Anyone of a certain age might remember a children’s gameshow called Runaround hosted by a gravel voiced pre-Eastenders Mike Reid, who implored the kids to “Run-arrrraaannnd” in that comedy Cockney accent and find a corner to put themselves into.
Well it’s that time of year again when the clubs in the Championship carry out that exact same exercise as those of us who narrate upon the sport seek to compartmentalise each of our competitors into a suitable box.
For example, there are the “Big Guns” such as Newcastle, Villa and Norwich. The perennial bridesmaids: Derby, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. The “good club gone bad” – Blackburn Rovers, please feel free to run over and join Leeds and Fulham.
There’s the “Eternal Strugglers” such as Rotherham and Preston North End (arf!) and then there’s those “New Wave” clubs jostling out of their own mould of mediocrity such as the Dortmund influenced Huddersfield and the latest billionaire’s plaything, Wolves.
Where do Wigan Athletic fit into all this, I hear you cry? Well, I don’t think we will ever agree on a consensus on paper let alone in real life so it could be a challenge.
It’s very difficult to place us given we have hopscotched up and down the leagues so much in the past 20 years, but it’s safe to say that even the most optimistic of fans cannot possibly envisage us being one of the big guns in this division
Even when we did finish 2nd and 5th we were tiny in comparison to many of the clubs around us, and if you use attendances as your benchmark, we are grimly hanging on to 19th spot, just above Blackburn, who I should imagine have quite a few staying away.
At the other end of the scale, there is one corner of the room which we must avoid and has remained strangely vacant thus far. This despite a reserved placeholder with “Burton Albion” marked upon it and the aforementioned Rovers getting sucked slowly towards it, and that is the notorious “Whipping Boys” corner.
Clearly, there are a few problems defensively with Latics at the minute, and one characteristic of the Whipping Boys is a leaky defence. Yet, all is not lost: Last time we went to Forest we got battered 4-1 in an awful, inept performance in what turned into an awful, inept season. We are at least competing this time, with arguably fewer resources.
To lose by the odd goal in seven is not a disgrace, though there is clearly work to be done on the away form. What will hopefully remedy this is our ability to score goals – which we also appear to have in our locker and if we can cut out those defensive mistakes then the results will pick up on the road.
First, however we have the small matter of QPR visiting the DW Stadium, and I think it’s fair to say we owe them one from the play offs. Let’s hope their team coach is parked firmly within a regulated zone this time and not in front of the away goal.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 26th August 2016