I don’t often turn my attention to the Premier League. Where have Bolton gone? Trevor Sinclair’s retired? Why isn’t that Elton Welsby? Sad news all. I jest, of course, I keep up a bit, but don’t get too involved.
However, I keep hearing about Wigan’s amazing end of season runs that lead them, regularly, to safety. I figured that it would be an urban legend. How best to challenge the legend? I figured it might be illustrated with a bit of a running 6-game form table for their seasons in the top flight, so here’s a few graphs depicting Wigan’s seasons with a little explanation with each. I wonder if they do improve every Spring after floundering in the Autumn and Winter or whether it is just an artists impression imprinted more strongly by events in the recent past. Let’s find out.
Year One – 2005/06
Getting promoted brings momentum with it, so its no surprise to see Latics starting their first season like a train – the highlight being a six game winning run (five clean sheets, too) spanning all of October, leaving them second after 11 games. It was, pretty much, all downhill from there, but getting 25 points on the board so early meant the pressure was off for the second half of the season, and there was no need for any late-season redemption – indeed, they won only one of the last eight games, against Aston Villa.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 0/10.
Year Two – 2006/07
Following the season of consolidation, the following year was different. The form was still patchy (Autumn brought 3 wins followed by 8 defeats) but a run of 11 points in 6 games in February/March took them to 33 points and it tit-for-tat from there, safety only arriving, with the jump from 18th to 17th on the final day with a victory at Sheffield Utd. Again, the spikes in form show a team with ability, but the long dips indicate maybe a lack of strength in depth – as the previous season, the worst time came around the middle of the season.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 3/10.
Year Three – 2007/08
Another run of 8 straight defeats (that’s three in three seasons – depressing stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree) saw Wigan 19th early in December, only getting into double figures of points in their 17th game. Battling out of that slump, though, results improved
consistently. It was a matter of the defence sorting out – after keeping two clean sheets (in a row – games 2 and 3) in the first half of the season, Athletic kept 10 in the second half; it brought 3 0-0s, but the other seven, obviously, were won. Its probably the first ‘escape’ after something about the team changed, but it wasn’t overly dramatic – after a short dip to 18th in January, they were above the line looking down afterwards.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 5/10.
Year Four – 2008/09
At the turn of 2009, Wigan were 7th in the Premier League. No miracle to see here, folks. It was all structured around a 10-game, 21 point run in October/November time which lifted the Latics from 18th to 7th and allowed, straight afterwards, an 8 game run without a win to be cushioned out. A little less flippantly, this was a continuation of the sturdier squad of the previous season (three goalless draws in a row in Spring) which seems a far cry from the flamboyant Wigan of today.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 2/10.
Year Five – 2009/10
This was a different Wigan again. Never once in the bottom three all season, but never once, equally, after game twelve, above 13th. That meant a season of bobbing around lower mid-table looking a bit threatened but always capable of pulling enough points out to avoid the drop (being Stoke, basically). Indeed, this is probably the most stable season of Wigan’s Premier League career so far, I’d say it was something to build on.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 1/10.
Year Six – 2010/11
Well, well, well. This is something of an end-of-season fry-up, isn’t it? 32 games played, 31 points, and bottom to start the run, then 11 points from 6 games (by far the best run of the season – 8 from 6 otherwise) to close out on 42 points, leaping up three spots on the last day of the season and securing safety by the skin of their teeth. Athletic were consistently poor throughout the opening months, showing no signs of improvement despite occasional victories (five before March, and two of those against Wolves). This was, I think its fair to say, where the Wigan Legend began, and I can’t argue with that form late on in the season.
Il Miracolo della Primavera Ratio – 9/10.
Year Seven – 2011/12
Miracolo! Miracolo! Indeedy, folks. This is, obviously, where the talk comes from. A seemingly adrift Wigan, listlessly bobbing around the bottom of the league suddenly spark into life at the end of March, winning eight games in fourteen, where they’d previously won three in twenty-four – winning seven of their last nine games…truly a turn of fortunes. This one was all, I recall, attributed to Roberto Martinez’s switch to 3-5-2; I can’t disagree with that theory, and there’s some decent outfits in their victims too (the win at Arsenal was an amazing watch, I recall). Really was a complete volte-face in fortunes; the second such in two years.