“We’re back and we’re ready for it all over again”
No not Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 general election but Wigan Athletic.
I’ve spent the last few weeks talking about how we very nearly didn’t make it here, but make it we did thanks to the hard work of many.
It’s going to be a unique season for Wigan Athletic, for a club that had never had a points deduction in it’s history prior to 2020 we’ve had to get used to issues off the pitch affecting our league position.
It will be the first time that we’ve ever started a season in a minus state and as such many of the preview pieces written about us have us down as early favourites for relegation to League Two.
Which I think puts too much weight on those eight points we need to make up, eight points need not be terminal.
With a decent start we could be back in the positive points total by the end of August. With 138 points to play for there’s a lot of time to make up what we’ve had taken from us.
I’m not expecting promotion this season, far from it and although there are still areas where we look light in the squad it’s a far better proposition than we imagined at the end of last season.
Our backline looks extremely strong, even with the departure of Jack “I love this club” Whatmough to Preston and having to make do without Jason Kerr until the end of the year.
Midfield looks to be where we look light, this is where the young lads be they on loan or from the academy will be expected to step up.
We’ve spoken about not signing journeymen and denying chances to our young lads well this is their time.
On the wings Steven Humphrey’s and Callum McManaman have looked in good form in pre-season and as Shaun Maloney insinuated last week they’ll be expected to take the burden of the early few weeks of the season until Jonny Smith and Jordan Jones are fit again.
Up front Charlie Wyke looks to have fought his way back in to the side and according to the manager is in some of the best shape of his career.
Wyke’s issues over the last few seasons are visible for everyone but if he can get back to anything like the form he showed in our last League One campaign he’ll be a forward that many sides would be happy to have.
The same can be said for Josh Magennis, the battle hardened Northern Ireland striker has had a stop start career with Latics to date but he impressed Maloney last term and in League One is far more likely to get goals than in the Championship.
Keep him fit and he and Wyke could well fill the gap of Keane’s goals.
At the other end of the pitch Sam Tickle seems to have won the battle for the number one spot.
He’s looked excellent in pre-season and it’ll be another proud day for the Wigan Athletic academy when the spine of the side from goalkeeper to forward is made up of youngsters who have been developed by Wigan Athletic.
I’m not sure what to make of the rest of the division, it feels like some of the stronger sides. Certainly in terms of spending power have been promoted in recent years but that doesn’t really matter this season.
As Maloney has stated survival is the aim this season, after that there is a three year plan in place to return to the Championship.
Doing it organically with youngsters from our academy, a manager who has played for us and understands us alongside an owner born and raised in the town. What more could you want?
This is where we come in, we need to fill those seats home and away. We need to give them our support, not turn on them when we hit a bad run of form. I guarantee if we do that we’ll get it paid back in spades.
It’s the approach to running our football club we’ve wanted for years, we’ve a golden opportunity to make it work now. Let’s not waste it.
I can’t wait.
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