Cup finals or pre-season friendlies?

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Aren’t we all feeling refreshed after the break and raring to go then? We have to be really. Every week in the previous four was perceived as make or break but if we don’t manage to get 4 points out of our next two games then staying in the Premier League will be a very tall order indeed.

One thing that has happened over the past week or so is that Roberto Martinez held an impromptu forum with fans’ representatives, possibly in response to one or two internet taunts that he wouldn’t dare to do it with the team being in such a perilous league position.

To his credit, he invited people in, invited the difficult questions and he answered them. The message from the club to the fans is: we need your support to get through this. Certain quarters like to pass off these kind of things as spin, even implying that the highly educated souls like myself and others who write about the club are a bunch of simpletons who have been hoodwinked by the slick talking Martinez but the bottom line comes back to those famous positives. He’s a positive man who looks forward and doesn’t like to dwell on past mistakes but prefers to focus on the belief that he will get it right next time.

It’s crunch time now though and this Saturday versus Blackburn must be the time where the manager and players prove that the last 8 games have merely been a crisis of confidence and not a true reflection of our status.

I am of the view that a draw would not be a complete disaster as it would at least stop the rot but when Martinez speaks of targeting a haul of 42 points again this season: 37 from the remaining 27 games. Well, when we’ve got to play United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal twice in that lot, it looks a little daunting.

Nobody goes down based on their November position but nevertheless we’re at that point where we need to win nearly all of our cup finals against teams in the bottom half because we’ve lost so many points to the teams around us already. Sadly, recent performances, despite some encouraging play have been more ‘pre season friendly’ than ‘cup final’ and whether we win or lose the next few games, the one thing that the Wigan public deserve and demand above everything else is a bit of fight from the team.

Roberto has made it clear that he will never compromise his footballing principles but is it too much to ask for a bit of old fashioned graft to sit alongside it?

First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Wednesday 16th November 2011



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