there. Over 4000 Wiganer’s will be travelling over the Pennines, many of those suitably lubricated thanks to the early evening kick-off.

Last Saturday felt terribly flat, which was a shame for the lads on the pitch as it was no crime to start to run out of steam against Wimbledon. Certainly after the long season we’ve had.

The fact we could have won the title if the referee had correctly awarded a penalty grates even more – but still if we do manage to close out the season with a win at Doncaster what a famous Wigan Athletic away day that could be and no one will remember the draw with Wimbledon.

I’m sure Paul Cook was hoping he could have named some of the players unlucky not to feature more in the remaining games of the season but with everything still to play for I imagine it’ll be the same starting eleven as we’ve seen for most of the season.

That will be frustrating for the likes of Alex Bruce, Devante Cole, Jamie Walker, Donervon Daniels, Noel Hunt etc. But at the same time the lads who have played the bulk of the games have achieved something fantastic this season and you can’t disagree with Cook’s approach.

Some will think a win at Doncaster is a given but we’ve an awful record there over the last 30 years. A win isn’t guaranteed by any stretch but if we can pull it off it will cap one of the most enjoyable seasons in living memory.

Thoughts will inevitably turn to the futures of Cook and many of the promotion squad in the next few weeks but they can wait. One last effort is needed. For one final time, come on Latics!

Ian Aspinall

Over 4,000 Latics fans will be invading Doncaster tomorrow for what should be a massive celebration.

The 5.30pm kick-off means that it will be a party atmosphere before and after the game, as Latics require only one point to secure the League One title against mid-table Doncaster.

They lead second-placed Blackburn by two points having scored 88 goals and only conceded 29, which is an 18-goal advantage.

It’s been a record-breaking season for Latics as they have broken the club record for goals scored in a season, number of clean sheets and potentially the most away wins in a season if they win on Saturday.

Add to that the amazing FA Cup run beating three Premier League teams, including champions Manchester City and it just goes to show what an incredible season it’s been.

Most independent observers would accept Latics are the best team in the division.

But any dissenters will have to be silent if Latics prove a point at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Latics and Rovers, along with third-placed Shrewsbury have been in a race for the automatic promotion places all season, but Latics have pulled ahead in recent weeks.

Both Latics and Rovers have received recognition by having four players in the PFA League One Team of the Year.

The debate about whether Nick Powell or Bradley Dack is the better player has raged all season, and is hard one to resolve when Powell has been injury-hit and has had fewer minutes than Dack on the pitch.

Some of Rovers’ fans don’t seem to accept Latics are likely to win the title and may not be magnanimous about finishing second.

Paul Cook has already commented that Rovers got ahead of themselves with their comments that they would win the league when they were leading the table, but Latics had

games in hand.

The rivalry between Cook’s team and Tony Mowbray’s has been an intense one and the title race can perhaps be summarised by the fixture at Ewood Park when Rovers were leading 2-0 at half time and were already congratulating themselves on winning the title.

But Latics stunned Rovers with two second-half goals and were the dominant team at the end.

If Latics secure the League One title it will be Paul Cook’s second successive title - a year after he won League Two with Portsmouth - and his third promotion in four seasons.

Not only has Cook’s team produced results, but also the style of football has been exhilarating and the way that the team constantly pushes forward has provided great viewing for the fans.

The likeable Scouser has done a remarkable job transforming the club from relegation no hopers to likely champions and the future looks bright with him in charge.

Nothing is certain in football but it would only be fitting if Latics crown a magnificent season with the League One title.