Manager delivers upbeat message
Paul Dickov is looking for Latics to kick start their season tomorrow at crisis-club Portsmouth as they pay their first visit to Fratton Park for over 15 years.
Latics’ manager is aware that the start of the season, in which his side has picked one point from a possible nine, isn’t good enough.
He said: “Nobody knows more than me that we need to start getting points on the board, but we are only three games into the season.
“We have spoken to the boys at length this week about going out and playing again with confidence.
“I believe in the players we have and they don’t turn into bad ones overnight.
“And you have to remember that one win can shoot you up the table seven or eight places and I maintain you cannot judge the league until you have played 10 or 12 games.”
Dickov believes the second half against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, in which they conceded four goals, “knocked the stuffing out of them.”
He continued: “They showed in that game in the first half how good they can be and we have to instil that confidence back into them.
“We want them to go out and play with freedom, work hard and play with enthusiasm which I am confident we will do at Portsmouth.
“And once we get that first win, I am sure you will see the players relax and play the football we know they can do.”
Dickov says it is important the players don’t forget the positive way they played pre-season and also in the first half against Sheffield Wednesday when they established a 2-0 advantage.
He continued: “When things aren’t going well, you cannot let it knock the stuffing out of you.
“You have to continue to do the right things and we will be going to Portsmouth with a positive attitude.”
There is likely to be a change of system tomorrow with Latics likely to revert to the tried and trusted 4-4-2 as Dickov admitted playing with Robbie Simpson as a lone striker didn’t work out against Stevenage.
Dickov had worked in training at getting the wide players and midfield men forward to support Simpson believing that system offered them more offensive options.
He said: “We had worked on it during the week leading up to Stevenage and also pre-season.
“We have Carl Winchester, Dean Furman and Youssouf M’Changama in the middle and wanted two of them supporting Robbie with the two wide players also joining in.
“Sometimes you don’t if these things will work until you try them. We had done it in training, but the players have to do it on matchday.”
Latics last played at Portsmouth in 1996/97 when they lost 1-0 in the campaign when they were relegated from the second tier of English football.
They last won at Fratton Park in 1990/91 when they recorded a 4-1 triumph in their promotion campaign back to the top flight for the first time in 68 years.
Dickov is anticipating a difficult match, even though Pompey are in administration and their future remains under a dark cloud.
Pompey have a patched-up side but their fans have stuck behind them and they had a 17,703 crowd for their first home league game.
Dickov said: “Whatever team they have, and whatever league you are in, the fans will back them 100-per-cent.
“Gerry (Taggert) and I were at Leicester City when they went into administration and know how tough it can be, but on the other hand it brings people closer together and we won promotion.
“I think a lot of that was due to backs to the wall, tin hats and the like.
“I am expecting a tough opening 20 minutes at Portsmouth when they will be firing on all cylinders so we have to start the game well and not to give them a sniff and silence the crowd.
“As much as they have their problems, they have a lot of good, experienced players like Paul Connolly, Izale McLeod, Luke Rodgers and Brian Howard.
“I always enjoyed playing at Portsmouth and I want my players to embrace the occasion - some won’t have ever played in front of such a large crowd - and go out and enjoy playing football.”