TALKING SPORT - Great to see Latics get off to a flyer

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WELL that wasn’t bad for starters, was it?

Given opening-day encounters are supposed to be all about blowing off the cobwebs, Latics couldn’t really have made a bigger statement about their intentions of bouncing back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Okay, Barnsley didn’t exactly offer up much in the way of resistance, but it’s important to remember they finished last term as the form team in the Championship.

Tykes boss David Flitcroft admitted after the game that it was the most impressive performance he’d seen in that division, and that bodes extremely well for the rest of the campaign.

Given where Latics were just a couple of months ago, it’s a remarkable change in fortunes.

Back then, Wigan were managerless, having lost almost half of their playing staff from the previous season.

When Owen Coyle came in, he had just nine fit first-team players – one senior defender (Emmerson Boyce) and no centre-forward.

While the rest of us were sunning ourselves and taking advantage of the off-season, Coyle and chief executive Jonathan Jackson were hard at it, identifying and recruiting the players they believed would help Latics get out of the Championship at the first attempt. Of course, it’s very early days, but the signs are hugely encouraging.

Nine new players have arrived, with five of them making impressive debuts at Barnsley.

It’s only just over a year ago since Grant Holt was being tipped for a call-up to an England squad that contained Scott Carson, while James Perch nand Leon Barnett looked like they’d been playing together all their careers rather than a couple of days.

It’s a little-known fact that Latics tried and failed to land Stephen Crainey more than once under Roberto Martinez, so it should be no surprise to see him slotting in seamlessly into the backline.

The way the new-boys combined with Wigan’s existing stars was testament to Wigan’s arduous pre-season campaign, which saw them playing every other day at one point but which has clearly helped the squad to knit together.

One look at Wigan’s midfield on Saturday – James McCarthy, James McArthur and Ben Watson – would have sent shockwaves around the Barnsley dressing room.

It’s a Premier League midfield that’s found itself in the Championship, and if Latics can keep that unit intact beyond the transfer window, it’s hard to see them failing to dominate most games this term.

Their fixture schedule, including at least six matches in the Europa League, will test their resources. But there is enough quality in the squad to allow the optimism currently surrounding the club to remain.

OKAY, so it wasn’t the most ideal way for England to regain the Ashes.

The way the Old Trafford Test match turned into a damp squib left an unsatisfactory feeling for some, but the hard work had already been done.

I can’t believe some people are even feeling sorry for the Aussies,believing they were robbed of a win by the rain.

Surely we’ve watched enough Ashes misery over the years not to feel too sorry for them. They’ll be back.