There’s something special happening at Wigan Athletic this season. Something very special indeed.
Most people, myself included would have argued that our best chance of beating Bournemouth and reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup had been and gone. That late equaliser knocking the stuffing out of an already tired Latics side, leading to our eventual defeat in the replay. Or at least that’s how the script should have gone.
Instead a patched up Wigan Athletic ran themselves in to the ground for their manager, their supporters and their club leading to one of the famous cup victories at the DW Stadium and we’ve had a few of those over the years.
Every single one of those players who played in the win over Bournemouth earned all the plaudits and praise heaped on them.
There was no doubt the odd groan or two expressed when the starting eleven was named and Paul Cook sprang a surprise by making six changes.
But the changes made only seemed to enhance Latics. Sammy Morsy’s early goal helped to settle Latics down but Bournemouth who were a constant threat were marshalled well by a makeshift defence of Callum Elder, Alex Bruce, Chey Dunkley and Max Power.
Bournemouth had plenty of chances to get themselves back in the game, but they never did. That was down to a combination of poor finishing on their part and fantastic defending on our part.
The elder statesman who came in to the Latics starting line up last night did fantastically well. In particular Gary Roberts, David Perkins and Noel Hunt who led the line for most of the second half.
Gary Roberts ran himself in to the ground and it’s performances like last night, that make you realise how important players like Hunt and Roberts are to this squad. They may not play every week, but when called up on they put a shift in.
And what of David Perkins? Rumours said he was departing for Bury this week. After that performance, I wouldn’t be letting him go anywhere. He’s still a big part of that dressing room, and was fantastic alongside Morsy in the engine room last night.
The introduction of Dan Burn to shore up the defence for the last quarter of the game couldn’t have gone any better. Scoring after two minutes Superman showed just why he’s been voted player of the month.
The goal from Callum Elder topped off a fantastic night and sets us up nicely for a glamour tie with West Ham in the next round. There’s a tinge of sadness that it’s not at the Olympic Stadium, certainly for us ground hoppers but I think we’ve every chance of beating the Hammers in the next round.
The belief surging through the club is fantastic at the moment, that’s all down to Paul Cook, the coaching staff and the environment they’ve nourished since they came in in the summer.
You can’t quite put your finger on that something special and what exactly it is but whatever it is we need to harness it because it could well see us head back to the top if we get it right.
I’ve spoken about the similarities between Paul Jewell and Paul Cook before, not least both being Liverpudlians who played together in the same Latics team but that never say die 100% commitment that we had under Jewell during our rise through the leagues feels like it’s back.
If new owners are to complete a takeover in the near future their first job should be an extended contract for Cook and his staff. He’s the best signing Latics have made for a long while.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 19th December 2018
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