Anyone who’s listened to the podcast might find this hard to believe but I try to work on the principle of “if you’ve nothing to say, say nothing”. Keep your trap shut, listen to what other people have to say and only join in the conversation when you can add to it. It’s certainly never wound anyone up.
It works. Well, it works if you’re not running a football club whose fortunes on the on the pitch are up the, erm, Khyber.
Amongst all the mud that’s been slung over the last couple of weeks there’s a couple of simple truths. One, football fans just want someone to tell them that everything will be alright. Two) they also want someone to blame when things go wrong.
There’s probably a third thing too. If you get the first thing right then the second isn’t quite so much of an issue.
“Paul’s doing a great job in difficult circumstances. We’ve lost key players during the season and we’d have possibly liked to have one or two more players in before the start of the season.
Despite our predicament, we’re working hard on and off the training pitch to get the formula right and we’re confident that things will turn around sooner rather than later.
Might we have to sell players over January? We don’t *have* to sell anyone, but if the right deal comes along, one that helps us build towards our goals then we’d be prepared to talk”
Something like that might have done the job. Something that’s probably all true but not too specific that you could be held to account for it. Something that shows there’s a plan and that you’re trying to turn things around.
What I wouldn’t do is talk about stats that no one quite understands and computer simulations that are based on excitable fans’ views of new signings combined with stats that no one quite understands. People probably aren’t in the right place for that at the minute, senses of humour are frayed and, well, remember the second point above…
Then again, it might deflect criticism from your manager for a couple of hours. If you’re really lucky then it might be the local journo who reports your words that cops the flak. Some people really never listen to that advice about not shooting messengers.
Still, despite being nothing to get in a sweat about, this week’s Darren Royle interview with Paul Kendrick has made for some crazy times on the Wigan Wide Web. Scenes that we’ve not seen the likes of since… since… oh, the last time we had an existential crisis because we were nailed on favourites for relegation. Scenes that have left us with the real possibility of one third of the Latics crowd for the Sheffield Wednesday game protesting, another third holding a meet and greet to “get behind the lads” and the final third in the pub, having another pint and waiting for the crowds to subside before heading over to the ground.
The saying different strokes for different folks is never any truer than when it’s applied to Latics fans, but we all want what’s best for the club and most of us would agree that, for now, that’s doing our best to stay in this division. It might seem a hard task, but it’s still possible, as long as we get better at defending, attacking and, erm… midfielding.
The task starts on Tuesday. Hopefully with renewed energy after a prolonged break, with a couple of re-enforcements in the squad and with the mindset of “we’re not going to stay up unless we start to score goals”.
We’ve got out of worse predicaments, usually by adopting a ‘no fear’ (or sin miedo, if you prefer) attitude. But more often than not, we’ve had to get to the edge of a precipice before we’ve stood up to be counted. I reckon, as early as we are in the season, we’re getting to that stage now as Stoke, Huddersfield and Charlton threaten to pull away.
Do I really think a change of attitude is enough to reverse our fortunes? Probably not. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have said we probably needed a centre half. Now, with Mulgrew deciding that Blackburn’s bench is more attractive than ours and Danny Fox looking like he’s out for the rest of the season, we definitely need to bring at least one defender in.
The need for extra bodies is less in midfield, where Cook just needs to get his partnerships right. Whilst it’s always tempting to want a new, exciting forward or upfront, I reckon a combination of our current, more progressive, style of play and one of our actual strikers (Moore or Garner) might actually bear fruit given chance.
However, I do think a change in attitude is necessary for us to reverse our fortune. At the moment, the pattern of holding the ball for long periods, maybe scoring and sitting back on things and just waiting for the opposition to score is too engrained in Latics play. They know what will happen, we know what will happen and worse of all the opposition know what will happen and play on it.
No one, whether it’s Paul Cook, the players or the fans has anything to lose by setting out on Tuesday and giving it a big push, really taking the game to Wednesday and not stopping until we’ve made it count. Really going out there with the aim of getting two, maybe even three first half goals. What’s the worse thing that could happen? We could lose?
Well, who doesn’t expect that to happen anyway?