Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'We all get enough flak from other fans over crowds, etc. Let's not start arguing among ourselves...'
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Right, let’s talk numbers. Wigan Athletic have amassed a wonderful 83 points in 39 games, which is an average of 2.13 points per game. If I extrapolate this into something that resembles an actual set of results, then of every eight games we play, we win five, draw two and lose one. If you assume we continue to accrue points at 2.13 points per game for the remaining seven matches, it would mean just shy of another 15 points, and finish the season on 98 points. I know, so close, eh? Funnily enough, as it stands, 98 points is the exact number needed to guarantee promotion. If MK Dons won all their remaining 5 games, they would land on 97 points. So five wins for us will do it. Even four wins and two draws might do it, so long as we can keep a better goal difference than MK. Rotherham are three points behind us, but now have the same number of games left to play. They can theoretically finish on 101 points, so 102 points guarantees us the title, and may well be needed, unless we overturn their superior goal difference. So as it stands, we need 19 points to guarantee the title (six wins and a draw) to reach 102 points, and seven wins would give us a whopping 104 points. Now, that would be lovely, but I don’t think for a minute that it will happen, especially given the ferocity of which these last seven games are going to come at us. But then this same logic dictates that either one or both of MK and Rotherham are also going to drop points in their remaining games, which has the effect of reducing our required points tally. We only have to win one more game than MK in the remaining fixtures to finish above them, and we have two more games in which to achieve that. And we only have to win the same amount of games as Rotherham, or match their results in our remaining seven as they do, to finish above them. Let’s not bring draws into this right now. I suppose the biggest concern is that there are some scary numbers in the above analysis. There should surely be only one team in any league that finishes above 90 points, and they generally go on to win the league. Had this been last season, we would have been promoted already with 83 points. Hull won the league with 89 points, Peterborough were second with 87 points and Blackpool were third with 80 points, so Peterborough would have gone up, even if they only had 81 points. Unless of course, the additional six points they dropped were against Blackpool, in which case, they would need 87 points.
Sorry, I bet that just confused the three people still left reading this. It’s even easier to get out of League Two, where Cheltenham won the title with 82 points from 46 games, and they-who-shall-not-be-mentioned somehow gained admission into League One with a pitiful 79 points in third place. Plymouth, in fourth, have got 77 points already! And they could get to 92 points, although they’d need to win every game including the one against us. Now, there’s no point saying 'it’s not fair'. It just amplifies what a difficult job we have got on our hands to get promoted this year, that three teams are challenging so hard. The analyst in me also feels the need to note the points dispersion across the table means it is the same for everyone. Namely, it implies there are weaker teams at the bottom and stronger teams at the top comparatively versus last season. We needed 48 points to stay up last year. Looking at the bottom four currently, it will be considerably less this year, unless the handful of teams around the drop zone all pick up 10 points in their last five games. To underline this, last year, Hull finished first on 89 points and Bristol Rovers were bottom on 38 points - a 51-point spread from top to bottom. This year, there is already a gap of 58 points (Latics first on 83 points and Crewe bottom on 25 points), with seven games to go, so that gap is likely to widen. Essentially, if the teams at the bottom lose more games, then the teams at the top by default also win more, than another season where the league table is more clustered and points are more evenly dispersed between clubs.
Look I’m boring myself now, but I think what I’m trying to get across is that this is an incredibly competitive season. A season where it looks like any team will have to get 98 points to guarantee promotion, or 102 points to guarantee a title, with just a handful of games left. If we look at it from a percentage completion angle, then Rotherham and Latics are 85 per cent through the season and MK Dons are 89 per cent. So whereas it might seem completely unfeasible that such points tallies are needed, well the three clubs only need to maintain their season’s form for the remaining 11 per cent or 15 per cent and they will all smash the 90-point barrier. As I’ve said, our points per game would mean we would land on 98 points if we maintained it. MK are averaging bang on two points per game, so would finish on 92 points, and Rotherham with seven left, and an average of 2.05 points per game, would finish around 94 points. So if we use 'points per game' as our yardstick estimate for how things play out, then for Latics, 93 points guarantees us promotion (three wins and a draw from seven games), and 95 points would secure the title (12 points, therefore four wins, or three wins and three draws) That doesn’t seem as much of a tall order but, unfortunately, it is dependent on the other two only maintaining their form. If they improve their form and points per game tally, and every win does indeed increase the ratio, then we need to accumulate more points as well. If one or both of them tail off, then the task becomes easier but then, we certainly can’t afford to be the team that tails off either, as the likelihood is one of the other two will catch us. I mean we’re not even guaranteed a play-off place yet, whereas 74 points was all it took last year. And if those two terrifying words don’t cause us to kick on, and push it home in these final games, then nothing will.
