Wigan Athletic: The good, the bad and the ugly of the January merry-go-round

January tends to be a very busy month at Wigan Athletic, and the club are expected to be in the thick of it before the window 'slams shut' on Tuesday.
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The mid-season merry-go-round hasn't always been the case, with the present transfer window system only being brought in for the 2002/03 season.

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It was introduced as part of a compromise agreement with the European Commission, to provide both contractual stability for both the player and the club, while allowing movement at prescribed times during the year - summer and winter.

Clockwise from top left Roberto Martinez, Warren Joyce, Paul Jewell and Malky Mackay experienced varying degrees of transfer window success at LaticsClockwise from top left Roberto Martinez, Warren Joyce, Paul Jewell and Malky Mackay experienced varying degrees of transfer window success at Latics
Clockwise from top left Roberto Martinez, Warren Joyce, Paul Jewell and Malky Mackay experienced varying degrees of transfer window success at Latics
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The alternative was football moving further towards 'normal' businesses, where employees could come and go with much greater freedom, with as little as the more regular one-month notice periods.

Given the potentially catastrophic effect on the existing pyramid, it was decided the transfer window system was the only way to go.

It also helped underline the 'integrity' of the competition, with players until then able to move clubs until as late as March 31.

Clearly, by that late stage of a campaign, many clubs would have little or nothing to play for, while others would be fighting at either ends of the table.

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The opportunity of bringing in players on very short-term loans to help teams 'over the line' was seen as being against the spirit of competition, and the new system would all-but close that loophole.

Advantages also dripped down to the average football fan, who could now purchase replica shirts bearing the name and number of their favourite players, with more confidence that they would be there for a certain amount of time.

Latics had their first taste of the new Premiership landscape after winning promotion in time for the 2005/06 campaign.

Their first January window saw Paul Jewell land Reto Ziegler, David Thompson, Neil Mellor and a certain Austrian by the name of Paul Scharner, who went on to become a club legend - on and off the field - over two spells.

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Twelve months later, Jewell signed Carlo Nash, Julius Aghahowa, Caleb Folan, Andreas Granqvist, Kristofer Haestad and David Unsworth to help them to secure top-flight safety.

Indeed, it was Unsworth's penalty on the last day of the campaign at Sheffield United which saved Latics, and consigned the opposition - his former club - to the drop.

Steve Bruce was in charge for the January window of 2008, and he won't look back on the signings of Erik Edman, Erik Hagen and particularly Marlon King with much fondness.

However, his venture into the Honduran market paid massive dividends, with Maynor Figeuroa going on to serve Latics for many years, while Wilson Palacios generated an incredible £12million profit by the time he moved to Spurs one year later.

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Bruce used that Palacios profit to even greater use, with Hugo Rodallega, Mido, Charles N'Zogbia and a certain Ben Watson arriving midway through the 2008/09 campaign.

N'Zogbia himself generated a tidy £4million profit after keeping Latics up for a couple of years, Rodallega - scorer of the crucial last-day goal at Stoke in 2011 - remains the club's all-time leading Premier League scorer, while Watson once scored a rather important goal at Wembley…

Roberto Martinez had arrived by January 2010, and he would prove to be less of a January mover than his predecessors and successors.

In four years at the club, he would bring in only 10 players in total during January, with five of them - Victor Moses, Gary Caldwell, Marcelo Moreno, Steve Gohouri and Vladimir Stojkovic - arriving in 2010.

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Conor Sammon was the sole signing in 2011, with Jean Beausejour following 12 months later.

The Chilean was credited as being the player that made the biggest difference to Latics pulling off the greatest of Great Escapes that season, with Martinez able to implement his revolutionary 3-4-3 system that saw off all the top clubs in a thrilling run-in.

Scharner returned the following season - along with Roger Espinoza and Angelo Henriquez - to become the only player to play in both the 2006 Carling Cup final and the 2013 FA Cup final.

Owen Coyle had been and gone by January 2014, when Uwe Rosler added Martyn Waghorn, Tyias Browning, Markus Holgersson, Nicky Maynard and Josh McEachran to a side which came up agonisingly short in both the play-offs and FA Cup.

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The agony continued into January 2015, when Malky Mackay added Leon Clarke, Billy Mckay, future Manchester United and England star Harry Maguire, Jason Pearce, Kim Bo-Kyung, Gaetan Bong, Chris Herd, Sheyi Ojo and Liam Ridgewell in a desperate - and ultimately unsuccessful - fight against relegation to League One.

Gary Caldwell put together a virtually new playing squad that summer, but still brought in Sam Morsy, Ryan Colclough, Danny Whitehead, Conor McAleny and Reece Wabara to help Latics secure a Championship return in 2016.

The January 2017 window under Warren Joyce will go down, as Latics ultimately did, in folklore with THIRTEEN players - Alex Bruce, Callum Connolly, Jamie Weir, Jack Byrne, Omar Bogle, Gabriel Obertan, Matt Gilks, Josh Laurent, Marcus Browne, Jamie Hanson, Jakob Haugaard, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Mikael Mandron - coming in, including EIGHT on a ridiculous deadline day.

All eight had departed by the summer, never mind the following January, when Paul Cook added Devante Cole, Jamie Walker, James Vaughan and Jay Fulton to a squad already on its way to the League One title.

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Latics were in danger of again suffering an immediate drop back to the third tier before Cook steadied the ship, thanks in part due to the help of Lee Evans, Anthony Pilkington, Danny Fox, Beni Baningime, Clarke (for a second spell) and Jonas Olsson.

It was a similar story in 2020 before Leon Balogun and Kieran Dowell - and to a much lesser extent Jan Mlakar and Alex Dobre - rocked up, although Latics were cruelly relegated due to matters off the field after saving themselves on it.

Despite administration, Leam Richardson added Scott Wootton, Corey Whelan, George Johnston, Funso Ojo, Jamie Proctor, Joe Dodoo, Zach Clough and Tendayi Darikwa to a squad he'd already had to beg, steal and borrow to put together, somehow saving them from relegation to League Two against all of the odds imaginable.

Twelve months on, with a completely new squad under Phoenix 2021 Ltd, the additions of Graeme Shinnie, Josh Magennis, Glen Rea and Jamie McGrath helped Latics right a massive wrong and regain their Championship status.

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Whether they will retain that depends a fair bit on what happens over the coming few days.

So far, Steven Caulker, Miguel Azeez and Christ Tiehi have shown good signs, but they'll need to be followed by others if Latics are to keep their head above water - and away from a return to League One.