The play off monkey on our backs

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Now we’ve sealed the deal I think it’s time we talked play offs. Only if you want to though because if we take a backwards glance it doesn’t make pleasant reading for Wigan Athletic fans.

We have won only one game out of nine since the play offs were introduced and ultimately we have come a cropper every time we’ve entered them. This isn’t too demoralising however it just needs a realistic eye on it: very often we’re all too busy looking at the prize to work out the odds. Without even considering the other teams, their form, squads and capability the simple fact is that 3 out of 4 teams who get in the play offs come out empty handed every single year.

How do we approach this then? We know how old Harry Redknapp is playing it after his comments to the London press earlier in the week stating that “Wigan have the strongest squad in the division”. As transparent as his car window when it’s in the down position! QPR have a squad full of established Premier League players – the only one who isn’t was top goalscorer in the division last year for Burnley.

Whereas they don’t actually look much better than us right now our record against QPR isn’t exactly the best and as for Derby, well on a points basis they are streets ahead of us.

All these factors mean that we really shouldn’t bother getting our hopes up for the play offs as they invariably end in tears for us, don’t they?

Don’t be silly! All we really need to do is take our cup form into what are effectively cup games. Whereas the semi final is a two legged tie it is very rare indeed that a game is all over by the end of the first leg so essentially as long we keep it tight at home then it becomes a one off cup tie. We will have to travel to Loftus Road and Pride Park and somehow dare to end their season in front of a full house of (mainly) their own fans.

Yet this is not new territory considering we dumped Man City and Cardiff out of the FA Cup on their own patch and more or less relegated Birmingham midweek. For all the moaning about our poor form of late, we are still capable of the spectacular and have an opportunity to put the top hat on a memorable season. Guess what football: the original believers want our hashtag back.

First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column Friday 2nd May 2014

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