Talking football: It's never dull at Wigan Athletic!

Well that didn't take long did it? The first Wigan Athletic meltdown of the season...and it's not even started yet!

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 11:34 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 12:38 pm
Paul Cook

It was all going far too swimmingly if truth be told.

Paul Cook delivering the League One title in style, then the club moving swiftly to secure his future on a long-term deal.

The new kit was released to hugely positive reviews, and all of the star names from last term have stayed put at the DW.

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We even had the World Cup to give us even more positivity during the summer months...before it all came crashing down last weekend in Glasgow.

Okay, there’s no dressing up the fact Latics were well-beaten by Rangers in their final pre-season fixture.

But I can’t help feeling the reaction – in some quarters – has been way over the top.

“The squad’s not good enough, we can’t even afford free agents, the manager’s not happy, the owners aren’t putting any money in, the takeover isn’t happening fast enough” get the picture.

And to be fair, some of those concerns have a bit of of substance to them.

Certainly the manager would like to have added more strength and depth to his squad by now.

He says he’d like at least another couple of players – and there’s still a week to go until the transfer deadline.

This time last week, it looked as though James Perch and Ross Wallace – free agents who had been training with Latics all summer – were going to be part of the squad for next term.

Then, on the eve of the trip to Rangers, they left the club to pursue other options.

In the case of Wallace, you look at the amount of players in his position – Powell, Jacobs, McManaman, Massey, Roberts, Da Silva Lopes, Naismith, Colclough – and it’s hardly a hammer blow.

However, in the case of Perch – who can cover left-back, right-back, centre-back and holding midfield – I can’t help but feel he could have served a purpose.

His subsequent arrival at Scunthorpe makes the situation even more baffling.

Clearly the ongoing situation regarding the takeover is having an effect on recruiting even free agents.

It’s clearly a tricky time for everyone concerned.

If you’d agreed a deal to sell your house, would you be looking to put a new kitchen in?

Similarly, if you’d agreed to buy that house, would you pay for the new kitchen before the sale went through?

Cook, meanwhile, finds himself in the middle, unable to say too much.

Some fans have called on David Sharpe to provide more updates, but he’s legally unable to offer anything insightful because of the non-disclosure act that’s been signed.

In the meantime, the silence has been deafening...leading to speculation, most of which has been unhelpful.

Ironically, the ongoing takeover may have made any attempts to prise any prize assets away from Wigan by rival clubs that much harder.

At the same time, you look at the big names who have entered the last 12 months of their contracts – including Powell, Morsy, Burn, Byrne and Power – and it’s clearly a matter for concern.

No doubt that situation would have been addressed in years gone by but, with the ownership changing hands, this has had to be put on the backburner.

And it’s this limbo that is the biggest concern heading into the new season.

That said, if Latics can get off to a great start against Sheffield Wednesday, much of the negativity will hopefully clear.

And there’s clearly much to be optimistic about heading into the new season.

One thing’s for sure, with this lot, it will never be dull.

Enjoy the season!

Four times, Will Grigg has won promotion to the Championship.

Four times, Will Grigg has passed the 20-goal mark in League One.

Yet still there are those – mostly outsiders – who doubt his ability to do it at a higher level.

The first two occasions Grigg won promoted from League One, he moved to another club in the third tier.

On the third occasion, with Latics two years ago, he was prevented from showing what he could do by a restricted pre-season due to Euro 2016, a number of injury and fitness problems, and the arrival of Warren Joyce, whose tactics left him more isolated than Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’.

This time, Grigg will move up to the Championship fighting fit, full of confidence, in a team that plays to his strengths...and ready to ram the words of the doubters back down their throats.

I for one am backing him to do just that.

Okay, it’s early days, given he’s only played three warm-up matches this summer.

But I have to say the acquisition of Reece James from Chelsea already looks to be an inspired signing.

Watching him settle in to life at the DW like a duck to water, it’s hard to believe the youngster is only 18.

What’s not hard to believe is the fact he’s represented England at every level up to Under-20s, and you wouldn’t get much value out of backing him to go all the way to the senior side.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Nathan Byrne – last season’s Player of the Year – returns from injury.

Byrne was one of the first names on the team sheet last term, but James admitted on day one he was here to make the right-back spot his own.

And if he keeps playing the way he is, Paul Cook will have a tough decision to make.