It has been a miserable season for Wigan Athletic, currently occupying the relegation spaces in the Championship and they are in real danger of relegation to League One.
Malky Mackay’s men are 23rd after 26 matches, five points from safety. Whilst defensively they haven’t overly conceded – 10 teams have conceded more – it is the lack of goals that is severely hurting Wigan. The Latics have only scored 26 times in the Championship, with Callum McManaman the top scorer, netting just five times.
This has resulted in just four league victories all season – one in their last 12 – and Wigan really do look like a team lacking in confidence heading towards the third tier of English football. Malky Mackay was brought in under controversial circumstances in November but hasn’t managed to stop the rot at all, winning just one of his eight league matches in charge.
The club’s fortunes are vastly different from last season. In their first season since relegation from the Premier League, Wigan finished in very respectable fifth position. This was before narrowly losing to QPR 2-1 on aggregate, thanks to a Charlie Austin extra-time winner in the play-off semi-finals. But this summer saw a number of key players leave, which took the spine out of the side.
Jordi Gomez left for Sunderland, which was a big blow, as the midfielder racked up over 150 appearances for the club. Jean Beasuejour returned home to Chile after two years with the Latics, while James McArthur went to Crystal Palace for £7million, with Wigan evidently missing his control in the centre of the park. On-loan Manchester United striker Nick Powell was the club’s top goalscorer last season and losing him has left thim with a lack of fire power up front this term.
Demonstrating this fact is how strikers Marc-Antoine Fortune, Martyn Waghorn and young Andy Delort have scored just three goals between them so far this season. This is a damning statistic that has to be addressed in this transfer window by Malky Mackay.
The Latics still have the services of Callum McManaman and James McClean, but only smart recruitment is likely to save the club from a second relegation in three seasons.
Defensively Wigan aren’t as bad but they could do with tightening up. They miss Gary Caldwell’s leadership and experience, with the defender suffering an injury-ridden past couple of years. Despite this, there is still plenty of Premier League and international experience at the back.
Former England goalkeeper Scott Carson has now become a regular between the sticks since his move in 2013. He has plenty of Premier League experience that makes him crucial to Wigan’s fortunes, while the likes of James Perch and Captain Emmerson Boyce also add vital Premier League knowhow.
With the addition of former West Brom and Aston Villa defender Liam Ridgewell, there should be enough quality at the back to make it difficult for teams to break them down. Ridgewell has recently been playing in America and hasn’t played football much in the past couple of months but once he finds his feet, he could prove to be a smart signing for the Latics.
The FA Cup glory of 2013 already feels like a distant memory for Wigan fans, but it could become even more distant if the Latics succumb to yet another relegation.