After a traumatic period of administration and a relegation battle Latics go into the new season with renewed optimism.
Manager Leam Richardson has had to do a major rebuild of the squad with only six players under contract, but he has recruited very well during a hectic close season and they look likely to make a big impact in League One.
The new Bahraini owners Phoenix 2021 have backed Richardson in the transfer market bringing in eight new players so far, with probably six or seven more required.
Pre-season has been excellent with five wins out of five. Positive vibes are emanating from the training ground and the team spirit appears to be very good.
With a multitude of new signings the club has reinvigorated the fanbase and expectations for the new season are high.
Latics’ Chairman Talal Al Hammad tweeted about the commitment required to build a new team in such a short space of time.
Latics pulled off something of a transfer coup when they managed to recruit Sunderland’s top scorer Charlie Wyke on a free transfer. Wyke was League One’s second highest goalscorer last season but Sunderland just couldn’t match Latics’ contract offer.
Latics have also recruited one of the top goalkeepers in League One. Former Manchester United reserve goalkeeper Ben Amos has been brought in from Charlton Athletic and will provide stiff competition for club captain Jamie Jones for the number one spot.
Defensively Latics are strong at left-back with Luke Robinson and Tom Pearce competing for the starting place and at right-back Zimbabwean Tendayi Darikwa has signed permanently after impressing during last season’s greatest of great escapes.
In the centre of defence 24-year-old Jack Whatmough has been secured after Portsmouth were unable to match Latics’ contract terms.
There’s plenty of competition for places in midfield with former Latic Max Power returning from Sunderland, 27-year-old Jordan Cousins signed from Stoke, defensive midfielder and former Pompey captain Tom Naylor and talented young Norwegian Thelo Aasgaard.
Up front striker Stephen Humphrys is one of the few players to have been recruited for a fee from Rochdale. The 23-year-old scored 12 times for Dale last season and will be challenging for a starting place alongside last season’s top scorer Will Keane, Callum Lang, Gavin Massey, Charlie Wyke and former Wales U21 international winger Gwion Edwards who has been recruited from Ipswich.
Off the field the club has strengthened the coaching staff with the addition of experienced Assistant Managers Rob Kelly and James Beattie plus goalkeeping coach Darryl Flahavan.
It may take awhile for the new team to fully settle and to absorb Richardson’s playing instructions but given the calibre of players I’m expecting a top six finish.