Latics

The Momentum Game

Jimmy's 12th man article, first published in the Wigan Evening Post's 12th Man column on Friday 20th January 2017

I know I’ve not been alone on these pages in expressing my concerns that history may be repeating itself at the DW over the past few months. However, the last couple of weeks suggest that history may well be repeating itself, not for Wigan Athletic but for Warren Joyce.

A week or so ago I put an article online at the Pie At Night website which had been written by a Hull fanzine all about the Great Escape they encountered over at Boothferry Park during the 1998/99 season. The architect of that escape was none other than Warren Joyce. I was keen to publish this to quell any accusations that I may have been somewhat less than positive or ambivalent towards his appointment.

He took over a struggling side, far further adrift than Wigan Athletic in the basement division and continued to struggle for a while, until slowly but surely they began to improve. New recruits were acquired and a cup run galvanised the squad culminating in a gallant defeat at Aston Villa.

The key to Joyce’s plan back then appeared to be to recruit a load of complete psychopaths. I don’t think we’d get away with that in the Championship in 2017 but his alternative plan of sourcing young Premier League reserve players is also starting to pay dividends. Team that up with an FA Cup run – if we can call two games a “run” and further parallels can be drawn.

I fear the cup run may come to an abrupt end at Old Trafford, but if we can put up a good show then it may give us the confidence to go out and accumulate more points in the league games to come. The foolproof formula for any manager of Wigan Athletic implies that if you win some football matches, any managerial murmurs of discontent quickly go away, albeit it throughout our title win last year, Gary Caldwell continued to attract criticism from certain quarters.

The Championship is a different ball game though and we are now not far off the position we were in when the new manager of Chesterfield was launched from his ejector seat in November. It has been somewhat grim since then, however, the momentum we are gaining is similar to that when Rosler got us to the play offs and Wembley or when we stayed up in the Premier League years under Martinez. What did Gary Neville call it? It’s Wigan time!

From looking doomed at teatime on Boxing Day, it now feels like a case of when rather than if we can climb out of the bottom three. Saturday’s game against Brentford will prove to be a good benchmark as to whether we are gearing up for lift off.

The Bees have fallen a long way since we played them in October and their star striker is being unsettled by a big money move to West Ham. It looks like the ideal opportunity to steal three more points and with “that” cup game coming up next, you’d certainly hope that the players will be desperately playing for their places.

Find more of Jimmy’s thoughts on going on at Latics on the Pie at Night Podcast, listen by searching for us on your favourite podcast app or on the player below…

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