It’s been a great team effort this season. Many players have made major contributions to the cause: Jason Pearce, Michael Jacobs, Max Power and latterly Stephen Warnock and Conor McAleny have all been impressive but five players have really stood out for me.
My top five players of the season in reverse order are:
5. Yanic Wildschut – The Flying Dutchman was the catalyst for Wigan’s surge up the table. The early season form had been inconsistent but when Yanic came on-loan from Middlesbrough the team gained a powerful attacking force which opponents were unable to contain.
His wonder strike from 25 yards at Crewe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy set the tone. He soon became a fans’ favourite and his permanent signing in January gave the club a further boost.
He has now scored seven goals including a magnificent winner at Walsall and has won the Man of the Match award on numerous occasions.
4. Craig Morgan – The captain came highly recommended from Championship side Rotherham and his defensive performances gave the team stability and composure when under pressure.
He is comfortable on the ball and an excellent passer. His assuredness and organisational skills mean he is rarely flustered and this helped to galvanise a disparate new set of players into an effective team.
He chipped in with two crucial goals. A superb low strike from the edge of the area to equalise in the 90th minute at Bury and a 96th minute bullet header to cap an amazing comeback against promotion rivals Gillingham.
3. Jussi Jaaskelainen – The experienced 41-year-old keeper was only signed as a back up to Richard O’Donnell, but when he came into the team he immediately added much needed composure to the defence.
It is no coincidence that the team’s rise up the table commenced when the former Finnish international took over in goal.
His shot stopping skills have been exemplary with many standout displays, most noticeably at Millwall when he denied the Lions’ strikers almost singlehandedly at times. He now has 17 clean sheets to his name and there are likely to be more before the end of the season.
2. Will Grigg – Latics have lacked a 20 goal striker for many seasons but Grigg has delivered these and more. Grigg has already eclipsed the 22 goals he scored in all competitions for MK Dons last season.
He has scored 15 goals in his last 16 games and is reaching peak form. He should add plenty more to his tally in the remaining five games of the campaign and is capable of pipping Nicky Ajose to the League One Golden Boot.
He is also on the verge of a remarkable treble by making it three promotions in the last three seasons to the Championship. He was promoted with Brentford in 2014, then with MK Dons in 2015.
1. David Perkins – ‘Mr. Consistency’ – Who’d have thought that the free transfer from relegated Blackpool would have had such a positive impact on the season? Well Graham Barrow and Gary Caldwell obviously did and what a revelation the diminutive midfielder has been.
The tenacious terrier wins the ball consistently, runs miles for the cause and keeps the play moving. He has formed a great partnership with Max Power and latterly with Sam Morsy.
The 33-year-old has played 44 games so far this season and he’s still going strong. If he achieves promotion, it will be his first promotion as a player, and if he wins the Latics Player of the Season award it will be a thoroughly deserved double.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 15th April 2016.