Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'He's got plenty credit left in the tank, but this doesn't stop him being immune from criticism, and nor should it...'
Caddy from the 5:
It seems it's 'pick your side' time on social media following the two games this week. In the red corner are the 'Leam is God' lads, backing their man to the hilt, and won't have anything negative said about their top boy. And in the blue corner are the 'Shades of Coyle' mob, picking away at Leam's teams, tactics and formation, and already measuring up the manager's seat for AN Other. Personally, I think Leam's got plenty credit left in the tank, but this doesn't stop him being immune from criticism, and nor should it. We're not playing attractive football at all, we're not winning every week, and we're not top of the league. You know why? Because this division is ruthless. Take the Burnley game - were they five goals better than us? Absolutely not. But the step up in class is already there to see, and we can't afford to give chances to teams because they WILL take them. I will say that the hoofball we're playing is God awful to watch, no bones about it. Filling the midfield but firing long balls over them to a target man to flick on simply isn't working. Look, Leam knows way more than me and is picking his teams to get the results we all want, yes we've only lost one game, and if it keeps us up, it'll be worth it. But it's not easy on the eyes, and I will keep saying it...unleash Aasgaard! Now, is Leam being too loyal to his trusted steeds from last season? Maybe. But surely they deserve the chance to step up and show what they've got? Now with Wyke back to fitness and Broadhead looking hungry, the pressure is on Keane and Lang to perform up front. Along with Magennis, Fletcher and the somewhat forgotten Humphreys, we're spoiled in the forward line. As for whose turn it is to play left back, without actually picking a left back, that's anyone's guess. There's absolutely no need to panic in the stands at the moment, we're more than holding our own in games. But improvement is necessary throughout the team to keep us on par with the other clubs and keep the smiles on the faces of the Tics fans. Next up is another away day to Luton this week, with a sell-out following heading for the alleyway between the two houses and into the ground to hopefully bring the points back north! Fair play to everyone heading down, away days really are bouncing at the moment and long may it continue! It won't be an easy game (what is nowadays?!), but let's get right behind the boys and stick it up the snide cockneys. Right, I'm off picking up my Lamborghini complete with Strongbow cup holder after my little win on the Joseph's Goal draw, let's all stick together and I'm sure the lads will come good.
Well a humbling defeat on Saturday but, in a season of learning at Championship level, it probably won't be the last. Burnley are by far the best team we've played so far, movement of the ball and pace. But saying that, 10 minutes either side of the penalty we played some good football. I also think Leam got it wrong not playing one of the big lads up top. Onto West Brom, a bright start with a good show of strength from Magennis and a tidy finish for the goal. Then step forward Tom Naylor to have a 'Jamie Jones' moment and gifting the ball to West Brom for their goal...what is it with West Brom and gifting them goals at the DW? Let's see what the squad looks like after the window closes for the challenge going forward. Stay safe.
The first month of the new season is behind us. The squad, the starting XI, and our playing style are all still very much a 'work in progress'. The flip of a calendar page will likely not bring the immediate stability and excellence that our fanbase actively craves. Yet, I’d like to think we are still on track to achieve our primary goal this season, which is survival in this division. An extrapolation of our current playing form has us finishing with 54 points by season’s end. That projection doesn’t mean other statistics won’t need to improve in order for this to come to realisation. Our home form (no wins in four matches) is the first item that comes to mind. Our lack of goalscoring prowess (0.83 goals per match) has underwhelmed as well. Those are both areas that will ideally change for the better as we settle into this division. Even though we’ve only played six league matches so far, we’ve had a good look at some of the division’s heaviest hitters already. We haven’t played a single side who have come close to running us off the pitch. Even Burnley who shipped five past us last weekend were far from dominant. We only need to go back two seasons to recall when we were regularly conceding five goals in matches and were on the receiving end of some legitimate beatdowns. Is anybody else still having nightmares about Rochdale at home? However, just one win in all competitions still leaves something to be desired. It also took extraordinary circumstances to produce our sole three-point effort of the past month. Our trip to Luton will provide another great opportunity to right the ship. The Championship play-off darlings of last season have started the new campaign on only slightly better footing than Latics. Luton proved last season they can be masters of edging out tight results. One should only believe our upcoming fixture will be decided by fine margins as well. Our past three matches have produced three different starting line-ups and it’s possible we’ll see more changes at Kenilworth Road. Leam Richardson will have to navigate around the absences of Tendayi Darikwa and Callum Lang for another match and decide if we will continue to play with three central defenders and wing backs or a flat back four. Regardless of who plays or how we set up, one consistent will be another massive away support that will do their fair part from the stands to propel Latics to victory. We’re a far cry away from playing like a play-off side, yet alone a mid-table side. We do know we have the players to compete in this division, even if we’re not running on all cylinders. Hopefully Luton is one step in the right direction towards satisfaction.
They’ve supported t' Latics all o’ their life, Oh aye, they love Latics more than their wife; Supported ‘em all through thick an’ thin, an’ supported em whatever league they were in. But by gum, some can’t half complain, again and again, then again and again; We’ve no new players, and this lot can’t play, they forget they won t’ league title just back in May (well, 30th April actually, but that rhymes with sod all). So despite playing teams that have come down from the Prem, and others whose hopes are top six minimum for them, they coldly condemn our lot as not fit to compete; with the likes of the Championship kings, the elite. Well I’m sorry, that’s bollards, we’ve been in every game, coulda/should’ve more points, aye, that’s really lame. But well, they know best, they’ve been watchin’ for years, (they tell us until it’s comin’ out of our ears!). It seems that they revel in when we play poor, 'nah, yon James McClean’s norra patch on Mickey Moore'. Some think we’re down before t’ first o’ September, and these are 'our fans' you have to remember. It just beggars belief that their outlook’s so glum, I reckon they all need a big kick up the … gluteus maximus.
It's been a mixed week on the old ship Wigan Athletic, with some of the ship mates just stopping short of a full mutiny. Well if that Twitter hashtag is anything to go by at least. Burnley was always going to be a tough task, matches against the Premier League relegation class of Sheffield United, Norwich City and the aforementioned lot from East Lancashire won't define our season. Nonetheless 5-1 hurts, but equally doesn't tell the whole story of the match. With a chance to make it 2-2 spurned, Burnley made it 3-1 with a clearly offside goal, and after that it was damage limitation. As ever with Latics, Leam and the lads went from heroes at St Andrews the week before to being not fit to burn seven short days later. That general vibe continued into Tuesday's meeting with West Brom and a chance to make amends against Steve 'Harrods' Bruce. Josh Magennis showed exactly why the club shelled out for him in January as Latics led, and in truth didn't look in any sort of danger. But an uncharacteristic mistake from Tom Naylor gifted the Baggies an equaliser. I thought a point was a decent result in the end, considering West Brom's Championship pedigree and squad strength but I think I was in the minority. When you looked at that first month of the season, I think anyone would have snapped your hand off if you'd offered seven points and just one defeat. Yes, the squad still needs strengthening and yes, there's definitely room for improvement on the pitch. But this season is all about consolidation in the Championship and I think we'll be well on target for that. It's off to Luton on Saturday, and probably one of our last trips to Kenilworth Road. What a way to celebrate the old girl with three points for another sold-out away end.