It’s been another dispiriting week to be a Wigan Athletic fan, yet another home defeat and the exodus of our FA Cup winning stars. Just when you think things can’t get worse, we get another kick in the teeth as relegation rivals Rotherham surprisingly defeat Bolton and set up an eight-point gap between them and us.
The mass clear out of Latics stars is reaching unprecedented proportions. Roger Espinoza, Oriol Riera, James Tavernier, Ben Watson, Shaun Maloney, Adam Forshaw, Callum McManaman and Ivan Ramis have all left the club in the last few weeks.
The extent of the exodus has been mind-boggling. It was evident that something had to be done to address the poor form but shipping most of our top players was not quite what we had in mind.
Only club captain Emmerson Boyce now survives from the starting line up that won the FA Cup in 2013.
There is a need to reduce wage bill and parachute payments will decrease next season but the scale of the departures has been shocking. Questions are inevitably being asked about Dave Whelan’s ongoing commitment.
The club has been very quiet on the situation but it is evident that massive changes are taking place during this transfer window. Latics are shedding their high paid stars and looking to bring in lower valued players and on much cheaper wages.
So far the confirmed incomings have been loan defenders Liam Ridgewell from Portland Timbers and Chris Herd from Aston Villa. Former Leeds United captain and central defender Jason Pearce looks likely to sign after both clubs agreed a fee.
Striker Billy Mckay will join for around £150,000 from SPL team Inverness Caledonian Thistle and could prove to be a bargain. The Northern Ireland international has scored ten goals this season and five in his last five games. He also has the distinction of being the highest scorer excluding penalties in the Scottish Premiership era.
Expect some more transfer activity before the end of deadline day on Monday. Latics have been linked with a number of players including Burnley striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, Basel forward Giovanni Sio, Hull City midfielder Tom Ince, Olympiacos full back Gaetan Bong and Manchester United duo Nick Powell and Jesse Lingard, but there could be more outgoings as well.
Is this the last desperate attempt to save our Championship status by changing the culture of dressing room and bringing in Malky Mackay’s type of player, or is it just preparing for League 1 with a reduced wage bill? The jury is out but the next few weeks should give us a better indication of what is really going on.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on 30th January 2015.