12th Man: Nothing less will do

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This week’s article has a distinctly more positive feel to it than I originally had planned. The reason for that?

Well after seemingly being dead and buried on Saturday evening, Latics in typical Latics fashion got a crucial win at Birmingham to throw themselves right back in to the survival mix.

Let’s not kid ourselves, one swallow does not make a summer as the saying goes and Latics still have serious problems that will need addressing. But that Dan Burn inspired win can be the catalyst to something more.

The game against Blackburn reflected everything bad about Warren Joyce’s time in charge so far. Ponderous in possession, balls hit long to no one in particular and so little attacking intent it may have well as been a training game.

 Not what was needed in one of the more crucial matches of the season against your nearest rivals. Warren Joyce made a surprise appearance in the stands and despite the club saying that Graham Barrow and Andy Welsh would be in charge it was clearly still a Warren Joyce managed side. Even if he wasn’t on the touchline.

Although I respect the manager’s commitment to the cause Saturday should have been left to his assistants. Especially when you look at the confusion and mixed messages over the second half substitutions.

Graham Barrow said in the post match interview that Latics sill simply have to gamble more to achieve their aims of staying up this season. A honest assessment of our problems? Or a coveted message to Warren Joyce?

Whatever it was, there were indeed changes made on Tuesday. Gabriel Obertan made his first start for the club – as a winger, Alex Gilbey was back in an attacking midfield role and Max Power came in for Ryan Tunnicliffe, who was notable by his absence from the squad as a whole.

It was ironic then that with all that extra attacking talent on the pitch it was once again a defender who got the oh so vital goal. Dan Burn so maligned when he first arrived must be a clear shoo in for player of the season.

His performances under both Gary Caldwell and Warren Joyce have been nothing short of fantastic, he is simply Latics most consistent player, and he deserved his first goal for the club on Tuesday.

The three points did nothing in terms of position but has those sides above us looking over their shoulders.

We need to follow Tuesday up with a win against Bristol City on Saturday. Nothing less will do now, arguably we need another five wins to reach the required points total.

 It could be less but that’s probably a decent idea of what we need. We’ve ten games left so we need play-off form to reach that, it’s not impossible but it’s difficult. Let’s make it easy on ourselves and get that home win on Saturday.

The believe bus isn’t back yet but it’s having a service and oil change in readiness. Come on Latics.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 10 March 2017

The latest Pie at Night podcast is available to download now, or you can listen in this here webpage. Episode 20 see’s the lads dissect all things Latics following the defeat to Blackburn and before the Birmingham win.

It was then on to the serious business of building a band out of the current Latics squad. Well, it couldn’t be any worse than the football team they’re trying to be at the moment, eh?

To move things to a close, we skip through the best butties we’ve ever had, as quickly as some of the worst butties we’ve ever had skipped through us, before diving headlong into the Wigan Athletic Hall of Shame. As always, Alan has a stab at getting a player other people idolise into the reckoning, but the force is yet again strong in this letter so it’s a challenge.

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