From the fantastic to the not so fantastic in the space of three days. If Wigan Athletic’s season could be summed up in one week this would be it.
First the fantastic, Latics were quite simply awesome against West Brom. The performance from start to finish was exactly what was needed after the Preston debacle and showed just how good this Wigan Athletic side can be.
An un-orthodox starting line-up including the first league start for Gary Roberts was questioned before kick-off and in some quarters criticised but every man on the pitch put in one hell of a shift to overcome the promotion favourites.
The aforementioned Gary Roberts was absolutely awesome. For someone who had yet to feature this season, to come in and perform how he did was fantastic. He embodied everything good about Saturday – he would have ran through brick walls if asked to. Gary Roberts has a habit of forcing people to eat their words, he did it against Fleetwood last season where he put in a man of the match performance and did the same here.
He may not be able to do it every week at this stage of his career, but he’s still a valuable member of the squad and I was delighted he again put in a man of the match performance on Saturday.
It wasn’t just Gary Roberts who put a shift in on Saturday. Dan Burn making his first full appearance from his injury lay-off appeared in an unconventional left back slot but looked like he had played there all his career. Nathan Byrne slotted in as an attacking midfielder and was a constant threat.
Saturday really looked like we were making progress but as with most of the season it’s a different matter away from home.
Our Championship record in London is nothing short of abysmal, note I say Championship record. In League One and in the Premier League it isn’t too bad, but a trip to the Capital for the Latics hasn’t been a happy trip in the Championship.
This theme continued against relegation threatened Millwall on Tuesday. Paul Cook once again made a number of changes to his starting line-up, four in total. Once again there was no place for Callum McMamaman.
Latics surprisingly took the lead on the stroke of half-time. The first half was probably one of the worst performances of the season and despite that it looked like Latics away fortunes were finally about to turn.
As the second half got underway Latics fans couldn’t believe their luck as they earned a penalty and a chance to put themselves further ahead. Sadly Josh Windass’ penalty is probably still on it’s way into the atmosphere.
As soon as that penalty was missed you knew the script, and sadly Latics fell for it hook line and sinker. Millwall earned a penalty themselves and drew level. At this stage in the game and with how poor Latics had been you would have taken a point. Sadly a further defensive lapse led to Millwall taking the lead and a Wigan side returning from the Capital empty handed. Again.
There is clearly something going wrong on the road for the Latics at the moment. What it is I’m not sure.
Our approach away from home, certainly since the Aston Villa and Stoke matches seems to have changed to a more conservative approach. Some of that has been enforced by injuries and suspensions of course.
There’s no better way to respond than with another match Saturday and with a trip to joint leaders Sheffield United. As daunting as that may seem Latics seem to perform better against the sides higher up the table.
Let’s hope that’s the case again Saturday and Latics can get over this away day blip.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 26th October 2018