Latics will feel very frustrated not to have got at least a point from last Saturday’s fixture at Sheffield Wednesday. Despite dominating possession they failed to capitalise on their chances and a couple of defensive lapses were their downfall. Such is life in a very competitive Championship where only 13 points separate the bottom three from the top six.
Many of the teams in the Championship have realistic expectations of challenging for promotion including some of the historic powerhouses of English football. It is a division with relatively small differences between the top and the bottom teams. Latics for example, went to Derby County in a poor run of form but overcame the league leaders.
This weekend’s opponents Norwich City have demonstrated how difficult a division it is for everyone. The Canaries have only won once in 10 matches after the recent 2-1 defeat by Reading.
Like Wigan, they were hoping to make an immediate promotion back to the Premier League. They made a strong start to this campaign, but after sitting top of the Championship at the beginning of October, they have fallen to 11th and taken just seven points from the last 30 available.
Norwich manager Neil Adams’ job is reportedly under threat following the poor run of results, and just like Wigan they will be desperate for a good result on Saturday.
The margins between success and failure in this division can be very fine indeed. Latics have played well in their recent home games but they have drawn the last five. If only they could have turned the draws into wins they would now be sitting around mid table. The task ahead for Malky Mackay is to turn home games into home wins starting with the match against Norwich.
One of the key problems facing Malky is the lack of a striker or strikers to finish off the numerous chances created this season. Marc-Antoine Fortune has been a willing worker in recent games but his strike rate continues to be poor with only seven goals in 63 appearances for the club.
So the manager may decide to go with a new strike partnership. Summer signings Oriol Riera and Andy Delort played together for the Development Squad in the two recent victories over Morecambe and Walsall, and may get the nod on Saturday.
The new manager has only been in charge for two games and is still assessing his playing staff but he needs to get results quickly and instil a winning mentality. In time he will be able to make the necessary changes to his squad and select his preferred line up but at the moment results are paramount.
Malky is a manager who has achieved success in the Championship by getting Cardiff City promoted, and he is capable of doing so again. It has been a difficult period for the club, both on and off the pitch, but with 27 games to play there is still plenty of time for Wigan’s season to turn around.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 5th December 2014.