Great, we’ve finally got one of those players we can argue about which position they are best in and what tactics we should play to accommodate him. Thing is though, despite being a reasonably talented and tenacious footballer, Andreas isn’t quite good enough to start building a team around. From the moment he missed that chance on the opening day of the season, you’d be excused for thinking that it wasn’t going to work out for the Swede, but he knuckled down and dragged himself back into contention for a first team place. The great pity is that the opportunities he got were mainly alongside Jason Roberts, when (as I’m sure Spurs would agree) a partnership with Camara would be more dangerous. There’s no doubting that Johansson has been an important squad player this season, he has probably got it in him to be more than that but he may not get too many chances to prove it.
The man who was the final piece in the promotion jigsaw has seemed a little on the fringes at times this season. To the other extent there have been games (notably those where he has worn the Captain’s armband) where he has seemed twice as wide and four times as tall than he did last season. His landmark goals against Sunderland and Arsenal will ensure the Latics’ history books remember him. Overall the team has been (if anything a little too) reliant on his strength and power and Jason has earned his summer break. Of course he’s entering that trial of the modern footballer, the last year of his contract and in keeping with tradition is now in negotiations with the club. Whilst it would be good to see him sign on, it would be equally understandable if he wanted to run his contract out and take a bumper signing on fee. His next contract might not be his last, but it might be his last chance to make some money.
It seems that you aren’t allowed to exist in the Prem without an African footballer and their reputation for petulance and disappearing acts. Camara may be a big star back in Senegal, but he joined Wigan with the wrong kind of reputation, and he’s lived up to the latter as much as the former. His sojourn in Paris following the African Cup of Nations made him no friends in Wigan, with every man and his dog predicting his downfall, but we had a cup final to be humiliated in so he managed to get back into the side to stay. To be fair, we’ve had more than our money’s worth when Henri’s been here and if his finishing were just that little bit sharper then we would probably be buying our Euro rail tickets for August, then again he probably wouldn’t be with us if that were true.
He seemed a panic buy when he came to the club and if we’re truthful then he still does. There was no way that he was ever going to break the Roberts/Camara strike force and he’s not really the type of striker that you throw on to make a late impact. For a combination of reasons Johansson has pushed his was ahead of Connolly in the selection stakes. If Jewell meets his target of bringing in two strikers (without anyone leaving) then it will probably be goodbye to the striker who was once a 25 goal a season man in the Dutch league.
Soon after Mellor signed, I predicted that we’d got a new Simon Haworth on our hands. Lo and behold, the loanee then managed an almost perfect precis of Bambi’s time in Wigan. Impressed early on, then fans decide that he’s lazy before disappearing to Merseyside. The Boro game showed what Neil was capable of, but he struggle to meet the early expectations that he’d created. Injury will have played a part in that but his history (on loan at West Ham?) suggests that there’s more to it than that. If stories can be believed then there’s every chance that Neil will have to retire because of the injuries that he came to Latics to get over, which at such an early age is a pity.
So there you have it, going on for 30 players, each of whom played some part in making Wigan Athletic the “Story of the Season” in terms of the Premier League. It’s the way of the world that some will be remembered more easily than others, and no doubt others will be remembered less fondly than if they had stuck around for a bit longer. Either way only time will tell if this set of players are ever given the status of those other ground-breakers some 28 years back.
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