What a difference a week makes, this time last week I was waxing lyrical about Latics performance against Gillingham and how easy they made it look.
Then came not one but two poor defeats which led to Latics falling away from top spot and surrendering an unbeaten record, that stretched back all the way to November.
The disappointing thing with the last week isn’t the defeats, getting beat is the nature of the game – we weren’t going to go through the rest of the season un-defeated.
What is certainly disappointing is the nature of both defeats. Southend had picked up recently under Chris Powell and gave as good as they got but there was an air of Latics simply turning up on Saturday.
Tuesday picked up where Saturday left off and any hope of that attitude disappearing on Tuesday was gone by half time.
A Blackpool side in a wretched run of form managed to get themselves two goals to the good and frankly Latics never looked like getting back in to the game.
Now there’s two ways of looking at this, the positive version is that we’ve hardly had a blip all season and maybe this is that blip now. Even so, we’ve still a good number of games in hand on those sides around us and are in the FA Cup fifth round. Not much to complain about when you look at it like that.
An alternative view is that we’re struggling to break down defensive sides, our league form at home is poor and a number of players look out on their feet.
I tend to agree that a lot of the players look tired and I’ve been surprised that we haven’t made more of the squad at our disposal. Perhaps it’s time for a couple of changes to freshen up the side.
The key is bouncing back, and bouncing back quickly. Unfortunately we’re about to face the best team in the country if not the world.
So on to Monday night’s game, in the aftermath of last night’s defeat there was a lot of anger aimed towards the players and management, accusing them of taking their eye of the ball in relation to the league.
There may be some truth to that but equally even if it has become a distraction Monday’s game is one of the biggest we’ve had in a long while.
Paul Cook, the management team and all of the players have earned the right to go out and enjoy Monday night. For many of our younger players it will be the biggest match of their careers.
Realistically we aren’t going to get the win, realistically we will be out classed and realistically we’re probably looking at three defeats in a row. But and here’s the but, football doesn’t always go to plan. Look at our matches with Monday’s opponents in 2013 and 2014 for evidence of that.
There’s a lot of anger, and a lot of disappointment around at the minute. So is the nature of football, but let’s not forget what a fantastic season we’ve had so far and how well the club and Paul Cook have done since he joined in the summer.
Let’s go out on Monday night and show the country what we’re about. Yes we may get beat, we may even get battered but if we play at the best of our abilities and don’t leave anything on the pitch we could have a chance. However slim it is, it’s a chance nonetheless.
And what better way to bounce back than putting in a positive performance against Pep Guardiola’s side?
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 16th February 2018
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