Read manager’s reaction after nine-man Latics lose in the capital.
- “We need to be cuter in certain match situations” – Caldwell.
- Boss feels Latics should have had second-half penalty.
- “We’re fighting not just for this season, but for the future of the club.”
Latics boss Gary Caldwell was left disappointed with the result and a number of crucial turning points in Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Millwall.
The defeat in the capital, which saw Martyn Waghorn and Jason Pearce sent off for the visitors, leaves Latics seven points from safety with three games remaining and Caldwell, who witnessed missed opportunities from Gaetan Bong, Pearce and Marc-Antoine Fortuné prior to Nadjim Abdou’s opener for the hosts, admitted his side needed to show more composure in certain situations.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the result, we came here to win,” Caldwell said. “The players that were left on the pitch at the end, I said I was proud of them because they showed a lot of character in that they still tried to play a passing game, move us up the pitch and they were willing to run forward and create chances even when we had nine men on the pitch.
“Again, I couldn’t ask for more effort or application but we have to be clever, we have to be cute in certain situations but we didn’t deal with those as well as we could.
“When the pressure comes in stadiums like this and the crowd wants to get behind their team then we have to be brave – not in the sense of being willing to fight people – but be brave on the ball and control the game and, at times when the crowd got behind them and their players got up for it, we didn’t do that.
“We controlled the game in the first-half, we had five minutes where they wanted to fight and we got sucked into that. But then we had a great chance with Marco’s header and a couple of opportunities from which we could have done better and that’s something that we have to work on.
“Gaetan had a great opportunity just after that; he was willing to get forward and go on the overlap which we felt would cause them problems but it just lacked that finish and that bit of composure that we need in the box, something that has been a problem all season.
“We’ll work hard on the training field to get that right; for this season and for next.”
Latics had two players sent off and what looked like a good penalty claim for a foul on James McClean turned down whilst Ed Upson was dismissed for the hosts.
“James’ looked a penalty from where I was as the boy has dangled a leg in the area, I don’t know how much contact there was as I haven’t seen it back but I’ve seen them given,” Caldwell explained.
“Waggy’s [sending off] is silly, he’s came on and obviously tried to give something to the team but we have to be a bit cuter than that in games like this; yes, the boy has stamped on him after the tackle but he can’t lash out like that, we can’t argue with that.
“The second one, I don’t know how he can send Jason [Pearce]off; he’s came through and won the ball, yes through the man, but it’s a clean, hard and honest tackle and then he gets hit in the face but he gets sent off out of all of that.
“You need a strong ref in stadiums like this when the crowd gets up and, in that situation, I don’t think we had it.”
Caldwell will now turn his focus to Saturday’s clash with Brighton & Hove Albion at the DW Stadium, his first home game in charge of the club, and he says the players and staff have to continue fighting for the future of the club.
“Every game is big still,” he added. “We’re fighting not just for this season but for the future of this club in every single training session and every single game – those players know we want 100% from every single one of them.
“We’ll recover from this, work hard to be ready for Saturday in front of our home fans and put on a show that hopefully they enjoy and hopefully we get a win.
“We are working hard at this club to improve every single day.”