Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ben Amos reflects on settling in fast and shutting out the opposition
Two days – that’s all it took for Ben Amos to confirm he’d made the right decision to join Wigan Athletic in the summer.
Considering he turned down a possible return to Manchester United – the club where he’d started his career – it was a massive coup to bring in the former England Youth international from Charlton.
And after racking up seven clean sheets in his first 13 league matches at Wigan, Amos admits he couldn’t be happier with the way things are turning out.
“I’m really enjoying it,” he acknowledged. “And I think if you asked any of the players – even those who aren’t starting at the moment – if they’re enjoying it here, they’d all say the same.
“We’ve got such a great group of lads here, the staff, the management, everyone’s together as one. And that’s a big plus when you’re all working hard towards the same goal.”
Amos was rated as one of the best goalkeepers in League One while at Charlton, keeping a clean sheet in both games against Latics last term in 1-0 Addicks’ victories.
But when his contract at The Valley expired in the summer, the 31-year-old needed little hesitation to return to his native north west for the next step in his career – and the rebuild at Wigan.
“After speaking to several clubs, I just felt like this club had all the ingredients for success,” he revealed.
“It was spoken about (going to Manchester United). But in all honesty, at the age of 31, I needed to be playing regular football.
“It was never really a serious discussion because I wanted to be playing week in, week out.
“I feel like I’m still improving all the time and, like many lads here, I believe I can reach a higher level with this club.
“There’s been countless clubs in recent years go up from League One to the Premier League.
“Look at Sheffield United, who played in the Premier League and stayed up with most of the team who had won promotion from League One.
“We’ve got so much belief and so much ambition here to push on as high as we can, and I’m certainly no different.”
Amos was one of 15 new signings over the summer, with most of them having hit the ground running at the DW Stadium.
“The quality of the recruitment has been brilliant, not just in terms of ability but also the types of people who are here,” Amos said.
“Everyone in the building is an honest, good lad, and that helps in a team situation.
“Things can change so quickly in football, and Wigan is a perfect example of that.
“From such adversity and administration, they’ve got the right owners in, with the right plan and the right backing in place.
“Things have gelled quicker than I think any of us might have hoped for.
“But we’re all moving in the right direction and hopefully that continues.”
As for a settling-in period...there wasn’t really one to speak of.
“On a personal level, it usually takes me a couple of weeks to get used to life at a new club,” he recognised.
“I’m not someone who walks into a new club all guns blazing.
“But hand on heart, on my second day here, I said to someone it felt like I’d been here for weeks, it was that easy to settle in.
“I think it did help that we had so many new bodies in the building at the same time, so everyone was pretty much in the same boat.
“We had no option really but to muck in and get used to each other, and that’s certainly worked in our favour.”
Latics’ flying start is even more impressive considering four of the back five only arrived in the summer, and the one player who remains from last season – skipper Tendayi Darikwa – has been playing out of position at left-back.
“It’s been fantastic, and I can only come back to the character of the lads who have taken information on so quickly,” said Amos.
“That’s not an easy thing to do, coming into new surroundings, and to do it from the outset has been a great effort.
“There’s been lads playing out of position, and still managing to do such a great job, which is even more impressive.”
Amos is also fiercely proud of the fact Latics boast the best defensive record in League One at the quarter mark of the campaign.
“Of course, there’s loads of pride in that, this is your job at the end of the day,” he added.
“And I’ve been in many teams where clean sheets have been a lot harder to come by.
“Here, it’s a cliche, but it really is a team effort, and it all starts from the front.
“Every single player takes pride in the clean sheets, not just me and the lads at the back.
“I think it’s seven in 13 league games this season, so one in two is always going to give you a big chance of being successful – especially with the quality of attacking players we’ve got, so long may that continue.”
And while opposition clubs have been quick to speak about Latics, Amos prefers to keep his thoughts purely focused on events in-house.
“The onus really is on us, and it probably needs to stay that way,” he said.
“There are always things you can do better as a team and a squad, and you’re striving to improve.
“We expect to be in and amongst it. Granted we probably expected it to take a little bit longer before we settled as a unit.
“But that’s testament to the players and the management that we’ve clicked so quickly.
“I don’t think it’s been a surprise to anyone in the building that we’ve managed to produce the performances that we have.”