What's going right?
We're not playing that badly but we're not winning games. The last few weeks we've had a horrendous injury crisis with anything up to five centre halves out, bit of a problem when you play three at the back. That's going to affect any team let alone perennial Premier League paupers like Wigan Athletic. It has, however given a few fringe players the opportunity to get a bit of game time and almost all have shone more than we anticipated. Ronnie Stam, the flying Dutchman with an alice band, Dave Jones and Adrian Lopez (before he got injured) have all impressed since they've been given a settled run in the team.
We can take a lot of heart from only losing 1-0 to Arsenal the other day due to a couple of ropey penalty decisions and more performances like that and the points will start to flow again.
A leaky defence, misfiring forwards, dodgy refereeing decisions, failure to take chances and kill off games, the usual contract issues with players, the three at the back formation getting emulated and found out to a certain extent, a humiliating League cup exit to Bradford, moaning amongst fans that it's yet another season bumping along the bottom. In some senses it never changes, we've just got to hope for yet another miraculous upturn in form to pull us out of the mire. Yet again.
Got the right manager?
As ever, yes. There are still grumbles about him from some sections of our fanbase. "He promised us top ten this season". Well, no he didn't - he probably said it was an aspiration but in an interview on another day he probably said the aim was to stay in the division. No manager comes out and says "We'll finish bottom" when asked the question of where they think their team will finish this season do they?
I share the fans' frustrations a little bit in this sense, after the way we ended last season, we perhaps felt we could do a bit more this year and fighting relegation year on year is morale sapping. But sometimes we have to acknowledge that by even keeping us in this league Roberto Martinez is working miracles and just hope that the upsurge in form comes in the New Year. Because if it doesn't we're doomed - again!
James McCarthy is playing just a little bit too well for my liking and the big clubs may start to hover in January or at the end of the season. He's not exactly getting stacks of goals but watching him up close is a joy for his work ethic and attitude and his midfield partnership with his almost namesake and X Factor winner James McArthur is the critical backbone to our team.
Who would you like to sell in January?
Mauro Boselli. Still. £6m for an Argentinian who never plays is a real wallet thinner for the likes of us. We all make mistakes and this has been our biggest one to date. He was given a rare start a few weeks ago at Norwich and didn't look miles off the pace but wasn't pulling up any trees either. There is a suggestion that he could still be the answer judging by the number of ball which goes flying across the face of the box unchallenged but as he's done nothing after three years, it may be best to cut our losses and sell off this particularly expensive slab of Fray Bentos. Although with Arouna Kone out of form and buggering off to the African Nations Cup for a month we're going to need another forward.
Who do you want to sign?
It seems we already have two players coming in. Roger Espinoza, Honduran international. We should move Wigan Athletic to Tegucigalpa the way things are going. We've only heard good words about Roger the lodger so far, that's he's a high energy, combative midfielder who gives his all with every performance; exactly what you need for a struggling team. They said that about Hendry "the crab" Thomas though. If he is that sort of players, he will need to be made aware that he will get sent off if he even farts in the direction of an opposition player when wearing the shirt of Wigan Athletic, mind you.
We are being continually linked with a loan move for 18 year old Manchester United starlet, Angelo Henriquez who is a Chilean centre forward. Oh so that's why we rolled over 5-0 in August!! Seriously, we need him and he looks to have a good pedigree albeit he's a wee baby at 18 but we need some kind of impetus up front. As you can tell, I don't particularly like us being in debt to other clubs in this respect even though Manchester United have been good to us in the past with Tom Cleverley. He's clearly surplus to requirements given United's embarrassment of striking riches but there's a touch of the Oliver Twist's about it, in the same way Chelsea have a full team of players out on loan. I'd love to see an overhaul in football which forces bigger clubs to have smaller squads - as the way it stands we're supposed to be eternally grateful for being a feeder club because the top half a dozen clubs hoard players they don't need, send them out on loan and discard the bulk of them a few years later. Not aimed at United in particular that little rant just a general frustration with modern football.
Aside from that, and on the basis that's our two loan signings done for the season we desperately need some pace down the wings, sadly lacking since the departure of Victor Moses with diddy Albert Crusat and Arsenal loanee Ryo Miyachi perennially injured (another loan signing from a bigger club who he's probably surplus to requirements at!) We're often very slow to get in the opponents half. We also need cover for Jean Beausejour who has great technical ability but has been woeful recently and judging from his physique looks like he's been waving the red card in Bem Brazil a little too often for the waiter to bring extra meat over.
Best chant so far?
All I can offer up is this clip of Wigan yoof singing a Gangnam style tribute to Jordi Gomez at Newcastle the game after he got a stunning hat trick against Reading.
No I've no idea either but I'd best give them some credit for doing something original that isn't set to the ubiquitous Sloop John B dirge.
Best opposition player / team you've seen this season?
He's hardly unknown but Marouane Fellaini, when he wasn't sticking his lengthy elbows in Wigan player's faces was an absolute collossus for Everton when they played at ours, a giant of a man in all senses. The news that he's not playing on Boxing Day at Goodison following his ludicrous set-to with Ryan Shawcross gives us a small crumb of hope.
Teamwise you've got to give West Brom and Norwich credit for "doing a Wigan" and giving the big boys a bloody nose and it's time to enviously admit that Swansea's dynasty of sublime attacking flair has a lot more to it than what Roberto Martinez started off down there.
Biggest **** of the season:
As ever, the biggest **** of the season is whoever reffed us last, each one striving to be even more incompetent than his predecessor in seeking more ingenious ways to penalise the little club who they all want to get rid of. Let's face it, make a bad call against Wigan Athletic and it's quickly glossed over. Do the same against one of the Big Four and it's bye bye cup finals and World Cup opportunities and hello League two.
So let's say Jon Moss, the ref for the Arsenal game. Whereas the key decisions weren't outrageously bad, they were those close calls that never seem to fall in our favour. Walcott takes a tumble after little or no contact - soft penalty - which Alan Hansen almost seems to endorse as Theo "being professional" that night on Match of the Day. Great message for the kids that Al! Would it have been given at the other end, I doubt it? We soon found out as two Arsenal players in the space of two minutes put their arms in the way of two goalbound shots. If you're going to give soft penalties give them to both teams. The same ref also got confused and thought he was officiating a rugby match by refusing to let Franco Di Santo on the pitch for five minutes after he had been treated for an injury. The buggers are inventing new rules now just for Wigan Athletic and putting players in the sin bin!! I know I'm bleating, and all our fans bleat and our manager bleats but it's beyond a joke, a joke that ceased to be funny a long time ago and costs us at least 10-12 points a season.
To try and add something factual, I saw a stat the other day which said Wigan Athletic have conceded 14 penalties since the start of last season, more than any other club. Now is that because we're just silly and naive or maybe a dirty club or is it maybe because refs take less time to make their mind up and simply give the decision because it's "Only little Wigan and no-one cares". I know we don't have exclusivity in this sphere (witness City's late winner versus Reading yesterday) and we might bleat continually like a field of under-nourished lambs but this is not football on a level playing field I'm afraid and nothing is being done about it. We get a little bit of sympathy, a red card rescinded after the event in some cases, which is f*ck all use by that point and then get told to get on with it, that these things even themselves out over the season. Well, we've been waiting eight years for it mate.
End of season prediction:
We'll be in the bottom three on the last day of the season again. But not necessarily all day....