Talking football: Nothing for Latics to be fearful of!
So the time for talking is over. Pre-season has been and gone, and the Football League campaign gets back under way this weekend.
To be fair, we haven’t learned all that much from the pre-season programme. But when was that ever not the case?
It seems that every time Latics have enjoyed a great pre-season, they’ve flattered to deceive when the action got going for proper.
And when results and performances have been ropey – as they were for Gary Caldwell two summers ago – they went on to lift the League One title.
In a nutshell, the Liverpool game was quietly promising, Southport was a waste of time, Callum Lang’s cameo off the bench made the Notts County trip worthwhile, and Grimsby was a ground to tick off the list.
And let’s not go into Tuesday’s 14-0 win over Chorley...or should that be ‘Chorley XI’?
Will Grigg of course scored five goals at Victory Park, and the sight of him – along with Nick Powell, Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Michael Jacobs – still at the club is the most encouraging aspect of the summer.
There was all kinds of speculation that most if not alll of the above would be moving on to raise funds – but so far, so good.
On the flip side, it now seems unlikely Max Power, Jack Byrne and Omar Bogle will still be here come September 1. But Paul Cook has his reasons, and a record in management to warrant us trusting his methods.
As everyone else has had their two penneth ahead of the season, I suppose I’ll have to put my neck on the line too.
So here goes: If the Latics squad remains as is, or as close as possible, they will be in the top two come next May.
Christian Walton looks a solid signing in goal, while Craig Morgan, Chey Dunkley, Burn and the returning Donervon Daniels will provide a solid barrier.
Morsy and David Perkins look like being the holding midfielders – at least until Shaun MacDonald is fit – and few will get the better of them.
Further forward...this is where it gets really exciting,.
Because there will be no team in League One can get near a three-pronged combo of Powell, Jacobs and Alex Gilbey, supporting Grigg – who has hit the 20-goal mark at this level three times already.
With a spine like that, Latics have nothing to fear from the rest, of whom I expected Blackburn and Scunthorpe to challenge the strongest.
In addition, odds of 14/1 for Grigg to repeat his Golden Boot success looks generous.
At the bottom, it’s Shrewsbury, Walsall, Gillingham and Wimbledon to drop for me.
I’ll also go for Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Luton to win their divisions.
Let the fun commence!
Victory Park provides Donervon his biggest victory
Donervon Daniels may have been the most pleased - and delighted - player at the end of Tuesday night’s clash at Victory Park.
The big Wigan Athletic defender came through his first game of 2017 unscathed, after a nightmare 12 months where he’s been plagued by injury.
His 15-minute cameo on the opening day of last term was his only league action of the season.
Having been a virtual ever-present in the League One title-winning campaign of 2015/16, when only David Perkins and Max Power played more games, he was a big miss.
Hopefully he’ll be a massive addition heading into the new season.
Noel Hunt may be 35, and his best days behind him.
But he’s shown during pre-season he could still have a lot to offer Wigan Athletic in the short-term.
Boss Paul Cook has already admitted Hunt will be great for the development of young Callum Lang.
And he showed with his hat-trick at Chorley that he still knows where the goal is.
Colclough could be Ryan mighty moving forwards
It may have only been against Chorley’s Under-21 side, but it was good to see Ryan Colclough looking so sharp on Tuesday night.
The winger showed promise during the second half of the 2015/16 campaign after arriving mid-season from Crewe, but was loaned out to MIK Dons last summer before he could make an impact on the Championship.
A year older, a little wiser, he may have a big role to play, in a division he knows very well indeed.