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McCarthy: Wigan Will See It As a Game They Can Win
Monday, 3rd Apr 2017 19:34

Blues boss Mick McCarthy says second-bottom Wigan will come to Portman Road on Tuesday night believing it’s a game they can win as they look to pull off an unlikely escape from relegation.

Saturday’s visitors Birmingham, like Town six points from the bottom three, might have been happy enough with a draw as they try to put some distance between themselves and the lower reaches of the table, but a point will be of little help to the Latics, who are seven points from safety.

“I think they need three points, they probably see it as a game they can win as well, bearing in mind how we played in the second half on Saturday, the atmosphere at the ground,” McCarthy said.

“They’ll be saying ‘Can we keep it tight, can we score a goal, they’ll turn against them’. All the usual nonsense and commentaries and cliches that are said.

“But unfortunately it’s true, that’s the case. If they come here and do that it will be a really tough evening.

“It’s up to us, it’s up to me and the players to perform, get the crowd on our side and get a good result.”

Will it suit the Blues if it is a more open game than Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Gianfranco Zola's Midlanders?

“Of course,” he said. “Wigan played well at Newcastle on Saturday. I watched that game yesterday and I just wonder whether it was a nothing to lose game at Newcastle, they weren’t expected to win going up there, certainly.

“But they played almost with gay abandon and played really well and caused Newcastle problems.

“And Newcastle sort of nicked it in the end. Matt Ritchie hit a shot, it was deflected onto the bar and it came back and he headed it in and they won 2-1.

“But I think the feeling is that they were pretty fortunate. They certainly played well on Saturday.”

McCarthy says failing to win on Saturday hasn’t really added too much further pressure, the Blues moved another point away from the danger zone, although he wants that gap increased from its current six points as soon as is possible.

“Personally I’m not comfortable with it at all,” he admitted. “But whatever position we were in, I’d want to win this game tomorrow night irrespective of where we are in the league, whether we’re near the bottom, near the top or in the middle or safe, relatively comfortable and not needing to win or lose or anything.

“It’s not really added any more pressure to me because I never come in here thinking ‘I’m not really bothered if we win tomorrow’.”

Having seen Town out of the bottom three and to safety in his first season in charge at Portman Road, McCarthy knows all too well that seemingly doomed clubs can pull unexpected results out of the bag.

“The ones who are in it are fighting for their lives and they find some form at this stage, I’ve always seen that,” he reflected. “It’s quite evident every season somebody finds a bit of form and they get a result from somewhere.

“They still might end up going down but they’ll find a result and a performance. And [Wigan] nearly did on Saturday.”

He added: “Coventry have just won the CheckatradeTrophy at Wembley and they’re going to get relegated [from League One]. That sums it up for me.

“You can never judge it, you can’t judge by form, by the teams - Crystal Palace went to Chelsea and beat them. That’s why you all work in football and report on it and all the fans come because they love it. They prefer it when they’re winning, of course. But they do love an upset.”

He says the situation the Blues are in at present is very similar to the one they found themselves in at this stage of that first season at Portman Road, 2012/13.

“It’s exactly the same,” he said. “When we drew against Millwall at Easter, all the others won and we were three points above the relegation zone and we played Leicester on the following Saturday and we beat them 1-0.

“So it’s pretty much the same, we’re just outside it at this stage. Certainly not the same as when I came, the season didn’t start like that, but at this stage it’s pretty much the same.”

Looking back to the 3-2 win at the DW Stadium in December, he said: “We started very well, we had Dozzer and Jonny Williams on the pitch.

“They equalised from a freekick. We started the second half and we looked nowhere near, so I had to change it. And I think Didzy came on and scored the winner, him and Pits were on. It ebbed and flowed, it was a strange game, but it was a welcome three points.”

Wigan’s manager that day was Warren Joyce, who had only taken over in November, but he was sacked last month with Graham Barrow now the Latics’ interim boss.

Does McCarthy feel the quick-fire dismissal was harsh on the former Manchester United reserves boss? “I’m going to say yes because I’m a manager and it wasn’t easy, the job he took on, the job he inherited.

