Cleverley Does it as Santo Comes to Town
`Latic in London`, Bryan Plumb takes a look at how Roberto Martinez` squad has developed over the summer now that the transfer window has slammed firmly shut, has the quality and depth been improved, well let`s see what Bryan says:
After several weeks of rumours, trials and training ground bust-ups, the 2009-2010 summer transfer window has drawn to a close. So now that the silly season is over, where exactly are we as a squad and have we actually strengthened our team?
Out: Stojkovic & Kingson
Kingson performed well when asked to take up position between the sticks, but his lack of height really meant he would never be number one choice, even a spectacular World Cup performance wasn`t enough to convince Martinez. Stojkovic on the other hand just struggled at this level. His shot stopping was okay, but his catching was abysmal.
In: Al Habsi (loan from Bolton)
What a cracker we have here. After just a couple of games in the nets, fans have been calling for Roberto and co to sign him up permanently. Whilst this has not happened yet, it would seem Ali is happy to be part of the Latics family and has been vital to our progression in the Carling Cup and our win at Spurs. I just hope we don`t improve his game and fail to capture his signiture on a longterm basis.
Conclusion - Strengthened.
No doubt about it. The only way this could improve is if we sign Al Habsi on a permanent deal and make him the official number 1. Sorry Kirky, but the back problems have caught up with you.
Out: Mario Melchiot
It was with a heavy heart that we waved off our trusty cap`n. Sure he was slowing down a bit but had experience in bucket loads and played every game with passion.
Out: Titus Bramble
Anyone but bloody Sunderland! I was rather gutted to see Bramble head off after several successful seasons at Wigan. Sure he had his bad games, but Wigan fans knew just how good he was when on form. With Mario gone and rumours of increasing interest in Figueroa, this didn`t look good.
In: Ronny Stam
It was once thought that Stam would never make it as a pro due to his small height, despite praise from best friend and fellow country man, Van Persie. Having just won the Dutch league with FC Twente, he came to Wigan with a lot of expectations placed upon him and he has certainly impressed in his first few days, particularly when playing in the unfamiliar position of right wing.
In: Steve Caldwell
Brought in for his character and wealth of experience, the ex-Burnley man will be an interesting addition to the squad. Personally, I see him as more of a fringe player and someone who can pass on their knowledge (and hopefully tighten defence) rather than a first teamer, but time will tell. Burnely fans seem happy to have released him, but I`m happy for an extra body in defence.
In: Antolin Alcaraz & Steve Gohouri
Okay, we had Gohouri last season so we kind of knew what to expect from big Steve, but getting him on a permanent deal was key for us. Alcaraz` signature before the World Cup left Martinez grinning from ear to ear, even more so after his headed goal against Italy. He comes with experience at the top level but is new to the Premier League and no doubt it will take time for him to settle.
Conclusion - Strengthened.
Alcaraz has had a mixed first few games. Sometimes his marking has been pretty poor, but on the other hand, he is new to the Premier League and has already nearly scored against Tottenham not to mention completely marking out Crouch and Defoe. Good at the moment, but will certainly get better.
Melchiot was great in his heyday but lacked pace last season, however new RB Stam seems to have all the qualities required to fit into Martinez` attacking minded back four system.
Out: Jason Koumas
So much promise, so little performance. Currently running out his contract with Cardiff.
Out: Olivier Kapo
Bruce felt Kapo could add some flair and aggression to the squad. In reality there was very little to shout about. Never really settled in and constantly talked to the press about how in demand he was.
Out: Paul Scharner
Defender come Midfielder, the madcap Austrian was a Latics legend despite never really being that spectacular. He ran out his contract at the end of last season and left on a free to join West Brom.
In: James MacArthur
Joining fellow ex-Accy McCarthy, this youngster is one for the future. He has only played bit parts so far but seems destined for greatness if Hamilton fans comments are anything to go by. It will take some work to break into the first team, but a bit of work and passion is exactly what we need.
In: Tom Cleverley (loan from Manchester United)
Like them or loathe them, when you see Manchester United on the CV, you`ve got to take notice. The youngster will be fighting alongside a whole host of other young talent to get into the Wigan midfield, but with 11 goals in 33 appearances for Watford last season, and winning the 'Reserve Player of the Year` award for Manchester United, he has as good a chance as any.
Conclusion - Strengthened.
Getting Koumas and Kapo off the wage bill was a priority, we didn`t really need replacements as they barely stepped foot on field anyway, but Roberto is clearly trying to build a youthful team for the future.
Out: Jason Scotland
The big fella came with one hell of a goals to games ratio but never really matched his Championship record whilst at the club. Moved on to Roy Keane`s Ipswich and scored on his debut!
Out: Tomasz Kupisz & Tomasz Cywka
Never really broke into the first team squad, but Cywka seems to be developing well at Derby.
In: Mauro Boselli
32 goals, 57 games. The hugely impressive Argentinean could be just what Wigan have lacked since the Roberts / Heskey / Camara era…an out and out goal scorer. Nothing fancy, just someone who knows how to put the ball into the back of the net. At £6m he hasn`t come cheap, and whilst his fitness levels are still relatively low, he impressed in the pre-season friendlies with two goals on his debut and three more in the remaining games.
In: Franco Di Santo
The 21 year old Chelsea forward spent last season on loan with Blackburn. After a poor term, the loan was not extended - either he wasn`t quite ready for the pace and strength required in the Premier League, or his style did not suit the hoofball tactics of big Sam Allerdyce. Di Santo joined Wigan with two minutes left before the transfer window closed.
Conclusion - Strengthened.
One forward is young and ambitious with some experience at this level, the other comes with high expectations. In the absolute worst case scenario, neither perform to their potential and we are basically in the same position as last season with Scotland.
Strengths & Weaknesses
We are building a team for the future with plenty of youth players on the books, but will this lack of Premier League experience and leadership qualities hamper our progression? We have some excellent potential talent, but do we have enough quality cover when needs be?
Most of us would have had a left back on our wish lists to create some competition for Figueroa, but this has not materialised. There are rumours that we will sign a Mexican free agent in the next few weeks, but if needs be, Boyce, Gohouri, Alcaraz, Stam, hell, even N`Zogbia could step in as emergency cover. Not ideal, so let`s keep our fingers crossed on some real competition for this place.
But let`s look at the bigger picture here. If at the start of the season you were told that you won`t be signing Tuncay or a left back, but you will keep hold of Rodallega, N`Zogbia, Diame and Figueroa, would you be happy? I know I would be. Our key players are still here. Maybe some will leave in January, but for now, they are still here and that is a real achievement for our club. It is time to forget what has happened in the past, what might happen in the future and get behind our team.
`Latic in London`, Bryan Plumb
Read more on the blog `Latic in London`
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