Max Power ready to return to Sunderland with Wigan Athletic
Max Power’s has first-hand experience of winning two promotions from League One with Wigan Athletic as well as a hat-trick of near-misses with Sunderland.
So there was an inevitability about the fixture computer throwing the two sides together, barely a week after Power’s return to the DW after three years on Wearside.
While the bookies have Sunderland once again favourites to win promotion, Latics are midway down the list of clubs.
But Power insists all that will go out of the window when the campaign gets going – and reputations, and expectation, will count for nothing.
“Without getting ahead of ourselves, and claiming we’re going to win the league – because it’s going to be as tough a division as it’s ever been – we’re looking forward to it,” Power told Wigan Today.
“There seems to be a good mix of young lads and a few oldies, along with the likes of myself who should be coming up to the prime years of their career.
“It’s got the making of something special, and that’s what pre-season is all about...putting the building blocks in place for a successful year.
“Without putting too much pressure on us, we’d certainly want to be challenging at the right end of the table.
“But you only need to look at some of the teams who are in there this time, to see how tough it’s going to be.
“At the same time, the thing we’ve found in recent years is that names mean nothing when the season gets going.
“You only need to look at Sunderland, who were expected to go up...reputations count for nothing in this game.
“Some massive clubs...Sheffield United, Leeds United...have been stuck in League One, and no-one has a divine right to get out.
“We’re just looking forward to the challenge, and playing against Bolton, which I missed out on last time."
Power’s time on Wearside coincided with the infamous Netflix documentary that lifted the lid on an extraordinary period in the club’s history.
And while his three years there didn’t produce the success he’d hoped – with both player and team fielding criticism from a section of the fanbase – he insists the view from outside is not totally accurate.
“People could probably get an idea of some of the things that went on at the football club,” Power acknowledged.
“But honestly, it’s a great football club and it was a privilege to play there.
“You hear the fanbase being referred to as ‘toxic’, and that some of them can’t wait to boo you. That to me is just a load of rubbish really.
“I think any player who has a moan about the fanbase of any club is just looking for excuses.
“It’s a fanbase that’s just desperate to get behind the team, and when things are going well, there’s no better place to be.
“When things aren’t going so well, it’s not quite so good, but that goes for every club in the country.
“The thing with Sunderland is the fanbase is so big, it’s going to get magnified by that.
“I remember getting stick as a young lad coming through at Tranmere, it happens everywhere.
“Some players are maybe better at dealing with that than others, and I’d like to think I’ve never shirked that side of things wherever I’ve been.”
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