“It was always going to be tough and I think they must know that and then I guess they think [a change can turn form around].

“And even more so now we’ve seen Leicester, I think that’s always going to produce a reaction when a manager’s struggling. Rather than give him a bit of support, it’s always going to be ‘Cut the ties, get another one in’ and hope that they have the reaction that Leicester have had.”

McCarthy, whose Town side are without a win in eight but have lost just one in 10, moved away from his 3-5-2 system for Saturday’s match, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond, but says that decision related to the way Birmingham lined up and that may not be the formation he uses against Wigan.

“That was a one-off game, horses for courses,” he added. “They had one up top and I didn’t want to have three at the back.

“I think these will pretty much have 3-5-2. You’ll get the team tomorrow and you’ll see.”

McCarthy may well return to the three-man backline he has used for most of 2017 and has options.

Skipper Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra will almost certainly start but Steven Taylor is back from his hamstring problem and could come into the reckoning, as might Tommy Smith, who was left out at the weekend having only returned from international duty with New Zealand on Friday afternoon.

Jonas Knudsen is another alternative for the back three but could continue at left wing-back with Myles Kenlock McCarthy’s other choice. Jordan Spence seems likely to keep his place on the right.

In midfield, with Cole Skuse absent due to concussion, Toumani Diagouraga may well take up the holding role with McCarthy having hinted that Jonathan Douglas may not be up to two games in four days having played little first team football prior to his surprise recall against Birmingham.

Emyr Huws will return in one of the other central roles with Grant Ward and Kevin Bru options for the other.

Tom Lawrence probably won’t be ready to start after his groin problem and so seems likely to be on the bench along with Jonny Williams, whose last first-team game was at Wigan in December.

"David McGoldrick, who has gone 15 games without a goal since scoring the late winner against the Latics at the DW Stadium, will continue up front with Dominic Samuel perhaps handed his first Blues start after impressing his manager in training and during his brief cameo as a sub on Saturday having overcome his broken toe.

Wigan go into the game short of strikers with Omar Bogle, who joined them from Grimsby in January, out with a thigh injury which could sideline him for the rest of the season.

Northern Ireland international frontman Will Grigg is out with a knee injury and could also miss the remainder of the campaign. Andy Kellett, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Donervon Daniels and Nick Powell are also long-term absentees. Tuesday’s game is being beamed back to Wigan fans at the DW Stadium.

Latics interim manager Barrow believes his side will still be in with a chance of survival if they beat the Blues.

“If we could manage to beat them, they would be absolutely still be in the mix,” he told Wigan Today. “We’re well aware Ipswich are having a rough time, the locals aren’t happy.

“If we can start the game well, it does take a very strong player to be able to come out and play in those circumstances.

“We have to test their character as much as we possibly can. If you can take the crowd out of the equation down there, you’re well on the way towards a positive result.

“I thought we managed to silence the crowd very well at Newcastle on Saturday. If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselve and try to take it to the last game. If we can do that, we’re more than capable of dealing with that pressure.”

He says his side will need to replicate their display at Newcastle: “We need the same sort of performance and effort as Saturday. Usually when you get the performances consistently the results will then turn.

“It’s too easy to say that if we get a good performance at Ipswich we’ll probably win the game. It doesn’t work like that — because we have to make it happen."

In December, McGoldrick netted an 88th minute winner as the Blues beat Wigan Athletic 3-2 at the DW Stadium in what was a rollercoaster game.

Brett Pitman put Town in front from the penalty spot in the seventh minute before Yanic Wildschut scored two goals either side of the break to give the Latics the lead. But Pitman’s second of the game and then sub McGoldrick’s header won the points for the Blues.

The teams last met on a snowy afternoon at Portman Road in January 2015 with the Latics on their way down to League One when the game ended in a drab 0-0 draw.

"Jay Tabb had the best chance for the Blues in the first half, while McGoldrick and sub Sears had opportunities after the break, but overall a goalless draw was a fair result.

