Talking football: Things going the Wigan way
When things are going your way, they really go your way.
On any other weekend of the season, a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Peterborough would have represented a poor result.
But the Wigan Athletic players would soon have been buoyed, back in the changing rooms, when news came through of third-placed Walsall losing and fourth-placed Gillingham only drawing.
So instead of dropping two points, Latics actually increased the buffer between themselves and third spot to five games, with less than a quarter of the campaign to go.
Then on Tuesday night, news comes through of long-time leaders Burton going down to a 2-0 defeat at Bradford.
A lot of people were too quick to congratulate Burton on winning automatic promotion with far too much of the campaign still to go.
Yes they’ve stood in a strong position for the last few weeks, but they’ve not exactly been tearing sides apart.
They’ve been functional rather than spectacular and, now the goals have dried up, they look to have stalled.
Only one win in the last five - with three goals scored - looks like a team desperately hanging on for the finishing tape, rather than a Latics side that are well and truly kicking for home.
This weekend sees Latics make the long trip south to face a poor Colchester side that already looks doomed to the drop back to League Two.
The corresponding fixture at the DW ended 5-0 to the home side and, while it won’t be anywhere near as comfortable this time, it does suggest a gulf in class between the two sides.
Latics will be boosted by the return from suspension of Sam Morsy, and he’ll be determined to make up for his needless red card at Millwall last week.
The tough-tackling midfielder had quickly become a key member of this side, with his effortless habit of being in the right place at the right time to break up opposition attacks, as well as getting Latics going on advances of their own.
Fingers crossed Jussi Jaaskelainen, Jason Pearce and Conor McAleny are also able to travel, having been forced off early in the piece last weekend against Posh.
Jaaskelainen and Pearce had become key components in the tightening up of the defence in recent weeks, while McAleny has proved he has the X-factor - particularly on the road at Sheffield United and Walsall - to make a difference in attack.
With Will Grigg bang in form, Latics should travel south mindful of the U’s threat - but full of confidence they can take another huge step towards an immediate return to the Championship.
Wigan Athletic’s capture of Stephen Warnock was a real statement of intent.
The form team in the division, the strongest squad, and still Gary Caldwell and David Sharpe want more.
Warnock’s arrival looks to be an extremely shrewd capture - judging by the reaction of the dismayed Derby fans anyway.
Regardless of how well things are going, an injection of class and experience can only help matters.
Who know, maybe Warnock will be playing against his old mates from Derby in the Championship next term.
It was good to see Shaq Coulthirst back at the DW at the weekend - albeit in opposition colours.
The young striker barely kicked a ball in two loan spells at Wigan at the beginning of the season due to injury.
But having left Tottenham for Peterborough in January, he looks to be back on track.
Indeed, he produced more in the opening five minutes at the weekend than his entire time with Latics, looking busy with and without the ball, and proving a constant menace.
A real shame that he was never able to show that potential in a Latics shirt.
Another loan striker currently plying his trade elsewhere is Jordy Hiwula, who has joined Walsall for the rest of the campaign.
It always seemed a strange move for Huddersfield to recall him from Wigan’s bench in January, and expect him to go straight in to a Championship relegation dogfight.
Two strikers that got away, but if things had turned out different, Latics perhaps wouldn’t have needed to bring in Conor McAleny instead.
And the form of the young Everton forward since his arrival suggests Latics could well have ended up with the best of the three.
The knives were out in some quarters for Roberto Martinez after Everton’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham at the weekend.
It could, of course, have been all so different had Romelu Lukaku converted his penalty to make it 3-0 to the Toffees.
But a late capitulation at the back saw Everton lose - and the manager cop much of the flak.
“Martinez teams can’t defend” was the gist of much of what I read and heard.
This despite Everton having won five of their previous six matches - with only two goals conceded.
Let’s also remember West Ham are no mugs, having already won at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City this season, and lying fifth in the Premier League table.
Martinez may be responsible for the formation and the tactics, but he’s surely not to blame for defensive errors and mix-ups that have dogged the Toffees of late.
Maybe it’s time the players themselves stood up to be counted, and took a bit more responsibility for things going wrong on the field.
Stat of the week:-
Since winning promotion from League One in May 2008, Ashley Williams has played 28,252 of Swansea’s 28,980 league minutes.
An incredible stat, and testament to a player who will be a big part of Wales’ attempts to make a splash at the European Championships this summer.