‘Wigan Athletic can’t afford to wait for January to right any wrongs’ - Talking Football column

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Paul Cook was never in danger of getting too down when Latics lost four in a row recently.

And therefore he won’t be getting too carried away by the three-match unbeaten record that has turned things around.

The Latics boss was adamant there wasn’t much his side were doing wrong, apart from the odd unforced error.

And now his players have cut down on those, the points have started racking up again.

Five in the space of a week, that could easily have been nine with a bit of luck.

But still enough to open up a seven-point buffer to the bottom three, and have everyone looking up again instead of possibly over their shoulder.

Much is being made up and down the country about the January transfer window – and it will play a significant role in the season.

But there’s still SIX matches to cram in between now and the visit of Sheffield United on January 1.

And as Cook quite correctly argues, it can’t just be a case of waiting for January to put right any wrongs.

Speaking to Callum McManaman earlier this week, he’s hopeful of Latics going through the rest of 2018 unbeaten – and it’s a fair enough target.

Saturday’s visit of in-form Derby looks the toughest test of all but, given the record this term at the DW, Latics need fear no-one on home soil.

After that it’s a long trip down to rock-bottom Ipswich, before the pre-Christmas visit of mid-table Birmingham.

The trips to West Brom and Swansea in the final week of 2018 won’t be easy, but Latics beat the Baggies on home soil and only a freak save to deny Will Grigg allowed the Swans to go home with a point.

Then it’s the visit of the Blades on New Year’s Day, before a nice break for the FA Cup – and time for the management to see what’s out there in the transfer market.

In the meantime, talks are ongoing with Nick Powell and Sam Morsy about new deals.

What a fillip – and a statement of intent from IEC – that would be for the second half of the campaign.

Congrats to Luka Modric, who this week became the first man other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or in a decade.

Messi, in case you’ve missed it, came fifth.

Yes, that’s right – Messi is apparently the fifth best player in the world.

I can’t name four players better than him EVER, but somehow there’s four currently plying their trade who’ve had a better year.

Let’s have a look at Messi’s record at Barcelona in 2017/18:

* Three trophies

* Top goalscorer in La Liga

* Most assists

* Mots key passes

* Most chances created

* Most dribbles

* Most man of the matches in Europe’s top five leagues

The problem is we’ve become so used to Messi’s brilliance over the years that his achievements have become ‘the norm’... and the same goes for Ronaldo.

In years to come, we’ll gain a greater appreciation for the standard the pair have set during the last decade.

Credit to Modric and the rest of the mere mortals, but Messi and Ronaldo remain on a totally different planet to the others.

Great to see Callum McManaman back on the scoresheet for Wigan Athletic against Blackburn last week – four years almost to the month since his last goal for the club.

For whatever reason, McManaman hasn’t enjoyed the most productive four years, but he’s still only 27.

Plenty of time to fulfill the potential we all saw in him first time round.