12th Man: It’s getting Critical now

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Another week in the life of Wigan Athletic, not much to report this week.

A depressing draw against one of the poorest sides we’ve seen down at the Dave Whelan stadium this season and the cancellation of two media appearances by the manager due to ill health. It never rains but it pours.

Let’s begin with that draw against Forest, we’re in to the must win match territory now and as such I would expect the team to treat matches as just that. Must win.

You can forgive not winning or even losing a match if the side have done all they possibly can to get the points and we simply haven’t done that in enough games this season.

Forest came in to the game in a wretched run of form and missing three of their first choice centrebacks. For us not to even have an attempt on target in such an important game is unforgivable.

It’s been a constant trend through Warren Joyce’s tenure about being difficult to beat and stopping the opposition play, which undoubtedly he has achieved but we need so much more. Especially in the position we are.

Playing for draws is fine if you’ve already got the requisite number of points to survive and you’re just playing your season out but when your status as a Championship side is at threat you need to be attacking teams and going for wins.

Following the game an interview with the manager saw him bemoaning our lack of creativity since we sold Yanic Wildschut and Michael Jacobs has been injured. Not something you can disagree with but equally he brought 13 players in January.

Why didn’t he address that then? and equally there should still be enough creativity in that side to score every now and again if we played to the players strengths.

Ian Such of the Pie at Night podcast reminded me this morning of an interview with the much maligned Uwe Rosler in 2014 in that glorious spring where we reached the play-offs and a second FA Cup semi-final. “Wins is what we need and all that will do so that’s what we’re going to do – go out to win.”

That interview was after we had beaten strangely enough Nottingham Forest 4-1. What a refreshing idea, aiming to win a game of football.

I was a late call up for BBC Radio Manchester’s Monday football hour earlier this week along with Paul Middleton from the mudhutter when Warren Joyce had to pull out due to ill health.

The timing of that and the subsequent postponement of the fans forum were disappointing but these things happen and one can only hope Warren gets well again soon. I know a lot of people thought the timing was convenient but Warren seems the type to fight his own corner. Indeed it would have been interesting to have his take on our current situation and what he ‘really’ thought about our results over the last few months.

Blackburn on Saturday is even more crucial than before. Typically they’re experiencing the new manager bounce we never had as Tony Mowbray makes his mark. Four points from two games and a win over Derby makes them favourites on Saturday.

Defeat at Ewood Park could be critical for our chances of playing in the Championship next season. I’m not confident but stranger things have happened.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 3rd March 2017.

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