Latics continued their good start to the season with a somewhat lucky 2-1 League Cup victory against a combative Blackpool team.
Paul Cook’s rotation policy for the League Cup was an eminently sensible approach to what is a lengthy fixture list.
He made 11 changes to the team which won at MK Dons but he will have learned some valuable information about his fringe players and those returning from injury.
The manager has clearly stated his list of priorities for the season with the league as the number one, then the FA Cup, League Cup and finally the tarnished Football League Trophy.
Although Latics progressed past Blackpool, Cook was rightly critical of the performance when he said,
“In general we want to control games better than that, we had no real control of the game, we were hanging on and that’s the disappointing thing but it was a great experience for the young lads. Without a doubt fitness is an element but this team had never played together, they only trained Sunday and Monday and it’s important that you develop all the good habits on a daily basis and those lads’ habits will ultimately get better as we go on.”
For whatever reason some of Latics’ returning players didn’t impress on the night and that will affect their chances of breaking into the league team.
I expect there will be a much different starting eleven for Sunday’s home game and it will be interesting to see if any of Tuesday’s team start against Bury.
Cook rightly sets high standards and will be demanding a much improved performance in what could be a tricky local derby.
Bury have shown ambition by recruiting extensively in the close season. Manager Lee Clark has signed 18 players either permanently or on loan in the belief that they can be challenging near the top of the table.
The Shakers may have lost last season’s top scorer James Vaughan to Sunderland but amongst those signed are former Everton, Leeds and PNE striker Jermaine Beckford, Charlton’s loanee striker Nicky Ajose and former Huddersfield winger Harry Bunn.
Bury opened their League One campaign with a 1-0 victory over Walsall and the margin would have been greater if they had not missed two penalties.
Beckford and Chris Maguire both missed from the spot but Beckford made amends by heading home what proved to be the winner in first-half stoppage time.
Cook will be determined that Latics continue their good start to the campaign against Bury but he may lose his fast fading voice in the process.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 11th August 2017.