After a season that started of with plenty of promise and even a brief flirtation with the playoff places, Wigan’s return to the Championship has descended into chaos.
Having won four of their first ten league games, Wigan have managed to only match that tally in their next 27 league outings, and find themselves outside the relegation on goal difference alone following Tuesday night’s defeat at Blackburn, coupled with Rotherham’s late win at QPR on Wednesday.
The fact is though, even in that promising early start to the season, Wigan were failing to take opportunities to pick up points that would have been priceless in their current predicament, and that is a trend that has continued throughout the season.
Just five games into the campaign Wigan travelled to a QPR side that had lost their opening four games, including shipping seven at West Brom, and suffered a lacklustre 1-0 defeat to Steve McLaren’s side.
Not long after, Preston, who were winless in ten, welcomed Wigan to Deepdale and proceeded to put four unanswered past Paul Cook’s men. It was also Wigan who handed Ipswich just their second win, and first at Portman Road, all season in mid-December.
By the time Wigan arrived at an injury-ravaged and bang out of form Blackburn on Tuesday, there was a sense of now or never for Wigan to end a six-game wait for a win, and pick up their first win on the road since August. Instead, it was their League One title rivals from last campaign who ran out 3-0 winners thanks to a Danny Graham double and a late Bradley Dack tap in.
All three goals came courtesy of three big defensive errors from three different Wigan defenders: Reece James conceded a penalty; Chey Dunkley miscued a long clearance from Rovers goalkeeper David Raya to let Graham in, before Jonas Olsson’s weak backpass left ‘keeper Jamie Jones at the mercy of Dack for the attacker’s first goal in six to end Rovers run of seven without a win.
Quite simply, Wigan have become the slump-busters of the Championship.
What is just as concerning is that with Rovers’ reputation for late collapses this season and the makeshift defence that saw two full backs and an EFL debutant in Tyler Magloire making up Rovers’ central defensive three, Wigan barely made them sweat in the final stages, right now there seems to be no fight in this side.
Had the Latics picked up even just a handful of points from these fixtures the picture could have been so different, but there is now huge pressure on Saturday’s meeting at home to local rivals and fellow strugglers Bolton. Lose that, and a prospect of a fifth consecutive change of division between the Championship and League One for Wigan becomes a huge possibility.