Overall, Town have beaten the Latics four times (three in the league), have lost six times (five) and the teams have drawn once in the league and one League Cup tie.

Emyr Huws was with the Latics between the summers of 2014 and 2016, initially on loan, but made only 15 starts and one sub appearance without scoring.

Blues keeper Bialkowski had a trial with Wigan as a teenager prior to joining Southampton, while Town fitness coach Andy Liddell was a Latics player between 1998 and 2004 and is their record league goalscorer.

Former Town defender Alex Bruce joined Wigan on loan from Hull in January but is yet to make his debut. Bruce, 32, made 123 starts and four sub appearances for Town in four years from August 2006.

Ex-Blues loanee Ryan Tunnicliffe also joined the Latics on loan in January and has made four starts and two sub appearances. The 23-year-old was with the Blues in the first half of the 2013/14 season making 24 starts and five games from the bench.

Tuesday’s referee is Andy Davies from Hampshire, who has shown 122 yellow cards and four red in 33 games so far this season.

His most recent Town match was the 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield in January in which he booked Berra, Bru, Lawrence, Douglas, Paul Digby and no home players.

Davies has only taken charge of two other Town matches, both of which ended goalless and both of which saw the opposition reduced to 10 men.

He refereed the 0-0 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in September last year, in which he showed eight yellow cards, two of them and then a red to Seagulls midfielder Dale Stephens. Chambers, Douglas, Lawrence and Josh Emmanuel were the Town players cautioned.

Prior to that, Davies’s only other Blues game was the 0-0 home draw with Huddersfield last October when he red-carded Terriers striker James Vaughan for a second bookable offence in the final minute.

Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Emmanuel, Spence, Berra, T Smith, Taylor, Digby, Huws, Diagouraga, Douglas, Bru, Williams, Ward, Rowe, McGoldrick, Lawrence, Sears, Pitman, Samuel, Moore.

Photo: TWTD

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ASAx added 19:37 - Apr 3
If only Mick would see it as a game we could win.

Tufty added 19:44 - Apr 3
Saw wigan v Derby earlier on this season wigan played quite well and were unlucky
Too right they will think they can win the game

AYACCA added 19:50 - Apr 3
Pma positive mental attitude

martin587 added 19:51 - Apr 3
Mick,if you put out the right team and employ the correct tactics aiming to win and not settle for a draw,then there should be nothing to worry about.Simples.!🤔

christiand added 20:01 - Apr 3
Exactly Martin587. MM worries too much what the other team can do instead of trusting his own players to get the job done. Surely winning 3 points compared to 1 would be significantly better for our position and status in the Championship? Just hope he goes in the summer, really turning the club on itself with his inflammatory comments about the fans. Then wonders why the fans are p*ssed?!

Westy added 20:07 - Apr 3
That's right Mick. Do what you usually do - extol the virtues of the opposition putting doubt in your own players' minds that they can win the game.

TimmyH added 20:11 - Apr 3
Talking up the last but one team in the division - says it all!, anybody else notice Rotherham have lost every game away this season but one, I wonder who that was against?

Lost tomorrow Mick and I wouldn't even bother getting in the dug out for the next home game.

Lightningboy added 20:15 - Apr 3
Lovely to hear him getting the excuses in already - hardly inspirational,is it?

barrystedmunds added 20:18 - Apr 3
I see it as a game Wigan can win!

muccletonjoe added 20:34 - Apr 3
McCarthy needs to stop scratching around portman road for excuses and scapegoats. Just puck a team that looks like it can win a game. Get the 3 points that may well take us to safety and start tidying up his desk. There is no way this club can now move forward with him as manager. We need someone who can first and foremost unify the club , the players and supporters. We then need a major injection of transfer funds. Hopefully with the right players brought in. Optimism might be in the air next august.

