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You could forgive any Latics fans doing Dry January for reaching for a celebratory tipple an hour early on January 31st after what was an almost flawless transfer window but let’s first of all say – Nick Powell: WHAT A GUY!!!

I don’t know everything about Nick Powell and some of what I do know isn’t relevant so perhaps the best way to put it, is that he is not a conventional footballer. By that I mean his mentality, character and approach to the game as much as his genius like qualities on the field. And in this day and age, when you’ve got players like Riyad Mahrez throwing tantrums over in the East Midlands because he can’t get a move, that is remarkably refreshing.

Imagine if you had all the bright lights at a young age, had some issues and had to move around a bit, injury troubles and are finally having a season where you are enjoying your football,playing every week and winning regularly at a club where you feel settled. Why on earth would you want to move? Money? Oh yes there’s money but footballers are well paid enough anyway, even at our level unless they are craving more supercars, mansions and offshore tax funds.

Nick Powell, it strikes me, prefers the home life, spending time with his mates and family, turning up on a Saturday, doing his stuff and then switching off again. The signings Paul Cook has made haven’t been bad but his greatest achievement this season is getting such a great response from existing players who perhaps might have looked to move on given the turmoil of last year. Grigg, Morsy, Burn, Byrne, Jacobs, the list goes on.

It speaks volumes that when he walked into the club, he recognised that here was a lad with superb natural talent, who perhaps just needed an arm around him and to be managed correctly. That’s the reason Nick Powell didn’t leave on January 31st, not money.

Of course, it is also a brave move by the club to retain him given the size of some of the purported cheques being waved in front of them but we are at a critical stage of the season with an exciting few months left and we are going for trophies. Yes, those shiny things which define a player’s career – not playing for a team who are desperately trying to finish 16th in a higher league so that they can rake in another £100m of cash.

 I always knew I was going to run out of words quickly when I decided to show a bit of love for Nick Powell but let’s not overlook the rest. Jamie Walker and James Vaughan haven’t really played, but look the right pedigree, both for now and the direction the club is headed. Devante Cole has had “mixed” reviews shall we say, from Bradford and Fleetwood fans. From my perspective, watching him earlier this season, the polite description would be that he looks a bit raw.


The extension and return of two great lads in Shaun MacDonald and Jordan Flores is great to see even if they will have little immediate impact due to injury. So all is good in the world of Latics, with a massive game in the cup to come and a hefty backlog of league fixtures queued. Let us hope that we can return to the business of winning football matches on Saturday and re-assert our dominance at the top of the table.

Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 2nd February 2018

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