Many media pundits prematurely tipped Wigan Athletic for relegation this season but after a very successful transfer window Paul Cook’s team now look a much stronger outfit and much more likely to compete at the top half of the Championship.
Latics made an impressive start to the season defeating promotion favourites Cardiff City and without many of their recent signings. They now face a tricky trip to local rivals Preston tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how they compete while integrating the new signings into the team.
Latics have released or sold 14 players from the squad over the summer and have brought in 11 plus former youth players Joe Gelhardt, Jensen Weir and Callum Lang. The new additions are a blend of youth and experience and on paper the squad looks stronger than last season with perhaps the exception of player of the season Reece James.
Goalkeepers: David Marshall signed from Hull City is the current Scottish Number One and is very experienced at Premier League level. Keeper Daniel Gyollai has signed from Stoke City and will provide backup to Marshall and Jamie Jones.
In Defence: 19 year-old Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling will compete for the full back spot with Nathan Byrne although Byrne is also very capable as a wing-back. Blackburn Rovers captain Charlie Mulgrew unexpectedly joined on-loan on deadline day and he should provide plenty of experience in the centre of defence alongside either Chey Dunkley, Cedric Kipre or Danny Fox.
At left back USA international Antonee Robinson has signed from Everton for a fee in the region of £2m and he will have back up from 21-year-old Tom Pearce signed from Leeds United for a fee thought to be in the region of £300,000.
In Midfield: Central midfielder Lewis MacLeod signed on a free transfer from Brentford and has been joined by 22-year-old Joe Williams who was signed from Everton for a fee in the region of £1m. MacLeod and Williams will have to compete for a starting place with Captain Samy Morsy, Welsh international Lee Evans, former Rangers midfielder Kal Naismith and England youth international Jensen Weir.
In Attack: Latics now have a wealth of attacking talent following the signings of Portsmouth winger Jamal Lowe for £2.5m, striker Kieffer Moore from Barnsley for £3m and loan signing striker Bright Enobakhare from Wolves.
Latics already have forwards Joe Garner, Josh Windass, Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, Anthony Pilkington, Gary Roberts, Callum Lang and Joe Gelhardt so competition for a place in the starting eleven will be fierce.
The club’s owners the International Entertainment Corporation have shown their financial commitment to make progress in the Championship and have spent in the region of £10m on transfer fees as well as developing the Academy infrastructure and Stadium facilities. It is now up to Paul Cook and the players to show their commitment.
Only time will tell if Latics are capable of making a promotion push but they now look well equipped in all areas of the pitch and those media pundits may have to revise their predictions.