The 12th Man: A start to put all of us in a positive mood
So once again we have that difficult situation when the transfer deadline falls in between the deadline for 12th Man and its publication.
It creates that risk that we might all look stupid (or more stupid than normal!)
Still last week I wrote that we had no left back and were low on defensive cover, and then a few hours later the news broke that we were trying Antonee Robinson and Cedric Kipre.
At least Latics did the decent thing and avoided confirmation of these deals until after publication!
What will this deadline bring? Probably not very much.
Let’s be honest, with the takeover still not done, money is tight and so we have mainly been looking at loan deals. If that remains the case then the 5pm Thursday deadline isn’t that relevant because loan deals can continue to be done until the end of the month.
With money being tight, it was surprising to see the Kipre deal happen which was reported as being getting on for a million pounds. While the fees for deals are spread over a period of time, the recent refurbishment of parts of the DW Stadium must have seen a very large sofa installed for that sort of money to be found down that back of it.
Saturday was great. A great atmosphere and a very good performance.
The last two seasons in this division have not been positive experiences at all and there has been precious little excitement, so three goals, in a genuinely good attacking game, with some good performances and a win are exactly what was needed to get the fans into a positive mood.
The debutants were great, especially Antonee Robinson who will always worry teams with his pace.
The way Latics play under Paul Cook depends upon pacey energetic full backs getting forward so Robinson looks like a great addition. And he looked a bit better in defence that has been reported on Thursday and Friday.
The defence didn’t resemble the brick wall that it did last year, but we need to remember that we are up against much better teams this season.
We also need to remember that Cipre and Dunkley only met recently. We’re used to seeing a centre back partnership who played together most of the season and knew each other well.
What we saw on Saturday, perfectly naturally, were two centre backs who look decent for the Championship level, but had no understanding of each other’s game.
It will be interesting to see what happens when Burn returns to fitness, and who gets the starting positions. Likewise what happens with Shaun McDonald? I rate him very highly but it is hard to see where he fits into the line-up. It is possible that Darron Gibson’s short term contract is there to see us through until McDonald is fully fit, but after his performance on Saturday, in which he showed the touch, experience and class of a Premier League player, most fans would want Gibson in the side this season if at all possible.
Villa are a good team and we will do well to beat them away on Saturday. That said, if we perform like we did last weekend, we might surprise a few more people, and we might make it two wins in two games. That hasn’t happened often in recent years in the second flight.
Those of us who have watched Latics for any length of time know that the season usually starts with not so much a big loud bang, as a slow, often painful whisper. This time, though, it was very different.
A terrific team performance, let down only by some really dodgy defending, and three goals.
New boys Cedric Kipre and Antonee Johnson were both excellent, and Gavin Massey had what was probably his best ever game in a Latics shirt. Even Darren Gibson went a long way towards silencing the doubters.
All we can really hope for now is that the win against Sheffield Wednesday wasn’t some sort of false dawn, and that we can continue the form we’ve carried through from last season. But if we don’t, well what then? The new not-quite-yet-owners were in the West Stand, on Saturday, watching proceedings.
One can only assume they were pleased with what they saw.
However, overseas owners of any club have rarely been willing to wait for success. We all know Paul Cook is one of the best around but, rest assured, loyalty will be in short supply if we end up in a relegation battle.
We don’t know when the change of ownership will finally be ratified by the EFL. The whole saga seems to have been going on longer than, well, an actual saga. Once it is, there’s no indication that things will be any better, or any worse, than they are at present in terms of finances or anything else. When new owners are coming into a club, there’s usually some interaction with the fans, but that hasn’t been the case. We know there’s money in the family who own IEC, but we also know there’s no money in the part of IEC that has actually bought the club. That makes it all a little bit odd.
But, anyway, there’s not a lot we can do about any of that at the moment.
All we can do is hope that Saturday was the start of things to come, and not the entire extent of the season highlights DVD.
For once, my heart and my head agree that we will be alright.
It’s unlikely we’ll be back joining the moneybags of the Premier League any time soon, but a nice few years in the Championship will do just fine.
DISCLAIMER: Before you continue reading please note that this was written on Wednesday evening before transfer deadline day, so I could not pass judgement on any deals in or out of the DW Stadium from that particular day.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the three signings we made before the 3-2 victory over Sheffield Wednesday… And praise them to high heaven, of course!
Darron Gibson – The most experienced of the lot, which is a vital component of any Championship midfield and probably the reason he started over Max Power.
He’s a risk in terms of his personal history, but if Paul Cook can keep him on the straight and narrow he’s got a player on his hands.
Antonee Robinson – You can see why Everton gave this lad a three-year contract before loaning him to us for the season. From a Wigan point of view, he’s filled the left-back void by being the perfect one or us.
He’s got pace to get up and down the pitch, meaning he can create space for Michael Jacobs when overlapping and stop his man effectively when tracking back. He’s got a cracking cross on him as well.
Cedric Kipre – Players who come down from Scotland always have risk attached to them, they’re either an Andy Webster or a Lee McCulloch, you know? Not this lad, though. At just 21 he’s a beast of a presence and has bags of potential.
More than competent in the air, quick across the ground and comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has all the attributes you need to be a top modern day centre-half.
