That time of the year already?

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So that ‘s it. Before we know it, the time for experimenting has ended and it ‘s down to business on Saturday as the Latics bandwagon rolls south to Birmingham for the clash with Aston Villa.

So what have we learned from the pre-season campaign? Well, mostly that Northern Rail is still as incompetent as ever, but also that we ‘re in for some big changes in the forthcoming season. The smooth passing game Bobby ‘s got us playing is quite tantalising in many respects, but there are still a few creases that need to be ironed out, as exhibited in no small part on Saturday.

Do we need to be passing the ball around in our penalty area? Apart from that, I ‘m all for embracing this new continental style if it keeps us in the Premier League. As the bloke on the radio the other night said, this fancy Spanish style will mean nothing if it condemns us to relegation.

But let ‘s not look on the negative side of things. Unlike Chris Hutchings, you get the feeling Roberto is here for the long term, or at least more than ten matches. He ‘s got a bit more experience and pedigree, and there ‘s no doubt he is a massively popular figure at the club, the equivalent of Alan Shearer returning to manage Newcastle – the return of the folk hero.

When Steve Bruce departed for Sunderland, there ‘s no other man I would have wanted to take over the reins at Latics. Towards the end of the previous season, things had become stale and one had the nagging feeling Big Stevie was in his final days as Latics manager. Our European challenge petered out disappointingly as our depleted squad struggled to find form.

To achieve European football, we need a team that will play right up until the last game of the season, not just give up when relegation is avoided. It ‘s something that slightly irks me about the club: do just enough then move onto bigger and better things at other clubs.

It ‘s a frustration, but a very shrewd technique developed by our very own Alan Sugar, Mr. Dave Whelan. If we’re totally honest, it has proved relatively effective so far (at least for the last two seasons), and I’m looking forward to seeing how a Latics side minus Antonia Valencia and Lee Cattermole fares in the coming weeks and months. Let ‘s just try and keep hold of our players this Christmas, eh?

Dan, Jesus Was A Wiganer

Image used with absolutely no permission from Manchester Evening News.

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