Wigan 0-1 Town
3:00pm Saturday 24th January 2015
Smithies, Smith, Hudson, Lynch, Robinson, Edgar, Coady, Butterfield, Scannell, Wells, Vaughan
This is a big game for both clubs. For Town it's a chance to pull away from the bottom three and push on in our aim to achieve a mid-table, to top half, finish. This is a Wigan team that is struggling and hasn't won at home since August so we've got to be at it right from the off, no excuses. We are usually good at breaking these kind of records where a team hasn't won in X amount of games, so whilst a defeat or draw wouldn't surprise me in the slightest I am going to stay strong and predict a rare away victory for the Terriers! Come on!
Wigan 0 - 2 Town
Know Your Enemy
If you didn't know already, throughout this season, Thrice Champions will be getting the views of opposition fans, bloggers and podcasters so you know the story behind the club they know so much about.
Ahead of tomorrows fixture against Wigan Athletic at the John Smith's, we spoke to Martin Tarbuck who is the editor of Wigan fanzine Mudhutter and a contributor to fans website This Northern Soul.
Here's what he had to say to our questions...
TC: Most pundits and fans expected Wigan to at least be in the play-off mix, are you shocked to find yourselves in the relegation zone in January?
MT: Yes, from taking over last December, our record under Rosler was promotion form plus another FA Cup Wembley trip thrown in. We sold a couple in the summer but also bought quite a few players as well so we were all set for a tilt at going one better after missing out versus QPR in the play offs. And then.....nothing, it's all gone horribly wrong. I can't honestly see a way out of it as it stands.
TC: What would you say has caused Wigan's current predicament? Poor transfer dealings. former managers blunders or the wrong type of players at the club?
MT: The story goes that Rosler's disciplinary regime and constant rotation was rejected almost unanimously by the players who simply didn't play for him and I don't think too many fans were complaining when he got fired in November after an embarrassing Friday night capitulation at Bolton.
Three more key players left from the Premier League era (Gomez, Beausejour & most notably McArthur) although the money was reinvested in the midfield and up front. The two forwards he signed have barely featured and throughout the team we have simply ended up with the worst kind of squad: lazy, overpaid and disinterested.
TC: Malky MacKay seemed an odd choice for Wigan given his recent history. Has he made much of a mark at the club?
MT: It's fair to say he's carried on the work Rosler started this season in taking us down. I didn't want him for the inevitable baggage and fallout it would cause but in theory his track record for getting teams out of the Championship is probably better than say Chris Hughton or Steve Clarke who were also mooted.
Sadly there is a really bad feeling about the whole episode, I just find it completely uncomfortable. I'm not sure he wants to be here, whether that's fear because of the charges hanging over him and he's wary of his image; or maybe even disinterest, as he's taken a job that he might have considered beneath him if Vincent Tan hadn't rifled through his phone and stitched him up.
The one area where we thought he would make a difference as a strong man manager - on the pitch - simply hasn't materialised and we've still not won at home since August. He seems ultra defensive and direct when we do play it out which is a million miles away from what has yielded such success for Wigan Athletic the past ten years.
Nevertheless, I think most fans acknowledge now that he has inherited something of a mess and if he can pull us out of it, then I'm sure he'll win most around. Except those who've stopped coming because having a racist manager is at odds with our reputation as a family club, and there are loads of them.
TC: What would you say your side is lacking and what needs addressing in the transfer window?
MT: Goals, but everyone's looking for a striker I suppose, I think MacKay was pinning a lot on Grant Holt returning. It sounds ridiculous but we need strengthening all over the pitch yet we really shouldn't. The thing is we had a squad of 31 players up until a few weeks ago, many of them with Premier League experience, it's baffling to think that we can't find eleven amongst that capable of winning a few games in the Championship, so it has to come down to attitude.
There's a horrible smell of "fire sale" going around at the minute with the whole squad up for grabs but sadly it is likely to be the talented ones like Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman saying their goodbyes than some of the lesser lights.
So if I was to say just one, we need a leader in midfield as we are completely rudderless. He wasn't a dominant figure on the park but as far as leading by example goes, the heart was ripped out of our team when James McArthur was sold to Crystal Palace on the last deadline day.
TC: How much did the Dave Whelan affair distract from the football and what are your views on Whelan's less than thoughtful words?
MT: We've always known what he's like and parodied him many times at the Mudhutter fanzine. It's a tricky one as we all know that without him we would have probably gone bust or been kicking around the non leagues by now but as age has caught up with him he's become more and more of a liability in terms of what he says to the press.
We've always been proud of our status as a well run club, both in terms of the community and financially and an all-inclusive club with a lot of young season ticket holders and I'm afraid it was all undone during his interviews. I don't believe he's racist, but simply expressed outdated views which have done a lot of irreparable damage to the club both in appointing Malky Mackay and the follow up comments, which were arguably worse. It could have been managed so much better but as a club we've been dragged through the mud and far from people showing sympathy for our current demise, I imagine quite a lot will be pleased to see the back of us.
I'd expect Whelan to be gone from the club within the next year or two, he'll be 80 for one, and it remains to be seen whether his 23 year old grandson who he's put on the board takes over. A sad end to a man who has done amazing things for Wigan, the town and the football club but every bit of it has been completely of his own making.
TC: Which Wigan player should Huddersfield fans worry about?
MT: James McClean. We'd have been relegated already if it wasn't for him. He's the only one out there who is fighting for our cause. If only the others possessed his level of personal pride in their performance we wouldn't be in this mess.
TC: Which Huddersfield player do you think Wigan fans should worry about?
MT: We're the gift that keeps on giving at the back so if someone like James Vaughan is looking to get his goals tally up, I'm sure our back four will oblige.
TC: What is your prediction for Saturday?
MT: We need a win desperately but I can't see where it's coming from, we're dreadful at the back and don't score many goals so it will probably be another 1-1 draw.