Opposition View on Doncaster Rovers' next opponents Wigan Athletic: 'It couldn't be much better right now'

A summer of big spending saw sizeable expectations placed upon Wigan Athletic despite only emerging from an incredibly perilous position within the last 12 months.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 2:58 pm
Wigan boss Leam Richardson

So far they have lived up to those expectations remarkably well, with a lack of teething problems in a very new group of players.

Ahead of their trip to the Eco-Power Stadium this weekend, we spoke to the Wigan Post's Latics man Paul Kendrick to get the lowdown.

Q: After a summer of plenty of change, Wigan are in a fantastic position heading into the second half of the season. What have you made to the first half of the campaign and have you been surprised by how quickly things have clicked?

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PK: "I don't think the first half of the season could have gone any better, given it was a virtual brand new squad thrown together last summer.

"Still in the FA Cup and Papa John's Trophy, Wigan have three and five games in hand over their promotion rivals.

"Anyone connected to the club would have snapped your hand off if you'd offered this pre-season. It's pretty amazing how quickly things have clicked, on and off the field, under the new owners."

Q: How active do they look likely to be in January?

PK: "Wigan are usually one of the most active clubs in the transfer windows, and this month will be no different.

"Leam Richardson was already hoping to strengthen across the board, because the squad isn't anywhere as strong, or expensively assembled as a fair few opposition managers have claimed.

"But a season-ending injury to Jordan Cousins, and the continuing concern over Charlie Wyke's condition, mean central midfield and attack are an absolute must. Expect the last week to be hectic, as usual.

Q: What are Wigan's strengths on the pitch this season?

PK: "You'd have to say all areas. The defensive record is second only to Rotherham, and the goals-per-game ratio is bettered only by Sunderland.

"But the biggest strength would undoubtedly be the character and spirit in the camp which means they're never beaten - and explains why they've scored so many of their goals in the last five minutes of matches.

Q: And weaknesses?

PK: "The biggest weakness is the amount of games they've been able to play. It's all well and good having games in hand, but we're already running out of midweeks to rearrange games.

"Probably the biggest threat to Wigan's hopes of success this year is the fixture backlog, which you'd hope the authorities would be doing all they can to assist with.

"Both Leam Richardson and chairman Talal Al Hammad have called for the season to be extended - we await a response from the EFL."

Q: What system and style of play does Richardson favour?

PK: "He's very much a disciple of the 4-2-3-1 Wigan played under Paul Cook. However, Richardson has also switched to a 3-4-3 on occasion this season, showing perhaps more flexibility than his predecessor."

Q: Who are the players to look out for?

PK: "Max Power is second in the EFL for assists this season, his delivery from out wide and set-pieces is superb.

"Will Keane is another huge creative threat, Callum Lang will run all day up top, while James McClean is far too good for League One.

"Young Thelo Aasgaard - a Norway Under-21 international - is also the player Erling Haaland wishes he was..."

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.