Anyone coming away from the latest fans forum on Tuesday night could have been forgiven for wonder what the problem is. So impressive were Darren Royle, Jonathan Jackson and Paul Cook that one would think we were riding high at the top of the league rather than languishing towards the bottom.
In the lieu of any football for the last two weeks it was interesting to hear where the club’s hierarchy believe we currently are. Of course away form was the main topic of conversation on Tuesday evening and in fairness to Paul Cook he answered every question asked of him with good grace and a lot of humour.
Those following from home may have disagreed but Paul Cook is an eminently likeable fella, you get the sense he would be happy to talk football all night long. It’s clear he still retains the backing of Darren Royle and Jonathan Jackson and although not coming out fighting he was definitely in the room to defend his position. The numerous answers on away form were fully answered but the crux remains that there is a serious issue with the teams mental ability to see matches through away from home. The answer lies in improving that mental resilience through the side.
Cook and the management spoke about the difference in tactics away from home which he argued there wasn’t and that Latics will always set up to play a high pressing game to force the opposition in to mistakes. It’s clearly working at home and has done for the last two and a bit seasons but currently isn’t away from home – I often wonder if our home form was a bit more average but our away form was better whether Cook and his team would be under the pressure they undoubtedly are even if that slight improvement in away form meant that we had obtained the same number of points.
The Sunderland rumours were touched upon and Jonathan Jackson and Darren Royle made it clear that they would not entertain an approach for Paul Cook from Sunderland, or indeed any other club. I thought it interesting that Cook himself when questioned on the strength of the team that we have a stronger squad this season but not necessarily a stronger team.
Away from the football side of things there was clearly clarity on the business side of the club, following the departure of the Whelan family I had grave concerns over the future of Wigan Athletic but everything that IEC have done so far in conjunction with Darren Royle seems to have been to the benefit of Wigan Athletic.
On Tuesday they spoke about the achievement of the academy under Gregor Rioch and his team and how the changes that have been a decade in the making are finally bearing fruit with the arrival of Jenson Weir and Joe Gelhardt graduating to the first team. There was confirmation that Wigan Athletic had achieved category 2 status for the academy and further details on the Soccerdome and its future as the exclusive home for Wigan Athletic’s six to sixteen year olds.
There were also further details on the investment in the infrastructure surrounding the club, all things point to a very bright future for Wigan Athletic and it’s certainly extremely positive as regards to the future of the club. If Cook and his team can arrest this away form and Latics start to climb the table Wigan Athletic could very well have a bright future ahead of us – but first things first. We need to win away from home again soon.
Luckily for us it’s a return to home comforts on Sunday afternoon as high flying Nottingham Forest visit the Dave Whelan Stadium. Forest have had a great start to the season and look to have been galvanised following the mixed results under Martin O’Neill’s short reign. Latics will have to be at their best to get anything from the match but with the sky cameras there who knows what could happen.
We need points on the board with another unforgiving set of fixtures coming up away and at home. Although it may sound like I’m a ‘Happy Clapper’ as any of those attending the fans forum on Tuesday night were labelled with I know Paul Cook will have the lads up for Sunday and with a bit of luck we’ll get another big result.