Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - ‘The Ozone Bounce was replaced by Coldplay as the Tics came crashing back down to earth...’

Our panel of Latics experts assess an instantly forgettable trip to the Fylde coast as their side continue to experience the ups and downs of a rollercoaster campaign...
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Caddy from the 5:

Well Fleetwood was definitely a case of 'After The Lord Mayo's Show'...when the Ozone Bounce was replaced by Coldplay as the Tics came crashing back down to earth with a disappointing defeat. The only thing you can say consistently about us is how inconsistent we are. Was it a case of over confidence after beating them from Horwich? Or are we where we are...a mid-table team that's going to have highs and lows? For me it's the latter. I know we've heard it all before, but we're a team of kids, ne'er do wells and loans. What do we actually want? Starting on minus eight and sitting nicely mid-table in March is a great effort from all concerned. But true to form, the Tics fans aren't happy! Shaun Maloney has gone from walking on water last Tuesday to the unwanted son of Owen Coyle and Kolo Toure in a week...what a club! Never change, lads. If we just settle down and take a look at the season so far, we've beaten them lot home and away, given Manchester United a half decent game, Division Three football is as good as already secured for next season, the Academy lads are flourishing, and we've a stable owner. This season was all about just staying up and trying to sort the sorry show the Bahraini lads left us in. Well that's all coming along slowly but nicely. Again, the years of boom and bust are gone. And I'm not going down the 'at least we've got a club' route, so everything on the pitch is irrelevant, because it's not. We've the base of a very good team that needs quality additions in summer, and that's when we'll see what Mr Danson's vision is for us. In the meantime, let's not get carried away this season, just because we're 'only' 13th! This weekend sees a chance to right the wrongs from last week against Leyton Orient, and get the Ozone Bounce going again. Again, though, let's not get carried away if all doesn't go to plan. We'll just have to ask the EFL if we can play Horwich every week to get some more points! On a final note, there's just over a week to the annual Joseph's Goal walk, where the lads and girls are walking from Blackpool to Wigan for the big game. If you've got a spare quid, chuck it in the buckets for a great cause, and there should be the added bonus of seeing a certain fella from WN5 - who I believe doesn't feed his dog - rancid, blistered feet, and hopefully in agony...defo worth a donation that! Right, I'm off for some 'Bow in the sun...don't work too hard!

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Latics are licking their wounds after last weekend's beating at struggling FleetwoodLatics are licking their wounds after last weekend's beating at struggling Fleetwood
Latics are licking their wounds after last weekend's beating at struggling Fleetwood

Matt Auffrey:

If there has been any consistency from Latics over the past several months, it’s that they have consistently failed to win consecutive matches. It took a 110th-minute winner from Charlie Hughes against Wycombe in late January (following a win against Reading) for the feat to happen for the only time since the start of the year. You’d have to go all the way back to the end of October to identify the previous time we won consecutive league matches. There was great optimism going into the Fleetwood match that Latics would follow-up the emphatic Bolton victory with a winning performance against a side winless over their past five matches. The first half-hour saw Latics take a well deserved 2-1 lead thanks to goals from Stephen Humphrys and Thelo Aasgaard. But the match would be flipped on its head from that point onwards, as Fleetwood would equalise before half-time and dominate the chances in the second half en route to winning 4-2. There’s no question the result was disappointing but, being just four days removed from our most important home victory of the season, many fans were able to show a bit of grace towards Shaun Maloney and the lads. Other than Fleetwood, Reading was the only other team below us in the league table who won last weekend, so we still remain in a relatively comfortable position regarding our quest for survival. This weekend brings Leyton Orient to the DW, and a chance to right the ship against a side that would be just two points better off than us in the league table had we not received our eight-point deduction. The prospect of Charlie Hughes and Jordan Jones - two of our best players on the season - returning to the starting line-up would be a huge boost for a team that lacked flair in attack and stability in defense during Fleetwood’s run of three unanswered goals last weekend. Barring an unexpected and extended drop in form, there should not be a great deal of pressure on the lads over these final 10 matches. The positive is the lack of pressure could allow us to play loose and, in turn, spur some of our most creative and dynamic football of the season. On the flip side, ‘being on the beach’ and playing with anything less than 100 per cent effort and concentration could see the season end on a very lacklustre note with a losing string of results. Maloney has generally done a good job of keeping the team motivated, and he will certainly find incentive to keep our performances up over this final stretch of games. We’ve taken 32 points from 18 home matches this season (1.78 points per game), compared to 20 points from 18 away matches (1.11 points per game). If we’re going to work our way back up this division over the coming years, stellar home form is going to have to become a staple of our success. No matter what your feelings are regarding our current league status, the lads will still need a boisterous home crowd to propel them to a strong finish for this season and beyond. Let’s get back to winning ways this weekend.

