Talking football: How Wigan Athletic's swoop for Derby County ace drew uncomfortable parallels

Like London wait half a month for a signing, and then two come along at once.

By Paul Kendrick
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 11:48 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 12:05 pm
The take of Latics' own 'Banksy' during administration

And in the blink of an eye, Leam Richardson has addressed the two areas of most concern in his Wigan Athletic squad.

The capture of striker Josh Magennis from Hull helps to cover the uncertainty surrounding Charlie Wyke.

And the signing of midfielder Graeme Shinnie from Derby fills the Jordan Cousins-size hole in the engine room for the promotion run-in.

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At the ages of 31 and 30 respectively, neither are ‘ones for the future’. But ‘here and now’ is what Latics desperately need to get them over the line.

And with both having dropped down a level to join Latics, they’ll hopefully be able to make the step back up – should Latics succeed in their seasonal goals.

The signing of Shinnie – for less than £30,000 – saw Latics take advantage of Derby’s precarious financial situation.

And while some fans understandably distanced themselves from celebrating in the circumstances, it further underlined what Latics themselves discovered 18 months ago.

When it boils down to it, there isn’t really a ‘football family’ – at least not when it comes to business.

Yes, you can always rely on fans of all clubs to come together through thick and thin, and support each other through the darkest days imaginable.

As Latics fans found out 18 months ago, very bad things can happen, without warning, to any club.

The response - from not only inside our town but outside - was utterly heartwarming.

'Football family' at the top level, though? Maybe not so much.

Indeed it was Derby who had been one of the first teams in after Latics were placed into administration to take David Marshall on a free transfer.

The following month – after selling their own right-back, Jayden Bogle to Sheffield United in a deal worth more than £10million – they returned to take Nathan Byrne for relative pennies.

Just as Derby were looking after their own interests back then, Latics have done so this month.

And if Latics hadn't been there, another club would have.

Speaking to a Derby-supporting friend, he believes Shinnie will prove to be one of the best pieces of business done by any club in this transfer window.

He’s sad to lose Shinnie, but he’s far more concerned at the vultures circling Pride Park for products of the Derby Academy who are being lined up by predators in the Premier League.

Again, eerie similarities to what happened here not so long ago.

While it’s annoying to see Kieffer Moore banging in the goals for Cardiff (and Wales), Jamal Lowe to be closing in on promotion to the Premier League with Bournemouth, and numerous others doing well at a higher level, that’s somewhat easier to stomach.

They belonged to other clubs before Latics, they’ve moved on to other clubs, and they’ll quite probably do so again in their careers.

But what’s substantially harder to stomach is seeing the likes of Joe Gelhardt, Jensen Weir and Alfie Devine – as well as Sean McGurk and Kyle Joseph – realising their potential elsewhere.

Potential that we should have been enjoying here, at their club, who did so much to put them on the path.

Of course, they were never going to stay for their whole careers.

But they would have written their own stories into the rich Latics tapestry, before moving on to further their careers – with real money banked real to compensate the club, and its Academy, - for their development.

That that didn’t happen is what hurts, and will do so for some time.

In the meantime, the very best wishes to Derby County and its supporters.

Latics got so very, very lucky with the arrival of Phoenix 2021 Limited in the nick of time.

Fingers crossed a similar knight in shining armour presents themselves before it's too late.

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