After Europa League, FA Cup and play-off adventures last season, Wigan Athletic have been in something of a slump since. As they prepare to play Nottingham Forest, Kieran Heapy from Pie Eaters Footie tells us what to expect from the home side
Wigan missed out in the play-offs last season and have lost five in 2014/15 — what’s gone wrong?
When we missed out on the play-offs last season we seriously had nothing left in the tank to play matches, let alone win them. That really showed in the two games against QPR as we just couldn’t sustain a full attacking intent for longer than a first half. But generally last season we didn’t have anyone who was scoring goals regularly.
Over the summer we had to recruit to build a squad which could compete at the top of the table. The squad, when you actually look at the players we have, is strong enough to be battling higher up, yet we have recruited that many players over the summer we have yet to gel as a force and are subsequently struggling to win games. Defensively we look weak, our midfield gets lost during games and attacking-wise we seem unable to finish the chances we are making. What is going wrong right now is quite truly everything from back to front on the pitch at one time or another.
Do you think you can bounce back to the Premier League or is the Championship going to be an ordeal?
I would, of course, like to say we can make it back to the Premier League, yet I think we have to be realistic. Every season we remain out of the Premier League it becomes harder for us to get back into the top flight.
The Championship is probably the toughest league in the world; I don’t know of another league in football where, say, over half the league could either win it or be relegated. It’s a great spectacle for the English game, making it the toughest league to get out of which is why a lot of teams that go down tend to stay down. Unfortunately for Wigan, we could be one of those teams.
When you look at the size of our club and the teams in this league, Wigan Athletic aren’t actually that big a club; for us that means lower general income and lack of ability to bring players to the club in the transfer windows. The longer we stay down, the harder it is going to be for us to get back up.
What are your expectations for the season?
It still has to be promotion and it still has to be aiming to get into that top six at least, but on current form just staying in the league could be nice. Once this team does click then I feel we could be a real force to be reckoned with but, until that happens, just trying to keep a pace with the top flyers has to be the aim, and we aren’t even doing that just yet.
It would be nice to say we are at least being competitive but in some games this season we haven’t even looked that, and have gotten away with poor performances. I don’t see us being so lucky on Tuesday.
What’s the fans’ general opinion of Uwe Rosler?
Up until recently it has been very, very high — last season he peaked and showed us just what he could do with a squad of players. After a pre-season (which actually went rather well) and a transfer window to bring in some very talented players, we really were on a high at the start of September. The feeling now though is very low.
There were rumours of him being sacked this week, which the club has dismissed. However rumours of discontent in the dressing room, especially over the handling of the Grant Holt situation, continue rippling out. What we have always felt was a very tight dressing room appears to be falling apart at the seams.
Who are the players to watch out for?
Well, if he is fit, Callum McManaman, who has made every Wigan fan smile this year. The lad has quite literally given everything so far this season and could be the catalyst for anything good we do. Likewise we have two very young, talented midfielders in Emyre Huws and Adam Forshaw who have shown individual flashes of brilliance; if the pair of them click together it will be an incredible midfield partnership. Apart from that not many players have consistently stood out this season so far apart from our goalkeeper (Scott Carson), which is always a bit of a worry.
What do you think will happen on Tuesday?
I honestly don’t know about this one. As a club we have a thing about stepping up to the big occasions. Will we do it this time? I don’t know. I feel it going one of two ways: either we somehow put a performance together and get a result; or we fall apart and you beat us comfortably. Do I want to throw my hat at one way or another? Not at this moment in time. I think once we know who Uwe Rosler is going to field then we will know just how the game might go for us.