The start of the 2011/12 season has yet again brought with it new expectations, dreams and ideas. Typically with a club like Wigan Athletic there is going to be movement both in and out the club.
The most notable transfer out of the club was Charles N’Zogbia’s move for £9.5million. His move to a bigger club, sorry Aston Villa, was confirmed early in the transfer window allowing the club to either bring in new talent or nurture the likes of Victor Moses or even Jordi Gomez. Also shown the exit door were the likes of Antonio Amaya and Steven Caldwell. Both move on to pastures new knowing that really they were not going to get in ahead of Gary Caldwell, Antolin Alcaraz, Emerson Boyce and Adrian Lopez. In all honesty, Wigan have some decent candidates for the centre back position.
However on the flip side to the departures were some key signings. In 94/95 it was Roberto Martinez, 98/99 Andy Liddell, 00/01 Gino Padula, 06/07 Emilie Heskey and 11/12 Ali Al Habsi. The last name shows a real commitment to the club. Ali Habsi is a blue and reports say he hates Bolton! The £4million capture of Al Habsi was number one priority for the Latics and this was one player Wigan were not going to miss out on.
After this early signing came the talk of more major signings to club. So, David Jones and Nouha Dicko joined the club after being released by their respective clubs. Two promising signings but not the Shaun Wright-Phillips signing yet… As deadline day approached the talk of new players arriving intensified but there was something more important, the start of the Barclays Premier League.
This year, August 13th was the most important day in the calendar and Wigan was overrun by Canaries. After the tangerine nightmare 12 months previous it was important for Wigan to hit the ground running. In what was, in all fairness, a scrappy affair, Ben Watson got the Wigan ball rolling from the spot after Jordi Gomez had been upended in the Norwich box. Typically with newly promoted teams they don’t give up and the East Anglia outfit fought back to earn a draw at the DW. So far a better start to the season.
Then it was time for Wigan’s first away day in Europe. Swansea away. A game built on so much hype and promise with Roberto returning to the club he made in to Championship contenders and quite possibly the team they are today. In truth it was a very open game with the Latics hitting the wood work 3 times, Watson having a penalty save by Vorm and Scott Sinclair being a menace. Still Wigan had made a better start than last season. A goal difference of zero and 2 points. 12 months ago it was -10 goal difference and 0 points. Come on you Latics.
To complete Wigan’s hat trick of newly promoted teams came QPR. With new thug, sorry signing, Joey Barton in the stands, QPR would be up for a real fight after being hammered by the team from Horwich and finally getting the ball rolling with a win at Everton. All the signs pointed towards a great game. What a game it was. Di Santo (oh) believed in his soul and bagged himself his first and second goals of the season with two decent finishes either side of half time. QPR looked as if they were going to be in for a long season.
What followed was a mad dash to snap up players before deadline day. Shaun Maloney, Albert Crusat and Patrick Van Aanholt joined the Latics giving the team a new edge in their quest to succeed in the Premier League. No Shaun Wright-Phillips esq signings yet but who knows come January.
Then came three away games on the bounce and with it bringing Wigan back down to earth. Manchester City showed their class and ability to flex the money. Kun Aguero taught Wigan a valuable lesson on finishing and that any opportunity can be taken. Perhaps Hugo and Franco should take note.
Next came Crystal Palace in the League Cup, a competition which Wigan tend to fair well in. Tend being the key word. Palace dominated the early stages and made Wigan pay taking a two goal lead and it was down to old boy, Ben Watson, to give the Latics some credibility but Wigan had fallen at the first hurdle.
The final away game was a trip to Goodison Park to see the Latics take Everton. Wigan showed the vulnerability after taking a lead. Di Santo helped Wigan take the lead but it was only two minutes later when the toffees struck back and from there on took control of the game. The game was put beyond on doubt in added time but one concerning point was Hugo picking up a knock. After it was feared he would be out till Christmas, a month seems to be the new length of time.
So, after time on the road came a welcome home game against Tottenham Hotspur. Wigan don’t help themselves by gifting Spurs the opener with a defensive calamity and then to add insult to injury Wigan showed that they were unable to mark at corners when Gareth Bale leapt to meet a Modric corner to give the north London club a two goal lead. The second half saw Diame score for the Latics but there was not enough fire power to take the game any further. September was definitely a disappointing month.
League – decent start with 5 out of 9 points dampened by September’s results.
Cup – Disappointing early exit.
Manager – Carried on where last season ended, building and improving.
Players – same group with new additions.
Signings – Key players signed with potentially a couple of gems.
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