Paul Cook will be very pleased with his first seven months in charge at the DW Stadium but he also knows that Latics will need to improve in certain areas as they plan for the Championship.
As we approach the halfway stage in the campaign Cook’s team have shown that they are a cut above most of the teams in the division and if they can maintain their current form they will comfortably be promoted back to the Championship.
Latics have a strong squad and will also have defender Craig Morgan and midfielder Shaun MacDonald returning in the New Year, but they will still be looking to strengthen in the forthcoming transfer window.
Paul Cook will already be looking to the future and will have a Christmas Wishlist of players he would like for next season.
So which areas do Latics need to strengthen?
Goalkeeper – Latics have two good quality keepers in Jamie Jones and Christian Walton. Walton in particular has the potential to play at the top level but he is on loan from Brighton and the England Under-21 keeper would demand a significant transfer fee if he was to sign permanently.
Central defender – The defence has been outstanding so far this season and they have only conceded 12 goals in 21 matches. Dan Burn in particular has been a rock at the heart of the defence and he has already shown that he can impress at the higher level. Chey Dunkley has also done well in League One and Alex Bruce has provided good cover, but if Latics are promoted they will need to recruit another experienced centre-back.
Midfielder – Latics do have plenty of options in midfield but they may want to take the option to make Lee Evans a permanent signing from Wolves. Latics are usually at their best when they have captain Sam Morsy and Evans playing together in front of the back four.
Wingers – Both Gavin Massey and Ryan Colclough have potential and have done well in patches this season but if Latics do step up a level they may need to add more quality in this area. A return to Latics for Yanic Wildschut anyone?
Striker – Will Grigg is starting to get back to his best after a long injury lay-off and I expect him to bag plenty more goals before the end of the season. I’m confident that the Irishman will also score goals in the Championship but Latics will also need to add another central striker to the squad. Newcastle United loanee Ivan Toney has done well in League One but he may find the going much tougher in the Championship.
Best wishes for Christmas to all Latics’ fans. Let’s hang on to top spot and make 2018 a year to remember.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 22nd December 2017.