Talking football: Time for the Latics family to again come together

Juan Carlos Garcia
Juan Carlos Garcia

They say nothing should shock you in football.

But there can’t have been a single Latics fan – or human being, for that matter – who wasn’t affected by Juan Carlos Garcia’s passing this week at the tender age of just 29.

A young man with everything to live for, in peak physical condition, working so hard over here to provide for his family back in Honduras, cruelly struck down by leukaemia.

Reading the huge number of messages from friends, colleagues and team-mates underlined what a special person Juan Carlos was, and how incredibly proud of him his family should be.

So fully deserving of the minute’s silence before Saturday’s game against Peterborough, when the Latics family will come together to remember him.

And a reminder for us all to live every day, and enjoy every moment.

It’s nearly four months since Latics slipped to a 3-2 defeat at Peterborough, whose players embarked on a lap of honour afterwards, seemingly to celebrate winning the League One title.

This weekend, Posh travel north for the long-awaited return fixture – a mere 17 points behind Paul Cook’s table-toppers.

While Latics responded to that defeat with four wins on the bounce, and nine games unbeaten overall, Posh didn’t win for six matches.

Proof, if it was required, that any team is capable of raising their game, and giving their everything, in a one-off encounter.

But the top prize at the end of the season will go to the most consistent outfit in the division which, at the moment, is Latics.

Anyone at the ABAX Stadium – London Road in old money – that day will know Latics could and should have been out of sight before half-time, such was the number of chances they created and squandered.

But Posh equalised within seconds of the restart and, after that, there was on really one team in it.

Latics have become less profligate in front of goal in recent weeks, and there’s also another, significant difference for this weekend’s clash.

This time, Sam Morsy will be available, having been suspended last time, one of only two games he’s missed this term.

With the Egypt star playing some of the best football of his career, any Posh players thinking of getting back into celebratory mood may quickly, and unceremoniously, come unstuck.

What a boost to see Shaun MacDonald back on the Latics team sheet at Bournemouth last weekend.

After nine months of gruelling rehab following a badly-broken leg sustained at Reading last April, MacDonald couldn’t have picked a better game to return.

The sight of all four stands rising to give the former Bournemouth man a standing ovation as he warmed up will have made all the hard work worthwhile.

And his return to the fold will act as a massive new signing to Paul Cook ahead of the second half of the campaign.

Speaking to Latics new-boy Jamie Walker this week shortly after he’d put pen to paper, it struck me how similar he is in outlook and personality to another softly-spoken, but incredibly ambitious, lad who moved south to try his luck at the DW.

If he turns out half as good as James McCarthy, we’ll all be happy.

As one door closes, another one opens.

A well-worn cliche, but perfectly applicable to Wigan Athletic this week.

Yes, it’s a massive shame loan star Lee Evans was recalled by Wolves, to be sold on to Sheffield United.

But what an opportunity now for Max Power to re-establish himself in the engine room alongside Sam Morsy.

Evans only arrived at the DW last summer when it looked as thought Power was on his way.

But having been welcomed back into the fold, let’s hope Power can turn the clock back to two years ago, when he and Morsy combined to play an integral role in Latics lifting the League One title.

Now I’m normally the first to put any Latics players for praise and awards.

But surely not even Christian Walton’s mum would vote for him from the shortlist of League One fans player of the month for December.

Sure, the on-loan Brighton goalkeeper didn’t concede a single goal during the month.

But he also didn’t have to make a single save during that time, thanks to the magnificent defence in front of him.

And if Dan Burn, a fellow nominee, doesn’t get the nod, rest assured I will be first on the phone to voice my protest!

Stoke this week completed the signing of Moritz Bauer from Rubin Kazan.

He plays right-back, in front of their goalkeeper, the England star Butland.

So their team sheet this weekend could read: “Jack...Bauer...”

If he isn’t given the No.24 shirt, I’m complaining to the Premier League.