12th Man: The Dark Tunnel

So the emotional journey of Wigan Athletic’s season continues through it’s dark tunnel. There is to be no happy ending however, that much is looking clear.

Of course, we’re all still having those maverick thoughts. We could win three games and the teams above us could lose them all but we can only control one part of that equation and even that part will be a big ask.

I’m not even sure staying up would be a good thing anymore. I’m sure the sequence of events that would see it happen would be an astonishing, mind blowing spectacle far crazier than any of our Premier League last day escapades. Yet beyond that what shape would we be in?

We are essentially twelve months behind Blackpool when you look at what sort of squad we will have left post the end of the season. Thankfully, the stewardship and financing of the club are nothing as murky – yet squad wise, we will be bereft of quality and totally threadbare in a few weeks’ time. The few players that we will still have under contract are either underperforming on big wages, are out on loan with no desire to come back or will not want to drop to League One.

The last two transfer windows have been absolute carnage and any attempt to rebuild at Championship level with a savagely trimmed wage bill isn’t fair on any manager let alone a rookie like Gary Caldwell. It will be a mammoth task to move into turnaround mode even in League One.

These are sad, scary times and I hope every Wigan Athletic fan acknowledges the restructuring job ahead is going to take time and patience. The utopia of a young, exciting squad playing expansive, attacking football is a vision shared by David Sharpe and almost all of the fanbase but it will not happen overnight.

Indeed it may never happen due to financial restrictions now that the millions flowing from the Premier League tap are slowly dripping to a halt. Yet perversely I am looking forward to Saturday’s game more than I have a for a long while.

Now that the pain of relegation is all but over, we can start to take the long journey of recuperation back to stability and full health. We may never again scale the heights we have in recent times but with each little glimmer of hope we can look forward to the day we have our smashing little club back.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column Friday 17th April 2015





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