Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man: '...he prefers his football pitches to be scantily clad and not covered in cloth. Despite the accusations of ‘towel play’, Latics are not on the beach yet...'
Caddy from the 5
The ‘Believe’ bus is in cruise control as we head down the road to the Championship after a hard-fought win at Morecambe in front of a sell-out away end. Albeit an away end we didn’t sell out as quick as the best team in the league gloated when they go there soon for a relegation six-pointer... They can put that trophy at the side of their ‘drew with Bayern’ one – if they can find the key to the trophy cabinet. Coupled with a stuttering win at Doncaster on Saturday, we’re now 16 unbeaten – one point off the top of the table with four games in hand. And still Ian Holloway – remember him? – says Rotherham are in pole position in this division. Think again, lad... Now I’m not one for getting carried away, but I can’t see us losing a game ever again (1-0 Gillingham incoming) and winning the Champions League before Manchester City...plenty time yet then! That’s how much confidence this team has nowadays, with a fired-up Max Power pulling all the strings. The two additions so far in the transfer window are solid buys. Wilf’s lad, Josh Magennis, is a proven striker at this level, and Graeme Shinnie is a masterstroke from Leam and the team. I think getting numbers on board given our fixture list was a must and, with February’s run of games against all the sides around us, we’ll need them all if we want to win the division by 40 points. Attention turns to Saturday now when Gillingham come to the DW...a team only famous for 40 ,000 fans being out of Wembley quicker than us despite winning the play off final in 2000. No, I won’t let it go... A last one on the away followings this season, and I know it’s easier when we’re doing so well obviously. But the amount of young lads and old faces we’re seeing at the games now can only bode well for the future – keep it up lads and lasses Right, I’m off watching Simon Haworth’s wonder goal in the Gillingham final with eight Strongbow to drown my tears...
Well that’s a satisfying couple of games, not completely at our best but got the results. Although it seems we are now cheating, from towelgate on Saturday to handball and fouls on Tuesday! League One managers can’t half do some moaning, they make me look happy-go-lucky... A warm welcome to Josh and Graeme, two cracking signings to boost our promotion push, with hopefully one or two more to come. Everything still looking bright for the club and fans – long may it continue.
Any apprehension about the second half of our league campaign has hopefully simmered down a bit since last week. The travelling ‘Tics secured victory with a professional performance at Doncaster last Saturday and, in turn, wasted no time in inciting their first ‘major’ controversy of 2022 with ‘Towelgate’. We learned Rovers manager Gary McSheffrey is not one for ‘dry humour’ and he prefers his football pitches to be scantily clad and not covered in cloth. Despite the accusations of ‘towel play’, Latics are not on the beach yet. The tightly-contested match against bottom-of-the-table Rovers was a reminder we are likely going to receive every team’s best shot over these coming months. That sentiment was certainly reinforced on Tuesday night, as 21st-position Morecambe put forth an effort that was worthy of a promotion contender in this division. Little did our opponents know they signed up to be audience members for a show where one game-in-hand was magically transformed into three points on the board by the visiting team. Our midweek trip to the seaside was a success as we indulged on enough shrimp cocktail to hold us over until Morecambe’s return trip to the DW in March. We’re a point off top of the league with four games in-hand on division-leading Wycombe. We’ll close out January with three very winnable fixtures against Gillingham and the Arsenal Under-21s at home before travelling to Cheltenham next Saturday. We’ve secured the services of two respected veterans in Josh Magennis and Graham Shinnie, who will surely have a strong impact on the pitch once they’re fully integrated into the squad. The new year has got off to a phenomenal start. Could some of our recent performances have been better? Yes. We could’ve dominated Doncaster to the tune of a four or five-goal victory margin, and we didn’t.
We could’ve started out much sharper against Morecambe, and not have been a clear second-best for the majority of the first half on Tuesday night. Individual players made mistakes and some did not have their most productive spells of the season. That is all fine with me. I trust Leam and his staff to put out the most competitive team possible for every match. If we don’t start out on the best foot, I have full confidence Leam will make the necessary changes to redirect us towards victory – as he demonstrated on Tuesday. The season is still full of many unknowns and, as we inch closer to an absolute gauntlet of a fixture list in February, it’s important we are playing our best football entering that stretch. However, now is as good of a time as any to reflect on where we were at this same point last season, and appreciate how much we’ve progressed. We were in the relegation places of the league table, still without owners, and trying to navigate around a mountain of uncertainty regarding the futures of our players and coaches. The first half of our league campaign produced a remarkable 51 points.
Can we ‘smash the league’ with 100 points? This team is making it seem like more of a possibility with each passing match.
