Some things are sure in life, death, taxes and Wigan Athletic escaping the relegation zone this time of the season.
The last three seasons Wigan have escaped relegation under the affable Roberto Martinez against all odds.
Could they do it again this season?
This season looks to be repeating that pattern. On Sunday Wigan defeated Newcastle 2-1 at the DW Stadium with a 90th minute Arouna Kone goal. Prior to the goal it seemed that Wigan would be five points away from safety, albeit with a game in hand.
It seemed a repeat of their usual escape antics wouldn’t be on the cards. However, that winning goal from Kone has changed everything. The Latics are now within touching distance of safety once again.
Wigan must be infuriating to watch at times. They are fantastic one week and abysmal the next week. It is this inconsistency that has led the Latics to slip into the relegation zone again this season.
On their day they can play some of the best football in the top flight. Roberto Martinez has instilled his philosophy of passing, attacking football into the team and has to his credit refused to abandon his football ideas, even with Wigan staring down the barrel of the drop.
The Latics performance probably merited a victory against Newcastle, but I don’t think it was one of their better displays of the season.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is a highly-rated young manager. The Spaniard was one of the men responsible for changing the style of play currently seen at Swansea. His work with Swansea was what earned him the move to the top flight with Wigan.
Against the odds he has created a team that can play decent football on a shoestring budget, just like he did at Swansea. Some people say how can he be so highly-rated when Wigan are in a relegation fight?
He is so highly-rated because Wigan has a ridiculous budget compared to a lot of their peers in the Premier League. Wigan probably has the smallest resources available in the top flight.
Wigan on their budget shouldn’t have a right to be in the Premier League, but every season Martinez keeps the team in the top flight playing his own brand of football.
Martinez is the favourite to take the reins at Everton this summer, if Toffee’s boss David Moyes moves on. The Spaniard has already turned down Aston Villa and Liverpool in past summers.
Martinez may just be tired of fighting relegation and this could be the right time to move on to pastures new.
One of Wigan’s biggest problems is that their town is traditionally a rugby town. Football has had to fight hard to compete against rugby in the town. Wigan Athletics’ rise to football prominence has only been relatively recent and arguably rugby is still considered the first choice sport in the town.
Another problem for the football club is the amount of clubs in close vicinity to Athletic. Wigan has to compete against the likes of the Manchester clubs, Everton and Liverpool for fans.
That’s not even factoring in the other clubs in Lancashire. This has led to low attendances amongst the home fans, although when the bigger boys come to the DW Stadium the attendance figures tend to rise.
Low attendance figures at the DW Stadium are likely to have an effect on the money coming into the club. This means that the club can’t afford to bring in better players and pay big wages.
For a club the size of Wigan they have done fantastically well to stay in the Premier League for the last eight years. I just bet that fans of the club wish that they could start their seasons like they usually finish them.
If they could find consistent in their performances then they would be in the top half of the table competing for European places. They have proven down the years that they can take on the big boys and win.
Prior to the Newcastle game I have to admit that I thought that Wigan could finally fall through the trap door this season. However, the last past couple of seasons have shown that you can never write Wigan off.
Wigan have given themselves a chance of surviving in the top flight and that’s all the fans could ask for. Wigan can pull off the great escape yet again, whether their boss will be there with them remains to be seen.
Can Wigan complete yet another great escape this season?