CAUTION: Approaching Choppy Waters

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Look, I know you want positivity and inspiration now but I think first it is necessary to inject a dose of reality into where we are and adjust our mindset towards the likely future of the good ship HMS Wigan Athletic.

Firstly, we need that new owner through the door, or else we really are in trouble.

I have been guilty as many other fans of getting into that dreamy “everything’s going to be alright mode”.

All we need(ed) was to win the appeal, get a new owner in the door sharpish, and in the meantime, get him (or her!) to issue a couple of contracts in the NewCo securing the long term future of Messrs Cook and Morsy at the club. With our two leaders securely on board, the rest would surely fall into line and we can get back to normal in a matter of days. Get real!

I’ve seen those images with suggested teams put out there for next season and it is essentially this year’s team, minus Robinson and Moore! Again, get real! That would probably have been our team had we stayed in the Championship and not gone into administration.

Has the financial disaster of the past few weeks taught us nothing? This has been an absolute car crash situation and we will be climbing out of the wreckage for months, if not years to come.

However, keep with me here, for there is nothing to suggest that we can’t make a full recovery in time. It just isn’t going to happen overnight.

Much as I’d love the predictions of us to romp to the League One title next year come true, passing shouty Yorkshiremen on the way, this is not the same as our two more recent relegations.

It does have some similarities to the Gary Caldwell title year, in that we will probably start the season with a completely new team. However, we will not be able to sign anything like the same level of players in terms of transfer fees or wages. It will be kids, freebies and misfits aplenty.

If we do retain any of the existing squad, then I would not expect great things of them. They have worked admirably on 20% of wages in the short term but due to factors outside of their control, they will now be facing a relegation pay cut of up to 50% of their wages on a permanent basis. Now I know footballers are paid more than the average person on the street but even so, I’d have the hump if that was me.

As it stands, we could conceivably still be in administration when the next season start, we will have sold quite a few players and have no ability to offer contracts for any new signings.

Actually registering enough players to start the season could be our first challenge so please don’t dream of winning the League One title, success for me next season will be staying in League One. I would be delighted to be proved wrong but I don’t see it.

We’ve seen enough over the past few weeks to know that the kicks and blows will keep landing on us, and above all else, the next 12 – 24 months is all about SURVIVAL. If we get through that and to a position of stability, then we can start looking upwards again.

The key commodity we as fans will need to possess is patience. I’m not going to open the Paul Cook discussion as well but just say that the last twelve months has been clear evidence of that.

Whether the next manager is Leam Richardson or AN Other, they will need ten times the level of patience afforded to Paul Cook as they will have much less to work with.

Losing every week is never a happy camp but in the short term while we are in transition and ideally turnaround mode, it is probably going to happen more often than we’d all like.

But please don’t point the finger, and never forget, who is to blame for this and what they tried to do to our beloved club. The survival of our football club is the biggest battle we will win this year.

The Progress With Unity motto is never more apt but unfortunately, we have to be realistic and accept that we will be a very different football club by the time the next season begins. We may have to take a few more steps back before we can consider moving forward.

We will hopefully never lose that fighting spirit but we might be a little bit lacking in quality when the bones of our club have finished being picked at. We may need to be supportive of young players who get thrust into the first team and be tolerant of player and manager mistakes.

We need a bit of tough love right now. Re-set our expectations, fear the worst so you don’t end up disappointed and remember that the good times will return, even though there will undoubtedly be more pain over the coming months.

It’s not as catchy but maybe we should temporarily change our motto to “we’re probably going to lose today but we are still here to celebrate the fact that our football club is still alive” when the season restarts

an abridged version of this article featured in the WEP 12th Man column on 7th August 2020

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