What a difference a week makes, or rather in Wigan Athletic’s case the difference eight days can make.
Prior to the end of July it had been a quiet old window for Paul Cook and didn’t social media let us know. Some of the angst shown by Latics fans over what was being portrayed as an unsuccessful transfer window and as a result pre-season was quite something to behold.
As July was set to draw to a close Wigan Athletic had lost a number of first team players – either due to the end of loan deals or players moving on at the end of their contracts.
The only arrivals at this point had been free agents David Marshall and Lewis Macleod both fine players but not really anything to get the Latics faithful enthused about the coming season. Antonee Robinson had re-joined from Everton, a fine capture at the price quoted but other than that it had all been quiet.
Deals for Jordan Hugill and Jamal Lowe had seemingly fallen through and with the season a few days away Latics had a lot of work to do to convince some Latics fans that it wasn’t going to be another season of struggle for the club.
All of that changed last Wednesday when Joe Williams a hard tackling midfielder from Everton arrived on a three year contract. Swiftly followed by the number one target of the close season Jamal Lowe, Latics had held firm on their valuation of the player and as is always the case the player ended up forcing the issue.
As Portsmouth decided they didn’t want an un-happy player on their hands Latics got their man, not for the £3 million quoted by Portsmouth but significantly less. The difference a couple of signings can make to the outlook on our season really is amazing, instantly overnight there was a positive feel to the chat surrounding the club and for some more excitable elements of our fan base promotion was now a formality.
No doubt that that spring in the step transferred itself to the Cardiff game, Latics went in to the game as under dogs with all the pre match focus being on Neil Warnock and his recently relegated Premier League side. But as shown time and time again under Paul Cook, Latics are adept at upsetting the odds.
Despite falling behind and going in to half-time 1-0 down Latics had been the better side in that first half. The front three of Josh Windass, Joe Garner and Michael Jacobs had caused Cardiff’s defence no end of problems. With a better referee Latics should have been at least level and Cardiff down to ten men following an horrific challenge from Joe Ralls (who went on to score Cardiff’s first).
This would have been the ideal motivation for Cook and the lads at half time and Latics started the second half like they ended the first. Josh Windass was awarded a penalty but hit the post, Josh who’s last penalty for the club was an effort that was last seen flying out of the New Den in to the Bermondsey night must have wondered what he had done wrong to have such horrific luck.
Other players would have faltered after that penalty miss Windass meanwhile had different ideas, his free kick ricocheted to Michael Jacobs who got Latics back on level terms and Windass himself was on the scoreboard with a first rate goal of his own.
Even a Cardiff equaliser from the pantomime villain himself Omar Bogle wasn’t enough to keep Latics down. Eight minutes later Lee Evans picked up the ball on the edge of the area before unleashing a rocket of a shot towards the top corner.
Latics had completely turned the game around in some fine style as well – as Latics held on to see out the match and earn an invaluable three points the latest spin of the transfer wheel saw prolific Barnsley and former Rotherham and Ipswich striker Kieffer Moore have a medical at the DW.
Once again a price cheaper than had been mooted Moore finally completed his move to Wigan on Monday evening and he really is something different from what we have elsewhere in the squad. A target man with pace and an excellent goal scoring record over recent seasons.
If he can hit the ground running who knows what we could achieve this season. Tom Pearce, a highly rated left-back from Ormskirk via Everton and Leeds looks to be the next arrival for Latics as the squad looks to be competitive all over the pitch with two players competing for every position.
Things seem to be falling in to place and as the transfer window draws to a close this week the new owners alongside Darren Royle and Jonathan Jackson deserve all of the plaudits heading their way. They have backed the manager completely in this window with an emphasis on young talent that can develop the club but equally make an impact immediately.
So it’s off to Preston next – we’re due a result at Deepdale after our last two visits that poor performance in 2016 was eclipsed by the drubbing we received last season but hopefully buoyed by Saturday’s performance we can go to Deepdale in great voice and put those demons to bed.
It’s been a fascinating few weeks and as Latics move in to a new era under new ownership who knows where we’re heading – but it’s going to be exciting.