“A Constant Fight” – Wigan Athletic Boss Reflects On Sliding Doors Moment

Wigan Athletic manager Shaun Maloney feels that he should be talking about a potential play-off push after what he describes as a ‘crazy season’.

After suffering relegation from the Championship last season, the Latics began life in League One on minus eight points after two separate deductions regarding payments for player wages. They were immediately installed as one of the favourites to drop into the fourth tier, a division they have not occupied since the early 1980s.

They began to pull clear of the bottom four in October, but the threat of relegation has been looming all season. However, Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leyton Orient maintained their mid-table position and they are now 13 points off the bottom four.

That should be enough to see them safe, although Maloney is well aware that he could be having a different conversation had things turned out differently last summer. They currently sit on 47 points, meaning their eight lost points would have seen them move up to 10th, level on points with Lincoln City.

The Imps’ recent form has seen them enter the play-off race, culminating in an impressive 5-1 win over Barnsley on Saturday. As a result, they are now six points off sixth-placed Stevenage with nine games remaining. It could have been a similar situation for Wigan, a fact that the manager was keen to point out ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Wycombe Wanderers:

“It’s been such a crazy season,” said the 41-year-old, via Wigan Today. “Right now, I should be sitting here and talking about how we can hunt down Stevenage and Oxford, and break into the play-offs.

“But in reality, it just feels like a constant fight to get as far away from the bottom four as possible, when the level of the team is better than that.

“Even with all the young players we’re using, we should be thinking about how we can get into that play-off picture.

“And I think that’s something I’ve struggled with this season.

“Sometimes I’ve got it right and sometimes I’ve got it wrong, and it’s just made for such a unique season, and consistency has proved to be an inevitable consequence of that.

“It’s also possibly where we are as a football club. We’ve got kids who are in their first full seasons in the first team, and I can understand why sometimes it’s not as easy as just being more consistent.”

Writer’s View

It must be frustrating for Shaun Maloney to have performed such an admirable job and have nothing to show for his efforts. However, this season was never about that. It was about steadying the ship and providing a platform to build on in future seasons.

A good transfer window whilst having given the young members of the squad a full season under their belts will stand them in good stead next season to push for a top six finish. Right now though, it is about finishing as high up the table and continue their recent good run of form which has seen them lose just once in their last five outings.

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