Hiya, it’s been a while, but the cricket season has been well and truly over for about a month now and the bobble hat has made a couple of early morning appearances so I’m running out of excuses to not think too hard about the fortunes of Wigan Athletic. The only way I know to relieve the pressure of thinking too hard about the football is to pour the overspill from my brain into a computer and to see what comes out the other end.
Yes, it would be easy to speak to people, but if you could see my fellow rail passengers this morning then you’d be glad of a reason to gawp at a screen as well.
Times have been interesting at the DW over the first couple of months of the season and what better way to deal with that than with the return of our (ir)regular feature that whips tenuous links, music and moaning up into a perfect hat-trick of Latics flavoured wittering?
No, don’t answer that…
Left foot – Road to Nowhere, Talking Heads
You couldn’t ask for a better phrase to sum up the last couple of year’s at Latics, possibly the only other song title that captures that period quite so well is The Smiths’ ‘Nowhere Fast’ but that ignores the argument that we’ve been on a path back to whence we came ever since we took the Earl of Dalton’s shilling and neither of those were what I wanted to talk about anyway.
I reckon most people had a good idea of where Latics were going this season, but I don’t reckon those ideas were all the same. David Sharpe’s “We’ll smash it” summer proclamation was met in equal parts expectation and cynicism with a small dose ambivalence. All things change though and depending on your starting point the season’s start was probably met with cries of “Woe is me”, “I told you so” or a calmly spoken “let’s wait and see, eh?”
And there’s your Road to Nowhere, because we’ve been here before. Here where two sides of the same “we’re doomed” argument shouts down any rational thought or reasoned debate where everything is shit or hopeless and any suggestion that maybe we’re doing ok, or even better than ok is, at best, just laughed at.
Right Foot – What Condition My Condition Is In, Betty La Vette
Then again, the madd(en)ing crowd has probably got a bit quieter following the last two results. Although the 5-0 thrashing of Colchester was accompanied by plenty of “I told you so”s, “why haven’t they been doing this all along”s and some of the classic “it’s papering over the cracks” attitude, moving up to seventh has definitely put a different spin on the season so far.
In conversation with mates, earlier this season, I’d set a target of around 1.5 points per game for the first half of the season, looking to get a good run of results after Christmas that would catapult us into promotion contenders. With 17 points from 12, we were on the mark for that and the two wins on the bounce has put us ahead of the game.
With the merry-go-round necessitated by the culling of last year’s squad, we were never going to hit the ground running, dreams of smashing the division (at least at this stage) were always going to be pipe ones and, to be honest, the team appears to be gelling more quickly than I’d hoped.
If there is a cause for concern then it’s at the back. Our first choice defence presumably contains both Pearce and Morgan, but that’s not been an option for Caldwell as yet. Is that the main contribution to us looking a soft touch or is there a more deep seated reason we’ve developed that dangerous habit of conceding two goals a game?
The simple answer is that none of us really know. Even though we can talk all we like about the manager’s approach to defence, the reality is that he’s only settled on a formation and line up since Jon, Joe and Kenny went back to Everton (insert something about losing three defenders in one go not being good for anyone) and until he either changes personnel or formation, we would be basing criticism on only one side of the story.
Either way, there are more positives than negatives at the moment, we’re not fair off being the team that we can be and if the more positive approach demonstrated against Colchester and Peterborough continues then we’re in good condition, if not then this set of lads have shown that they’ll not give up easily, both would do for me.
Header – Doing the Right Thing, Daughter
Just draw things together, things are going ok at the moment, we should stop talking into circles and appreciate that. We should also realise that, there’s more going on here than just what we get on a Saturday. Gary Caldwell, David Sharpe and Jonathon Jackson had more than a league one team to build this summer. Nationally, the club’s reputation had been hit by the events of last winter, locally our image had been tarred by rumours of bad apples and rogue elements in the squad.
Even though Latics fans have been champions at infighting for time immemorial, last season set a benchmark for schisms in the club. Things need to be improved in that area too and the spirit of togetherness is needed more now than at any time in the last 20 years. That starts within the club and with the board seemingly allowing the manager to get on with his job, with he and his players all pulling in the same direction and all of them appearing to have each other’s backs then we can only be heading in the right direction.
In football, doing the right thing isn’t always about passing, movement, tactics or application it’s about community, togetherness and approach. At the moment it looks like we’re good on all counts, long may it remain.