Latics

I’m so excited

Jimmy gets all optimistic in his 12th man column this week

Oh my word, how was that for you? There’s no such word as average in the Wigan Athletic dictionary. We go from famine to feast every year. From the garbage of last season, we have apparently turned into a team who would give the Brazil World Cup side of 1970 a run for its’ money.

Bury were simply blown away on Sunday by a fantastic attacking display by a focused and energised Latics side, and it’s getting increasingly difficult not to get too excited about matters if that is setting the benchmark for the rest of the season.

In Paul Cook, we seem to have a manager who has adopted all the positive attributes of our great past managers and very few of the bad traits of some of the terrible ones. He encourages passing of the ball like Martinez and Caldwell did, but also gets his teams attacking at a much higher tempo like Jewell or Bruce used to. And remember that much fabled German pressing which Uwe Rosler used to advocate? Well, we aren’t giving our opponents a second on the ball either!

Of course, dropping down a division and retaining most of that squad is always going to put us in a strong position if we can get their heads right and Cook’s infectious, no-nonsense approach is certainly what the dressing room needed to change the mentality.

Plus, the fact that he has ostracised three players who would walk into any other league one side and still we have a great squad shows that he isn’t going to compromise any fragile egos and points to a strength in depth that is the envy of many.

All we can do now is hope and pray that the next two weeks do not present too much upheaval until the transfer window shuts, and that we only sell the players that we want to.

On that subject, there’s one player in particular whom I think we should all stop mentioning for fear of raising interest in him. He’s scoring goals, appears to be winning his fitness battles and is arguably too good for the Championship let alone League One. If we can somehow keep him all season and free from injury, he will get an uncalculateable number of goals as he has been a real talisman in the team, both the end of last season and moving into this one.

I’m sure we would survive should an offer of silly money come in, given that we have one of the top midfielders in League One in Alex Gilbey, wondering whether he’s run over a black cat to end up on the bench most week. Yet imagining a full season of Nick, er I mean that bloke, running League One defences ragged is enough to put a smile on every Latics’ fans face.

Though we’re only a few games in and of course, to say Oldham hate us would be something of an under-statement. They always seem to find a bit extra in their games against us, all because somebody in 1932 forgot to carry out a full risk assessment when deciding what name to give our lovely football club.

When you look at the paths that the two clubs have followed for the last 20 years it’s hardly surprising that their diehard fans don’t like us. They are in their 21st consecutive season in League One, which must be some kind of record. Give me the famine – and the feast anytime.

Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 18th August 2017

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