Graham Barrow admits ‘the disappointment’ of suffering relegation from the Championship has eaten away at him all week ahead of this weekend’s season-ending clash against Leeds United.
Latics failed in their bid to take their survival bid to the final day when they went down 1-0 at Reading last Saturday, while relegation rivals Blackburn and Birmingham were winning elsewhere.
And the interim boss could not hide the ‘frustration’ that his side have nothing to play for as they bid farewell to the DW Stadium for another year.
“The disappointment hasn’t left me since last weekend,” Barrow acknowledged.
“There’s so much important football going on at the moment – the play-offs, I watched Manchester United on Thursday night, so many big games – and you really wanted our game on Sunday to be such a big game.
“And it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a big game in the sense that you’re playing for the most important thing – which is pride.
“But we wanted it to be so much bigger than that.
“Looking back to the couple of big wins we had (against Rotherham and Barnsley) last month, you started to think that it might be a possibility.
“But then a few other results went against us – which coincided with us not really getting the points that our performances deserved in the last couple of matches.
“Not being able to take it to the last game has really frustrated me, to be honest.”
With nothing on the line, Barrow admits he has been considering drafting in the odd youngster to the squad – possibly Under-18s hotshot Callum Lang – for experience ahead of next season.
“There might be the odd young kid...there might be a young striker on the bench who might get on the pitch,” Barrow revealed.
“And we have tried to involve the younger lads on the training pitch this season, with Peter (Atherton) being with us as well.
“In my experience, that’s the best way to do it.
“A young player comes along much quicker when he’s in and around the first team, rather than being in another group ‘over there’.
“That’s what we’ve done over the years – not with every manager – but that’s what I like to do.”