Just one day to go...then we are off!
Although the summer feels to have dragged on, and it seems an age since we played Barnsley at the DW Stadium back in May, this past couple of weeks have flown by and the season opener is upon us like a bolt out of the blue.
At this stage fans are usually filled with optimism about the coming nine months.
Last year we had a completely new squad and took a little time to settle.
This time we have a much more familiar look about us, with one or two exceptions, so we should get an early gauge of just what we are going to be capable of in the in the campaign ahead.
I am excited about the new season.
There will be some big games ahead, and the division almost has a Premier League feel about it.
There are so many big clubs in the Championship, and we also get to play Preston in the league for the first time in 11 seasons.
They’ve been avoiding us for over 10 years – running scared is the phrase – and the two ‘derby’ games against them should be fun.
We have a tough opening game at Bristol City, who have spent a few quid during the close season, and in Lee Johnson have a good, astute manager who is young and hungry for success.
But the pressure will be on them with the match being at Ashton Gate, where a draw would be seen as a very good point for the Latics.
But it is a game that we can win of course.
What sort of season are we in for? Well I’m not sure.
I can’t see us challenging up at the top end, nor do I think we will be too troubled at the bottom.
I’d settle for a bit of mediocrity with the odd piece of brilliance thrown in to keep me interested.
But to be honest I am just pleased we are back and, despite my reservations, I would love a season of excitement chasing a top six spot.
Up the tics!
Do I detect some apprehension in the air?
It’s fair to say this pre-season has been underwhelming to say the least.
But in fairness, when is a pre-season anything but?
There’s been lots of concern across the forums and social media at our readiness for the new season. This is nothing new, it was the same last season.
The season before that and indeed the season before that one.
Results haven’t been that encouraging but we had an even worse pre-season results wise in last year and look how we finished off.
We’ve made some decent signings with Alex Gibley and Jake Buxton impressing in recent friendlies while Nick Powell could be one of the bargain buys of the season if we manage to get him fully fit and focussed on his football.
Where I can understand some of the concern is the strength of the squad.
But I’m willing to put my faith in Gary Caldwell.
He virtually re-built the team in his image last season, and more often than not got it right.
There is still clearly some positions where we are weaker than others – right back and strikers come to mind first.
So yes there is cause for concern and, although the season starts on Saturday, it is still relatively early on in the transfer window, with lots of deals to come before the deadline at the end of the month.
When people ask me what kind of position would be a success for Latics this season I can’t see past survival.
That needs to be the target and anything else is a bonus.
Strap yourselves in!
The new season is finally upon us, and Latics are still looking to bring in more players, despite heavy pre-season recruitment.
Gary Caldwell has been very busy in the transfer market and has already brought in seven new players, with more on the way.
Last season was one of almost continuous change as Caldwell brought in around 40 players either permanently or on loan and the trend doesn’t look to be abating as the manager is always looking to improve his squad.
Some might say this is too much change, but I think it is a good thing as it keeps the players on their toes.
The manager knows new blood is needed as Latics will be stepping up a level in the Championship, and new faces can give the team an extra boost at the start of a new campaign.
The revolving door policy means several players will also be leaving the club – Lee Nicholls has gone to MK Dons, Samni Odelusi to Rochdale on loan, while Andrew Taylor and Craig Davies could also be off.
Among all the comings and goings, it was great to see midfielder Max Power sign an extended contract at Latics.
Max was a relatively unknown quantity when he signed from Tranmere Rovers at the beginning of last season but he’s proved to be an inspired acquisition and he should make a big impact at Championship level.
I’m expecting Latics to get off to a good start at Ashton Gate tomorrow.
But if things don’t go to plan, please don’t write off our season after just one game.
Just remember what happened last year.
We lost to Coventry in the first game, but went on to win the League One title convincingly.
Aww, August already? Just when I was starting to enjoy the suitably football-free silly season of full-flavoured froth.
The discerning gentleman will tell you the most enjoyable part of a pint is its head.
And this particular summer has had an unmistakably meaty taste.
Lucky visitors to Wigan North Western station were shocked to witness local super-celebs Sean Kennedy and David Sharpe bathing in an open-top train filled with pure Grigg Brand™ gravy.
“Come one, come all to our delightful DW dining hall! You may partake of the sweet sauce for a small fee.”
And come they did, in their thousands from Manchester and Liverpool to buy their half-and-half scarves and Jose Mourinho watches.
But fantasy trainspotting in the rainbow-filled Care-a- Lot cloud kingdom can never fully
satisfy, endless supply of Grigg Bovril or no.
Football is neither a popularity contest nor a travelling sideshow.
As the late Robert W. Robson might have said, “a club isn’t about the buildings or the people paid to represent it. It’s about standing on a rain-soaked Oldham terrace on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening. It’s about scoreless draws and comically inept officials.
It’s about season cards with partially-printed client codes. It’s about…”
Okay, you get the general idea. Besides, I think I might have been quoting one of Monty Python’s four Yorkshiremen there.
On this day, make a new season’s resolution to enjoy everything.
Even if it’s broken by Aaron Wilbraham within minutes of the start, you can at least tell St Peter you tried.
August 6 – the day all Wigan Athletic fans have been awaiting since their title-winning promotion to the Championship in May.
Latics are set to travel in numbers to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate for their first game back in the Championship.
A game that is highly anticipated and ones Latics fans are hopeful and excited to see how we look especially with summer arrivals.
Latics have had a relatively quiet transfer window compared to last season’s spending. However the club has seen several incomings and outgoings so far in this summer’s window.
Nick Powell is a name on the fans’ lips as the fans await to see if he can rediscover his form from his previous spell at the club, which he has struggled to find at Leicester City, Hull and Manchester United. With Powell joining the successful attack of Yanic Wildschut, Michael Jacobs and Will Grigg, the Latics look set for a strong showing of attacking play this year.
I’m expecting a tough encounter tomorrow at Bristol City.
City are a team who have recruited well in the transfer window so far, and their attack looks very dangerous with classy playmaker Lee Tomlin linking with striker Jonathan Kodja who was very successful in his debut season in English football last season,
Massive good luck to the team and here’s to more success.
A mere 89 days since their last competitive game, Wigan Athletic are about to embark on the Championship for the first time since relegation in the 14/15 campaign.
Last season was arguably one of the best and most enjoyable seasons I have seen in the 16 years of following the club.
This time around, the new season brings more hope than expectation from last season, as promotion was only ever the main aim.
Nonetheless, before a ball has even been kicked, I certainly would take any position above the relegation zone.
Furthermore, consolidating in the Championship must be the target.
Once achieved then who knows what might happen?
After all, football is a funny old game at times.
One major contrast to last season obviously is this summer’s transfer window, which hasn’t been as chaotic as 12 months previous,.
Latics have secured the services of Adam Bogdan, Jake Buxton, Dan Burn, Alex Gilbey, Kyle Knoyle, Stephen Warnock and Nick Powell.
With Chris McCann the only major loss to the squad over the summer, it’s vital Wigan don’t have anymore departures with Sam Morsy rumoured to be the next player to leave.
Now it’s time for the players who still have a question mark above their name in this league to prove whether or not, they’re actually good enough to cut it with the best in the Championship.
Yanic Wildschut, Michael Jacobs, Powell and Will Grigg are the players which immediately spring to my mind.
Whatever happens this season, one thing is for sure, there’s certainly never a dull moment being a Latics supporter!