Firstly, a big welcome to Josh Magennis and Graeme Shinnie! I’m sure they’re fitting in nicely with the lads and the fans are eagerly anticipating a couple of debuts in the not-too-distant future. So, transfer window...going all right, innit? Maybe not as many signings as we would have liked to have seen, having been allegedly linked with everyone from Ronaldo to Santa Claus, but I’m sure some clever Richard said something about slow and steady once upon a time. With Joe Bennett confirming he’s had another slight injury setback, it looks like Tom Pearce may be sticking around for a bit and fighting for his regular first team spot. And if the rumours floating about are true, we may well be preparing ourselves for the 4th (FOURTH) coming of Curtis Tilt. The end of the month is less than a fortnight away, and I’m wondering if we are going to see another ‘Ticsesque action-packed deadline day, or if all business will be done and dusted before the 31st. This weekend will see a return of league fixtures at the DW against Gillingham and, all being well, a result or two in our favour puts us in very very good stead to be lifting the League One title by May. Someone asked the question of whether we would prefer points on the board or games in hand. Me personally? I’ll have a few of both. Lovely stuff. Up The Tics!
Another remarkable week for Wigan Athletic, not without it’s controversy it must be admitted, but a remarkable week all the same. It’s six points from six in our return to league action after the unwanted break over the festive period. Add to that the two cup wins against Oldham and Blackburn Rovers, and Leam Richardson’s side look in fantastic form. Scratch below the surface and you may find some concern over performances. I wasn’t there at Doncaster so can’t comment, but Morecambe were definitely the stronger side in the first half. Our true class showed through, and a relentless spell of pressure in the second half led to Stephen Humphrys’ first league goal and all three points heading back down the M6 to Wigan. At this stage of the season, especially with the schedule we have coming up, you simply can’t succeed in every match playing swashbuckling football. You have to learn to win in different ways, and all the markers point to us being able to do that. There are the games like Bolton where we can blow sides away, the games like Doncaster where a win can be ground out, and the games like Morecambe where we can fall behind yet still show our true class and pick up the win. There’s still a lot of football to be played, and no doubt we will hit a tricky patch at some point.
But the fact we are consistently winning is an excellent trait to show. Next up it’s another of the bottom four as Gillingham travel north without a certain Steve Evans and his red-faced angry gesticulations. Can’t say I shed a tear when the aforementioned Evans was given his marching orders by the lads from Kent. But it does mean we’re facing a team in a state of flux, who frankly have nothing to lose and may well put that extra 10/15 per cent in to impress Steve Lovell. We have to be guarded about that, and hope our effectiveness and strength shines through. With another break from league action coming up with a week of cup action, it’s important Leam and the lads end this period of three games in eight days the right way. Could Josh Magennis make his bow on Saturday alongside Graeme Shinnie? Leam may well be tempted to remain with a winning team. But with another run of un-relenting fixtures coming up, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the side freshened up. Of course there’s no need to rush Magennis in particular. Could it be Humphrys’ time? I’m sure he’d be the first to admit it’s not gone to plan for him so far this season. He’s not broke his way in to the first team as of yet, but his winning goal on Tuesday and his all-around performance pointed to something more. He could feel hard done to, to not start this weekend. Whoever takes to the field on Saturday, give them your all – because every single one of these players and members of staff deserve it.
Apparently, we play absolutely rubbish,
In each and every game.
Apparently, we’re not great to watch,
Our style is really quite lame.
Apparently, our right side carries no threat,
Or maybe that of a powder puff.
Apparently, Will Keane shouldn’t be in the side,
Have you ever heard such rich guff?
Apparently, Leam doesn’t like to change,
And Pearce has little to offer.
And Naylor seems to just disappear
I wonder if he’s Jimmy Hoffa? (Google it !)
Apparently, we can’t keep winning like this,
Eventually, we’ll come unstuck.
Apparently, we can’t go on scraping a win,
Eventually, we’ll end up in t’ muck.
Apparently, we can’t handle big centre forwards,
First Bogle, then Stockton got through us.
So long as we keep scoring up at t’ other end,
I’m quite happy with Tics away tours.
Talal’s pen’s already been out twice so far,
A very strong side’s being built.
First Josh McGennis, and unbelievably, Shinnie,
And surely the next will be Tilt.
Any road, we’ve eclipsed last season’s points total,
Which was one of this season’s main aims.
Our unbeaten run is now up to 16,
And we’ve scored in all t’ last 30 games.
We’re now up to second, just one point from t’ top spot,
And still with those four games in hand.
With Cup games up next, (Wemberlee here we come).
I’nt life as a ‘Tic flipping grand?!
Get 20% off our sports subscription package and stay up to date with all the latest Wigan Athletic news with a year’s subscription to WiganToday for less than 9p a day. Use promo code TRANSFER20