Is everyone happy then? Well as we moved up from 5th to 4th last week then you’d assume so. However, the fact that we only drew with “lowly” Crewe and Burton won one of their games in hand midweek seems to have tempered the mood somewhat.
Failing to take three points at Crewe wasn’t ideal but it is done now. Whereas they may be lacking quality, Crewe looked a team far from down and out. To expect a 5-0 rout like Coventry inflicted upon them was extremely complacent and often a drubbing like that can be just the jolt a struggling team needs to get its act together. As they will be playing both Walsall and Burton at home in the next few weeks, we can only hope that they can apply the same battling spirit and nick points off the other top teams too.
I have a feeling that the unstoppable phenomenon that is Burton Albion may well end up running away with the division, maybe even securing David Sharpe’s much coveted 100 points. For a small club to emerge from the non-leagues and build something so robust and effective with barely any star players is indeed refreshing in today’s money mad game, as much as it is frustrating for Wigan Athletic fans. Yet, we were happy enough when we were the “pub team” making our way from the Northern Premier League to the English Premier League so to discredit their achievements feels very churlish now.
We may have the biggest budget but that doesn’t always equate to romping any league, and it’s probably just as well as we wouldn’t have had half the success we enjoyed as underdogs for many a year if that were the case. Maybe we shouldn’t have splashed out on Yanic and simply offered Burton Albion a million quid for their entire team if football is that simple?
I must admit that the play offs are a far from enticing prospect with our record of 1 win in 14 but bridging the gap to the top two won’t be easy. We certainly won’t be having an easy game this weekend against Port Vale, who were impressive at their place early season, faded soon after that and now seem to be climbing the table again. When you are near the top of the table, only a win is acceptable and the discord when teams around us win is always mystifying because that’s what teams at the top do – win football matches!
So we need to look upwards and a win will guarantee we stay above Coventry, who have the opportunity to put a dodgy looking spell behind them with an easy looking fixture at home to Scunny. However, as Walsall don’t play till Tuesday then we can also pull within a point of them. We were always likely to be playing catch up given the turmoil over the summer and it will undoubtedly remain the case until May. There is plenty about Wigan Athletic that continues to be frustrating right now but nobody can deny that there is plenty of excitement about as well as we close in on the last three months of the season.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 29th January 2016
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