Season Previews 09/10 – Wigan Athletic

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wigan

Last Season: 11th.

Say hello to your new teammates: Jason Scotland, James McCarthy, Jordi Gomez, Hendry Thomas, Scott Sinclair.

Close the door on your way out: Lee Cattermole, Antonio Valencia, Henri Camara, Amr Zaki, Antoine Sibierski.

Predicted star: Jordi Gomez comes with quite a good reputation from Espanyol. He was on loan at Swansea last season and was at the heart of much of their play as well as scoring 12 times. With the departure of Valencia, a lot of the creative impetus will be on his shoulders. I imagine Roberto Martinez might build the team around him and with it continue his belief in technique over brawn.

Jordi and Jason attempt to repeat their magic in the top flight.

Jordi and Jason attempt to repeat their magic in the top flight.

Needs a big year: Jason Scotland joins the manager from Swansea and is immediately Wigan’s main striker. He scored goals for fun in the Championship and I happen to think he’ll be a success in the Premier League too. Strong but pacy, he has a sweet left foot and is capable of goals from anywhere in and around the box. A potential bargain at £2m.

One to watch: Midfielder James McCarthy has joined from Hamilton Academicals where he had made his debut at 15. Still only 18, he’ll look to break into Ireland’s full squad and with it potentially go to the World Cup.

What they want to happen: Stability following the departure of Valencia and Cattermole. Nice football too please.

Nightmare scenario: Martinez and his two Swansea signings get found out at the higest level.

Plan A: Use the solid defence that Bruce has left behind and use it as a basis for fast, attacking football which uses N’Zogbia and Gomez as the creativity and Jason Scotland as the clinical finisher up front.

Plan B, just in case: Attack even faster and with more passing. There’s no long ball tactics here.

Predicted finish: 13th.

Why? Steve Bruce improved Wigan season by season and made several risky but rewarding signings which have since gone on to bigger clubs. Players like Palacios and Valencia were signed for peanuts from a vast scouting network and were sold for many times their original fee. He’s left for Sunderland and in comes Roberto Martinez, who’s gathered a glowing reputation as one of Britain’s brightest young managers at Swansea.

Should bring some nice football to the Premier League

Should bring some nice football to the Premier League

A former Wigan player, Martinez has raided his old club for their two best players in Gomez and Scotland as he looks to offset the impact of Wigan losing two of their best – Cattermole and Valencia. His teams are very easy on the eye and whilst it remains to be seen whether he can cut it in the Premier League, I’m willing to bet he’ll succeed rather than fail. He is fortunate to have inherited one of the better defences in the bottom half, even Titus Bramble can be relied on these days. Figueroa is also a good defender though generally speaking they could do with a little more reinforcement in that area.

Valencia is a big loss but I think Gomez could provide a similar impact. If nothing else, Jason Scotland will score the goals to ensure there is no relegation battle. He is a bit of journeyman but has scored one in two for the last four seasons. A snip at £2m. There will be some growing pains but Wigan have enough good players to fulfil Martinez’s football philosophy and finish in the middle group of teams.

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T.

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