Perhaps surprisingly, this season will be Wigan’s sixth consecutive season in the Premier League having been promoted to the top-flight in 2005 – their only ever run of seasons in the top division. Arguably, last season was one of their hardest seasons to date, especially when you consider the severe hammerings they had to endure that 9-1 thrashing from Spurs and an 8-0 final-day thumping to Chelsea. This season, the pressure is on for club-legend Roberto Martinez as he looks to getting the club finishing further up the table.
Martinez, who played for the club between 1995-2001 became manager of the Latics prior to last season, his first season in charge of the club wasn’t exactly one to rave about, nonetheless, despite the aforementioned thumping’s, they did manage beat three of the Big Four Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, 3-1, 1-0 and 3-2 respectively at the DW Stadium last season – accounting for a third of their overall wins in the Premier League.
Ahead of the new season Wigan will need to tighten their backline and not concede the staggering amount the conceded last season – 79 in total – no other side in the history of the Premier League has shipped such an amount and manage to retain their status in the top-flight. Similarly, at the other end of the field, Wigan were one of the league’s lowest scorers – the third lowest to be specific – at 37, another problem that will need to be solved by Martinez.
The Spaniard has managed to strengthen his squad by acquiring former Estudiantes striker Mauro Boselli (pictured above) who scored 32 goals in 57 games – Boselli was unlucky not to make Diego Maradona’s World Cup squad – at a reported £5.8million – a new club record. He should certainly ease the pressure on last season’s top scorer Hugo Rodallega who scored 10 goals and midfielder Charles N’Zogbia who was the second highest goalscorer with just 5 goals in the whole season. Elsewhere, Antolin Alcaraz, James McArthur and Ronnie Stam have all signed for the club. By the same token, Mario Melchiot, Tomasz Cywka, Tomasz Kupisz, Titus Bramble, Rachid Bowaouzan, Paul Scharner, Richard Kingson and Oliver Kapo have all departed the club.
Last season Wigan finished 16th overall, one place ahead of West Ham and two above the relegation zone. Their league form all season long would have been enough to get them relegated on a normal season, but the teams which finished below them were collectively worse for a longer period throughout the season. The Latics look to have a promising side and youth prospects such as James McCarthy and Victor Moses could well be expected to feature more prominently for the club this season.
If Wigan repeat last season’s form then they will be one of the favourites for the drop and Martinez the chop – however, I can’t really see things panning out that way. Martinez has had to change his side’s mentality in terms of the type of football they are used to playing. This could well be his defining season in charge; he will need to find the right balance, along with cementing his idea of attacking football and the importance of being organised defensively into the club. After five years, the rollercoaster could be about to end for Wigan.