Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'Nearly all of it is pointless, ridiculous and downright disrespectful. It serves no purpose whatsoever other than to make people feel important. I’m not going to change that and neither are they...'

Our panel of Latics experts look back on a memorable victory at Luton, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Blackburn...and assessing the overall start so far...

Martin Tarbuck:

I’ve been quiet on social media recently. Why? Because it is a shambles. Even when we win, Wigan Athletic fans are falling out with each other. On one side a constant stream of anger and discontent from 2pm onwards, something of a recurring theme, predominantly aimed at the manager for his team selection. The irate and cross words only heighten as we go a goal behind playing dire, route one, defensive football. I saw this regularly through last season at games like Fleetwood, when we were 2-0 down and, as I have mentioned before, there are those who are never happy and can’t wait to put the boot in, as it justifies their constant criticism. Yet a game lasts 90 minutes and, when the game turns around, there is no apology and not even an acknowledgement through gritted teeth that the manager may have got it right. It will somehow transpire victory is solely due to the manager changing his tune, and listening to the worldly advice of some shouty bloke off the internet. This is met by an equally pious response on the other side: 'He’s the manager, I think he knows a bit more than you', which is kind of how I see it, although I’ve stopped publicly opining it due to the toxicity on both sides. My take of the actual plan (and I’m no expert!) is that Leam recognises we are facing more established teams or greater ability/resources most weeks and sets up to nullify and play on the break at the start of the game. We aim to keep it tight, not concede if possible and then, when the opposing legs are tired, we throw on more diverse, attacking resources and start to apply pressure at a weary backline. I seem to recall a chap called Martinez used to use this tactic to great effect, albeit his theory on tiring the opponent out was to pass it around the back rather than launch it to Magennis and wait for it to come back. I’M. NO. EXPERT. But look at our points haul so far and it is working, unless you are one of those people who think we should be in the play-offs.

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The bottom line for me is perhaps I don’t care that much about tactics or even style of play as long as we pick up the required points over a season. You see those last three words: over a season. Not over a game. Not over a half. Patience. Whereas for others, every goal conceded, every point dropped is a catastrophe to be pinned squarely at the shoulders of the man who saved our club. Maybe they just care more than me then? I should say I care deeply about Wigan Athletic, but on a much different, deeper level than who is playing left-back today. Knowing we have a club to support in 20 years is of much more importance to me than whether we are playing four or five at the back on any particular date. I will leave that there before the 'oh we’re not allowed to have an opinion' mob shout up. Let me remind you once again, that when he’s not putting sub-standard food pics on Twitter, the editor of this media vehicle is constantly asking YOU for your opinion, for inclusion in this column. I don’t want to stoke the fire any further because of course, discussion and debate is welcome, but some of the abuse I have seen online about Leam Richardson is absolutely disgusting. If I filter out those to find one of the bits actually fit for reprint in a family publication, there is a suggestion Leam picks his mates. Is it not possible to comprehend the manager, indeed the whole backroom staff, watch what goes on in training, monitor player fitness and pick a team based on a number of variable factors, the most prominent being the collective ability to win a football match? I’m sure he will admit he doesn’t get it right 100 per cent of the time, but I really do think some of us have a distorted view of our club’s place in the hierarchy if we think we, or anyone else, could constantly do better.

Thelo Aasgaard secured a fantastic victory at Luton last weekend

I also understand the clamour for Thelo Aasgaard to start every game. He is a precocious talent who is destined for far bigger things than us. Yet you only have to read a little bit about his past to know he has suffered from one or two serious injuries in his young career, which seem predominantly linked to him being a late developer. This isn’t some kid like Wayne Rooney, who popped up in Everton’s first team at the age of 15 like a fully formed 30-year-old-man/child. If you’ve seen the pic of 15-year-old Thelo, he looked about 12. To our academy’s credit, they probably took a chance on him where others felt he was too small to ever make it. I imagine the club have used one of those medieval torture stretching machines ever since in order to get him to his current physique, and have had to manage all the 'growing pains' that come with it. It’s not difficult to read between the lines, or even to read at all. The next problem is that if he does eventually become a regular in the starting XI, then we won’t be suffering this dilemma for too much longer, as the vultures will be circling in no time at all, looking to prise him away from us. At least, on this occasion, we should be able to command a big fee, if and when this does happen and we are spared the indignity of having him poached for a Twix and a bag of crisps while he’s still a child, like one or two exceptional talents of the last few years.

