Mike's the Man for all seasons
Mikael Mandron is hoping he can bridge the huge gap between non-league and Championship in super-fast time '“ in time to aid Wigan Athletic's survival bid.
The 22-year-old was one of the more surprising of the 13 arrivals during the January transfer window, when he joined from little Eastleigh, of the fifth tier.
But the young Frenchman, who came through the ranks at Premier League Sunderland before dropping down to non-league, believes he can be of use to Warren Joyce’s side.
“I hope to bring goals,” he told the Wigan Post.
“And that’s what I’m working towards every day in training.
“My first challenge is try to get a regular place in the team, and try and play my part in the team achieving its goals.”
Mandron’s deadline-day move to Wigan not only took most fans by surprise.
It also shocked the man himself.
“To be fair I had no clue about the move before it came to pass,” Mandron revealed.
“The day before deadline day I was told by my agent that Wigan were interested, and it went from there.
“Everything got done very fast, and this is a huge move for me.
“I think I needed that at that stage in my career.
“As a young player you’re looking for game time, to be able to improve your skills and show what you can do.
“I knew I needed to step down to do that, and thankfully it’s allowed me to step straight back up.
“You’re always hoping to get a move in that situation – this is what you’re working hard for.
“Obviously you’re in the lower leagues but you’re wanting to get out of it.
“I didn’t think I would be moving this high so quickly, but that’s what happened and I’m determined to make the most of it.”
Having previously worked with Andy Welsh – who recently joined the Latics coaching staff – at Sunderland, Mandron already has a head start at the DW Stadium.
“I worked with Andy at Sunderland last season, and we had a very successful season,” Mandron admitted.
“We were runners-up in the Development Squad league, I found him a very good coach and I’m really looking forward to working with him.
“I also remember the gaffer from his time as a coach at Manchester United.
“I played against them loads of time and he remembered me from those games.
“To have staff here who know me and know what I’m capable of - and believe in me - gives me a great deal of confidence.”
Joyce and Welsh showed their faith in Mandron by pitching him in for a dramatic full debut against Nottingham Forest last month, and he responded with some nice touches up top alongside Omar Bogle.
“It was a great day, I was so happy,” Mandron acknowledged.
“I thought it went quite well, although obviously it was a shame we couldn’t get the win. But on a personal note I enjoyed it.
“It’s definitely faster than what I’ve been used to, and a lot more physically demanding.
“The tempo starts high and stays that way for the whole game which is really tough to get used to.”
Mandron has already impressed assistant boss Graham Barrow during his short time in Wigan.
“Mikael looked ready when he played against Forest,” said Barrow.
“He looked ready in the week before the game, and I think for the first half an hour he looked more than capable.
“I think the only thing with him is the Championship, over a 90-minute period...I’ve never seen a league quite like it.
“The Premier League is totally different in that respect. It can be slow, slow, then blistering pace all of a sudden.
“The Championship can be physically hard for the full 90 minutes, which is unusual.
“It’s light years away from League One, let’s be honest, and I think it was maybe only the physicality of the game that caused Mikael to fade a little bit just after half-time.
“But he showed enough to suggest he will do well here.”