Expectations are high after Latics produced a convincing 3-0 victory against Port Vale last Saturday. They are upping the pressure on the teams above them and will be seeking to maintain their promotion form this week at Sheffield United.
Former Latics’ goalkeeper Nigel Adkins manages the Blades and they should provide stiff opposition at Bramall Lane.
United have dropped to 9th in the table after Tuesday night’s games, but they are only two points off the play-off spots and will be desperate to reduce the gap between themselves and Latics.
The Blades’ manager Nigel Adkins is well known to Latics’ fans. Their former keeper was successful as manager of Scunthorpe United and Southamption.
‘Steady Nigel’ played 155 games for Latics in the 1980’s and early 90’s. At Wigan he was named ‘Steady Nigel’ as the fans behind the goal used to shout it to him when he came for high crosses.
He knows League One very well and managed to get both the Iron and the Saints promoted from League One to the Championship.
At Southampton he took the club from League One to the Premier League and was very unfortunate to lose his job when the club was in a position above the relegation zone.
Adkins went onto manage Reading, but despite finishing seventh in the Championship in his first full season in charge he was sacked in December 2014.
Adkins was a strong candidate for the Wigan manager’s job last season after the dismissal of Malky Mackay, but David Sharpe opted for an internal appointment with Gary Caldwell.
Adkins took over at Sheffield United last June with the brief to get United promoted. They are a big City club with high expectations and have frustrated their fans by spending five seasons in League One and failing in the play-offs on three occasions.
Whereas Latics made seven signings in the transfer window, the Blades failed to add any names to their squad, except for one extended loan deal for Leicester City player Dean Hammond, their fans have expressed their anger and frustration at the lack of transfer activity.
Despite the lack of incomings, the Blades still have a good number of dangerous forwards in their squad, with Billy Sharp (14 goals) Che Adams (6 goals) and former Latic Connor Sammon (6 goals), all likely to pose a threat.
It’s another big game for Latics and they will be hoping to get one over on Adkins especially after his team managed a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down at the DW Stadium in January.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 5th February 2016.