Well, that didn’t quite go to plan did it? The theory was that once we’d got the tough games against Villa and Newcastle out of the way that we’d yield some points against Ipswich and Rotherham. But that notion has failed in disastrous circumstances so we are left to search for another narrative. And the hard games keep on coming.
Yes, we know there are no easy games in football. A cliché so worn it was first uttered by a handy Arbroath team just before they strutted onto the pitch to play Bon Accord in 1885 to despatch the ball 36 times past them.Warren Joyce has had a few difficult games but then so did Gary Caldwell. In the 14 games he had in charge, half those teams either are in the top six or have been when we played them or have been for a long period such as Birmingham were before they stupidly and inexplicably sacked their manager (ring any bells?).
We played the team who is currently top, a team who were top when we played them (Norwich), plus Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham, Fulham, even Brentford were 6th and the division’s form team when we played them at Griffin Park and ground out an effective goal-less draw.
In the interests of balance, Caldwell also faced a few teams who were around us at the bottom including Burton, Blackburn and Wolves. The difference being that we took 7 points from 9 in these games against relegation rivals, compared to 0 from 6 in our last two under Warren Joyce.
So against this backdrop we have to ask, where are the points going to come from? Caldwell was sacked for losing 7 of his 14 games, Joyce has now lost 6 in 8. The next two are against promotion chasing sides and again are being “written off” in certain quarters (though Wigan Athletic have a pleasant habit of surprisingly us very occasionally)
I suppose the Burton away game in two weeks is the next big six pointer. We’ve still never beaten them but a win there and perhaps the first seeds of the transfer window might be the catalyst for a change in fortunes.
Yet given our record there, it is not inconceivable that we could pick up points at Pride Park (no I’m not calling it the iPro Stadium!) and maybe Huddersfield will come here playing the same, silly, high line they did at their place and let Yanic skip through the middle of them.
A long bleak winter of discontent or a Happy New Year? Well, it’s never dull is it.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 30th December 2016
Find out more of what Jimmy thinks on the Pie at Night Podcast. Episode 15 has the added bonus of being a heartwarming Christmas special and featuring people not burdened by supporting Latics.