Wigan Athletic boss reacts to Championship fixtures release

Leam Richardson admits the release of fixtures for the new season has added an 'air of expectancy for everyone' connected with Wigan Athletic.

By Paul Kendrick
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:57 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 3:31 pm

The Latics players returned for day one of pre-season training at Christopher Park as the fixture computer was revealing the Championship schedule for 2022/23.

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Wigan Athletic: New season fixtures revealed!

A bumper home derby against Preston North End on July 30 is first up for Latics, whose manager can't wait to get reacquainted with the second tier after two seasons in League One.

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The Latics management team discover the fixtures for the new campaign at the DW Stadium

"It comes around quickly, doesn't it?" said Richardson. "One minute you're finishing off last season, and then next you're looking forward to the start of a new campaign.

"The fixture release day is always a very exciting one for the fans, for the clubs, the players and the staff.

"There's that air of expectancy for everyone, and this one has certainly ticked most boxes...particularly with a big local derby up first, at home, with the sun probably out.

"You look at the Championship and there's quite a few derbies in there - with Burnley, Blackpool, Blackburn also to come.

"That creates its own buzz, but we're also under no illusions there'll be a lot of healthy challenges ahead which we'll have to deal with.

"Most of the sides will be competing to get out of the league - including the three that have come down from the Premier League - armed with quality players and management.

"It's up to us as a football club to meet those challenges head on."

The challenge of consolidating in the Championship gets harder every year, with the financial rewards for finishing at the top meaning the stakes have never been higher.

Not that Richardson and his League One title winners will be getting carried away with their new surroundings.

"You're always encouraged and you always believe in your strength as a group, especially given the culture we've created here," he said.

"Within the blink we're going to have some fantastic football teams coming up against us, and we have to be ready for that."

Richardson also admitted returning to the second tier will go some way towards righting the wrongs of their relegation in the summer of 2020 - only after they were deducted 12 points for being placed in administration.

"Every football club - and I've been fortunate to work at some very good football clubs, both as a player and in management - will have a place in the pyramid they feel they belong," he added.

"That's defined by the ownership, the management and the group of players, and their collective goals.

"We ended our association with the Championship last time on not too fantastic terms - despite having consolidated in the table after working so hard to get there.

"A lot of hard work went into the team, and we brought in some fantastic players, who you can now see are doing well unfortunately at other clubs.

"You don't want to name them individually, but we know what strength and depth we had in the squad.

"To go back to the beginning so to speak, and to try to build those foundations again, is another challenge.

"But slowly building from last year's transfer window, finishing the season as champions and then coming into another transfer window, is a challenge we're embracing."