Talking football: Three days a long time at Wigan Athletic

Wigan Athletic were in rampant form at Charlton in midweekWigan Athletic were in rampant form at Charlton in midweek
Wigan Athletic were in rampant form at Charlton in midweek
Three days is obviously a very long time in the world of League One football.

On Saturday evening, it was one long post-mortem with some ready to reach for the panic button after Wigan Athletic lost their FIRST league game under Paul Cook.

Against a side currently topping the fledgling league table, it must be said.

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Then, three days later, the convincing victory over Charlton has had some reaching for the champagne to celebrate the winning of the League One title for the second time in three years.

Nothing like football supporters to over-react, eh?

The reality, of course, is somewhere in between.

Latics were never going to sweep all before them this season, in a division where they will be treated as the biggest scalp, and teams will celebrate – as Shrewsbury did at the full-time whistle – as though they have won the FA Cup.

The odd hiccup along the way is to be expected.

But the result, and performance, at Charlton in midweek also underlined the quality and strength of the Latics squad, to dismantle a supposed rival for automatic promotion with, as Roberto Martinez would have put it, sheer ‘footballing arrogance’.

When most managers at this level ‘shuffle their pack’, they’re not able to bring in players like Will Grigg for his first league start, or Max Power off the bench for his first league appearance.

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With the likes of Christian Walton, Craig Morgan, Shaun MacDonald and Ryan Colclough not even currently in the squad for different reasons, Cook has every right to be quietly confident about where this season may take us.

He’ll be the first to exercise caution, and the need not to take anything for granted.

But with his track record – two play-off finishes and two automatic promotions in the last four seasons, across two clubs – he has the pedigree to be able to guide this squad to where they need to be.

And with back-to-back home games coming up – against Bristol Rovers on Saturday and Northampton next Tuesday – it’s a great opportunity for Latics to put some pressure on the rest of their promotion rivals.

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Among one of the many positives from the win at Charlton in midweek was the sight of Reece James rampaging forward from left-back and assisting two of the three goals.

It’s been a frustrating 18 months for the likeable Lancastrian, whose career has been placed on hold by a serious ankle problem that refused to go away.

But now he’s back in the groove, and showed why Gary Caldwell rated him as the most consistent player in the side during the first half of 2015/16.

It’s also worth pointing out right-back Nathan Byrne laid on the other goal at Charlton, underlining the attacking intent in the Latics side under Paul Cook.

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The game might have been already won by the time Max Power made his way off the bench at Charlton.

But his late cameo - his first sighting since being placed on the transfer list and being made to train with the Academy at Christopher Park over the summer - would have meant the world to him.

Both chairman David Sharpe and manager Paul Cook have suggested the fault for the request to speak to any interested Championship clubs lay with the player’s agent rather than Power himself.

And with that interest having failed to materialise, I can’t help thinking the cards have fallen in perfect fashion for both Power and Latics - who will hopefully both be back in the second tier next term.

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Gavin Massey certainly announced himself on to the Wigan Athletic scene in fine style in midweek with his two-goal salvo at Charlton.

Three days earlier, I’d seen a few Latics fans questioning whether he was good enough to shine in this team.

In fact, had Ryan Colclough not been red-carded AFTER the Shrewsbury game for foul and abusive language, I reckon he’d have been pushing for a start at the Valley.

As one door closes, another one opens - and Massey is now well and truly in the box seat for his shirt, with Colclough having to play catch up on his return.

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The good news on Tuesday night wasn’t just restricted to the Valley.

Elsewhere in the country, Jack Byrne was scoring a belter for Oldham at Bristol Rovers, while Josh Laurent was also on the scoresheet for Bury at Fleetwood.

Both men were shepherded out of Euxton via the back door on loan just before the transfer deadline last month.

But who knows...with much-needed game-time now being secured, maybe we haven’t seen the back of either in a Latics shirt.

With Chris Merrie, Callum Lang and Sam Stubbs also continuing their football education lower down the food chain, Paul Cook’s squad is being strengthened every single week.