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A typical Wigan winter leaves Latics teetering - Interview
Friday, 1st Feb 2019 11:32 by Clive Whittingham

Wigan looked like being one of the division’s surprise packages early on but have endured a torrid winter of results and injuries. Chris Marsh picks up the story.

You started the season so promisingly, but it’s been a pretty dire winter, how would you assess the season so far?

It’s been a season of two halves so far. We did start really well, kept the nucleus of the team that got promoted and added a few decent looking signings. Then we have been hit by a raft of injuries, and long term ones at that. If we are being absolutely honest about things, we were punching well above our weight early on and have slowly sunk down to where most sensible thinking Latics fans thought we would be / expected us to end up.

Twelve defeats and just two wins in 16 games – what are the problems? Nick Powell being out presumably fairly near the top of this list?

A massive lack of consistency generally. We’re not doing too bad at home but are horrific away. Every now and then we get a decent result (e.g. beating Aston Villa 3-0 the other week) and think “maybe this is the start of turning it round and climbing the table” but then true to form it’s the decent result that is the blip and not the spark we need. It isn’t just Powell, we have had our first choice front four out for a long time. Gavin Massey was absolutely flying early on and has been out for a while. See also Michael Jacobs, who coincidentally returned to the team in the aforementioned 3-0 vs Villa. But yes, Powell is the one who sews it all together and makes us tick.

Any pressure on Paul Cook? How would you assess the job he’s doing?

There are the usual calls from some of the teenage Football Manager types for Cook to go but the first question to consider always is this: “Who would come in here who is a better fit?” and generally I don’t think there is anyone generally who would be better. Is Alan Curbishley still on gardening leave?

Cook is doing ok considering he is hamstrung with one of the smallest budgets in the division and has been hit by a horrendous amount of injuries. The yellow ball doesn’t help, we’re always crap through winter. I’m pretty certain that the return of the white ball and the clocks going forward will see results pick up and us crawl to safety. I think we need five or six more wins from 17 games. It’s achievable. Even more so if we won those games against teams below us.

Any moves in January to strengthen the side? Pilkington looks a handy signing potentially…

As we go to press we have signed Leon Clarke on loan from Sheffield Utd. He was here on loan under Malky Mackay a few years back and looked less than convincing however, he was starved of service as the whole team was poor. He did really well last season and hopefully can recapture that form. We signed Danny Fox (from Forest) to fill a problem left back position only to read a few thousand Forest on twitter all saying “he’s a decent CB, just don’t play him at LB.” And then there is Pilkington who came in from Cardiff and looks very handy. Get him fully fit and feeding Leon Clarke and I think we’ll be ok.

Stand out players and weak links in the side?

Pilkington looked decent in his cameo against Villa the other week, Michael Jacobs if he turns up has the quality we need but can be frustrating at times; an inexplicable penchant for falling over for seemingly no reason or running down a blind alley when a simple pass will do. The real stand out is Reece James, an 18-year-old right back on loan from Chelsea who plays with a maturity beyond his years. A future England player in the making.

Our weak link is central midfield – Sam Morsy will be suspended after collecting yellow cards like they are Pokemon. Some of us believe that the defensive problems we have are partially explained by a soft centre in midfield however we have to whisper it as Morsy has a lot of fans amongst the Wigan support.

Confident of surviving? Consequences if you don’t?

We only really start playing at the end of February. The white ball, decent pitches and a bit of sun and we’ll be fine. Oh and getting some of them injured players back in the starting eleven. That’ll help.

The Twitter @elbalson, @loftforwords

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TacticalR added 14:52 - Feb 2
Thanks to Chris.

Sounds like a German team if they need an annual winter break.

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