Return to home comforts

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Three away games played, ten goals conceded and three defeats. Saturday was a disappointing day, the atmosphere in the away end was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in Paul Cook’s time with Wigan Athletic.

There was a lot of anger on the terraces and seemingly a lot of that anger, was aimed at the man who has done so much to change the fortunes of Wigan Athletic. There’s no denying that Wigan Athletic’s away form this season is now a major cause for concern, and sadly that was shown on the terraces on Saturday.

Apart from the emphatic victory at Stoke, Latics have been on the end of a defeat in everyone of their away matches this season. It clearly isn’t good enough and I’m sure Paul Cook, the management team and the players will be doing their utmost to change it.

Some context has to be given to that away form – against Aston Villa we were the better side and deserved to leave Birmingham with a win. The fact we ended up leaving with a defeat isn’t a fair reflection on the match itsself.

Against QPR we lost out to a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed, and against Norwich to a penalty that shouldn’t have been given. These may well be excuses but even a couple of defeats in to draws makes that away record look better. If Josh Windass hadn’t aimed for Mars when he took his penalty against Millwall we would have come away from the Capital with an extra three points.

In that time we’ve also lost four major players to injury with Will Grigg, Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and now Gary Roberts out injured.

Saturday’s defeat was another one that looked unlikely as the match progressed. Latics were excellent in their build-up play against Sheffield United. Nick Powell, Gary Roberts and Josh Windass all linked up well and at times Sheffield United couldn’t cope with the attacking three.

A nailed on penalty was ignored before Sheffield United’s first goal, and although Latics rallied briefly through Kal Naismith there was only ever going to be one winner as Latics visibly crumbled in the second half.

There’s clearly work to do on the road and with injuries piling up for Paul Cook – Latics are due some good luck. Sadly it’s Leeds up next for this fragile Wigan side.

But we are at home and it’s in the comforts of home that Wigan truly have shone this time around. Against West Brom last time out Latics looked like a side rejuvenated after the defeat to Preston. We have to hope there’s a similar recovery this time around.

Marcelo Bielsa has crafted a Leeds side full of flare and danger. Anyone who thought the Argentine legend wouldn’t be up to the rigours of Championship management have been found to be wrong as Leeds challenge at the top end of the division again.

All that said and done Leeds like West Brom before them are not un-beatable. Paul Cook needs to get his patched up Latics side to exploit Leeds’ weak spots, and despite the odds being stacked against us again I have every faith he will.

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 2nd November 2018.

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