Wigan Athletic - The Season Ahead
With the Latics making the trip to London tomorrow to face West Ham United and kick-off another season in the top flight, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at what`s in store between now and the last game of the season at home to Portsmouth on Sunday 24th May 2009, yep that`s right the 24th May.
Most season previews look at all the sides within the division, but I don`t want to do that, though I am sure I will mention one or two, this is a Latics preview and I am not qualified to talk about the 'others` and we`d only get Chelsea fan 'Im THE Special One` from Crewe, or Manchester Uniteds The Red Manc from Grimsby or Boltons 'GobShite` from Horwich coming on giving their two-penny worth.
This is a Wigan site and that is what we will concentrate on here.
Like driving we need to check our mirrors before setting off on the trip. So to start looking forward we need to take a quick look back and check how we have got to where we are.
The best signing from last season was undoubtedly that of capturing Steve Bruce from Birmingham City, Dave Whelan said this week that the best move he has made in professional football was appointing Brucie and it is the best £3 million he ever spent, I would have to agree with you there Dave.
Bruce came to the club and sorted out what was a shambles, there was no organisation and no one knew their role, Bruce did it with basically the same players Hutchings had, no wholesale changes just one significant signing Wilson Palacios, and Bruce managed to get us not only out of trouble but to a comfortable mid-table finish in the end.
Latics strolled through the final games playing good football and gaining good results most notably two away games, the 1-1 draw at Chelsea and the 2-0 win at Aston Villa, a great end to the season.
As soon as the season finished speculation started surrounding comings and goings at the club with Palacios, Valencia, Scharner and Kirkland all rumoured to be wanted by so called bigger and better outfits than ours.
Chris Kirkland, England goalkeeper was the first to renew his contract, followed by Palacios and then Scharner, committing themselves to the JJB on long term deals, the first encouraging signs that all was well.
The capture of Daniel DeRidder and Olivier Kapo from Birmingham City are two quality signings and with 20 year old prospect Lee Cattermole coming in from Middlesbrough this showed a genuine cause for optimism for the coming months.
Maynor Figueroa renewed his loan deal with a view to a permanent signing; this highly talented young Honduran is surely destined to be a star in the future.
The biggest signing of the summer though and possibly the most wrangled in the history of transfers was the capture of Egypt international Amr Zaki on a year long loan from Egyptian club Zamalek.
Zaki is known as the bulldozer back in Egypt and it soon became obvious why, Steve Bruce says 'he`s a bit different` and 'all he wants to do is score goals`, Zaki is robust, strong, pacey, can use both feet and plays with his heart, he wants to do well.
The Egyptian bulldozer has the potential to make this move to the Latics a very successful one for both club and player.
With preseason over we can look ahead to the next 38 league fixtures and for once there is a serious belief amongst Latics fans that the club can actually make an impression on the Premier League this season.
The way 2007/08 season finished and with the additions to the squad the future is indeed bright, all the lads need to do is transfer this optimism into actual results.
Lazy journalists and idiotic pundits belittle the Latics season after season and this year is no different, though there have been a couple of good previews on the whole it`s the same old garbage.
Mark Lawrenson talks on the BBC season preview about the state of our pitch and how Rugby League will once again come to our aid by ruining the playing surface for the 'better` sides that come to town…what a load of bunkum.
Firstly the pitch has been sorted; there was a drainage problem that turned the JJB into a cabbage patch nothing to do with our cousins from the ugly sport. They play in the summer time and didn`t have a home game from October until March.
Secondly it wasn`t actually that good for our flair players to play on.
This season we will surprise people, we have class to choose from in midfield with Palacios, Valencia, Cattermole, DeRidder and Kapo, exciting forwards in Heskey and Zaki, solid defenders with Melchiot, Scharner, Boyce and Figueroa, real quality between the sticks with Kirkland and for once a squad as back up which includes Koumas, Taylor, Camara, Sibierski, Pollitt, Bramble, Brown and Kilbane, there is also Erik Edman to return from long term injury.
Latics have a start to the season that will allow us to gauge what possibilities the squad has, we travel to West Ham as previously mentioned then its Chelsea at the JJB a week later.
Firstly let`s take the West Ham game, Upton Park or the Bolyen Ground (whatever is the right name) has been a successful place for the Latics in recent years and last years 1-1 draw is not likely to be too far from this seasons score, personally I think we should be looking to win this game but anything less than a draw would be a poor result for the Latics.
Chelsea at home is next up and this is where the real test could lie, if we are seriously to be a top 10 side then NOT getting beat at home to the so called big four is a must and this season could see us accomplishing that, I see this game turning out to be a repeat of that frenetic 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge late last season which ultimately gave the title to Manchester United.
By the turn of the year the Latics could well be on 30 points and well placed to consolidate that top ten finish that we are all craving, this year we will make our mark and we will stick it up Lawrenson and co, there are some bookies offering 14:1 on the Latics beating the Premier League winners with a 44 point handicap come the end of the season. There aren`t many poor bookies I know but I think this is too good to miss
So come May 24th 2009 we could well be facing Portsmouth at the JJB needing a win to cement our UEFA Cup spot, now wouldn`t that be a turn up for the books, bring it on.
Just to annoy 'Gobshite' my season forecast is:
2 Manchester United
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