Alan Rogers:

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I saw an interview with Ian Evatt on BBC at the beginning of the week and, perhaps surprisingly, he looked like a broken man. I say surprisingly because Bolton are still in line for possible automatic promotion. Now I'm sure he will receive little or no sympathy from anyone reading this - myself included - but it did make me think about how certain football 'supporters' look at the world. Never a popular figure among opposition fans, it now seems as if a section of the home fans have turned against Evatt as well, and are now making his life miserable on social media. Slightly further afield, at Bloomfield Road, a minority of Blackpool fans have decided Neil Critchley has to go. Although they sit eighth in the table and narrowly missed out on Wembley in the Pizza Cup, apparently that isn't enough. And then on to Blackburn, who are currently experiencing financial problems (along with most other clubs I suppose), and have a relatively new manager in John Eustace. A number of fans campaigned to get John Dahl Tomason out of the door, but already some of them have decided Eustace also has to go. And so to the main reason for this article...the situation at Wigan. You can't help but compare the similarities at the four Lancashire clubs. All experienced the heady heights of the Premier League and, just like Icarus, all possibly flew too close to the sun, and eventually came crashing down. But it seems that, instead of being happy about past achievements, and at least a little bit hopeful for the future, some people at all four clubs never seem satisfied. All four clubs have suffered major financial trauma, but it looks as if at least three of them now seem to have some form of sensible financial plan for the future. Now I'm not suggesting the majority think this way. Thankfully the average Lancashire football fan, who may want to make his or her voice heard, usually does so in a sensible way. But we still have the noisy minority, usually hiding behind a false name, who only seem to be happy when they are lashing out. Usually without facts, just spouting their sometimes bizarre opinions.

Which brings us to last Saturday at Fleetwood. Of course it wasn't good enough, and it's baffling how we can play well one game and rubbish the next. It can even happen in the same game - great one half and then pathetic the next, or vice versa. But the reaction of some on Saturday night was well over the top. Some people who claimed Shaun Maloney was the next Messiah after the Bolton game were demanding he should be shown the door on Saturday night! No matter how many times we explain in simple terms that we live in a brave new world, and this season is very much a learning experience, some people don't want to know. They demand to watch a winning team every week playing flowing, exciting football, possibly led by a world-class manager. The fact we are potless and hamstrung by the EFL isn't an excuse as far as they are concerned. Which brings me back to Evatt. I don't particularly like the bloke, but he cut a rather pathetic figure this week. And the whole point I've been leading up to is this...love them or hate them, the managers mentioned are all human beings, and if such a thick-skinned character as him is feeling the weight of unsavoury comments, then it's a bit worrying. I've mentioned before that I hope Shaun and his staff don't eventually say 'enough is enough'. But at what point does it all become too much? Is the solution simply not to listen to anything – good or bad – on social media? I guess we will always still have some buffoons actually at the game who shout out inane comments...but hasn’t that always been the case? I can remember, back at Springfield Park, one centre-forward was constantly getting abused by a small section of the crowd. It was actually only a couple of people who, for some reason, really disliked him, and made sure he knew about it.. Finally he cracked and, when he eventually scored, he raced across the pitch and confronted his abusers...who obviously meekly backed down. Imagine having that every match, and then going home and also being under constant barrage from social media. Because that’s what’s happening today. I’m not saying anyone is above criticism but, when there is already so much negativity in the world, I can’t understand why we would single out people who are actually achieving something. They may not be achieving it as fast as some people would like but, once again, we need to look at the wider picture. The game against Bolton was brilliant, players and fans all united together. But Saturday was a different story. Various players have apologised since, and no-one is suggesting we brush these issues under the carpet. But when we underperform at work, it is usually our bosses or colleagues who call us out. We don’t get pilloried on Twitter from anonymous, cowardly strangers. Onwards and upwards!

Ed Bazeley:

Well the narrative of Wigan Athletic’s season has well and truly continued. After the highest of highs last week, defeating arch rivals and promotion chasers Bolton Wanderers, Shaun Maloney and co then fell to a 4-2 defeat at relegation-battling Fleetwood. From a wider football perspective, some of Fleetwood’s goals - Bosun Lawal’s second in particular - were class, which shows the quality of League One right down to sides in the bottom four. But from a Latics perspective, we should never go 2-1 up against a side at the wrong end of the table, and end up losing 4-2. I like Sean Clare’s post-match comments, where he admitted Latics’ tendency to win one game and lose the next isn’t good enough, as it shows the ambition of the playing squad. However as a (reasonably level-headed I think) fan, I can’t say I agree it’s not good enough. Because to be honest, we were only ever going to finish mid-table this season, and a constant cycle of win, lose, win, lose is going to land us exactly in mid-table - hence our current position. And having started the season on minus eight, Latics have done very well to pull themselves all the way up to mid-table mediocrity as opposed to a relegation dogfight. We are 10 points clear of the relegation zone, with 10 games remaining and there’s a cushion of seven teams between ourselves and the relegation zone. We will be fine, especially considering the fact that in ‘real’ terms we are actually 18 points clear of the bottom three. I have every faith that, if the summer transfer window goes well, Latics can have a play-off push next season. But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that, for once, we are not watching a side who are scrambling to avoid relegation or earn promotion. Let’s have a relaxing spring for a change...something which is not usually possible for us supporters!

