Steve Bruce, the Wigan Athletic manager, has urged his players to raise their game for the final four matches in order to ensure a good season does not end disappointingly.
For a couple of months the Latics were challenging for a European place but, since mid-January, when they were seventh, they have shown a gradual decline. Although a tough run of fixtures played a part in that, Bruce's side have won only twice since then and have taken just one point from the last four matches.
Wigan are now 11th in the table with 42 points, five behind Tottenham, who are immediately above them. Bruce would love to eclipse the club's best Premier League season, when they finished 10th with 51 points in 2005-6 under Paul Jewell, but he knows to do that they have to finish the campaign strongly.
Their remaining opponents are West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United, Stoke City and Portsmouth, and the Wigan manager expects some positive results after noting performances have tailed off since the club secured their top-flight future at the end of March.
"We have got three out of four [matches against teams] in the bottom half of the division and it is about time we all didn't think we were on our holidays," he said. "We have to make sure the real Wigan turns up for the next month and finish off the season the way we should do.
"We have taken 29 points off the bottom half of the division, which is why we were where we were for four or five months. We did really well the back end of last season so this season has been a continuation of that and my hope is just that we finish it off.
"If we finish anywhere near the top 10 then we can all go away on our holidays saying we've had a really good season by the standards Wigan set themselves."
Bruce acknowledges, for a club the size of Wigan, the real achievement is purely surviving in the Premier League and anything other than that is a bonus. However, after a campaign that briefly flirted with the prospect of a European debut for the Latics, he knows expectations will be greater when August comes around.
"A club like ours has to set a priority of staying in the Premier League," he said. "We are playing in the biggest and best league in the world so to be in there next year for our fifth successive season is a remarkable achievement. We continue to try to punch above our weight but we can still keep improving.
"The club will always have the ambition to try to get bigger and better. You couldn't have said 15 years ago [when Wigan finished fourth from bottom of what is now League Two] that this club would be five years in the Premier League. It is a remarkable story where it has come from and the club will always keep their ambition so long as the chairman [Dave Whelan] is here. He's the one who has put it on the map, financed it and got it to where it is at the moment."Reuse content