12th Man – 23 battles ahead

The DW Stadium

What will the New Year bring at the DW Stadium?

We have now reached the halfway point in the 2015/16 season and Latics have put themselves in with a great chance of promotion back to the Championship.

At the beginning of the season I felt that given all the changes at the club they might struggle to challenge for the play-offs.

There had been a huge turnover in playing staff, a new manager in Gary Caldwell and new chairman in David Sharpe.

But the ship has been steadied and the dark days of Malky Mackay are now behind them and the prospects for the rest of the season are looking very good.

Caldwell has made some excellent signings and has generally made good use of the loan system. He has borrowed the stylings of former manager Roberto Martinez and he encourages his players to play football in the ‘right way’.

Caldwell’s players are generally comfortable in possession but they do sometimes struggle to move the ball forward quickly enough and many attacks fizzle out too easily.

Wigan will need to show some improvement both offensively and defensively if they are to secure an automatic promotion place.

They have strikers such as Will Grigg and Jordy Hiwula who are capable of firing the team to promotion, but they are not currently getting a good enough service from the rest of the team.

Defensively there have been too many costly lapses in concentration. Sometimes it is not possible to defend against creative attackers, but Latics’ defenders have made too many unnecessary mistakes so far this season.

The steadying influence of Craig Morgan and Jason Pearce has had a positive effect, but the other defenders need to eradicate the mistakes.

An astute use of the transfer window can certainly improve Wigan’s options. Defender Andy Kellett has been playing in an advanced midfield position but the addition of a creative central midfield player could provide more ammunition for the strikers.

The club is currently in negotiations with Middlesbrough to retain the services of fans’ favourite Yanic Wildschut and if this can be sorted, it would be a massive boost to their promotion chances going into the second half of the season.

Latics are currently in fifth spot in the table and are eight points away from the top two teams Walsall and Burton. Only 14 points separate first from 10th in League One and I expect it to get even tighter as the race for promotion hots up.

Sheffield United, Millwall and Bradford are all capable of bursting into the promotion zone and Latics must know they will have to battle in the 23 games ahead to win promotion.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 1st January 2016.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Andy Kellett, David Sharpe, Gary Caldwell, League One, Wigan Athletic, Yanic Wildschut and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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