Latics in action on Sky Sports Leeds at the weekend.
Firstly, let me congratulate the mighty Leeds United on winning the title and being promoted back to the top flight where they belong. They were only supposed to have been relegated for a season but have been kept in the lower divisions by the Football League chiefs who are afraid of a Leeds United dynasty of success should they return to their rightful place at the top, and their winning of the title inside 15 games is testament to their superiority over us little clubs who have no history, fan base or right to play on the same pitch as the mighty Leeds United and shouldn’t be allowed in this division with our empty stadiums. Congratulations to them.
Now back to Planet Earth and some reality and this should be a pretty fiery affair on Sunday. We are all aware of our poor away form and last weeks defeat to Sheffield United (who are actually top of the table) highlighted the areas we need to work on on our travels, but at home we are unbeaten since February and have put in some real strong performances this season. Last time out against West Brom I wasn’t expecting us to get too much out of the game with them scoring at will almost and us missing a few key players but the performance was superb and not only did we win the game but we managed to keep the league’s best attacking side pretty quiet. A perfect response to the mess at Deepdale, and we will need a performance similar to that on Sunday to get another home win against a Leeds side that in all honesty do look as though they may finally break their hoodoo and at least make the playoffs this season if not gain promotion automatically.
I know very little about Bielsa but he seems to have got them playing some good football but they have struggled of late losing to Blackburn in their last away game and wining just 1 of their last 3 home games against struggling Ipswich and they needed a blatant handball to snatch a draw against Nottingham Forest last weekend so they may not be coming into this one full of confidence whereas despite our away form we should be feeling pretty confident based on our home form.
We have injury concerns over Nick Powell and Gary Roberts but Darron Gibson and Lee Evans are available after missing the game at Bramall Lane through suspension and ineligibility. Powell will be a big loss for this game from an attacking perspective whereas the work rate of Gary Roberts could help to frustrate the visitors as he did so well against The Baggies. Gibson will more than likely take a bench spot with Evans coming straight back in, but I would be tempted to start with Gibson if he can find his form from the Sheffield Wednesday game again because that day he dominated the midfield and looked to be a very astute signing.
“Already we’ve seen the challenges and the intensity the Championship throws at you, and Sunday will be no different. I’ve managed to watch Leeds quite a few times this year against different opposition and the intensity they play at and with is very good, so for our lads I’m sure they’ll look forward to it and it’ll be a good test for them.”
Thank You Dave
This game takes on another significance of course with the news that the sale of the club has now been completed and this will be the last game under the stewardship of the Whelan Family. Personally I’m hoping for another speech similar to the one when he resigned, funnily enough against Leeds, when he seemed to upset the visitors when he mentioned the last time they won The FA Cup.
I don’t think we as fans can ever thank Dave Whelan enough for what he has done for this club in his time in charge. From what could have been our last season in existence had we not found an investor, to the top flight of English football, an FA Cup win and a European tour! It really is the stuff that dreams are made of.
At the Supporters Club 40 years Dinner in the summer, Brenda Spencer told the story of how he bought the club and it turns out that he was only actually approached by Stan Jackson (father of Jonathan Jackson) to become the shirt sponsor for the following season as we needed a big investor but instead he opted to buy the club and the rest is very much history. Wigan Athletic Football Club (and the town of Wigan for that matter) owes Dave Whelan so much and I hope that everyone in the home stands on Sunday obliges in the 23rd minute applause to say a massive thanks to the man that gave us so much. Thank you ‘Uncle Dave’. Thank you.