Staring in to the Abyss

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What a sorry state we’re in, a season that promised so much has truly descended in to the ridiculous.

That win over Cardiff at the start of August feels a million miles away now and Wigan Athletic are truly staring in to the abyss as January draws to a close.

The alarm bells were there after a dispiriting defeat to Preston just two weeks in to the season,  Latics failed to turn up in that trip to Deepdale and all the anticipation that had greeted that match disappeared in a puff of smoke.

To follow that up with four defeats out of the next four is to tell the tale of our season. Latics inability to capitalise when on top has dogged Paul Cook’s side all season long.

We simply can’t score when required and without a defence strong enough to keep out opposing sides we always have a mistake in us. I wasn’t at Swansea on Saturday but as soon as Latics went ahead we all knew what was going to happen, Swansea equalised and Latics missed further chances to get back in front.

It was only a matter of time before another defeat was sealed. The 15th this season if you’re still counting in the whole of last season we only lost 20 matches, which tells you how much poorer this season has been for us.

So here we are coming to the end of January and indeed the end of the transfer window and Wigan Athletic look as though they’re staring in to the abyss. There haven’t been any new arrivals bar Kieran Dowell on-loan from Everton – finances are clearly an issue or perhaps the judgement of the manager in terms of signings.

After spending close to £10 million this summer Latics have gone backwards rather than progressed. The reported AC Milan target Antonee Robinson and former Everton team mate Joe Williams are the only ones who’ve really been able to make an impression this season. I would also say Lewis McLeod but he hasn’t been given the game time he often deserves.

My thoughts on Paul Cook are clear, I have a lot of respect for Paul Cook – he took on a difficult job back in 2017 and brought the buzz back to the club. He achieved wonders in getting us back to the Championship at the first time of asking (again) and threw in a glorious FA Cup run and that night against Manchester City for good measure.

He kept us up against the odds last season and for the first part of last season looked every bit the Championship manager but I think he’s been desperately lacking this year. That doesn’t make him a bad manager, this has happened to clubs time and time again and sadly it’s now our turn.

Paul Cook doesn’t look like he’ll be going any time soon and why would he – he was rewarded with a four year contract and the club has to honour that in one form or another. It makes no sense whatsoever for Cook to hand in his notice and give that up, the club on the other hand could have dispensed with his services an gone in a different direction after the October international break.

The fact we didn’t probably says more about our financial situation than anything else. We can’t afford to sack the manager, his backroom staff and introduce a whole new team. We also seemingly can’t afford to spend any serious money to bring in new players.

In the March of 2017 we sacked Warren Joyce and handed the reins to Graham Barrow – with a bit more time Barrow may well have kept us up, I fear we have already missed that opportunity of a new manager bounce and it’s down to Paul Cook and his players to get us out of this – so far they’ve come up desperately short.

If that really is the case there are worrying times ahead for Wigan Athletic and finally those who thought Dave Whelan was bleeding the club dry may have a re-think.

It’s been well known the amount of money that IEC are stumping up just to keep the club afloat, that isn’t a sustainable model so perhaps they envisage a different future for us of becoming a self-sufficient Leauge One club, rather than one chasing a Premier League dream?

The success of our academy would help with that and maybe a team full of home grown youngsters fighting it out in the lower leagues and with a much lower cost base is our future. It would be sad if over a quarter of a century since Dave Whelan took the club over the best we could hope for was a return from whence we came, but football is a different game from what it was when Dave Whelan purchased the club.

Despite the best efforts of numerous people over the years are crowds other than in the early years of the Premier League have rarely risen at the rates needed to support a football club operating in the Championship, let alone the Premier League.

Those crowds have dipped alarmingly this season as our form has nose-dived at the same time. If you can’t even attract the diehards and the come-what-mays you’re struggling and god knows we are struggling.

I hope this is all pessimistic and we can bring in the fire power needed to take us away from the relegation zone over the next few months.

After all nobody was ever relegated in January, but I’m also realistic that this season on the whole has been an unmitigated disaster and unless something changes and quick we’re on our way back to League One.

Whatever happens I’d love to see a bit more fight over the coming weeks and months, from those on the pitch of course but also those of us in the stands.

If you think back to those Premier League days where we had no ending of relegation scraps on the whole the club stuck together – obviously we need some help from those on the pitch but if we are to go down this season I’d rather it be with a bang than a whimper.

Easier said than done with the malaise surrounding the club at the moment.

 

Sean Livesey

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