As expected, after beating a mediocre Sheffield Wednesday team, we’ve gone from already being relegated to promotion candidates according to Twitter.
There is a lot to be positive about after Saturday though, for example, our new signings.
At the back, Reece James looked like a seasoned pro and played a big part in the second goal, Cédric Kipré lived up to expectation with plenty of no-nonsense hard tackling and Antonee Robinson will give us a great outlet down the left this year.
Also, Darron Gibson in midfield barely misplaced a pass and controlled the tempo of the game from minute one.
We move onto Aston Villa on Saturday.
In recent years, we’ve got a good record in the league at Villa Park. Since 2005, we have won four, drew three and lost just two – one of those being in our last visit under Warren Joyce when Jack Grealish scored a late winner.
Things will be a lot different this time around though. Paul Cook has already said multiple times that we will approach every game with a positive attitude and try and take the game to the opposition.
In December 2016, Joyce started with five defenders, three defensive midfielders and no striker.
On Monday night, The Villa came from behind to beat Hull City 3-1 at the KC Stadium.
However, the fact that all three goal scorers were defenders maybe shows that they are lacking creativity going forwards.
If both Samy Morsy and Darron Gibson can both limit the time and space Jack Grealish has on the ball, they will inadvertently prevent the majority of Villa attacks.
Jonathan Kodjia will most likely lead the line for the home side with Albert Adomah and Morsy’s international teammate Ahmed Elmohamady supporting him from out wide.
They also signed Hibernian midfielder John McGinn last week for a substantial figure. He will look to get on the ball from deep and start attacks from defensive midfield.
Axel Tuanzebe and Ørjan Nyland also signed from Manchester United and FC Ingolstadt respectively.
Tuanzebe is a pacey centre back who will most likely partner James Chester at the back tomorrow, whilst Nyland will probably make his debut in goal.
I think it’s likely, and there wouldn’t be any complaints from me, if Latics are unchanged and play the same team that played so well against Sheffield Wednesday last time out.
After the Villa match, on Tuesday we will then have the pleasure of visiting Rotherham for a Carabao Cup tie that neither team will be bothered about.
It will be a chance for a few fringe players to try and prove a point such as Leo Da Silva Lopes, Kal Naismith, Jamie Walker, Shaun MacDonald and maybe even Callum Lang.
Latics made a brilliant start to the Championship season with a 3-2 victory against Sheffield Wednesday. Excellent performances all round but particularly pleasing to see new boys Cedric
Kipre, Antonee Robinson, Reece James and Darron Gibson settling in so quickly and putting in such strong debuts.
It is early days but the opening day victory can only have boosted the players’ confidence and helped to build the team spirit.
Latics do have some difficult games ahead with promotion candidates Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Stoke City in the next three league games.
If they can come out of these games with a good points tally the prospects for the season will look even brighter.
Tomorrow Latics travel to Villa Park and Steve Bruce’s team will be desperate to improve on last season when they just missed out on promotion.
A point for Latics at one of this season’s promotion favourites would be an acceptable return.
Because of newspaper deadlines this piece had to be written before yesterday’s 5pm transfer deadline, so please bear this in mind when reading.
The transfer window is always an unsettling time with the inevitable speculation that Latics may lose some of their best players.
However, I’m optimistic that this window will have been a very good one for Paul Cook. The financial backing now seems to be in place for the club to recruit effectively.
The manager has already added several quality players to his squad but there could have been even more by the deadline.
Everton’s Callum Connolly joined on deadline day for a season long loan and will provide competition for a place in either midfield or at full back.
He apparently impressed at Ipswich Town last season in a central midfield role.
Latics have made a bid for the son of former Bradford City and Hull City striker Dean Windass.
Josh Windass is a 24-year-old attacking midfielder who scored 18 goals for Rangers last season.
Latics number 10 shirt is vacant and there is a strong possibility that this will have been filled either with a permanent or loan signing.
Peterborough United’s Marcus Maddison has been a long-term target but the £2.5m asking fee could have proved a stumbling block.
As far as departures are concerned there has naturally been interest in several of Latics’ stars.
Premier League Brighton look likely to sign injured centre back Dan Burn for a fee in the region of £5m, although he will be loaned back to Wigan until at least January.
Aston Villa reportedly tabled a £5m bid for Nick Powell. Latics didn’t want to sell, but much will depend on Powell’s personal decision.
Forwards Devante Cole and Ryan Colclough could have left the club. Portsmouth were believed to be interested in both players, but unless an acceptable came in for either, Cook stated
that they would remain at the club. Jamie Walker is not currently in Cook’s first team squad and reports have suggested that Rangers have renewed their interest in the former Hearts player.
Midfielder Max Power was due to have talks with Sunderland and could be another departure.
However, midfielder Jordan Flores is definitely on his way to Swedish club Ostersunds FK on loan until the end
of their season in December.
With Cook having already secured the services of Walton, Robinson, James, Kipre, Gibson, McManaman, Roberts, Bruce, Da Silva Lopes, Naismith and Connolly the squad is already looking much stronger.
It’s disappointing to lose Dan Burn, but if the club have managed to resist overtures for most of their star players they should be in for a successful season.