Well, Tuesday night was a turn up for the books? Or a turn up for the BUX if you prefer! (You can use that next time he scores, Mr Kendrick)
I have perhaps been guilty of lacking a bit of faith in performances away from home. It’s been evident all season that we struggle to go to big grounds especially on wintry midweek nights and carry out our plan of either dominating the play (Caldwell) or contain and counter (Joyce).
I’ve just felt that we will always come a cropper sooner or later but what I didn’t take into account is there are a lot of bad teams about and Wolves, despite their millions spent, weren’t very good. I have until now tended to think the same about QPR but then, they too, are a very bad side, their league position and recent form is evidence of that.
So the focus now, without going all Brexit on you, must be to “get out and stay out” of the relegation zone and turn our home ground into a fortress. Given the unexpected win at Wolves, I have previously stated that staying within three points from safety at the end of February wouldn’t be a bad place to be but a glimmer of daylight has shifted my expectations.
There are a few away games which look pretty daunting between now and the end of the season but perusing the home games, I see no reason why we can’t try and win every one of them. Aston Villa, for example, have spent big but it seems that everyone else in this division is giving them a walloping so why can’t we?
Before that it’s Preston and judging by their fans’ reactions, they appear to be a bit giddy about their first trip to Wigan in 12 years, bringing nearly half their home gate to their more successful (post-1890’s) and illustrious local rivals.
To be fair, it’s easy to forget that way back in September Preston were in 23rd place in the division with fans calling for manager Simon Grayson’s head. They held their nerve whilst there have been sackings galore all around them and that faith in their manager and stability has been rewarded with a steady rise up the table.
Yet despite PNE fans treating Saturday like a cup final, we must have that same big game mentality as we look to climb out of the drop zone. I’d love to do a spot of rabble rousing at this stage and implore the fans to turn out in their droves and make plenty of noise but for one, I’m not sure I wield that much influence these days – Wiganers will either turn out or they won’t for this game.
Plus, secondly, we’ll sound just like them: we don’t need flags or balloons to create an atmosphere. Give us the passion on the field and we will respond off it. We’ve got to want this together. Sure, Preston are flying but this is a great excuse to bring them back down to earth and do ourselves a big favour in the process.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 17th February 2017