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Wigan (part 11) – top tier consolidation

March 22nd, 20161 commentDiaries, FM16Tags: ,
In our much anticipated return to the Premiership we’ve managed to avoid the dreaded drop, but just how good a season has it been, and are Wigan back in the Premier League for good?

Any newly promoted club would tell you that avoiding relegation (particularly in the Premier League) is the primary aim for the first season, and that was no different for my Wigan side. We’ve surpassed expectation however and managed a very comfortable mid table position of 10th with 11 wins,16 draws, and 11 defeats. But how?

Make yourself hard to beat

My focus this season has not actually been on winning games, but avoiding defeats. Pre season I spoke about changing our tactical approach because I didn’t feel that our possession based game would be effective against Premier League opposition. I put together a tactic for taking on the Premier League as underdogs, which we’ve relied on heavily this season. I’m convinced that this tactic has converted numerous defeats in to draws and has helped us nick a few low-score wins. This all ties in with our goal statistics – only bottom of the league Sunderland scored fewer, but only Liverpool and title winners Man City conceded fewer. In the end we’ve finished 16 points clear of relegation and can boast the third best defence in the league.

Until we can attract the top drawer players we’ll be continuing this style of play, building on it with tweaks and improvements. We’re still struggling to attract the big names, Wigan doesn’t quite have the romance of a Barcelona or Real Madrid, but I’m working on it. I’ll be trying to add that bit of quality to the squad where possible, and bring in high potential where it’s not. If I can introduce some creativity and flair I will do but not to the detriment of us being hard to beat. Any new signings will need to fit the system and squad personality.

Squad Building

I won’t bore you with a complete listing of the ins and outs but these are some of our key signings:

  • On-loan James Wilson commits to a permanent switch from Old Trafford. He was our signing of the season (officially), sharing the majority of goals with Kozak and giving us another outlet with his pace and running. I signed him up for £4.6 million, an absolute bargain for a potential world class player. His wages are a little higher than I would have liked but I’ve got him tied down for five years with an optional three, so he’s going nowhere.
  • Wonderkid Reece Oxford also signs and bolsters the home-grown numbers for £2.4 million (another bargain). My plan is to partner him with new captain Kyriakos Papadopolous of Greece. Both youthful and highly talented, I’m hoping they’ll forge a lasting partnership.
  • It was essential that we upped the quality in the goalkeeping department. Richard O’Donnell has been a strong number one for us since I took over, and still is, but I’ve brought in Rubén Blanco from Celta (£5.5 million) to add more competition and cover us better if either is on the doctors slab. At times last season I had to recall Lee Nicholls from loan but ideally he needs first team experience elsewhere for the sake of his development. I’m keeping long-term faith in him for the time being.

Player Review

Robbie Brady was player of the season for a second year running and remains the first name on the team sheet. Young player of the year goes to playmaker Emyr Huws who’s developing really well now and getting plenty of first time game time.

Wigan end of season 3 player awards

Looking Ahead

You’ve got to strive to improve each and every season and the coming season’s no different. I’ll be looking for us to develop some of our younger first team players, finish above 10th in the league and have a good run in the FA Cup. Lifting the FA Cup is the last remaining target I set myself from when I first took the Wigan mantle, re-lifting the cup at Wembley feels like the most nostalgic way to end the series.

Comments (1)

  • Looking good bud. I started a Wigan save earlier this year and have this week FINALLY won the PL title (2023 in game) after having sniffed around for a few years but never really gotten that close. My pattern followed yours fairly closely in terms of straight up double promotion and then having to play the longer game in the PL whilst slowly building up the quality of the squad. The PL TV money made a monster difference. Have won the Cap1 cup two years running but no FA Cup success, nor european…. yet.

    Only player I have left from the first season is Kyle Walker-Peters, whom I had on loan from Spurs for two seasons before buying him.

    Hope you’re enjoying it!.

    Comment by Rich (04/08/2016)