Assistant manager Leam Richardson has warned Wigan Athletic to beware of the ‘wounded animal’ that is Bolton Wanderers ahead of this weekend’s big derby in Horwich.
It’s been another week of woe at the Wanderers, with cash-flow problems meaning the players did not receive their November wages on time.
On the field, Latics are hoping to build on a positive return from the international that’s already brought them four points from their two matches this week.
However, Richardson – a former Bolton player – says they are not expecting any easier ride against a side fighting for their lives in the drop zone.
“I don’t think so, once the whistle blows it’s 11 against 11,” he told the Wigan Post.
“Their players will want to win as much as ever, so will the manager, so will the fans.
“I’m sure what’s happened will all get brushed aside once the whistle goes.
“People make these situations a lot bigger – via the press and social media – but there’ll only be one focus on the day for both teams.
“And that’s the three points.”
Richardson himself has experience of financial hardship in football, having ended his playing career and served his managerial apprenticeship at one of the smallest clubs in the Football League.
“I worked at Accrington for many years, under some very good people, and I did every single job at the club,” he explained.
“Did I ever experience any hardship, in terms of wages etc? Ha, I’ve seen it all!
“And sometimes that kind of thing can galvanise people.
“Sometimes the group gets tighter, stronger, more expressive.
“If you’re a wounded animal, with nothing to lose, you can be very dangerous.
“Bolton will be fully prepared to play, don’t worry about that.
“Yes there’s stuff going on, but it’s been going on for a long time now.
“We won’t be feeling sorry for Bolton in the slightest, just as they wouldn’t feel sorry for us in the slightest if the roles were reversed.
“We’ll want to win the game just as much as any other, and just as much as I’m sure they will.”
Not that Richardson doesn’t have any sympathy for the plight of the staff at his former club.
“You always like to go back to clubs you’ve played and had good experiences with,” he acknowledged.
“I was fortunate enough to be at Bolton in a very good era under a very good manager, playing with some very good players.
“We were lucky enough to have some good success, and I’ve still got friends there so it’ll be nice to go back.
“You never want to see anyone struggling in that way.
“I still have an affinity with the place, and I’m sure as a club they’ll get stronger and build again.”
Richardson’s priority clearly lies with Wigan, and he is keeping his fingers crossed star man Nick Powell plays despite suffering a recurrence of hamstring trouble against Blackburn in midweek.
“Nick’s been in with the physios, in the gym, and he’ll go for a scan,” he added.
“Nick’s one of those players you obviously want on the pitch. But if you’re ever going to put him at risk, or the team at risk, you won’t do that.”