Caddy from the 5:
Now the dust has settled and the current best team in the division are actually top of the division - not 11th, and treading water, dreaming of being Wigan - it's safe to say it was a satisfactory week for the 'Tics. I've still no idea how Horwich managed a draw, though, as they were possible the worst team I've seen at the DW all season, especially in the first half. Still, getting a point at the champions-elect seemed to satisfy them, and it'll be something to tell their kids about in the future, along with drawing with Bayern Munich once upon a time. Onto Tuesday, and we seemed a tad leggy for the first half hour, to be expected I suppose, and it took a Joe Bennett stunner to rally the troops. After that, the result was never in doubt, and we ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. The win sees us go top of the league and, with MK Franchise winning, it looks like Rotherham's turn to start twitching now. Plenty twists and turns still to come, though. This Saturday sees us hit the road to Lincoln where, as it stands, there's 1200 'Tics making the trip, with about 700 still unsold. Now given the bleating and moaning about the Shrewsbury tickets (a similar allocation), you'd think we'd have sold this out as well. All games matter now, not just wanting to be there to (hopefully) see us lift the trophy. Onto the Shrewsbury tickets, and I'm firmly in the 'no one deserves a ticket more than anyone else' camp. I don't care if you've made every game this season...so what? Until Wigan have some kind of loyalty scheme, which by the way we'll hardly ever need, there was no fairer way of doing it. The only thing they need to look at for me is people in the queue at the ground getting 20-plus tickets for their mates with their season tickets. For me, that's not right. I saw heads falling off and dummies flying all over Wigan when fans didn't get a ticket, threatening to cancel season tickets, fans fund direct debits, not going again, etc, etc...and why? Because they'd been to Plymouth, Gillingham, Cambridge, etc, and in their mind thought they deserved one for Shrewsbury! Well guess what, you don't. Every single fan of our club deserved a chance of a ticket. We all go when we can afford to and, when situations with work, kids, etc, allow. So go take your 'superfan' points you think you've got, and moan elsewhere. Out of all my mates, three have got tickets, and we're all still going to Shrewsbury for what it is and will be...a top day out, hopefully celebrating the title with fellow 'Tics fans. No airs and graces, no one thinking they're better than anyone else, just lads and girls all wanting one thing...OUR club to win and celebrate. We all get enough flak from other fans over crowds, etc. Let's not start undoing all the great work that's been done this season, from Talal down to the tea lady, and start arguing among ourselves, eh? Just enjoy the ride. Right, I'm off selling 20 tickets for Shrewsbury on eBay for Strongbow...ONLY KIDDING! Up the 'Tics!
For the first time since late January, we’ve returned to the top of the league table. At this point, we know better than to celebrate this achievement. No one gets a medal after completing the 20th mile of a marathon. To much chagrin, we didn’t accomplish this feat by beating Bolton three days earlier. You can add that disappointment to the growing list of the ‘season’s worst letdowns’ that in the grand scheme of things haven’t been that bad. What’s more important than our draw last Saturday was our response this past Tuesday against Accrington. We started the match in a similar fashion to how we finished the Bolton match: flat, out-of-sync, and uninspired. As we passed the half hour mark, it seemed as if our opponents were surely going to be the first team to score. A certain former Premier League left back named Joe Bennett had something to say about that. His 37th-minute free kick goal was all the reminder that anyone in the DW needed that this Latics squad could produce greatness out of thin air. Josh Magennis responded five minutes later with a well placed header that had just enough power to beat the Stanley keeper. All moans and complaints were put to rest from that point on - we were well on our way to securing three points. Latics went top of the league for the first time this season back in September after just 7 matches. It was an exhilarating feeling, but we knew there was a lot of work still to be done. We entered January with games in-hand on most of the league, but still needed to add quality and depth in order to make a title run. Our first two goalscorers on Tuesday were both January signings and a testament to why a team should never grow complacent at any point of the season. We maximized our resources and put ourselves into the best position to win this league with 7 matches remaining. It’s important that we channel the same fight that we exhibited on Tuesday as we travel to Lincoln tomorrow. It’ll mark the start of a run that’ll see us rely heavily on our stellar away form as 5 of our final 7 matches will be away from the DW. MK Dons and Rotherham will both be chomping at the bit to leap us for top spot if we drop points. If the return from the international break has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed with so much still to happen. We’ll continue to face adversity in every remaining match and no one expects our promotion rivals to ease the pressure on us anytime soon. However, there’s no need to doubt our abilities or worry about results. We still control our destiny, and there’s good reason to believe that it’s our destiny to finish this season on top.
Well if you'd have offered me four points out of six last Friday I would have been happy. The Bolton game had a twang of disappointment after starting so well and bossing the first half. But if the game had lasted another five minutes, I fear we would have lost it, as the momentum was all in their favour. I didn't see Tuesday's game due to other commitments, but it sounded straightforward enough. We're now top of the league with seven games left, which is a cracking position to be in. No counting chickens yet, though, I'll let others workout when we can officially go up and how many points we need. The Wigan version of fastest finger first no doubt left a few disappointed fans for Shrewsbury tickets, but it's always the same when supply outstrips demand. Stay safe.
