Coppering up for a diamond

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The rumours just won’t go away that Sunderland are after our prized centre forward. So long as I get copyright on the “Will Grigg’s on Wear, our fans are terrified” punchline, Mr Kendrick. In fact, it’s a shame he’s not being linked with Fleetwood, as “Will Grigg’s on Wyre” works much better. See, you have to laugh, otherwise you’ll take to social media, aghast with anger, waving flaming pitchforks.

Players come and players go but I do hope we can keep hold of Will, and that Paul Cook comes good with his promise to give him more starts, once the creative triumvirate that surround him are back to full health. However, maybe that is perhaps a sentimental view, and maybe Joe Garner has been somewhat maligned for the heinous crime of not being Will Grigg. If that’s the case, then what can I say, I’m a sentimental old fool!

We are Wigan Athletic, and Will Grigg, like millions or maybe billions of others didn’t first kick a football as a child, dreaming of playing for Wigan Athletic. Yet, Will Grigg, also like hundreds of other professional footballers, will retire one day, so glad that they did, as it gave them moments that they couldn’t ever have dreamed of.

For that reason, I hope we can keep hold of him as long as possible so that he remain synonymous with the club. It’s not the easiest of tasks for the club to perform, but every player we sign should be able to look back at their time at Wigan Athletic as the pinnacle of their career. That’s why Will Grigg is loved and Grant Holt was loathed.

Football is a national sport, a global sport. Hundreds of millions if not billions of kids around the world play the game, and dream of growing up to be a footballer. Most of them dream of becoming a footballer in this country, as our leagues are the most competitive and famous in the world. Oh yes and they are awash with money, that bit helps too.

It compares favourably to another sport in the town which for all the attention it is given locally, is barely taken seriously apart from a handful of places and external competition for players simply isn’t there. If you want to be the best sportsperson, you have to play the biggest and best sports. The constant comparisons that rugby league players are all local lads are ridiculous. Where else are they going to come from?

Anyway, little Wigan Athletic, just like every single other football club,  compete with them at this time of year to bring players here from across the land who will improve our squad. Some of them do exactly that, others don’t and get shipped out. For the ones that do, well we want to keep them, make them better players and turn them into legends who help us win trophies. Or if funds require it, sell them on at a big profit at some point in the future, where everyone’s a winner.

Nobody would deny that Sunderland are a bigger club than Latics, but it would not necessarily be a progressive move. I don’t think anyone begrudged Max Power his move (another player who will leave a long legacy due to his attitude and spirit) as he wasn’t really a first choice player but the omission of Grigg continues to baffle.

Yet taking out the emotion of it, Joe Garner does have the better pedigree of the two at Championship level. Perhaps if he wasn’t playing the part of the pantomime baddie for keeping Grigg out of the team, the fans would really take to him. He’s tough, he’s physical and he has shown on occasions to be quite accurate in front of goal, including a pinpoint dig into that Villa defenders rib cage the other week.

Does it just come down to pragmatism versus sentiment then? Cook seems to have adopted a more direct approach in some games to combat superior opposition and Garner plays the lone front man role better? On this point, I’d still argue we have been better when taking it to teams with patient attacking build up, but what do I know?

I will happily get behind whichever eleven players take to the field in every game, including the industrious Joe Garner and regardless of who leaves or stays. Yet, the sentimentalist in me thinks about all those kids (and grown ups) with “Grigg 9” on the back of their Latics shirts and hopes he will be back in his very own shirt soon, banging in goals for us during the rest of the season.  He’s OUR centre forward and should be on the field not trudging down the touchline. It’s going to be a nervous week or so.

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