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It’s been another frustrating week for Wigan Athletic – on the pitch at least. A trip to Northampton that was a classic six pointer was called off at the last minute due to a water logged pitch, that was after other six pointers against Wimbledon and Swindon had also been called off over the last few weeks along with Wigan’s own Covid outbreak. Any of the headway and momentum we had made over the festive period feels like it’s been choked off recently.

Along with the break in games we’ve also had to contend with what feels like a virtually new team coming together, it’s logical to expect that it’ll take time for the new lads to bed in  among those that remain from the first half of the season. With all that being said it was still disheartening to witness Tuesday’s performance against Swindon, with Swindon also lurking in the bottom three and John Sheridan under pressure it’s a game we really should have been looking to come away from with all three points.

The line up now looks strong (on paper) but we once again go back to these lads not playing together as a cohesive unit before. Kyle Joseph was a big miss on Tuesday night and despite dominating the play we didn’t look like scoring all night long, which reminded me of some of those dark nights in November before Sheridan headed south.

Jamie Jones endured another torrid night, Swindon’s goal should have been chalked off for off-side but nonetheless Jones really should have done better with it. He’s an excellent shot stopper and has done well for the club over the last three years but there’s always a mistake there and sadly that’s going to be highlighted when you’re fighting for your lives at the bottom of the league.

There’s no point dwelling on Tuesday night, it’s been and gone the key now is for Leam Richardson and Gregor Rioch to manage to get the sort of performances out of this side as we witnessed at the end of November and throughout December as we aim to get out of the relegation zone.

Off the pitch it’s been a strangely mixed week, the transfer window we all feared for ripping apart our young side came and went with the key elements to that side Kyle Joseph and Tom Pearce still in place. But saw a number of academy graduates who have played a big part this season leave by ‘mutual consent’. That included this season first teamers including Emeka Obi, Charlie Jolley and Oliver Crankshaw.

All players who through no fault of their own are now out of a job because of the EFL’s ridiculous rules that limit a club in administration to 23 players, why Latics are punished by having their own home grown academy products count to that number is beyond me. Now a number of those young lads find themselves without a club in possibly the toughest climate for professional footballers in a generation.

All because of someone in Hong Kong and the ineptitude of the organisation up the road in Leyland last year – let’s hope that any takeover once it arrives allows these young lads to return and continue their development. Anything less would be a huge shame.

I can see why those decisions were made, we’ve effectively traded the starting point of next year’s League Two squad in favour of decent League One side now. It’s certainly decent on paper, the signing of Jamie Proctor was mocked on Monday night. Probably because the very unlikely return of Will Grigg didn’t come off but Proctor is arguably the sort of striker we need now. We’re missing a target man and never was the need for one more evident than on Tuesday night.

The return of Viv Solomon was a fantastic signing and along with Scott Wooton and Funso Ojo it gives us strength and experience across the park where we didn’t have it previously. There’s now a free space in the squad thanks to Oliver Crankshaw’s move to Bradford. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that space filled soon – the question is do we look at further attacking reinforcements or elsewhere on the pitch.

So it’s back to the Dave Whelan Stadium on Saturday, three years ago we earned a draw against Wimbledon on our way to the League One title. Let’s hope we can improve on that this Saturday.


Sean Livesey

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