Talking football: Shaun Maloney's Wigan Athletic honeymoon continues

Three games in, and it's fair to say Shaun Maloney is still enjoying his honeymoon stage as Wigan Athletic manager.
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An opening-day draw at play-off chasing Blackburn was followed by Latics' first victory in three months against Huddersfield last week.

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A point in midweek at in-form Bristol City - which Maloney said pleased him even more than the previous two matches - was another huge step in the right direction.

Youngster Charlie Hughes has been instrumental in Latics shoring up at the backYoungster Charlie Hughes has been instrumental in Latics shoring up at the back
Youngster Charlie Hughes has been instrumental in Latics shoring up at the back
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By his own admission, Maloney's priority on taking over was to make Latics better in both boxes.

One goal shipped in three matches suggests he's already shored up the backline.

Latics still lack something of a cutting edge in the final third, but that will hopefully come in time.

Whisper it quietly, but Latics have already rid themselves of the reputation of being far too easy to play against, far too easy to score against, far too easy to beat.

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For that, Maloney and his staff deserve a massive pat on the back.

It's still baby steps, but the response from the fans to the new era has already been hugely encouraging.

Whenever Latics have achieved something in the past, it's always been done by the players and the supporters acting as one.

Fans are turning up on a matchday with belief and hope, rather than dread and fear.

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It doesn't guarantee anything...but it gives you half a chance.

Everyone loves the excitement of a new signing.

But quite often, a new contract can be just as significant - if not more so.

And Jack Whatmough signing an extended deal on Monday could well turn out to be the signing of the season.

The big centre-back was the first arrival of the Phoenix 2021 Ltd era, when he moved up from Portsmouth in the summer of 2021.

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And he's really come to emphasise everything that's good about the Latics rebuild.

Last season's player of the year has looked every inch a Championship player this term.

He would have been at the top of the list of players coming out of contract who would have been monitored by rival clubs.

And it's a real statement of intent that Latics have managed to persuade him his future lies at the DW Stadium.

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On the pitch, it's not been the smoothest of transitions for Latics back in the Championship.

Off the pitch, it's arguably been even more of a rough ride, with the wages having been paid late on three separate occasions.

That was put down to administrative reasons but, even so, it would be naive to think players and agents wouldn't have it at the back of their minds come contract time.

For Whatmough to have so readily signed on the dotted line says everything about where he sees the club going - for the rest of this campaign and the two years ahead.

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As Shaun Maloney said following the announcement, at the age of 26, Whatmough is coming into his peak years.

To want to see those out at the DW Stadium - under Maloney - underlines the feel-good factor is well and truly back.

There's no time to rest on laurels, however, with most of the squad coming off contract at the end of the campaign.

But with Whatmough having shown the way, hopefully others will follow his lead and commit their futures to a club heading in the right direction.