Newcastle United welcome Wigan Athletic to St James Park…

Who Manages Them:  

With more caretaker appearances than Groundskeeper Willie, Graham Barrow is Wigan’s John Carver, the perennial coach immune to the whimsical swing of the boardroom axe.

Barrow has been given the poisoned chalice until the end of the season, a season which has always looked like being a losing battle against relegation. This is his third caretaker stint at the club and his second of the season after first Gary Caldwell and then Warren Joyce were sacked by a Wigan board which looks like it is controlled by some big-headed sports retail megalomaniac, or his Grandson, one of the two.

Caldwell took the club to the League One title last season as a young manager with potential and sacking him in October with the club second from bottom was an early press of the panic button, made more unfathomable by the employment of a man with even less experience, Manyoo reserve team boss Warren Joyce. To then sack Joyce four months later and again have no back-up plan is the sort of carnage which would see Joe Kinnear waltzing into town claiming that he had invented Northern Soul and that no one had heard of Rugby League before he told Eddie Waring to get himself a catchphrase.

It is not very often I agree with pencil-nosed Muppet Neil Warnock but he was right when he said Warren Joyce was the wrong man for the job and Wigan were relegated the minute Joyce was employed. On that basis former player, coach and manager Barrow can do no better. Wigan should have stuck with Gary Caldwell, they might still have gone down but they couldn’t have been any worse.

wigan athletic ‘Graham Barrow discusses tactics with Alan Pardew’

Who Have They Signed:  

The Latics have signed a load of Premier League quality in keeper Jussi Jääskeläinen, ex-Blackburn left back Stephen Warnock and ex-Mackem midfielder Jordi Gomez, the only issue being that their quality was ten years ago, Gomez lasted only a couple of months before heading off to Rayo Vallecano, the Spanish equivalent of Wigan.

They took a punt on a couple of young, free ex-Manyoo players as well, once highly-rated Nick Powell and once unknown defender Ryan Tunnicliffe but neither seem to have got much of a game. The only three signings that Wigan have made who are in the team are ex-Burnley keeper Matt Gilks, saddled with trying to make sense of the mess in front of him they call a defence, the superbly named Omar Bogle, a 750k January buy from Grimsby running his backside off up front for no reward and 250K Bournemouth midfielder Shaun MacDonald, the ugly midfielder.

When I say he is ugly I don’t mean any disrespect, as a footballer he’s neat and tidy but as a pin-up he makes the cast of Game of Thrones look like Il Divo. He looks like more like someone who has been shoed to the ground by The Sweeney than a professional footballer. Still, in the 1970’s he would have been a right looker.

wigan athletic‘Shaun MacDonald: Well, hello ladies’

Who Have We Seen Before:  

Gabriel Obertan, another Wigan signing with Premier League experience, though unlike the others he will probably play today.

Eyebrows were raised when our canny Scottish nemesis Alex Ferguson persuaded sycophantic Alan Pardew to part with £2million for the French international, ah I was only kidding, he’s not an international, he’s more Pink Panther than Paul Pogba.

Pardew quickly realised that Obertan was fast and told us all that, because we didn’t know you know, but what we did know was that if an experienced man-manager like Ferguson couldn’t get anything out of the Gallic wing-wizard then Pardew might as well have been trying to teach an Ostrich to fly.

More Franz Carr than Ferrari, Obertan may have rockets in his boots but he’s got unleaded in his head. Fair enough he got down the wing before anyone else, the problem was always that he had no idea what to do once he got there.

Once, just once, for a couple of games he looked like he had something, then he did, a hamstring injury and three months on the sidelines. We paid him off, he went to Anzhi in Russia on a two-year contract, lasted six months and now he’s at Wigan. The Mag earlier this week ran that Obertan may well come back to haunt us. If we can’t mark him out of a game then we deserve to be haunted.

wigan athletic‘Obertan: Prepare to meet your doom’

 Are We Going To Win: 

Given that Wigan are going to get relegated then this seems to be our best chance of getting three points in any of the remaining games this season.

As The Mag has said this week, the Latics don’t score many and always concede – so one goal will probably be enough, it certainly was in the away game in Lancashire, even though we got two goals, one would have been enough. They seem leaderless and resigned to the drop and if all of this is setting off alarm bells in your head then you’d be right, this is exactly the sort of game we have lost this season, exactly the sort of game we have struggled in since 1892. We shouldn’t take Wigan lightly, not with a midfielder called Max Power in their ranks.

For NUFC with most players rested, a couple returning from injury and one or two from a morale-boosting international break then we should have more than enough to move another three points towards the Premier League, but the players and supporters have to earn it.

For a few of our attacking players who have so far flattered to deceive it seems particularly important, the next two games home games should see us with a lot of possession and looking to the likes of Perez, Atsu, Diame and Mitro to show that when NUFC do go into the Premier League, that those players are good enough to play in it. As ever, no pressure. Howay The Lads.

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