BluedanW added 21:02 - Apr 3
1 win in 14 games, outplayed home and away by lincoln.
Too right they think they can win. So do I. Probably their best chance of a win left this season

Gatehouse added 21:03 - Apr 3
Of course Wigan will see it as a game they can win they know how you will set us up, how all you'll hope for is to play for a draw 0-0 is a perfect result for you. Here's a thought pick an attacking team go for it give them something to worry about. You may just find that a bit of flair and positive approach might equal positive support

Cloddyseedbed added 21:07 - Apr 3
barrystedmunds , me too I also see it as a game Wigan can win when I read what MM has been saying. It's Wigan 2nd from bottom, but unfortunately I know they have more fire in their bellies than our manager. MM's lost his fight and it's all the fans fault! Wigan played well last time I watched them on sky and rattled Newcastle too. I just hope Wigan don't score 1st.

rendoblue added 21:07 - Apr 3
Funny that I see it as a game Wigan could win as we'd struggle to beat an egg at the moment.

itfchorry added 21:19 - Apr 3




leahcar88 added 21:44 - Apr 3
Only read the headline, nothing else....


norfolkbluey added 22:11 - Apr 3
Nice to see MM lining up some excuses before the match. If we lose against a team with virtually no first choice forwards available, surely MM will not find he has a job by Saturday.
This must be a game we will /must win. The chances of losing is out of the question!!!!! Isn't it?

RoyalAscotBlue added 22:53 - Apr 3
I'm absolutely certain that Wigan will be thinking they can win tomorrow. And it could be just what they need to start the ball rolling on their great escape. Everybody involved with their team will be experiencing feelings of hope and positivity.

I doubt that anybody involved with our team will be feeling the same... especially if they have the misfortune of suffering one of Mick's uplifting talks. "They're a great side, don't be fooled by their league position. Keep it tight. Scrap. Fight. Don't take any risks, don't try anything clever. If in doubt give it a clout. Stay back. Don't risk playing it forward if you can play it back, or sideways, just try and keep possession. Defend, defend, defend! You never know we could nick one, but if you can't win make sure you don't lose. No such thing as a bad point. Proper blokes. Different class. Yorkshire!"

ITFCGloryDays added 23:05 - Apr 3
I'm sorry, '...the way we played in the second half, and the atmosphere in the ground'?, it IS the way that we as a club have played through most of this season. I think suitably the fans have every right to vent their feelings.
It's like anything in life, you pay for something to be provided something, at a football match hopefully entertaining football, football that warrants the money you've spent.
And yes, Wigan will win, in mind of the mood of MM's attitude, which I'm sure will also be reflected by who he chooses to play in his line up.

JohnyJohnson added 23:21 - Apr 3
I'm nervous

GiveusaWave added 01:35 - Apr 4
Don't be nervous JohnyJohnson

We will almost certainly play for the point and might actually win it by doing that. I can see Wigan really going gung-ho for the win but that will leave space on the counter that we can exploit. We also have Bart.

We don't win many games, but don't lose many either. This has got 0-0 or a sneaky 1-0 written all over it.

shakytown added 02:47 - Apr 4
Go on your pathetic git play for a draw. Proper football is a draw. Sod off you loser.

harlingblue added 02:48 - Apr 4
Mick says 'this is a game that we certainly should win'. I'm picking a team and formation to put them to the sword.
Bart has strict instructions to pass the ball to a Town player instead of booting it to the opposition centre backs, this should mean that he has less saves to make and his kit will not need washing, a big saving there.
I will use Chambers, Berra and Smith as centre backs, with one marking their main striker, the other two either covering or pressuring an attacker.
Spence and Knudsen to play as wing backs as they have a good affinity with Ward and Sears playing wide attack.
In the centre midfield I will surprise all you non believers be using box to box player Huws alongside McGoldrick who can create but is still awaiting his shooting boots. Samuel will get his first start as he looks fast and comfortable on the ball with an eye for goal.
It is time for our defence to man up to their responsibilities and not rely on me picking a team to give them an easy game. Time for me to man up and to pick a team and style of play to provide entertainment for our loyal supporters.

bobble added 04:57 - Apr 4
my 10 year olds team would think they can win against micks not so super blues.

therein61 added 07:06 - Apr 4
He really knows how to gee up the players great man management!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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