Wigan Athletic can't let their guard down now
It’s looking a lot rosier for the Latics compared to a few weeks ago – but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
Wigan Athletic have been battling at the wrong end of the League One table for most of the campaign but a remarkable spell over the last few games has propelled them out of the relegation zone and towards third-tier safety.
It’s even culminated in caretaker boss Leam Richardson being handed the manager’s job on a full-time basis.
Five games back, Latics were staring a potential back-to-back relegation in the face. Having been condemned to Championship demotion last season due to a points deduction, things looked likely to be heading from bad to worse.
With 39 games played, Richardson’s men were second-bottom and two points from safety.
What a difference a few weeks can make!
Since then, they’ve looked fearless and taken on any and all competitors with a will to win and a determination to survive. They came up against high-flying Sunderland, who had lost just one game since February, and beat them.
They turned over Doncaster, sealed three points against Crewe and beat off Shrewsbury to boot.
The only dropped points came in their most recent game against Burton and even that was a fiercely fought draw. In fact, over the course of the last five games, they have the joint best record of any team in League One alongside Hull City.
The task of surviving the drop does look easier after this tremendous string of results but they can’t let their guards drop now. Mathematically, they can still finish as low as 22nd. Swindon and Bristol Rovers have already had their fates sealed but Rochdale and Northampton could still claw their way out of the drop zone – and drag Wigan into it.
Their next two games could be crucial and they couldn’t be more contradictory from each other. They first take on a Hull side who have already booked their place in the Championship for the next campaign, before facing off against a Swindon Town outfit that has sunk into League Two. Hull will want the title and Swindon won’t want to exit with a whimper.
Their relegation rivals don’t have it any easier - Northampton face two difficult games against Blackpool and Sunderland, while Rochdale face off against Doncaster and MK Dons.
It’s going to be tight at the bottom and every point will count over these next two weeks.
Latics have escaped the trapdoor of relegation once and they’re proving that they’re well capable of doing it again. Now, it’s just 180 minutes between them and potential safety and the chance to try and get themselves propelled back up the football pyramid.
Win and secure safety and it provides solid groundwork for Wigan to push on and gun for that glory again. Lose and be pulled down and it would be a disaster for the club. We’ll be watching behind closed fingers for the next two weeks, that’s for sure.