12th Man – Managing the bounce back

Paul Cook suit

Paul Cook has a major task to revitalise his weary troops.

It is hard to comprehend what has happened to Latics in the last two games. The team, which was in such fine form and was unbeaten in 17 games, is now struggling to perform against average opponents.

The normally watertight defence now looks porous after conceding five goals, the midfield is now being outfought and the attack looks toothless scoring only one goal in those two games.

Southend had bounce under new manager Chris Powell and Blackpool are fighting for League One survival under Gary Bowyer but Latics have massively underachieved in these two games.

Latics looked second best at Roots Hall and looked completely out of sorts at the DW on Tuesday night. They lacked energy and looked weary in comparison to their hardworking opponents.

The upcoming FA Cup tie against Manchester City may have been on the minds of the players but it was no excuse for a desperately disappointing display.

Paul Cook’s strategy of limited rotation has worked well until now, but is the high number of games played starting to catch up with the regular starting eleven?

The tight-knit squad has rewarded the manager with a great run of form but it now looks like it is time to make changes and start some of his new signings.

The defeat to Blackpool was further compounded by the two-match suspension of captain Sam Morsy and whoever has to take over from Morsy will have a big responsibility to protect the back four.

Tiredness, complacency and loss of form are all contributing factors in Latics’ current dip in form but whatever the reasons it is now up to Cook to manage the setbacks, give his players a confidence boost and get them to bounce back quickly.

It is not a time to panic but Cook now has a major task to revitalise his weary troops. Football fortunes can soon change but they must quickly recapture their form, or they could find themselves fighting it out in the play-off places.

Before Latics get back to league action they have a small matter of an FA Cup fifth round tie against Manchester City. It will be Latics’ hardest ever test against probably the best club side in the world.

City thrashed Leicester City 5-1 on Saturday and swept aside Swiss Champions Basel 4-0 away in the Champions League while Latics were losing to Southend and Blackpool.

Pep Guardiola’s team look capable of winning an unprecedented quadruple. They are 16 points clear in the Premier League, are almost through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, are in the League Cup Final and are massive favourites to progress past Latics in the FA Cup.

Latics have an incredible recent track record against City in the FA Cup, memorably winning the final in 2013 and knocking them out in the quarter-final stage at the Etihad in 2014. But Latics are now a League One team and City have now moved up to a stratospheric level seemingly untouchable by mere mortal teams.

This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 16th February 2018.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Blackpool, FA Cup, League One, Manchester City, Paul Cook, Pep Guardiola, Southend United, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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