Accentuate the positive

Down to ten men after just a quarter of a match against a Derby side flying high towards the top of the table. It was always going to be difficult; the fact Latics kept the defecit to one goal and could have gone on to actually earn a point should be seen as a positive.

The silly mistakes of October and November seem to have been eradicated, injured players such as Will Grigg and Gavin Massey are returning whilst we’re still firmly placed in mid table.

It’s been a difficult autumn but there’s much to be happy with Latics current position. We’re not pulling up any trees but equally we aren’t being cut adrift. A couple of wins before Christmas would certainly see us well placed for a renewed effort in January.

This season was all about consolidation, as long as Paul Cook can keep Latics up this season that will be a success. In a season of so much change being able to retain our Championship status would be a big achievement.

At the start of the season I predicted a 16th placed finish for Latics and we’re on target for that. If we hadn’t had such a torrid time with injuries I imagine we may well have been looking at something higher.

We’ve a relatively kind run of fixtures coming up, with those players returning from injury we could well be looking at a happy festive period for Paul Cook and his Latics stars. That starts with Ipswich this coming Saturday.

Ipswich often reminds me of Oldham, in no small part due to Portman Road resembling a bigger and probably slightly warmer Boundary Park. But also because Ipswich forever seems to be battling to remain in the Championship – Mick McCarthy provided that stability but equally not much else, hence the breakdown in the relationship between Ipswich fans and the Yorkshire man.

I imagine a lot would have happily seen him return after the start to the season they’ve made. The Tractor Boys are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table and with a record worse than Bolton’s it’s been a torrid first half of the season for the side from East Anglia.

With Paul Hurst dispatched to be replaced by old Norwich favourite Paul Lambert many would have expected an up-turn in fortunes, that up-turn hasn’t come by yet but of course there’s always Saturday. As much as Paul Cook and his Latics team can look at the positives of this season our away record needs serious consideration.

It would be a truly Wigan thing to do to travel to Portman road and fail to come away with anything. We did it back in October when we were flying and travelled to Preston, only to come away with nothing but our tails between our legs.

We stopped the rot with that point at Bolton earlier in the month but can we take that next step and actually get all three points on the road for the first time since August? Let’s hope so.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 14th December 2018

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