Christmas (Make or) Break

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With 4 games coming up in a very short space of time it could mean 9 days to define our season. Does that seem fair or over-dramatic? Nothing is decided in December but then again, every season is determined by pivotal spells where you pull away or get dragged back.

We are certainly in the best position we can be right now but Shrewsbury and increasingly, Blackburn are snapping at our heels. With the games coming thick and fast, things can quickly change. I would genuinely be glad if we emerge on January 2nd with at least the same gap between ourselves and the chasing pack, or being greedy, maybe one or two points more.

Is it better to be on top leading from the front or part of a chasing pack? It’s only where you are on 5th May that matters ultimately. Yet, having read around a bit, quite a few Blackburn fans seem tremendously cocky that they are going to catch us and overhaul us sooner rather than later and power their way to the top, in much the same way that we have done to the Shrews.

Because we’ve been there, we know all about the power of momentum and it can sometimes be more difficult to get that momentum when you’re already as high as you can go. Once you’re top, all the pressure is on you to stay there.

There is a recurring theme which we need to address, which is the need to pull off stylish, committed and comfortable results not just against the teams at the bottom of the table but at the top. Beating both Shrewsbury and Charlton would certainly put that ghost to rest, drawing either would not be a disaster but losing could send us on a wobble.

Before that, we have to go to the unpredictable Oxford United, who seem to win 4-0 one week and lose 4-0 the next. Again, three points may be a necessity given the form of the chasing pack. Whereas we may look proud and comfortable right now perched atop of the table, we haven’t got a lot of breathing space, despite setting a staggering pace and just one slip up could prove costly.

Enough of my nervous disposition, we are going to be top at Christmas. Even if we do encounter setbacks along the way, every time it has happened thus far this season, we have bounced straight back. With the help of a positive mindset, a positive manager and positive support from the fans, we will do the same again I’m sure.

We had a truly awful first half of the year and a fantastic second half of the year and the credit for that lies solely with Paul Cook and his squad. Let’s hope 2018 is the Year of the Tic!

Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 22nd December 2017

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