I am sure there is a similar story as to why Graeme Shinnie, Nathan Broadhead and Ashley Fletcher have also been used very sparsely too. Just as there was a reason why Jamie McGrath went out on loan. Broadhead in particular was one of Sunderland’s best players last season when fit (obviously the minute he signed for us, he became a terrible injury-plagued waster, according to their fans). Do you not think this is the reason why he is being used off the bench? Would it really be a good idea for Leam to get the club’s Twitter account to say at 2pm: 'we’ve put Broadhead on the bench because his hamstring is a bit tight, and Shinnie has a sore knee, so we’re not going to risk him either'? Why not go the whole hog and send an open invitation by telling opposing players exactly where to kick them when they come on for good measure? The clamour for information is never as high as in today’s era, and this is a football club where fans are passionate and invested in every minutiae of detail. But if you can’t understand the need for a bit of discretion in team selection, because giving away information to the opposing manager might not be the best idea, then you are beyond help. Without going all 'as long as we have a club' on you all for the 546th time, can’t we all just be a bit nicer to each other, and also to the club itself? We are also supposed to be on the same team. Sure we might have different opinions, and all are welcome. But we, the fans, don’t have all the knowledge and insight that those on the inside do. I can accept that, and I can also accept fans and wouldn’t even dream of trying to change a Wiganer’s psyche. But nearly all of it is pointless, ridiculous and downright disrespectful. It serves no purpose whatsoever other than to make people feel important. I’m not going to change that and neither are they. Life is short and I’ve got better things to do with my time than argue with folk on the internet. And that is why I’ve been quiet on social media. Thank you.

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Statto:

One thing you can never accuse this Latics squad of is lack of team spirit and fight no matter what the situation. Most would agree Luton looked well in control until the three subs changed the game, with two goals and a nailed-on penalty not given. The finish from the sweet Norwegian Prince was great. The clamour before the game on social media - that the team was wrong from the start - will only get louder this week. My take, for what it's worth, is Leam got it bang on leaving the flair players off until late, when there's possibly more space for them to show their talents and have a positive effect on the team. So now we know what squad we have until January, it's time to buckle down and see where we are after Christmas. On to another local derby with Blackburn in town, let's get behind the team and back Leam. He knows what he's doing. Stay safe.

Matt Auffrey:

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If one of the world’s leading neuroscientists did brain scans of the average Latics fan during one of our recent matches, they may come across unprecedented findings - for better and for worse! There would certainly be no shortage of activity to measure. The verbal output from much of this brain activity would probably sound like: ‘Player X is not good enough. Formation Y needs to be changed to Formation Z. Players A, B, and C need to be subbed on at this exact time in place of Players D, E, and F'. It’s natural for any sports fan to think they have the right answers when their team is not playing well. It makes sense to think the only person who can right the ship at a given time is none other than the person with the exact same viewing perspective and amount of knowledge as you. That also doesn’t excuse the lead decision makers from poor team performances. There has to be accountability across the board within the club. With that being said, this is a results-based business, and the gaffer and his team just pulled off one of the most emphatic results of the calendar year last weekend. That is something that deserves to be celebrated above all else. I am more happy with our results so far as a whole than I am frustrated with or concerned about our style of play. I trust Leam and his team to get us the best result possible with every match. If we happen to have a rough spell of fixtures (which we inevitably will) then I trust him to make the adjustments necessary to get us back on track. The same way some of our rivals in the division will not get extra points in the league table for larger attendances, Latics will not get those same points for playing universally accepted ‘attractive football’. We'll do what works best for us.

Two contributors to our ascent up the league table will hopefully be our deadline-day signings, Anthony Scully and Rarmani Edwards-Green. Talal ultimately delivered on his proclamation of ‘five pens’ from earlier in the summer and there is a lot to be excited about with each individual signing. We’ve added depth in several crucial areas of need along with some youthful energy. The average age of our five new signings is only 24 years old. These players are hungry for success and will only drive the core of our squad to perform their best week in and week out. With Blackburn coming to the DW, the lads should need no extra motivation to build on last weekend’s momentum and go all out for three points. There should be no shortage of atmosphere as well with Blackburn likely to bring several thousand fans. The emergence of Callum Lang and Thelo Aasgaard as goal creators in this division will only make us a more confident and dangerous side. Blackburn have lost four of their last five league fixtures, which pairs well with the fact they have not won at the DW since New Year’s Day 2007. The stars could not align any better for our first home win of the new campaign. The lads deserve nothing less than our full support for 90 minutes.

Emma Peters:

