Talking Football: A Royal tumble looks certain but Latics have to try

The '˜Fat Lady' is not so much ready to sing...but has done her set, three encores, and is now in the taxi home.

Thursday, 27th April 2017, 3:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:21 pm
Nick Powell

The only thing that can save Wigan Athletic now is for someone to hijack the cab, bring her back, and beg her to sing one more song.

Even by Latics standards, it would be a long shot.

First of all, Graham Barrow’s men have to win both of their remaining fixtures – against play-off chasing Reading and Leeds.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

They have to also rely on Birmingham losing both of their remaining fixtures, AND Blackburn failing to win either of their last two.

Latics being Latics, we’ll continue to believe until it is mathematically impossible.

But realistically any hope of the greatest of Great Escapes remaining a possibility disappeared last weekend, when Latics failed to put away a mid-table Cardiff side that had nothing to play for – other than to avoid a post-match rollicking off boss Neil Warnock.

The Bluebirds offered absolutely nothing in the way of a threat during the 90 minutes.

They didn’t have a single shot on goal. Indeed, the closest they came was when David Perkins inadvertently played a lovely one-two with Craig Noone, who smashed against Matt Gilks’ bar.

Other than that, the returning custodian had nothing to do other than stay awake as his colleagues hammered on the door at the other end.

Well, not so much ‘hammered on the door’ as politely rang the doorbell and waited patiently for a response.

It was a familiar tale of woe as far as the Latics fans were concerned.

How many times this year have we seen the side dominate limited opposition, only to lack the cutting edge, the killer touch to make it count?

Saturday’s opponents Reading are one of the few teams that have come to the DW this term and fully deserved their victory.

The effort’s always been there, no doubt about that.

It’s just a shame Latics have failed to do justice to the quality in the squad, and make any sort of mark on the division.

Uwe’s worked miracles whatever the outcome

With one round of the League One campaign to go, Bolton realistically require a point from their last game at home to Peterborough to clinch promotion.

If they slip up, a win for Uwe Rosler’s third-place Fleetwood against struggling Port Vale would see them sneak second right at the death.

Regardless of how it goes, Rosler has to be in the running for Manager of the Year – not just League One but in the Football League – for taking a Fleetwood side that only just escaped relegation to League Two last term to the brink of the Championship on limited resources. The German is understood to be on David Sharpe’s managerial shortlist this summer.

While his first spell in charge at the DW ended in the sack, who knows what the future holds.

Stranger things and all that...

Catalogue of injuries to key men took its toll

The return of Reece Burke to the Latics starting XI last weekend was both positive and negative.

Positive: obviously it was great to see the on-loan West Ham youngster back in the fold, and playing so well after four-and-a-half months out injured.

Negative: if the young England star had been fit for the whole campaign, would Latics be so deep in the relegation mire? I suspect not.

Throw in the fact that Donervon Daniels and Reece James have played a total of 15 minutes of league action between them this term, and there are mitigating circumstances why this season has gone the way it has.

Top stoppers keeping high standards

Latics will come up against a familiar foe this weekend as they go in search of the goals to keep their season alive.

Ali Al Habsi, of course, was a hugely popular figure here during his five-year stay before moving to Reading in 2015.

It’s been great to see Ali cement his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers outside the Premier League, where he could well end up playing next term if the Royals continue their impressive form.

Interesting also to see another ex-Latics stopper, Scott Carson, being named Derby’s player of the year this week.

Not even the presence of both Carson AND Al Habsi in the ranks could save Latics two years ago.

Underlining the carnage that was unfolding in virtually every other aspect of the football club at the time.