Sam Morsy was arguably Wigan Athletic’s player of the month for January.
Not bad for someone who sorted the month as a Barnsley player with no intention whatsoever of pulling on a blue and white shirt again.
“It’s sometimes funny how things work out in football,” acknowledges Morsy who, after being recalled from his season-long loan at Barnsley, was talked into extending his tenure at Wigan by new boss Warren Joyce.
“I played my last game back in pre-season, and it looked like I’d be looking for a new club, permanently,” continued the 25-year-old, who’d been told by previous boss Gary Caldwell that he was not part of his plans despite an impressive end to last season.
“Being honest, even looking at my first day back here last month, I still thought I would be signing full-time for Barnsley. But I could see the new manager here had different ideas, and you can’t really hold it against him, how you’ve been treated by the previous regime.
“You have to give everyone an opportunity, and then form an opinion from that. I’ve always believed in that, and the manager’s been brilliant from day one.
“Sometimes a change of manager means a new slate, that’s what happened here, and I’m really enjoyed my football at the moment.”
A man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest on his second ‘debut’ showed the quality Morsy still possessed, while another imperious midfield display in the vital victory at Burton persuaded the club to offer him a new contract extension.
He celebrated that with a goal and an assist in the next game – a crucial 2-1 triumph over Brentford that lifted Latics out of the bottom three for the first time in three months – and he says he can’t have wished for his re-integration to have been any more seamless.
“I’d always kept in touch with a number of the players and staff, and the chairman,” Morsy explained.
“That allowed me to come back and start again, because there hadn’t been a total fall-out with the club where it wouldn’t have been right for me to have come back.
“The fans have also been amazing, and they’ve always been great to me, even last season. And I think they’re finally starting to see the best of me as a player.
“When I first came here, I’d attracted a lot of interest by playing well in a certain position, and I was immediately asked to do a totally different thing. That was never going to get the best out of me, but at the moment I’m playing my natural game and I’m really enjoying it.
“I still think there’s a lot more to come from me. I feel I’m improving, the team’s improving, and hopefully we can all kick on.”
Last weekend’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Manchester United was the first time Morsy has tasted defeat back at Wigan – and it’s a feeling he doesn’t intend to repeat tonight against high-flying Sheffield Wednesday.
“It’s a good game for us, because we’re at home, and there’s a lot of belief here at the moment,” he added.
“Sheffield Wednesday have got a great squad with a great manager. They’ve also just signed Sam Winnall, who was with me at Barnsley.
“It’ll be good to see him, obviously he’s done very well for himself, and he’s fully deserved his move.
“He’s not the biggest, but he’s fantastic in the air, very under-rated. At Barnsley, he was so good from goal kicks, because he would almost always win the flick on and get you moving up the park. He’s really effective from crosses and set-pieces.
“I’ve known Sam since we were both seven, and he’s someone I didn’t properly realise how good he was until I played with him. We’ll have to be very aware of him.”