The fans were angered and frustrated when Latics lost out on penalties to League One bottom club Barnsley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Latics had been within touching distance of Wembley and the disappointment was palpable last Saturday evening.
But the man who was probably hurting most was Gary Caldwell. The manager has only been in post for eight months but he knew he had a fantastic opportunity to take his team to Wembley in his first full season in charge.
Caldwell could not hide his frustration when he spoke to the media afterwards:
“It is hugely disappointing for everybody; there are not many times in your life that you get the opportunity to win a trophy and, not only that, but one playing at a stadium like Wembley and we have let that opportunity pass us by.”
Caldwell now has the big task of lifting his players for the league campaign. He also has to deal with injuries and the loss of form of key players.
Latics were without Donervon Daniels and Donald Love against Barnsley, but for me the biggest absence was the steadying influence of captain Craig Morgan.
Morgan marshals the defence to great effect, he is comfortable on the ball and is cool under pressure. His continued absence during the Christmas period will not help Latics’ cause.
Several players have struggled with their form in recent weeks, for example David Perkins and Michael Jacobs, who were impressive in the early part of the season, have not been producing their best.
Alex Revell made a good start in the win at Rochdale and scored against Shrewsbury but has subsequently failed to make an impact.
Fortunately Will Grigg got back on the goal trail with a brace against Barnsley and hopefully this will give him the boost he needs to get firing regularly again.
Yanic Wildschut continues to be Latics’ best offensive threat, and he could prove to be a defining factor in their promotion campaign.
The manager will be very aware that the player’s loan deal comes to an end in January and he should do everything in his power to retain the Dutchman’s services.
Every manager has to deal with bad results during a season but the sign of a good manager is how he gets his players to respond to a setback.
Caldwell now has to ensure that his players quickly put the Barnsley result behind them and get back to doing the right things on the pitch.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 11th December 2015.