WIGAN (A); THE PREVIEW

14/04/19

A 5,300-strong canary army travels north-west to seek 3 vital promotion points, what awaits them?Tom Parsley spoke with Alan from Wigan podcast "The Pie At Night" to find out...

Tom - No win in 3 for Wigan after that 7 goal basement-bothering thriller against Bolton last month, what mood do we find you in as we set off at dawn this morning?

Alan - Me, I'm fairly level. I'm reasonably confident we'll fall over the line safely and am more worried about next season. Evidence suggest I'm very much in the minority, there's a fair amount of turmoil angst and finger pointing going on.

What worries you most about next season and how far back did the problems start?

Most visibly it was about a third of the way in when we go stuffed by Preston and then lost our first choice front 4 within a short space of time. Being fair, any club would struggle to handle that sort of loss, but for me, the real issue was that we hadn't prepared for the possibility of having to win games without Nick Powell in the side.

He's head and shoulders above a lot of the division and if, as seems likely, he doesn't renew his contract for next season, he'll leave a massive gap to match the one the sale of Will Grigg left in January. Starting a season with, at best, a questionable attacking line up is probably my biggest fear for next year.

That and the question marks over our manager's ability at this level, but that's a different story...

Many had question marks over our manager this time last season. He has proved every doubter wrong and the patient believers right (they are insufferable with pride currently). Is there no chance you could have a stronger season with more experience under his belt? Our squad wasn't looking champions elect in August either...

But was that because he had new ideas that people were struggling to adapt to?

Yes and no, he didn't invent possession football, but the tedium of the tempo and lack of cutting edge were the biggest fears heading into 18/19; we were too easy to stop. But this season only 6 defeats suggest that halting NCFC is a tad trickier this term. What is the recipe for Wigan to get a result on Sunday, what needs to go right?

We need to throw caution to the wind. People talk about a lack of confidence in our players, but what I see is a team playing with fear of losing.

Our time in the premier league has given us a fairly unique understanding of relegation battles and more often than not, you don't survive them by trying to not lose games. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but the best way to win a game is to set out trying to win it.

Have you caught many of the NCFC games of late? I mean, we are on the telly every week nowadays, but is there a player or two you fear causing you problems?

To be honest, I've not watched a lot of games that haven't featured Latics this year.

Fair enough! What's the normal away contingent at your place then, does our 5,300 yellow wall raise any eyebrows or is that fairly typical what with lots of Championship clubs only having short journeys to the DW?

We've had a few full away ends this year, but travelling from Norwich on a Sunday morning must be particularly challenging. I remember being impressed when we played you in 2013 after our relegation from the top flight. A full away end, seemingly all in the new shirt was some effort.

Who should we fear today, we are looking to wrap up promotion in the next 6 days (feels good writing that), who is most likely to spoil our party?

The aforementioned Nick Powell is the key threat. If he decides he's going to be on his game then you'll struggle to control him.

You'll do well to keep an eye on Chelsea loanee Reece James - he'll probably be available again next summer and could easily do a job right up to the top 6 in the prem. At 19, he's built like a tank and a class act to boot.

Okay, what's your prediction for the game and final score?

The first 20 minutes will be fairly dull, Latics will have a reasonable part of the game, without looking really threatening.

We'll score in the second twenty minutes.

Norwich will have the better of the second half but not really look like scoring until our keeper will throw one in his own net.

Then, in the 93rd minute, Bryan Gunn will make a substitute appearance, going on a mazy 30 yard run before spanking the ball in the top left corner. Or something.

Wigan 1 - 2 Norwich.

Knowing what sort of shape Gunn (Sr) is in nowadays, that would be worth the season review DVD price on its own. I think the yellow wall will prevent a dull first 20 minutes, but overall can see the game going one of two ways. Early goal for Nodge and it will be a long Sunday afternoon for your chaps, ending with 4 or 5 goals for the title-chasers. If you can keep it within a goal by mid way through the second half, our minds will undoubtedly turn to the Reading suckerpunch in midweek, and things will get nervy. I'm plumping for the former, though, and foolishly going to declare in writing a 5-1 away win.

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10 minutes of drama that encapsulated the life of a football fan. Agony, relief, ecstasy, frustration and ultimately pride. So close to being perfect, but ultimately one more step towards the most joyful of promotions. Andrew Lawn and Jon Punt on the words.

Slowly, slowly City creep towards the finishing line. Another valuable point, that could have been more and could easily have been less, ensures we continue to inch our way to the Premier League. Jon Punt joined the early-rising hordes for the long trek north.