So, how was your Jim White day? Mine was lovely, thanks. A day trip to Manchester was accompanied by a healthy dose of Roses cricket and topped off by an attempt to prove to child #2 that Nandos isn’t ’all that’. An attempt that probably failed, but hey Andy Liddell loves a trier and all that. I even got back in time to watch an hour, or so, of people, who are old enough to know better, taking the business of buying selling and borrowing football players’ contracts way, way too seriously. It wasn’t the best hour of my day.
Ironically, for a Latics fan on transfer deadline day, I left the house without my wallet. In contrast, and for a change, Mr Whelan didn’t and the balcony at the DW Stadium was busier than the “collect your belongings here” point at Christopher Park.
It’s been a busy summer for Uwe Rosler as he’s looked to patch up a squad depleted by the end of contracts, loans and long term injury. The names Andrew Taylor, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Don Cowie and James Tavernier hardly got the juices flowing but it’s clear that the manager has picked up a couple of good pros with promotion pedigrees and a young lad with a great deal of promise.
Taylor and (not at all confusingly) Taylor-Sinclair were clearly to fill the left-back berth which had largely been vacant for the previous two seasons, with Tavernier providing cover for speech at right-back, but Cowie’s signing was most interesting. Another central midfielder added to a squad of central midfielders suggested the laying of ground for the departure of one of the existing engine room.
We know now that man was James McArthur, so there’s no point in trying to build suspension. That probably suits the older Jimmy Mack to be honest; his time at Latics was very much no fuss, no nonsense. A return of four years’ football and £7m is a good return for the £1m we paid Hamilton and (considering how fickle and divisive Latics can be) the fact that the only person who’s not had James first down on the team sheet for most of those four years was Owen Coyle speaks volumes for the quality of the lad.
Still he’s a Palace player now so it’s time to move on already and wonder how Latics will cope without McArthur and co.
To be honest, the start to the season had me more concerned about the departures of Jordi and Jean. With Maloney (shock, horror) not fully fit and young Callum playing his unique brand of one man football, we’ve had a distinct lack of creativity. The biannual clamour for strikers has been answered with the signings of Oriol Riera and Andy Delort, but it’s the arrival of, long term target, Adam Forshaw that really whets the appetite.
Hailed as the replacement for Jordi by the manager and presumably lined up for an advanced role in his midfield three, Forshaw will be carrying a fair bit of responsibility on his shoulders. As a graduate of Everton’s academy and last year’s League One player of the year things look promising. YouTube makes him look a decent player, but then again, I reckon I could pull together a showreel that would make me look better than…
Maybe not, but you do have to be wary of what you see in those video clips. Especially where strikers are concerned. A two minute clip of goals tends to get fans excited but they don’t show the misses, the lost possession, the not closing down or the chances that didn’t materialise because the player got in the wrong position.
Both Delort and Rierra come with records that suggest they know where the net is. Unfortunately they seem to put the net in different places on the continent and it may prove difficult to carry on their records in England. That said, they’d have to go a long way to be worse than Fortune and Holt have been so far.
Back to the “engine room” and McArthur’s departure made room for two final deadline day moves. As a direct replacement for McArthur, William Kvist looks promising a current Denmark international with approaching 50 caps he looks to have a great deal of experience. Danes haven’t always had the best of times at Latics though Per Frandsen looked to have the experience and nous to get us promoted before suffering a career ending injury whilst Stefan Bidstrup proved himself little more than the Scandinavian Andy Pilling, good luck following that, William.
Last, but no means least, comes Emyr Huws. He’s been at the DW on loan since the start of the season but all I can really say about him I’d that he (probably) has the same barber as Joe Hart. He’s got daft hair either way and has hardly torn up any trees since he’s been here so it was a bit of a surprise to find out we’d taken him on permanently and paid around £3m to boot. It’s a lot to pay for “one for the future” and with competition for places in the Latics midfield looking set to be fierce, he’ll need to pick up performances soon, before the “get Rodger on” mob start on him.
Of course, the real challenge of a recently relegated team is hanging on to your better players and although losing Jim, Jean and Jordi would be a blow to any championship team, players like Ramis, Maloney and McManaman are enough to lend a Premier League flavour to proceedings.
Overall, it’s been an intriguing window. None of our signings really grab the attention, in the way that people like Carson, Holt and Fortune did last season, but with only three regular first teamers leaving the squad (so far) and nine joining the party we look much stronger on, at least, the numbers front with arguably more strength in depth too boot. Whilst there are probably players earmarked to go out on loan, it’s hard to see how they would change the exciting look of a squad with a good mix of potential and experience as well as a nice balance of grit and ability.
Is that enough to gain promotion? Who can tell? Am I feeling better than I did at this stage last season? Yes, but that wouldn’t be too difficult.
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