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Remember that sunny day in April on the Fylde Coast? And the week after when Gary Caldwell was the toast of the club and Wigan town centre bounced to the sound of Will Grigg’s on Fire? Those memories that last a lifetime, yet already seem so far away.

Since then, the club once again appears to have hit the self-destruct button and the feel good factor has drained away after each passing game. We have two away games to finish off the year with and if we don’t get four points from the next two games, we will start the new year facing a very tall task.

We hear about the fantastic things Warren Joyce is doing on the training ground but then you would expect that as he is a coach. Being a manager requires something more, something different and I really don’t know if we’re getting that right now.

We have gone from a team that have gone from aimlessly passing about between ourselves at the back (not my opinion) to a team who seem to be unable to pass to each other at all on Saturday (my opinion) so I don’t know where it is all falling down but the only consistency about the last half a dozen games has been the inconsistency.

The philosophy which has served us well, the possession based game which won us an FA Cup, nearly got us to the final of another, enabled us to beat all the big Premier League teams in the past and win the League One title last year, has now all but been abandoned again, suggesting that the club has learned no lessons from the Coyle and Mackay appointments.

Of course, we have been in far worse positions than we are now. Albeit you have to go back a full twenty years pre-Whelan. And like two years ago, the clamour for the January transfer window to open is overwhelming.

Hopefully we will come out of it better than we did two years ago, otherwise expect Grigg and Wildschut to be sold and replaced with a handful of kids from Premier League clubs who barely have the stomach for a relegation battle. Perhaps I’m showing my age here but it’s reminiscent of the old “10 to 2” last dance in a nightclub, with us desperately clambering around  for someone to take home.

It’s exacerbated by the club announcing its financial figures this week which serves both as a stark reminder of the tough financial future we face and of the wonderful things we have achieved over the past few years. Yet we have also been guilty of scattergun sackings and appointments coupled with the lack of a coherent long-term plan, very much a trait of the early Whelan days.

The short-term crumb of comfort lies in Joyce’s record at Hull City, where he turned around a doomed team and led them to survival with a fantastic run of results. It’s certainly something we’ve been capable of doing in the past under Jewell and Martinez, but are we getting that feeling it’s about to happen again?

One game at a time I guess, and Monday’s trip to Rotherham could indeed be that season defining game that will kick our season off. Again.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Saturday 24th December 2016

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