We're top of the league! Feels good being a 'Tic at the minute, doesn't it? Four points from a possible six this week, taking us three points clear at the top of League One, having now played the same amount of games as Rotherham, but still with two games in hand on second-placed MK Dons. After all the kerfuffle and social media hype that always surrounds the derby games with Bolton, the football itself was probably the least interesting part of Saturday. James McClean opened the scoring seven minutes into the game, bagging his 10th of the season. And after a relatively 50/50 game for the most part, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson headed in the equaliser, ironically, seven minutes from time. A couple of iffy officiating decisions (again, I know) which could have seen either team a man down, but generally an anti-climatic game of football for derby day. The most entertaining phase of the game came just as the teams came out for the second half as Ian Evatt appeared to engage in an animated to-do with Latics skipper Tendayi Darikwa. Overall though, aside from the outhousery and finger-pointing, two points dropped for us, a point gained for them and I'm thoroughly glad we won't have to put up with the fans of 'the best team in the top 11' next year. It was a far better game against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday, as Latics came out on top with goals from Joe Bennett, Josh Magennis and Will Keane, who made it 20 league goals for this campaign. What a ridiculous footballer he has turned out to be. Slightly disappointing update from Leam regarding injuries to James McClean (knee) and Curtis Tilt (hamstring), who both left the field late on against Bolton, and Tom Bayliss (groin) who hasn't been seen since MK Dons early March. But a good opportunity for others to come back into the fold as we approach the last few fixtures. Final word from me this week, and a lovely message appeared on Latics Twitter on Tuesday night from brick wall defender Jack Whatmough (yes, we got him for free!) highlighting the importance of the remaining seven fixtures, and urging the fans to 'stick with us' in the final steps of our promotion push. We don't need telling twice, Jack! We're with you every single step of the way, sir! Up the 'Tics!
Well, Bolton were Rubbish, in t’ first half at least,
Just a shame that our goal haul was famine, not feast;
Cos it could have quite easily been four or five,
But they went in just one down, with hopes still alive.
And to be fair, they came out wi’ a little more grit,
But they still rolled on t’ floor a lot, feigning a hit;
And their manager, well, he were near apoplectic,
Dancin’ about like he’d touched live electric.
And all because Jimmy missed out on a red,
But he’s clearly deluded, a bit soft in th’ head?
Cos he reckons for t’ last hour, his team were “outstanding”,
He’d be better sat down, he gets dizzy while standing!
And wi’ six games to go, it seems their season’s done,
The “best team” in t’ league, but wi’ beggar all won;
They don’t even get the big crowds, like some others,
To earn ‘em a trophy to show to their mothers.
And now onto Accy, go top if we win,
But the first 30 minutes belonged in the bin!
Then up steps Joe Bennett, with a left footed curler,
What a beaut, what a peach, what an absolute pearler
And then it were Josh to get t’ yed on a cross,
He’s starting to show why he’s Hull City’s loss;
So top of the pile, with two games on MK,
But please let’s not leave it till Shrewsbury away.
Cos tickets were sparse, and not everyone’s got ‘em,
(But not those who didn’t queue and just sat on their bottom!)
No, champs against Plymouth ‘d be nice, and one which,
We could all have a party, wi’ Talal on the pitch.
You can smell it, and feel it, we’re a midge’s away,
From another straight bounce-back (Last season? No way);
The first little step in the Phoenix big plan,
To rejuvenate t’ Latics, on a brand new lifespan.
Cos the future is bright, and likely orgasmic,
In the hands of Talal, and of Mr Al Jasmi.
(OK then … you try and find a different rhyme...)
Another game, another week closer. There's not much left now standing between Wigan Athletic and a return to the Championship. Seven matches remain which will determine our fate and, after the absolute heartbreak of 2020/21, it's amazing to think where we could be after the Shrewsbury match. That was the only sour point of an otherwise decent week. I'm not here to play the 'who's more deserving than who' card, and Martin Tarbuck on here summarised it far better than I could last week. Suffice to say there was always going to be some disappointed and lots who would miss out, there is solace at least that it may even be decided before then and making Shrewsbury effectively a dead rubber. For everyone's sake, let's hope that's the case. Away from the ticket office and back on the pitch, a return of four points from Bolton and Accrington keeps us nicely poised. It would have been good to take all three points against 'The Best Side in the League' (c: D Brent). But I suppose a point was a decent result in what could have been a potential banana skin. And the win over Accrington truly proved this squad's class. Despite some early Accrington pressure, Latics grew into the game and could have added at least another two to their three-goal haul. It's back on the road for the next two with Lincoln and Burton up next. With injuries beginning to bite again, it's going to be tough. But if we can keep winning and put further daylight between us and the chasing pack, we'll be well placed. In any other season our current points total would surely be enough. But with Franchise FC snapping at our heels, we can't take any chances and simply need to carry on winning. Three points at Lincoln would be the best way to start that.