Wigan Athletic – 5 ways of ensuring Championship survival

5 – Reconnect with the fanbase

I’ve saved this one till last but you could argue it’s the most important by some distance. If the mood around the club doesn’t change soon we’ll be relegated regardless of how well we follow the previous 4 points. We’ve gone from a club with everyone, owners, manager, players and fans, pulling in the same direction to a disjointed, angry and directionless club destined for problems on and off the pitch.

Before last season there was a lot of talk about the ownership group’s ‘5 year plan’ in which they said they expected us to reach the Championship within that time frame. I don’t think they expected us to get their immediately and as daft as it sounds I think getting promoted has done us more harm than good. They clearly didn’t have the money, or intent, to fund a proper transfer window in the summer and the same has happened this month too.

The main frustration for supporters is that communication with the board has pretty much completely gone. Last year we had regular interviews with Mal Brannigan on Latics TV, several social media interactions with Talal (them stopping isn’t entirely bad though) and a fans forum in November 2021 that allowed positive discourse between fans, staff and board members.

All of that has gone. And with no sign of return.

Add into the mix the 3 late payments of wages, the Leam Richardson new contract announcement smokescreen and then the sacking of him 3 weeks later, the appointment of Kolo Touré ahead of several more esteemed names and you start to see a worrying picture. But all of these worries could be calmed with a bit of communication. A fans forum, and interview or even a statement on the club website. Anything to show they’re trying to reconnect.

The new manager isn’t making too much of an effort to endear himself to supporters either. The pre match clap that Leam Richardson gave supporters lifted the atmosphere no matter what situation we were in and helped get fans on his side. Kolo is yet to do that I believe, apart from a very brief clap pre match against Sheffield United his his first home game. It seems a bit childish to moan about the lack of a clap but you shouldn’t underestimate the effect it has.

It would also help if he stopped making daft comments in his post match interviews but all managers do that in fairness. The things is though, saying things like “If you come to the stadium, you can see the margins are not really that big” are just going to annoy people. It really annoyed me because it’s just not true, and if he genuinely believes that its extremely worrying!

It was always going to be a thankless task following Leam Richardson because nobody is going to have the off pitch rapport with supporters as he did. But to not even attempt to create one, that’s worrying. A lot of criticism is being directed at the on the pitch stuff and rightly so but off the pitch we’ve got things completely wrong this season.

Questions need to be asked and a fans forum would be a good way of allowing that to happen. Criticism directed at the local media is misplaced in my opinion as they’re never going to able to ask the challenging questions that supporters want asking. The best chance is a fans forum or something along those lines – I know one happened in the supporters club a month or so ago but that’s arguably not a fair representation of the average Wigan Athletic fan. It was a good thing to do though, but a lot has changed since then.

I myself have inquired about arranging an honest and open interview with Mal Brannigan that would be published on here, but am awaiting a response.

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