Mal Brannigan on Wigan Athletic 'buying the league'

Mal Brannigan has defended Wigan Athletic’s summer spending – which has quickly become the talk of League One.
Mal Brannigan, with Leam RichardsonMal Brannigan, with Leam Richardson
Mal Brannigan, with Leam Richardson

Doncaster manager Richie Wellens on Saturday became the latest opposition figure to bring up the subject of Latics’ recruitment, in the aftermath of his side’s 2-1 defeat at the DW.

"Wigan don't need a leg up with the spending power they have," was part of Wellens' post-match outburst.

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Senior figures from Accrington, Bolton, Lincoln, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Rotherham have also commented on the situation, with Latics chairman Talal Al Hammad recently taking to social media to address the situation.

"Unfortunately it has come to our attention that some are claiming our team is only winning due to us buying the best players," said Talal. "They also claim we have ruined the game of football for other teams that have different budgets. We would like to state this is simply not true."

And speaking exclusively to Wigan Today, Latics CEO Brannigan has also played down claims Latics – despite signing 18 players since the end of last term – are ‘buying the league’.

When asked whether Latics had gone beyond their budget, Brannigan replied: “The board would never let me go above the budget!

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“What I do think is we’ve been very canny in terms of how we’ve done some of the deals.

“We’ve continually talked about stability, and how we manage this football club going forward in the long term.

“The moment you start to go outside of that, for example in terms of budget, it can sort of start to unravel in other areas.

“We were given a strong budget within which to work.

“I am aware of the amount of comment and discussion from some of the industry that we have gone out and bought where we are in the league.

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“But no other club had to go out and do what we had to this summer.

“So while people will see we have spent a lot of money, what they may not have realised is that it needed to be done.

“Most clubs will have players contracted for two, three or four years ahead, and they know they have a certain amount of spend heading into those years based on those contracts.

“We didn’t have any of that. We started with six contracted players from last season, so we naturally had to build.”

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Rather than returning fire on opposition clubs, Brannigan prefers to take a more pragmatic view.

“I think the best thing to do is to always concentrate on yourself, and what you’re doing,” he said.

“We set our own targets at the start of the season – on the pitch and off the pitch – and we will monitor those throughout the campaign.

“Once you start to look at other things apart from yourself, that’s taking you away from your focus.

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“My view will always be ‘let’s make ourselves the best we can be, based on our resources’.

“If that puts us in a good position at the end of the season, based on our targets, we’re all happy, and nothing else matters.”

Brannigan also says no-one at the DW Stadium will be resting on their laurels despite a flying start to the campaign, which sees Latics lying second in League One and into round three of the Carabao Cup.

“The work that’s been done in terms of putting the squad together – bringing in the right characters, putting them in the right positions – has been tremendous,” he acknowledged.

“But do we ever take stock and say ‘well done, job done’?

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“No, because it’s never ‘job done’. It’s already a case of ‘where are we for January, where are we for next summer’?

“We are extremely pleased as a club with who we managed to get in the building this summer.

“When you look at the squad, and the cover we have in all areas, we are strong across the board, with at least two strong candidates competing for every position.

“We’ve done what we set out to do, what we needed to do, at the start of the window.

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“And we were really up against it, because every single other club had a start on us in terms of knowing where they were and where they were going.

“This club was still in administration on March 31, and we didn’t even know who the manager would be moving forwards.

“At that point it’s all about playing catch-up, and we should be pleased with the progress we’ve made up to now.”

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