The Journey Back
It’s been the ‘perfect’ season for Wigan said David Sharpe, after the 4-0 win at Fleetwood Town on Saturday. The victory confirmed promotion and a return to the Championship for the Latics, who are three points clear at the top of League One with three games to play.
It’s not easy picking yourself up after a relegation and fighting for promotion. A quick look at Sunderland’s current position will show you that – the Black Cats have been relegated twice in two seasons and sit rock bottom in the Championship. That shows how much of a wonderful job Paul Cook has done to get the players’ morale up, bringing in new recruits and getting the team to gel.
It had been common for me to see the chairman over the summer and it made me feel like a player again as I asked a lot of questions about his vision and his plans for achieving the goals.
He made it clear that Wigan would be up for it from the opening day of the season. The hunger to be promoted was there and they were out of the blocks with three straight wins. The attitude has been all about having a go and taking the game to the opponents, no matter who they were. That philosophy helped Wigan take the scalps of Bournemouth and West Ham in the FA Cup, as well as the newly crowned Premier League champions Man City. Only five teams have beaten pep’s City this season in all competitions; Liverpool, Man Utd, Shakhtar Donetsk, Basel and the Tics.
“The players deserve to get 100 points this season with the type of football we’ve played all season,” said Sharpe. “That is the aim now, we’ve achieved the first goal and now we want to get to that 100-point mark if we can and then win the league.”
Wigan need two wins and a draw to reach 100 points, and then the attention will turn to summer preparations ahead of the new Championship season. Getting back to the Premier League is the next goal, and even though the Championship is more competitive than ever, if anyone knows about back-to-back promotion it is Wigan.
In 2002 Wigan finished 10th in League One. The following season they won the league and were promoted to the Championship, where they finished 7th, just missing out on a spot in the playoffs. The season after that they did reach the Premier League after finishing 2nd in the table.
Wigan have scored more goals and conceded fewer goals than every other team in the league this season. Four players – Dan Burn, Nathan Byrne, Nick Powell and Will Grigg – were all named in the PFA League One Team of the Year too, capping off a great year. The record speaks for itself and Wigan have been the best team in the league. Let’s just see how far they can go next season, and if I see Mr Sharpe again this summer I will be asking about his plans again.