Can Wigan Athletic Beat the Drop?

Football is not the number one sport in Wigan; rugby is. Despite Wigan Athletic’s former glories, they still find themselves as number two in the town.

Wigan had a whirlwind of promotions between 2002 and 2005 as they won the League One and finished runners-up in the Championship to gain promotion to the Premier League.

They managed to stay in the Premier League for eight seasons and even finished as high as 10th under Paul Jewell.

However, it was under Roberto Martinez when Wigan had their greatest success, a major trophy. The DW Stadium outfit stunned Manchester City with a header from Ben Watson to claim the F.A Cup in 2012/13.

Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse as Latics suffered two relegations, which saw them drop to League One. However, Wigan bounced back in 2015/16 and won the league in the process. The question remains; will Wigan keep their status in the English Championship?

Wigan are currently 4 points from safety as they sit 23rd on the points table, only ahead of Rotherham United.

It has to be said that Wigan have had a tough run of fixtures in recent weeks as they faced high-flying Derby County, big spenders Aston Villa and table toppers Newcastle United; ultimately losing all three games.

Not that Wigan were expected to be victorious in any of those matches, but they certainly weren’t tipped to lose without scoring a goal or two, though.

They also haven’t scored at DW Stadium since September, an exceedingly worrying fact for any Latics supporter.

The battle to stay in the Championship was expected to be a tough one, and the matter wasn’t made any easier when the hierarchy decided to relieve Gary Caldwell of his duties in late October after a winless run of four games.

The sacking was understandable, but the replacement was perplexing, to say the least. Warren Joyce, former Manchester United under 23s boss, was the man chosen to replace the former Scotland centre-half.

Joyce is a highly rated coach but has little to none experience of being the top manager at a club, let alone in a league as tough as the Championship.

Joyce has one win to date and must build on this if Wigan stands any chance of avoiding the dreaded drop back down to League One, especially as their next game sees them take a trip to the bottom of the league, Rotherham United. The manager must be licking his lips at the prospect of a game where his side can grab maximum points.

However, fans have argued that nothing has changed since the departure of club legend Caldwell – they have every right to feel that way.

The Latics are still in the same predicament that they were in while Caldwell was at the helm. Understandably, things will not change overnight, and it looks likely that Joyce will use the January transfer window to strengthen his side as they fight against relegation.

It is yet to be seen if Joyce will turn to his former employers, Manchester United, to sign players in the January transfer window but one man who is heavily linked with a move to the DW Stadium is Grimsby striker Omar Bogle.

The League Two striker is on the radar of many clubs including Wigan, as he has netted 16 times in just 23 appearances for The Mariners. The question that Wigan fans will be asking is will a player who has never played at a higher than League Two going to save their club?

Wigan should be looking for proven players at this stage in the season that will drag them out of the quandary they find themselves in.

Wigan have already got 13 players who are 24 years old or younger in their squad. The likes of David Perkins, Jordi Gomez, Stephen Warnock and Jussi Jääskeläinen will have to use all their experience to help The Latics avoid the drop back into League One and provide support to the younger members of the squad.

Joyce is yet to find an eleven that suits his style of play, but one thing is for certain that the North-West side looks more potent when Will Grigg is playing.

Grigg has been used sparingly in recent weeks, but with Grigg alongside Le Fondre or Wildschut, Wigan could get themselves out of this dilemma.

With just one more game to go until the Championship has reached the half-way point of the season, The Latics could be in a lot worse position than they are in now, they could be Rotherham for goodness sake!

However, things have to improve quickly if they are to break out of the relegation zone and we all know Wigan are the masters of doing just that.


Personally, I think Wigan will survive if they tighten up the defence, add creativity in the centre of the park and give Will Grigg a run of games. It will go right down to the final day before I think they are safe and try to put football back on the town’s radar.


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