12th Man: The season starts Saturday

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The season starts on Saturday?

How many times have we heard that the season begins this week? I’d wager half a dozen and the season is virtually half way through.

There seems a train of thought that Warren Joyce’s time in charge truly begins this weekend with the games against struggling Ipswich and bottom club Rotherham to come over the festive period. It’s something that could well have some traction to it, Warren Joyce has had an unenviable fixture list since he arrived at the club.

Not many would have expected points from the games we’ve faced but equally many would have expected some sort of improvement since Gary Caldwell was sacked. Someone posed the question on twitter after the Newcastle defeat of what has been achieved since we sacked Caldwell and I think it’s a fair question.

At the time of Gary Caldwell’s sacking we had lost narrowly to top of the table Brighton, similar to the results against Derby, Aston Villa and Newcastle in the past couple of weeks. Previously to that we had an un-beaten run that stretched to four games where the popular consensus was that we were very close to clicking.

Nearly two months later and it feels that not much has changed, we still look ‘close’ to clicking without actually getting results and we are still rooted in the bottom three. Yes Warren Joyce was handed a difficult opening period of games but I can’t help but feel that the last two months have been somewhat wasted and has been said by many at the time the sacking of Gary Caldwell at the time was the wrong decision. That isn’t Warren Joyce’s fault and neither is that a criticism of Warren Joyce, it’s simply the circumstances we find ourselves in.

All that seems to have changed is the tone of the debate, where Gary Caldwell was at fault for not getting the best out of a talented squad at the start of the season the issue is now that the squad isn’t good enough. We can’t have it both ways, it’s either the manager or it’s the squad. I personally feel we have one of the stronger squads in the bottom half of the division when fully fit and I hope Warren Joyce can get the best out of them in time.

There were promising signs in the three recent defeats, but equally we still have a return of zero points from those games and with the sides around us even Rotherham who looked cut adrift a few weeks ago are starting to pick up points. We need to do the same beginning this weekend and then perhaps our season can really begin for the ninth time this season.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 16 December

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