I guess the rest of the season starts here, eight games, eight weeks and a tilt at recovering a year that’s never really got going. It’s going to be a rollercoaster, for sure and it’s not always going to be easy to keep the faith, but you definitely should and you should definitely enjoy yourselves whilst you’re at it. Here’s just five of the reasons why.
1) Squad’s the problem?
Much of the talk, back in the summer, reflected on the strength of the squad, the options on the bench and optimism at the new signings. Well, for one reason or another we’ve missed quite a lot of those options over the season but, as we head into it’s most important period, the squad is fully fit, looking strong and raring to go. Gone are the days where we had to ponder how to play fast attacking football with Hendry Thomas and Jordi Gomez in the side and now we’re in the relatively halcyon days of trying to work out how to get the best out of Watson, McCarthy, Cleverley, Moses, Rodallega and N’Zogbia. Instead of wondering how a centre-half is keeping a full back out of the team, we’re agape at the energy of Emmerson Boyce.
2) B brave
It only seems a couple of weeks ago that the entire world was discussing the certainty of the three relegated clubs having names that began with a W. It was perm three from four at the time and looked a good bet, but the odd wise soul was pointing to the posibility of the relegation places being filled by B teams. With the table tight, Birmingham struggling and facing a cup hangover, Blackpool in freefall and Blackburn slowly being dragged into things the notion was certainly plausible and held a certain attraction for assorted Hammers, Baggies, Wolves and ‘tics.
The complexion of things has changed since then, but the table is no less tight with three points covering eight teams, Villa joining the seven teams already mentioned. Have I said rollercoaster already, because now would be the most appropriate time to bring it up.
Arguably, bonus results that kept Latics up last season. Nine points against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal made more than a significant difference. Without them we’d have finished the season on less points than we have already. Not that it tells us anything about where we’ll be come May, but there’s something in there about being less inconsistent, better even, this season than we were in 2010.
And at the same time it reminds us that anything we get out of the next two games is a bonus. The season starts here, but the same thing applies to next week and the weeks after until we’re either mathematically safe or mathematically not. I suppose the message is to hold your nerve, no matter what happens this afternoon, no matter what happens next Saturday. We could be 8 points from safety, but I’ll bet you now that we won’t, let’s get through these games, get what we can and see what the job is when we get to Blackpool, rather than stressing about it now.
4) We are Wigan
Back in 2005, how many seasons did you expect to be in the top flight? Did you revel in being ‘Little Wigan’, sticking it to the establishment? Where did it all go wrong? For some it didn’t, because we never lost sight of the fact that we were, to most of the Premier League, interlopers, party crashers, not deserving of the privilege of sitting at their table.
I get why you’d want that to change, but the simple point is that it hasn’t and won’t any time soon. Get used to it again, remember that Harry Redknapp would rather be taking his team to Leeds than Wigan, that Chelsea probably believe their “in your northern slums” shtick, that Villa would rather be going to Forest and that West Ham will always look down their nose at us, remember that it’s us against them.
This isn’t about remembering our place in the world, about being small time, that’s a different argument; this is about standing up to the rest and taking pleasure from the fact that no matter where we end up next season we’ve made our mark and stuck two fingers to the lot of them.
5) This Northern Soul
No, I’m not claiming that this website will save Latics from relegation. But the spirit that it stands for will. This Northern Soul represents a coming together of different groups, uniting behind a single cause, Wigan Athletic Football Club. We may be few (at the moment) but we’re trying to set the standard for the many. Get together, put your differences behind you and move forward.
One voice, one team, one goal. Keep the faith!
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