When people ask me if I like the transfer window, I say yes, I do like the transfer window. But not deadline day. Deadline day can… well, you know the drill. Another window shut until January (with the exception of free transfers) which saw Stephen Humphrys make the trip to the Highlands to join Heart of Midlothian on loan until the end of the campaign, joining Jordan Jones, Jamie McGrath, Gavin Massey, Luke Robinson, Adam Long, Kell Watts, Glen Rea and Tom Bayliss on the list of departed players from last season. Having only acquired the services of Ryan Nyambe, Nathan Broadhead and Ashley Fletcher during the summer months - and with talks of Scott Smith, Tom Pearce and Callum Lang all preparing to temporarily fly the nest, and the current squad already spread thinner than a thin slice of ham - the familiar deadline day anxiety started to set in. By 10pm and with still no sign of arrivals it was getting pretty tense. But of course in true Wigan Athletic style we left it until the very last minute to announce the loan signing of defender Ramarni Edmonds-Green from Huddersfield and winger Anthony Scully on a three-year deal from Lincoln. Welcome aboard, lads! With that done and dusted, attention immediately turned to Saturday and the trip to Luton. The character and the belief in and around this club is genuinely the best I’ve ever seen. It’s been said time and again how tightly knit this squad is, the connection and understanding between every single one of them is priceless, which shines like a beacon during games where we find ourselves on the back foot. We found ourselves 1-0 down at the break and chasing the game from the second half. But once again the boys showed off their quality by refusing to be beaten - and Callum Lang, enter stage right. Up pops the wonder boy on 80 minutes with a classic Lang-esque strike from the right-hand side which took a hefty deflection off the leg of Luton’s Tom Lockyer. Approaching full-time and, with the scores level, we looked to be claiming another point on the road. As Leam always says, if you can’t find a way to win the game, make sure you don’t lose. That is until the second of the Scouse academy graduates finds himself in that ideal bit of space that seems to set itself specifically for the Norway international, and up steps Thelo Aasgaard with that little touch of class that radiates from him...2-1 to the team that never knows when they’re beaten. Lovely. I’d like to say the points we’ve acquired thus far have been convincing and well deserved, but they haven’t. Criticism of Leam’s team selection and substitutes have floated around Wigan Twitter throughout the last couple of games, with the majority of fans - me included - voicing their desire for Graeme Shinnie and Thelo to be present in the starting XI. However, with the majority of fans - me included - also vastly under-qualified to make that decision, it might be time to once again put our faith in Leam and his men and trust the process. Let’s get off their backs and just see where we end up in May, eh?

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Tony Moon:

In every game, the play takes a turn, so when oh when will we ever learn? That a game’s not lost in just one half, though some think it is, it just makes you laugh (in a southern accent … for the rhyme). Games can be flipped, sometimes with ease; In 30 minutes, you can pull up trees. But a proportion of our fans would rather work ‘emselves into a lather, yelling it’s not good enough, and Leam out, and other guff. It’s quite sad really, they just can’t wait, to criticise, to call, to slate. Why do they do it? Well, God knows, cos along comes a rare goal like Thelo’s. Oh my, oh my, what an absolute beauty, what a pearler, what a curler, what a scouse Tics cutie. You see, that’s what happens when we all keep our calm, cos there’s 90 odd minutes in which to do harm. But I s’pose that’s just Wigginers, too eager, too keen, to tell of their disgust in what they’ve just seen. Take a lesson from Lenny, aye, Mr Kravitz; it ain’t over till it’s over, … and out, Up the Tics!

Sean Livesey:

There were boos in the away end at half-time on Saturday afternoon. Yes, the first-half display at Kenilworth Road wasn’t the best, indeed it was probably the poorest we’ve played all season. But to boo them off? Come on! There wasn’t much in the way of boos at the full-time whistle as Leam Richardson and the lads inspired another memorable afternoon and a crucial second win of the season in the process. We look a much better side when we play football, and Josh Magennis has been fantastic since he arrived in January – a harder working player you won’t find. But it does tend to lead to Latics going long when he plays. Not always to good effect, either. But at the end of the day we’re picking up results, and we’ll take that all season long. Let’s not beat around the bush, yes there are definite improvements to be made to this side, yes we need to show a bit more at times. Both in terms of style and guile but equally confidence, and that goes for both players and coaching staff. But at the end of the day, we’re entering the second week of September with 10 points from our opening seven matches, two big away wins and only one defeat so far. Anyone who had been offered that ahead of the Preston game would quite rightly have snapped your hand off. The atmosphere at the end of Saturday’s match was fantastic, another sold-out away end was treated to an inspired second-half performance. Although I can see why there are such calls for Thelo Aasgaard to start every week, Leam pointed to the fitness issues behind the scenes that have curtailed his playing time so far. He’s a special talent and we need to treat him as such. Like so many others who have come through our Academy in recent times, he’s destined for the very top – so let's enjoy him while we can. With the transfer window closed until January, we’ve now a settled squad we can use to help us firm up our place in the Championship. The deadline-day arrivals of Anthony Scully and Rarmani Edmonds-Green complete an impressive summer transfer window. Yes there’s a lot of loans in there, but a club in our position has to make use of that market, which we’ve done to great effect. When Phoenix 21 took over, they promised to run us in a sustainable fashion, and if that means making use of the loan market so be it. If we’re successful this season, that may mean those loans can be turned into permanent transfers. It’s back to home comforts on Saturday, and a reunion with the club formerly known as Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers. They’ve had a mixed season so far in East Lancashire, losing four out of the last five but at the same time accumulating 12 points to sit just outside of the play-off places. Regardless, we’ll need to be at our best to get anything out of the game. Bring it on.