Stick or Twist

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I was listening to the commentary on Tuesday night when co-commentator and Latics’ Head of Media, Ed Jones uttered the immortal words, “well I don’t think anyone can be critical of that performance”. I hope you didn’t log on to social media on the way home Ed!

Let’s make no bones about it, we’re struggling right now. There is of course a positive spin which tells us that factually we are unbeaten in our last four but we are sufficiently far down the table that draws are of limited use and only a couple of quickfire wins will satisfy the need to haul us out of the drop zone.

I struggle to reconcile and legitimise the criticism of Gary Caldwell mainly due to the inconsistency of it. Depending on which way the wind blowing, he’s either trying to reinvent the wheel by changing it every single game; or it’s his naïve stubbornness and inflexibility which is costing us dearly. See what I mean?

The bottom line is that if any football club is in the bottom three of any division, then there are going to be unhappy fans, I wouldn’t expect anything else. However, I suppose we need to understand whether this perceived demise is a short term blip or something of a more long term nature.

From my perspective, there are two key indicators. Firstly, there is the manner in which we are losing or drawing. We are lacking the quality to win games but we are not losing them badly. A small, incremental improvement can easily turn 1 goal defeats into draws and draws into victories.

Secondly, the players appear to be playing for the manager. The effort and application is there in most parts, albeit a certain ex Crewe and Man United protégé could do with pulling his tripe out a bit given his unquestionable talent. Look at the reaction to our late equaliser for further evidence.

Ultimately, things either get better, get worse or stay the same and at the minute I’d say our form has broadly been the same the last few games. One win will get us out of the relegation and two wins would probably give us the breathing space to stay out of there and moving towards the promised land of mid table.

If things remain the same till Christmas or get worse, then I am sure the clamour for a managerial change will only heighten, especially given that clubs all around us appear to be pulling the trigger. My question would be however, what guarantees do we have that the next bloke would be any better? There are no guarantees, we know this from personal experience.

These are tricky times. Fine margins are all well and good as an explanation but a couple of convincing results are what’s really needed if we are to get our season off to a belated start….

First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 21st October 2016

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