LATICS fans give their verdict on last weekend’s agonising 3-2 defeat at Chesterfield...and hope for a return to winning ways this weekend against Fleetwood Town:
It’s back home for Wigan Athletic this weekend as the Cod Army travel in from Fleetwood.
And a chance for the older supporters among us to reminisce about our brief encounters back in the 1970’s when we really were the big fish in the sea.
This will be a very interesting game for me.
Fleetwood under Graham Alexander have surprised many pundits and are very much punching above their weight.
But they had a great season last campaign, and have started this one off in very much the same vein as the Latics and currently sit merrily in mid-table.
Coming off the back of what was almost another sensational comeback at Port Vale, boss Gary Caldwell will be hoping that home comforts will see his side get the points this weekend.
But a tough encounter will no doubt be in store.
Team selection and formation will be a concern, especially with the situation around the centre backs.
With Leon Barnett suspended and Craig Morgan injured, we could line-up with a back four.
Or maybe Caldwell will think about putting Chris McCann alongside Jason Pearce and Donervon Daniels to keep the three and set up in similar fashion to what we have been doing for most of the season so far.
After two consecutive away days, it will be good to get back to the DW Stadium.
Hopefully a boisterous home crowd will get behind the team from the start.
And with a little luck we can put together a straight-forward win instead of it taking a two-goal deficit to awaken the players from their slumber.
Well we can but hope.
Bring on the Cod Army – and a chippy tea for me.
We might have started just how we wanted at the DW Stadium.
But away from home, we are well and truly still finding our feet after a 3-2 defeat at Port Vale.
With five minutes to go at Vale Park, another miraculous comeback was on the cards that was similar to the one at Chesterfield just a week earlier. However, a Leon Barnett red card and a last-minute winner for Port Vale mean it’s now three losses from four on the road.
We were outplayed at the weekend until we were 2-0 behind, and then we became a cut above.
Port Vale couldn’t get near us for a 20-minute period.
But we can’t just expect to ‘turn it on’ as and when it suits us.
If we are serious about being close to the promotion picture this season, we need to be picking up points on a relatively consistent basis away from home.
And I believe that may happen if the system we use is changed when we aren’t at home.
The 3-5-2/3-4-1-1 we have been operating works well at home, as teams will sit back and allow us to build from the back patiently.
And to be fair it’s worked superbly so far.
But time and space is not a luxury we have been experiencing when we’re away, and mistakes and under par performances are occurring as frequently as they did last season.
Gary Caldwell noticed this on Saturday and changed it, and we looked a lot better.
And you have to say fair play to him for not being to stubborn to change his way of playing if it isn’t working.
I know it’s early days, and we’ve a completely new squad and inexperienced management team, but I believe this team is capable of a great season – if we get it right.
Just like Gary Caldwell said a few weeks ago, the early stages of this season for Wigan Athletic often feels like one step forwards and two steps back.
We showed fighting spirit and desire at Chesterfield to overturn a 2-0 defeat and come away with the three points.
A week later, we tried our best case of deja vu at Port Vale, but were condemned to another disappointing defeat.
Our very own midfielder, David Perkins, hit the nail on the head in a recent interview in this newspaper.
We need to stop shipping goals away from home.
In our three league home games so far this season against Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Crewe, we have kept clean sheets.
We are also undefeated at home, drawing one and winning two.
One positive on the road is that we’re scoring goals, but we know we can do that with the attacking capabilities in our team such as Davies, Grigg and Jacobs.
If we can balance out our goal scoring threats with a tighter defence away from home, we have a better chance of putting a consistent and unbeaten run together - and possibly seeing a push for promotion from Latics.
However, it’s easier said than done. Our captain and centre-half Craig Morgan has been out injured, and Leon Barnett is now suspended after seeing red at the weekend, so we’re quite low on numbers at the back.
I was speaking to a Millwall fan at work, and he said to me: ‘it’s only goal difference now’.
That’s right – Millwall have won two in a row, scoring five and conceding only one.
Also, they did what we couldn’t and defeated Port Vale, and kept a clean sheet in the process.
This means they’re only behind us on goals scored.
We have also scored five in two games, but we’ve conceded five in those as well, winning one and losing one.
Defensive improvement on the road is much needed or we could see ourselves slide into the wrong half of the table.
Latics will be regretting allowing their opponents two-goal starts in their recent away fixtures.
Fortunately they were able to retrieve the deficit at Chesterfield, although they were ultimately unsuccessful at Port Vale.
But what it does demonstrate is the determination and commitment in the current squad to fight back from a losing position.
The relegated team of last season rarely showed the same fighting spirit and it is unlikely they would have shown the same determination to comeback from 2-0 down.
The club has been in a downward spiral following the relegation from the Premier League and Gary Caldwell has had a difficult task to turn around the club in such a short space of time.
He has recruited a completely new squad, but there are already positive signs that he is lifting the gloom around the club, raising the spirit and moving the club in the right direction.
Caldwell has been trying to instil the same fearless ethos that was prevalent under Roberto Martinez.
And he will be pleased to see that the desire not to be beaten has once again started to take hold. It is still early in the season and too soon to tell if the team will be good enough to get promotion back to the Championship.
But the manager believes he has recruited players who have the ability to be successful.
Caldwell believes by dominating the ball and keeping possession they can control the game and get the required results.
Latics are still a work in progress with plenty of room for improvement.
But Caldwell has stated he will stick to his principles and he will stick to his tactics.
Wigan have a big squad compared to some of the other clubs in the division, and the manager feels the competition for places will have a positive effect on performances.
He believes the pressure to perform will drive the players on to better results.
Caldwell has signed players who are predominantly young and hungry for success, and the second-half performances at Chesterfield and Port
Vale would indicate he has also signed players who have the fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude – which could prove crucial at the end of the season.