The new season is nearly upon us and Wigan’s first game in the Championship will be away at Barnsley on Saturday. As a precursor to the new campaign I was asked by When Saturday Comes magazine to give my views on Latics prospects for 2013/14.
My responses are published below.
1. Realistically, how will you do?
Despite being a small club, relegation to the Championship was quite a shock for the fans after eight seasons in the Premier League. The club has experienced massive change in the close season, with Roberto Martinez, and his backroom staff and many of the star players leaving. However, new manager Owen Coyle has lost no time in recruiting new players. Juan Carlos Garcia, Grant Holt, Marc-Antoine Fortune, James Perch, Scott Carson, Stephen Crainey, Thomas Rogne and Chris McCann should all perform well at this level.
The worry is that we have lost too many top quality players and it will take some time for all the new recruits to settle before we can mount a challenge for promotion. However, Coyle does know the Championship well and he achieved a quick promotion with Burnley in 2009. So I’m predicting that we will make the play-offs (but would love to think that we could go up automatically).
2. Which teams did you like and dislike most last season?
Bradford City and their fans were great last season. They deservedly knocked us out of the League Cup on penalties and went on to reach the final. A brilliant achievement for a team from League Two.
Can’t say that I have much time for QPR, the club seems to be run by people who don’t really understand football and think they can just buy success.
3. What was the best moment of last season?
Winning the FA Cup is the greatest achievement in our history. When I started supporting Wigan as a non-league team I never in my wildest dreams expected them to win the FA Cup. The Wigan story is a modern-day football fairytale. A small town club that only entered the Football League in 1978 and had never previously gone beyond the FA Cup quarter-finals winning the most famous domestic cup competition in the world.
It is a remarkable achievement in the context of the money dominating the modern game. Our success might just have restored football fans faith in the FA Cup and given hope to clubs throughout the football pyramid.
4. What was the worst moment of last season?
Relegation was a big disappointment but it was certainly softened by the FA Cup win and the Europa League qualification.
5. What is you club’s great contribution to football history? (ie doesn’t have to be a serious one)
We are the first team ever to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season. We are also the first team ever to appear in all of the domestic cup finals: the FA Trophy, Football League Trophy, League Cup and FA Cup.
6. We’d like your prediction for next season’s League table.
My Predicted Championship League Table
4. Nottingham Forest
21. Sheffield Wednesday
The WSC 2013-14 Season Guide previewing the four English divisions, the Scottish Premiership and Conference round-up is available from newsagents price £3.50 or via the When Saturday Comes website.