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Let’s Wait and See Before the Panic Sets In - Wigan Athletic Pre-Season Report
Friday, 29th Jul 2016 16:00 by HarryFromBath

In the ninth of a series of pre-season reports, HarryfromBath gauges the pre-season mood at the newly promoted Latics under Gary Caldwell by delving into their forums. Reports on Derby, Burton and Aston Villa will be on the site on Sunday with the rest of the teams in the division covered between now and the start of the season.

“I hope I am proved wrong but I see little sign of an organised team at the moment with any pride or will to win”, “We always have meltdowns. Even when we won the League One title last season there were meltdowns. It wouldn’t be the Latics without them”, “This season is going to be very tough.”

Having bounced straight back into the Championship, many fans are nervous about the quality of the squad. “August will be vital. It’s almost the opposite to last season. We had time to recover from a slow start due to the lack of good League One teams. We won’t get that time in the Championship.”

Many accept that it will take time to get up to speed in this division. “I trust the manager and I am certain that we will comfortably avoid relegation, however badly we may start”, “Time will tell, but much of the season will be about Gary’s ability to make the team greater than the sum of its parts.”

Gary Caldwell

“Gary deserves massive praise for what he achieved last season, his first in management. He has been bold and brave, and he has led the club superbly.” The 34-year-old former Latics defender was given the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Year award by the LMA for winning promotion last season.

“Caldwell has built a good team and fostered great team spirit. He has achieved what was expected and improved throughout the season but he has plenty of room for development. He never seems satisfied and always seems to want more from his team, which is always an excellent trait to see.”

Shopping on a Budget

“We have made some good signings this window having to get the cheque book out. I am all for paying for quality but if we can get it for free, bring it on”, “Nick Powell would have cost a seven-figure sum if he wasn’t out of contract, so we have done smart business rather than waste a fee.”

Powell has been the most eye-catching arrival at Wigan this summer, the 22-year-old playmaker leaving Old Trafford to sign a three-year contract. “A great player who did well for the majority of his time here but his attitude at times was shocking. It will be a big gamble taking him back.”

“It's an opportunity too good to refuse. Gary's been in the changing room with Powell and seen what he can do on the pitch. I hope we get him. At worst he fails as I’m sure one single player is not going to destroy our dressing room. At very best we've got one of the most gifted players in the division.”


All other signings have been made with a view to stiffening the Latics' defence, with 28-year-old keeper Adam Bogdan arriving on season-long loan from Liverpool. Caldwell has brought in two experienced Derby defenders in 34-year-old Stephen Warnock and Jake Buxton, 31.

Two further defenders have arrived from London, with 19-year-old prospect Kyle Knoyle coming from West Ham on a season-long loan. Latics have been far from impressed however with 24-year-old former Fulham defender Dan Burn’s “atrocious and slow-paced” displays in pre-season.

Departures

Midfielder Chris McCann has moved to new MLS side Atlanta United, defenders Leon Barnett (to Bury) and defender Kevin McNaughton (to Inverness Caledonian Thistle) have also departed. Two players are currently free agents, winger Ryan Jennings and one-time Town loanee Reece Wabara.

A Difficult Pre-Season

“Carry on like this and we are going straight down, not one goal scored in 480 minutes now. I’m worried”, “Not one shot on target after 60 minutes at Rochdale. It looks like the problem is more deep-seated than a lack of goalscorers”, “Very poor today, no creativity and mediocre final balls.”

“I can’t recall a pre-season where we haven’t won a single match.” Wigan have picked up scoreless draws with Chester and Macclesfield sandwiched around 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United in their pre-season run-outs. Their only goal has come in a 4-1 defeat away to Rochdale.

BogdanBurkeHendryBurnWarnockJacobsPerkinsGilbeyPowerWildschutPowell

The starting XI (above) against Rochdale was built around the three-man midfield regularly used last season, although Caldwell has also used to a three-man defence at times. Three defenders, centre-backs Craig Morgan, Jason Pearce and full-back Donervan Daniels did not feature at Spotland.

“This is embarrassing, 4-1 against a League One side”, “This is exactly the same as two years ago under Rosler. We completely messed up pre-season and it doesn’t bode well for how we will fare in the Championship. If I was a betting man, I would have us go down. We look dreadful.”

The Lack of Goals

“Our dearth of goals is down to the lack of a focal point. Will Grigg was back later than the others so he has not played as many games. He was our focal point last season and made space for others when defenders tracked him.” The Northern Ireland international is rebuilding fitness after Euro 2016.

Will Grigg

Some supporters want to see additional fire-power brought in this summer. “Putting all our eggs in one basket with Grigg is a bit of a gamble”, “We are crying out for another goalscorer as we can’t rely on Grigg in isolation”, “It is concerning that we also have little cover should Grigg decide to go.”

“I think the squad is shaping up nicely. We clearly need a goalscoring striker to provide competition for Will Grigg and while I’m disappointed we have not got one in yet, we cannot be accused of doing our business too late.”

Prospects for the Season

“We have to improve quite a bit from last season to compete in this league. We have the potential and talent to do so but it will need out tactics and systems to be on point as well.” Latics are yet another set of fans who have noted how difficult the Championship will be to navigate this season.

“Just look at our opening game at Bristol City. They have spent in the region of £5 million on three players. Their key player Jonathan Kodjia is valued at £8 million with Lee Tomlin causing danger. They will be a threat. We have Grigg who is unproven at this level with Powell. They have the experience. We only have potential.”

Websites

There are two active Wigan forums. Vital Wigan is the busiest while some opinion can also be found at This Northern Soul.


Photo: Action Images



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OwainG1992 added 10:04 - Jul 30
I think Wigan have some decent lads in the squad expect them to finish top 12.
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