12th Man: Make or Break

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It’s amazing what can happen in the space of a year in football, this time last year Latics were preparing to host Southend a game that they won 4-1 knowing that a win the following week at Blackpool would seal promotion to the Championship. A year later and Latics go in to the last three games of the season knowing that even three wins in a row may not be enough to save our Championship status.

The last week saw six points from a possible nine, at any other time this year that would be seen as a decent return but in our position it isn’t enough. Nick Powell inspired wins over Rotherham and Barnsley have given the squad hope if not necessarily the supporters. The defeat at promoted Brighton was disappointing if not really surprising, what is disappointing is once again the manner of the goals we conceded, as we seem to sort out one end of the pitch in terms of attacking we fall down again on the other side of our game with the defensive duties.

So where to now? Three games left to go, three games that could truly make or break the short term future of the club. Cardiff, Reading and Leeds are daunting matches but shouldn’t hold fear for a side that are virtually down. We simply have to go for it – beginning on Saturday. If we can cut out the silly mistakes in defence and keep creating those chances at the top of the pitch we are more than capable of beating Cardiff as Graham Barrow and the lads showed earlier this season.

After that game we should have a better idea of where we are and whether we’re heading back to League One for another grand tour. Indeed if results go against us on Saturday we could well be relegated come 5pm, but until it is confirmed either way we simply need to aim to win every game.

The likelihood is that we will be playing our football in League One next season, it’s been a season of utter disaster where we have nobody but ourselves to blame for our predicament. Regardless of what division we’re playing our football in next season the club need to get the next managerial appointment right. We’ve set back the progress of the club by years with failed managerial appointment after failed managerial appointment since we were relegated from the Premier League. That’s why it was heartening to hear that David Sharpe will wait until the summer to get the right man. Is there also an indication of who our targets may be, with the mention of the League One play-offs coming in to our mindset?

A national newspaper linked us with a return to a certain ex-manager who is now plying his trade on the Fylde Coast. I’m actually surprised we’re being linked with a return for Uwe Rosler, he’s in a much better position with Fleetwood than we are at the moment and after how he left the club last time I would be surprised if he would even entertain a return. But whoever takes over will have no bearing on the next three games, that’s down simply to Graham Barrow and the players – we might be going down but let’s go down fighting.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 21st April 2017

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