Get a grip – Fulham report

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Fulham 2-0 Latics
Wednesday 29th October 2008

How do you want to play this?  Would you lead with “devastating loss sees relegation rivals leapfrog Latics”?  Or maybe you’d prefer, “fourth defeat on bounce has Bruce’s men reeling”?  Then again, the best bet might be an all encompassing “repent all ye who enter here, the end of the world is nigh”?

If you’ve started at the top of the page then you’ll have noticed that my choice is “get a grip”, and you can read that however you want to, I’m in the mood for firing off criticism in any direction, deserved or not.

Let’s start with the fans, not because they warrant more or harder criticism than anyone else but because I should know better, and want to get it out of the way early.

I said as much after the Villa game, but why the suprise that we’re heading towards another dog fight?  We could be in this division for ten years and still our priority at the start of the season will be to get enough points on the board to prevent worries about going down.  We’re not on our own there though, that’s how 3/4 of top flight teams play it now.

I can see why four defeats on the trot might cause concern, but I’m confused as to why losing games you didn’t deserve to is any better than being the second best team and getting your just desserts.  At least we can look at the last two games and say we need we need to play better than that.

The problem isn’t being in a relegation battle; at least it keeps the season interesting, the problem would be our chances of surviving one.  Despite losing to two of our near rivals over the last month, I still reckon that, with a bit of careful strengthening in January, that our odds our good, but it’s too early to tell either way.

Next and most importantly in the ‘have a minute’ stakes are our players.  Without naming names, there appear to be at least a couple who have been distracted by the early season attention they received and dare  I say it might be guilty of believing the hype and forgetting that it was knuckling down to a job with Latics that got them the limelight in the first place. 

On top of them we’ve a couple of players (well one at least) who believes his own hype and simply aren’t as good as they believe.  Of course they’re all joined in the middle by a group of honest hard-workers that aren’t going to who games on their own.

What Latics don’t appear to have is that player, or couple, who’ll make it clear to those with their heads in the clouds that there’s work to be done down on the pitch.  Yes, that’s the manager’s job, but it’s much more effective when backed up by a take no crap attitude from a couple of the playing staff.   

When I started writing this, I had mental volleys in mind for the coaching staff, officials and TV companies, but after getting the above off my chest and having a hard day at work I’ve either calmed down or am too knackered to care.  I do still have one message that goes to everyone connected to Wigan Athletic and that really is to get a grip.

Our current position may look a bit precarious but we’re not going to get through it if we can’t keep things together.  If we’re doing a Private Frazer after a quarter of the season has gone, it doesn’t bode well for holding our nerve should April/May become a sticky wicket.

If you believed that Latics we’re onto a good thing a couple of weeks ago, then hold onto that, if you didn’t then it hardly matters.  But most of all, if you pull on the shirt then remember, it’s just a game of football, and you’re supposed to be quite good at it.  So let’s try and show it eh?

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