Behind Enemy Lines: Wigan Athletic

MILLWALL are back on their travels again this weekend for the second successive week and it's another trip to the northwest, this time to Wigan.

Victory at Preston last weekend has once again given Millwall hope of a top-six finish.

Millwall play only two of the current top 10 in their final 13 games of the season, suggesting a play-off challenge is very much on.

However, they face a tough challenge against a Wigan side that are in need of three points for very different reasons. They are three points adrift of Stoke City who occupy 21st and the final safety position in the table.

Alex Grace spoke to Wigan fan William Jones this week.

Name: William Jones

Twitter: willjones8210

Why do you support Wigan?

This is a bit of a long story as I am not from Wigan or even from England for that matter.

I suppose the reason I support Wigan is because I admire their fan base. It would be easy to support a nearby club that is more successful or has more history but Wigan fans are proud to be from Wigan, love their town and want it to be well represented.

I identify with that perspective and think it's fantastic.

What's been your favourite season following the Latics?  

Probably the 2015-2016 season when we won League One. That season had plenty of great come-from-behind victories and a fun group of players.

And the worst?

The worst was probably 2016-2017. We just looked absolutely hopeless for most of the year, particularly after sacking Gary Caldwell too soon.

This season is also shaping up poorly but results are turning around a bit lately and we are showing some fight.

It's been a tough campaign for Wigan – why has this been the case?

The main reason is our inability to defend a lead. I did some research and the Latics have gone ahead 23 times this season but after going ahead Wigan have only scored the next goal twice and only five other times has there been no more goals in the game.

So 16 times of the 23 that we have gone ahead we have been pegged back. We saw that at The Den earlier this season.

The January transfer window has come and gone – are you happy with the business done by Wigan?

I didn't expect we would do much business after the money we spent in the summer and we didn't.

That said, Leon Balogun, who we signed on loan from Brighton, looks like a useful, experienced centre-half which is exactly what we need to calm us down at the back.

Paul Cook has been in charge for a good period of time now – is he still the right man for the job?

Paul Cook has struggled this season. I like him personally but I think there comes a time where you have to change for the sake of changing in the hope of turning it around.

That said, I am more hopeful now than I was a few weeks ago that we can get out of the bottom three.

Can Wigan survive the drop and avoid relegation this season?

If I had to guess I would say that we will go down. Five points seems too much to make up on Charlton and Huddersfield.

I have always felt that Stoke will go on a run and get safe but they haven't to this point so they may not.

But we have been playing better the last month or so and our upcoming fixture list is very favourable, still playing nearly all the bottom teams around us, so we will not lack for opportunities.

How have you rated Millwall's season to date?

Millwall have done very well this year. They seem to be well-drilled and know how they want to play which is very much the opposite of Wigan who lack any real identity.

I know you like to say "no one likes us" and for the most part that may be true, but I don't mind Millwall at all and would love to see you make it into the play-offs.

What are your thoughts on Gary Rowett?

Gary Rowett is a good manager and that has been obvious for some time. I would love to have someone like him at Wigan. He gets the best out of his players.

If you could sign two Millwall players, who would they be and why?

No question the first would be Jed Wallace. Our wide players struggle but even if they didn't I would take him. He is a classy player.

After that probably Shaun Hutchinson. He's a good defender, which we have been lacking, though hopefully Balogun can provide something similar.

Will you be at the game?

I will not. Like I said I'm not English and actually live in Arizona. I usually make it over twice a year. I'd love to be there for this one.

What is your predicted Wigan starting XI and formation?

It seems like the formation changes every week but at home we will probably play 4-3-1-2 as we have been lately with Kieffer Moore and the 17-year-old Gelhardt up top.

Jamal Lowe will likely be in behind them, or maybe Anthony Pilkington.

It will be a midfield of Morsy, Evans and Williams, with Pearce, Balogun, Kipre and Byrne across the back.

Finally, a score prediction?

I could see this being another draw. I will go for a 1-1 with Wigan scoring first, because we always score first, and then conceding because we always get pegged back.

Graphic: @ShedCreative