Latics: Let's roll up our sleeves

Wigan's worrying decline is put into perspective by a past master of the relegation fight

It has not been the best of weeks for Paul Jewell. The Wigan Athletic manager has been laid low with flu. It seems he is suffering from a bad side, too, judging by his team's recent run of results in the Premiership.

Six straight defeats have brought cause for concern about Wigan's survival in English football's top division. Since winning 2-0 at West Ham United on 6 December and drawing 1-1 at Middlesbrough three days later, Jewell's men have been on a sharp decline from the comfort of middle- class territory in the Premiership to the very brink of the potential outcasts in the relegation zone.

Another defeat this afternoon, when Everton make the short trip to the JJB Stadium, would equal the club's record losing run of League games, set in 1993, when the Latics dropped into England's fourth flight. Including a 2-1 loss at Portsmouth in the FA Cup, the streak already stands at seven in all competitions. Not that Jewell is getting his tracksuit in a twist - in public, at any rate.

Like any football manager when the pressure is on, his rallying call is along the lines of that popularised by Corporal Jones of the Warminster-on-Sea Home Guard. The trouble is, having gathered so much downward momentum, Wigan and their manager are fast approaching the time to panic.

"We've had a sticky run, no doubt about it," Jewell said. "But the performances in many of those games haven't reflected the scoreline. Yes, we have been leaking silly goals, but what people must not forget is that we've played Chelsea twice, Arsenal and Man United, and a team on top form in Blackburn.

"I'm never one to make excuses - that's not my style - but when a team like Wigan lose key performers like Arjan De Zeeuw, Henri Camara and Paul Scharner for extended periods, it is bound to have an effect. Rather than complain about it, we just need to roll up our sleeves and try even harder."

Jewell, who has so far only managed to sign two players on loan to the end of the season, concedes these are "tough times", but that is when he feels people show their true colours. "I can understand the supporters' fears, but we're not a selling club, we're an up-and-coming club. All of a sudden one or two things have not gone our way and that has led to a lot of negativity. But it's not as bad as everybody thinks.

"I'm trying to get players in from Europe, England, everywhere, but it's difficult selling Wigan when you're fourth bottom and with the lowest crowds. So this is a very difficult situation for us, and that's why on and off the pitch we need people to stand up and be counted.

"When you have a fall-out with your missus you don't go out and get divorced straightaway. You stick together through the tough times, and that's why people need to take a reality check."

Jewell has been this way before, of course. The threat of relegation hovered over his first season as a manager in the Premiership, with Bradford City in 1999-2000. On that occasion, his Bantams had sufficient fight to survive, courtesy of a last-day win against Liverpool at Valley Parade. This time his Latics have 16 games left in which to salvage themselves and keep Wigan in top-flight business for a third season.

"The manager knows what it takes to dig in for a challenge," the winger Kevin Kilbane said. "We have the right man in charge and now it's up to the players to show what we can do. We have 48 points to play for, so there's an awfully long way to go yet.

"Although we've not had the best of months, now is the time to forget what's gone before, to roll up our sleeves and just get on with the job ahead of us. I'm convinced - as are the rest of the lads - that there is sufficient quality and character in the dressing room to pull through this."

A point or three today would get the recovery process under way, against the club with whom Kilbane started the season. A goal from the old Evertonian would help, too. The Republic of Ireland international has yet to hit the target for Wigan following his transfer-deadline day move last August.

Jewell's side have failed to score in four of their last six Premiership matches and have leaked 15 goals at the other end - four of them at Stamford Bridge eight days ago, when Chris Kirkland did not have the best of afternoons between the posts.

"It hits hard, but you've got to get on with it," the Wigan goalkeeper said. "You need to be as confident as you can. Without a doubt, there's resilience in the dressing room. We're not looking at just staying up; we're trying to push up the League."

That remains Jewell's objective, although a transfer request by Lee McCulloch has hardly helped the Wigan cause. Despite attempts by Walter Smith to lure the Scotland winger to Ibrox, McCulloch is likely to be in the Wigan team today. "He's every chance of playing," Jewell said. "People can have their differences with the club or with me; I don't really care. He is paid by us to play for us."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power