It was as sure a thing as you could find, as sure as night follows day you just knew after we beat Stoke so comprehensively on Wednesday that we would come up a cropper at Loftus road. Our record there is abysmal and it really isn’t a happy hunting ground, apart from a Nathan Ellington inspired win in March 2003 we’ve failed to register a single win there in the last fifteen years.
The closest we probably came was that horrible night in the play-offs where Latics got off to the perfect start, but an exhausted side who were playing in their 62nd match of a draining season, fell behind in extra time as Harry Redknapp’s expensively assembled side reached Wembley and eventually the Premier League. You could say QPR have got what they deserved now – a hefty fine was dished out by the Football League earlier this year that Rangers will be paying back for years to come, and the last of those senior players that came in under the Redknapp regime have now left.
Hence QPR’s torrid start to the season, Latics should and could have capitalised on that. Once again numerous chances went begging and without converting there was always the danger that something would come back to bite us. The manor of the goal conceded by Latics was frustrating, how the referee failed to spot a clear push in the back on Chey Dunkley is baffling. Especially when his assistants had flagged the foul to him, sadly it was only going to go one way after that, and again Wigan returned from the capital empty handed.
Saturday’s result was a blip on a relatively positive start to our season, we shouldn’t let that defeat as disappointing as it was to mask what a great week it had been. Firstly getting a point at home to a fantastic Nottingham Forest side who have just knocked Newcastle out of the League Cup and then the win over Stoke that exceeded all expectations and showed that Wigan Athletic are indeed here to stay in the Championship.
With that QPR match firmly behind us, and hopefully no further transfer outgoings on Friday Paul Cook can look towards a return to the DW Stadium with a full week’s worth of time on the training pitch with his players. The defence is looking stronger and the injury niggles that have been plaguing the squad have had a another week to settle down.
Rotherham will be a difficult proposition, former Latics striker Paul Warne seems to have them well drilled and with the lack of budget of other sides in the Championship they’ve had to be creative over the summer. We know how dangerous they can be after the Carabao Cup defeat earlier this month, but if we perform like we have in the previous two home matches we should be favourites.
So as August comes to a close I think it’s fair to say it’s been a decent month for Latics, the points haul could certainly be higher but the football we’ve been playing has been startling at times and also gives a glimpse of what we may be able to expect later this season. It’s certainly been a much more positive start than this time two years ago.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 31st August 2018
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