12th Man: Fate sealed?

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Jake Buxton

Fate Sealed?

The defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday had somewhat of a final feel to it. Not a cup final of course, the days of those are long gone. But a final nail in the coffin? Perhaps. The results from the weekend hadn’t helped in anyway.
Bristol City looking dead and buried before they played us, have miraculously picked up form with two wins in two. The first against us, which was no surprise but the second a 4-0 win over promotion chasing Huddersfield was. See – funny things happen when you set out to win football matches.
Although Latics lost on Saturday, it was one of the better performances of this year. Certainly the most attacking performance, the lads put their heart in to it and we came up short. If we’d put that same sort of effort and attacking intention in to the games against the easier sides and the aforementioned Bristol City. And before that the games against Blackburn and Forest, well who knows where we could be now.
It was interesting to see Andy Kellet return to the starting eleven on Saturday. I presume deputising for Stephen Warnock (missing his first game of the season) at left wing back. It’s a system that Graham Barrow knows well, played under Roberto Martinez, Gary Caldwell and occasionally Uwe Rosler.
Equally it was disappointing to see him go off midway through the second half, after breaking down again. He’s had some real injury trouble since he joined Latics and one can only hope he gets fit again soon.
I thought Saturday was ten times better than what we had served up in recent weeks. Yet we still didn’t have enough. The atmosphere at the DW though will be a lot less toxic if the lads and indeed the management look as though they’re having a go and trying to win the game.
The stats all bear out that we were the better side on Saturday. Latics were ahead in all areas – possession, shots both on and off target, corners, passing. The one crucial area we weren’t ahead in was of course goals scored and that will eventually be the downfall of our season.
 We may have one of the best defences in the division but we’ve the lowest number of goals and until that changes we’ll be heading back to League One.
So where to now? An international break that for once comes at the perfect time, we’ve eight games left of this god awful season and in that time the lads and Graham Barrow can hopefully get some pride back in to the club.
Build up our performances and lay the building blocks for next season. Whichever division that may be in and whoever may be in charge.
Until it’s mathematically impossible there is always a chance but if Graham and the lads got themselves out of this hole it would probably eclipse that survival battle of 2011/12 – even the most optimistic Wiganer’s would be hard pushed to see that. But stranger things and all that.
First published in the Wigan Post, Thursday 23 March 2017.

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