Stephen Warnock admits Wigan Athletic’s players are determined to finish the campaign in style – to ensure they have silverware to show for their efforts.
Latics all-but secured promotion last weekend after beating Southend 4-1, and can clinch the League One title tomorrow if results go their way.
With two matches to go, Burton are three points behind and Walsall six back, but Wigan’s vastly superior goal difference effectively puts them an extra point clear.
Latics will formally be back in the Championship if they avoid defeat in the lunchtime kick-off at Blackpool, but they must then sit back and wait for the other results to see if the title is theirs with a week to spare.
“We’re very close, and it would obviously take something incredible to happen for us not to be promoted,” Warnock told the Evening Post.
“But we know a win on Saturday would make sure completely, and that’s what we’re aiming to do.
“At the same time we know it’s going to be a difficult game for us, because they’re fighting for their lives at the bottom.
“There’s a lot at stake – for them probably even more than us.”
Wigan’s promotion would have been rubber-stamped in midweek had Walsall failed to beat Shrewsbury, only for the Saddlers to hold on for a nervy 2-1 triumph.
Not that Warnock thinks that was necessarily a bad thing.
“It wouldn’t have mattered whatever Walsall did the other night, because you don’t get promoted or not promoted on one game,” the former England defender remarked.
“It takes a whole season to get promoted, and we’re determined to go out on Saturday, enjoy the occasion, try and win it the right way, and prove to people we’re the best team in the league.
“To get the buzz of knowing you’ve won the league would be fantastic. And we want to do it with a win – not just Saturday but the last game as well.
“That would enable us to build some momentum to take into next season, to keep that winning mentality in the squad.”
While promotion was Wigan’s No.1 priority at the start of the season, Warnock acknowledges going up as champions would add copious amounts of icing to the cake.
“Oh definitely – you want to look back on your career and see what you’ve won,” he recognised.
“You need that mentality to be a winner, and to enjoy winning things. Once you’ve won one, you want to win more – and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“They’re the achievements, the good things you look back on, and something to show for your years in the game.
“You don’t want to be looking back and not having achieved anything in your career.
“It’s a great achievement to be a professional footballer in the first place. But you go into it to achieve things and to win things.
“We’re no different – we want to win medals.
“We grew up as kids winning medals, and that’s what drives us on – to be successful and get better.”
It’s been an eventful couple of months since Warnock dropped down a division after falling out of favour at Derby.
The 34-year-old has made Wigan’s left-back position his own, and he has already admitted he’d be keen to make his loan permanent in the summer.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here, and it’s been made easy for me by the players around me,” he added.
“I’ve come in to a team that’s hungry and driven, and that’s wanted to get better.
“I’m the same, always wanting to improve, and it’s been easy for me to come into this environment.
“It’s an exciting place to be, and we’re all enjoying the pressure that comes with trying to win a league.”