The current EFL Championship table shows the competitiveness of the division with only 13 points separating 16th placed Wigan from leaders Norwich City. Looking at the results this season it shows that the majority of the games are hard to predict, closely fought and often the margin between the teams near the top and those lower down is a relatively small one.
Latics have shown they are capable of defeating the top teams having produced two excellent performances against promotion favourites West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City.
After a superb start to the season Latics were in the play-off positions but have been desperately unlucky to be hit by a run of serious injuries which has hampered their progress. Few teams could maintain a winning run at this level with at least half of their starting XI missing.
Latics have been without their usual forward line of Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and Will Grigg for some weeks now and they have recently been joined on the injury list by defenders Chey Dunkley and Antonee Robinson.
Captain Samy Morsy was missing due to suspension for the game at Middlesbrough but there are now signs that the injury problems could be abating.
Gavin Massey is back in training after his hamstring operation and Will Grigg is now nearing fitness and could be available for tomorrow’s game against Reading.
During the last few weeks the protracted takeover of the club by the International Entertainment Corporation was finally completed and the new owners can now set about developing the club’s considerable potential.
Latics have an excellent management team in place led by Paul Cook and the Board has plenty of football experience with Executive Chairman Darren Royle, Director Joe Royle and Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson.
The Board’s main aim is to stabilise in the Championship this season but if they can re-capture their early season form then the play-offs are not an unrealistic prospect.
Latics are very lucky to have secured Cook on a four-year contract going forward as he has attracted attention from Premier League clubs and is amongst the contenders for the Republic of Ireland manager’s job.
He had an exceptional first season not only leading Latics’ return to the Championship but also leading his side to the FA Cup quarter-finals following victories over three Premier League sides, including the Champions Manchester City.
Cook will be given a boost if the club can tie down Nick Powell and Samy Morsy to new contracts and he will be looking to add to the squad in the January transfer window.
The manager was recently seen scouting at Accrington Stanley checking on Newcastle 21-year-old loanee midfielder Daniel Barlaser. Latics have also been linked to the promising Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell which is perhaps not surprising given Joe Royle’s Everton connections.
Players returning from injury, new contracts for key players and some astute signings in the transfer window and Latics could be in a stronger position come January.