Latics achieved what could be their best ‘result’ of the season when they managed to hold onto their best players while adding extra quality during the transfer window.
In the context of the modern game it was quite a coup for Chairman David Sharpe and Manager Paul Cook to keep their stars when Premier League predators pursue them.
Latics have been excellent in all departments this season but several players have stood out from the rest. Nick Powell, Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Will Grigg all look very capable of being successful at Premier League level and retaining these star players with Latics at the top of the League One table and in the fifth-round of the FA Cup is a massive boost.
Nick Powell in particular was the focus of major speculation about his future but the player and the club issued an unequivocal ‘No’ to a potential move away from the DW Stadium.
Despite reported interest from Brighton, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Swansea. Powell told the Chairman that he was happy at the club and he wanted to stay.
In these times of unchecked player power it was refreshing to see a 23-year-old reject a move to the Premier League when he would have significantly improved his wages and personal wealth.
Powell’s decision also reinforced the view that Paul Cook has done a fantastic job since taking over as manager.
The atmosphere around the club has improved hugely since the days of Warren Joyce, the team spirit is on a high and Powell has shown that he is enjoying his football and wants to be part of the team that gets Latics promoted.
The club should be very satisfied with their transfer window business overall. They did lose midfielder Lee Evans and striker Ivan Toney early in the window but they have retained their best players and have recruited some talented additions in winger Jamie Walker, striker James Vaughan and midfielder Jay Fulton on loan.
Perhaps the biggest surprise capture of the transfer window was striker Devante Cole from Fleetwood Town. The 22-year-old son of former Manchester United and England striker Andy Cole was Fleetwood’s top scorer this season with 12 goals and despite significant interest from other clubs he decided to sign for Latics.
Cole is an exciting prospect and will add even greater depth to a squad, which should be playing Championship football next season.
After a totally dominant performance against Premier League West Ham in the FA Cup, Latics will be hoping it is not a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show tomorrow as they face an in-form Gillingham.
The Gills have won six and drawn two of their last eight games defeating play-off contenders Scunthorpe and Charlton on the way.
They are a difficult proposition under manager Steve Lovell who has galvanised the club since taking over in October, winning 11 of his 22 games in charge and guiding them to 10th in the table.
They held Latics to a 1-1 draw at the Priestfield Stadium in October when captain Sam Morsy rescued a point late in the game. The Gills could still conceivably reach the play-offs and Latics must be wary of a potential banana skin.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 2nd February 2018.