Following the defeat against Ipswich last month I stated my belief that Latics needed at least four points from the games against Rotherham and Derby. They took one point and as excellent a point as it was against Derby we needed so much more – especially after Monday’s defeat to Huddersfield.
Warren Joyce was right when he said we contained one of the better sides in the league for long periods on Monday but I have to disagree when he says he thought we played well. We played ok, nothing more, nothing better than just ok. If we had played as well as the manager seems to think we would have had a shot on target.
The fact we once again went through a game without any sort of attacking intent or idea on how to break down a stubborn defence is a massive area of concern, especially when you have all of your best attacking threats on the pitch at the same time.
We had a five man forward line during the last five minutes of Monday’s match and we still couldn’t get anywhere near Huddersfield’s area. Not one shot against a side who had made seven changes from their previous match. That is what’s really hurting us and costing games, not a mistake from Jussi Jaaskelainen as the manager insinuated in his post match interviews.
Relegation is looking more a matter of when than if at the moment, I did a bit of calculating after the Huddersfield match and basing what we need on what Rotherham achieved last season in finishing fourth from bottom we need around another 30 points minimum. So that’s ten wins – Warren Joyce has taken 5 points from his first thirty available.
It’s going to take a massive turnaround in fortunes to even get close to that, the parallels with our last season in the Championship couldn’t be more stark. Virtually the same points total at this stage as we had when Malky Mackay entered January and already talk of a fire sale of our more valuable assets. It’s as though everything we did and everything we achieved last season was for nothing. Maybe fresh blood coming in this month can help to galvanise us but it rarely works like that as we found out to our cost last time we were at this level.
It’s Nottingham Forest and the FA Cup this weekend, after our history with the tournament no Wigan supporter should ever dismiss the competition but it does feel a distraction from the important matter of staying in the Championship this year – who knows maybe a win against fellow Championship opposition could help to trigger something in our league form.
One can only hope.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 6th January 2017