Latics have gone from heroes to zeros in the space of only a few weeks. And the fans are wondering if the wheels have come off Wigan’s promotion bus.
Latics travel to Oakwell on Saturday to face a resurgent Barnsley team who ended their hopes of Wembley in the JPT. If Latics were to lose at Barnsley they could drop out of the out of the play-off zone.
The pressure is increasing on Gary Caldwell and his team to stop the rot. It is evident that the players are under-performing and the manager needs to review his tactics.
Latics currently lack the creativity to break down the opposition. The midfield players are not providing the quality ammunition for the forwards.
The build up play is too slow and predictable and other teams have found it easy to nullify any attacks. The team has been relying on the individual brilliance of Yanic Wildschut and if he is well marked we do not threaten.
Caldwell is struggling to decide on his best attacking players. He has rotated his forward players regularly with Craig Davies, Will Grigg, Alex Revell, Yanic Wildschut, Michael Jacobs, Jordi Hiwula and Haris Vuckic all featuring at different times.
The manager needs to find the right combination and vary his tactical approach to get back to winning ways.
During Latics’ successful period they closed down quickly, won the ball with efficiency and moved the ball forward quickly.
They should now return to this type of play, make better use of the 4-4-2 formation, adopt a pressing game and pose a bigger threat going forward.
They need more creativity from midfield and they need to attack on both flanks. With Wildschut and Jacobs as the wide men and Grigg and others getting into the box they are capable of scoring more goals.
There is also a strong case for Francisco Junior as a creative option in midfield. But whatever the line-up the players need to get back to their previous good habits if they are to combat the current malaise.
Latics are, of course, capable of turning it around, but the players must take greater responsibility and the manager will have to make some difficult decisions about his team and tactics if they are going to be successful.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 18th December 2015.