Charlie Keegan:

Fleetwood (a) was an abysmal showing, and we didn't deserve to win that game at all. I’ve expected us to have some inconsistent results this season, but to follow up such a brilliant victory over Bolton on Derby Day with that performance was atrocious. In last week's 12th Man, I did mention Fleetwood were scrapping, with the faintest glimmer of hope for survival. Still, Latics simply did not do the basics consistently enough to warrant taking anything away from Highbury. The pitch played a part, of course, but it’s not the first rough surface we have had to play on this season. Despite the loss, we remained in 13th place and we still sit there heading into Leyton Orient (h) on the weekend. Nathan Jones has managed to drag Charlton from the depths of the table up to 14th place, where they sit three points behind us, having played a game more. Wycombe are level with the Addicks on 41 points, although they have a game in hand on us. Thankfully, our goal difference means they could only overtake us with an 8-0 victory in that game in hand, so we still have a little breathing space. I would like to see Latics push into the mid-50-point range and, with 10 games left to secure 10-plus points, I am still confident we can do that. The first of our final 10 games is, of course, against Orient at the DW Stadium, and the game marks two years to the day since Richie Wellens took charge of them in League Two. Wellens has done a brilliant job, securing 91 points to take them to the title last season, and now they look like a comfortable top-half League One side with young and exciting players in many key positions. I feel a lot of the plaudits for the newly-promoted sides go to Stevenage for having occupied a play-off chasing spot for most of this season, but Orient have quietly been very consistent just behind them, so hats off to Wellens for what he is achieving there. Northampton picked up third place in the lower division last season, and are sitting comfortably in 12th so far. Carlisle won the play-offs last May, but are pretty much condemned to relegation now. When we last met in November, I was impressed with how Latics dealt with Orient overall, but I felt we were fortunate to come away with a point in the end. Stephen Humphrys' second-minute penalty miss almost set the tone for the game, especially after having missed one in the league game before at Cheltenham, but his goal to relevel the game after Forde’s fantastic finish was enough to almost make me forget about the misses. Latics will need to be at their best to pick up a point or three at the DW on Saturday, and we need to see a strong reaction to the performance at Fleetwood. Let’s finish the season strong, Tics.

Colin Garner:

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How very typical of Wigan, on a high from the Bolton result, to plummet back down to earth with the Fleetwood setback. Am I worried? Far from it. We knew what to expect this season, and Shaun Maloney and the boys have more or less achieved it. Looking at the bigger picture, we have a decent set of lads here, and we definitely should be looking at pinning them down on new contracts. Matt Smith and Jason Kerr are two names that would be top of my list but, hey ho, I'm not a football manager. I still see criticism on social media. Is it warranted? Maybe, maybe not. But it just proves how passionate Latics fans are. Hand on heart, I can see we will have a stable future going forward. With some of the plans circulating, and looking at the youngsters we have, it's looking good, certainly to be a stable League One team. Forget the Championship and Premier League dreams, those days have gone. Leyton Orient visit this weekend, and it will be a big test for the lads, but let's do what we do best and keep on backing Shaun and the lads. Saturday's fixture is also the 'Her Game Too' fixture, and we have some great female supporters among us. Some know a lot more about the game than most males these days, and it's another opportunity to support the ladies among us...we are all equal! Good luck, Tics.

Tony Moon:

We were all right, on Tuesday night, cos we’d beat Bolton, and we were up for the fight. Aye, but then Saturday comes, and I’m all fingers and thumbs, cos we’re playing Fleetwood and they’re in the bottom two … need to give it all we’ve got, to keep our toys in our cot … or we’ll be Cry-y-ing, come 5 o’clock. Cry-y-ing, from the aftershock, of another sloppy loss … and putting all the blame onto the boss, to justify our crying, and groaning, and whinging, and moaning that Maloney should be sacked … and they should rip up his contract … and all because we’re crying. From two one up, to four two down, and all because of the tactics of that clown. So though we’re all but secure, we’ll all spout lots of manure, cos we’re deluded that we should be top o’ t’ league. Here comes that feeling again, with an IQ of just 10 … We’re gonna be cry-y-ing every time we lose. Cry-y-ing, in between the boos. And we’ve got Orient, lined up next, and as we can’t apply any kind of context … if we lose we’ll be crying, saying we’re dying, it’s not dignifying, isn’t cryyyying, but it’s all we’ve got … oh blast them toys are out o’ t’ cot … all cos of our crying.