Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday August 8 2007
Goodison Park Saturday August 10th 3pm Latics 3rd campaign as a Premier League club begins
With Paul Jewells departure there is a renewed optimism around Latics fans, he had taken the club as far has he could, last season was testimony to that, things had got stale
Jewell is a Latics legend, the fans voted him their all time favourite manager in a recent poll, but a change was needed, step up Chris Hutchings
I haven`t spoken to one fan who said Hutch would have been their first choice to replace Jewell, but he`s been like a breath of fresh air
Gone are all the negatives and music hall one liners that Jewell used to spout, replaced by an upbeat bring it on optimism that Chris Hutchings has generated in a very professional manner
Pre-season has been highly successful, six friendlies six wins, new players brought in and in Jason Koumas, a player who could become a star turn for the Latics this season
The only downside is the sale of Leighton Baines leaving Latics without a left back and the lack of real quality to play along side Heskey up front
Hopefully these two issues will be rectified before the transfer window shuts at the end of August
So we go into a new season with some optimism and hope for better things but is this optimism justified?
I firmly believe it is, if Chris Kirkland remains injury free, and it is a big if, we have England`s second best keeper between the sticks
With Paul Robinson being erratic it could be argued that Kirkland is England`s best
The defence has been given a major face lift with Bramble, Melchiot and the highly rated Granqvist all coming in on a permanent basis
People mock Bramble, let them, he is still young of undoubted talent, speed and athleticism and hopefully with him being at a 'smaller` club than Newcastle he may well become less distracted
Melchiot has made such an impression that he has been made club captain, the former Chelsea and Birmingham player is a class act and he will lead by example
The midfield looks a lot stronger than last season with the additions of Brown, Koumas and link man Sibierski
Also Valencia is back for another season and appears to be firing on all cylinders.
The Latics can boast a midfield as good as any in the Premiership outside the top 6 clubs and there is competition for a starting place with nine players battling for four places
Up front Latics need a quality goal scorer to play along side the magnificent Heskey, if this was to happen then we would certainly be looking at a top half finish
As it stands I would predict a Latics finish of around 14th or 15th but not to be in any real danger of relegation.
But that`s not what the rest of the football world think.
They have seen Jewell leave and reflected on our last gasp escape and feel that is it for the Latics, pundits, opposing fans but worst of all the so called respected journalists of Fleet Street
I read an article last month in one of the high brow papers claiming that Wigan didn`t deserve to be in the Premiership
His reasons were the usual drivel, no fans, no passion and crap songs! What an idiot.
We seem to be everybody`s favourite for relegation even the bookies have us as second favourites after Derby, but its all based on last season`s performances and the loss of Jewell
Well last season`s performances were down to Jewell so work that one out.
Let them have us favourites for the drop and under estimate us, let Sunderland be the darlings of the press, that`ll soon change when Keane throws a strop, let them criticise our crowds but not mention Blackburn`s, who are a more establish Premiership club
This season will be hard as are all the season`s this is the top league possibly in the world and we are part of it on merit, we won football matches gathered points and got promoted ahead of the more 'deserving`.
Come on Hutch ram those sneering, snide comments down the throats of those who made them, let`s break free of the Little Wigan tag once and for all and show the footballing world that we mean business
We are Latics and it seems no one likes us, and you know what, we don`t care
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Date:Wednesday August 8 2007
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