Latics have had an indifferent start to this campaign which is very similar to last season’s poor start. Defeat in the opening day fixture at Bristol was followed by an early exit from the League Cup at Oldham.
Last season it was defeat at Coventry followed by another reverse to Bury in the League Cup. If the pattern continues they will draw their first home fixture against Blackburn as they did against Doncaster last season.
Latics tend to be slow starters and the constant turnover of players means that things do not normally settle down until a few weeks into the season.
For Latics’ fans the next fixture has an even greater significance because of the return of former manager Owen Coyle to the DW Stadium. Coyle left Latics under a dark cloud when he was sacked after only six months in charge in 2013.
He subsequently went on to manage Houston Dynamo in the MLS but he had another disappointing time in the United States. Houston finished eighth in the Western Conference, and finished fifteenth in the twenty-team league, and failed to make the playoffs. Coyle left the club in May 2016 by mutual consent before being appointed Rovers manager in June this year.
Coyle got off to a poor start in his first game in charge losing 4-1 at home to Norwich City and choruses of boos rang out from Ewood Park as the former Burnley and Bolton manager was the target of the fans disgruntlement.
I’m sure Latics’ fans will also give Coyle a raucous reception on Saturday afternoon and a certain dubious song about Coyle’s transit van will no doubt be given an airing.
Many believe Coyle’s time in charge set back the club’s development by several years. The signings during his time in charge were generally regarded as failures, with only Nick Powell and recent departure Chris McCann proving a success.
At the time of writing Latics were still looking to bring in more new players and the likelihood is that to finance the deals several more players will have to leave the club.
Some fans have expressed their frustration with the lack of transfer activity but ultimately Gary Caldwell is the one nearest to the players and knows their strengths and weaknesses. His judgement proved correct last season and there is no reason to doubt his judgement now.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 12th August 2016.