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Premiership Preview–15. Wigan Athletic

They play some of the ugliest soccer in the Premiership. Their field surface is undoubtedly the worst in the Premiership and sits in one of the league’s smallest stadiums, which is also shared with a rugby club. They have no star players to speak of, and are run by a 71-year-old chairman with questionable savvy, to say the least. With all that said, Wigan Athletic continues to surprise outsiders by surviving in England’s top flight, and will look to do for a fourth consecutive season after finishing 14th last year with 40 points.

Steve Bruce is a very underrated manager who has crafted a nice career for himself in taking, and I mean no offense here, low-profile, low-prestige teams (Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan, Crystal Palace, and Birmingham City) and exceeding expectations. He’s had to work for everything he’s achieved, starting in the Championship and eventually working his way up to the Premiership.

Without his rearrival at Wigan after leaving Birmingham late last November, the Latics would’ve been relegated. They were going nowhere under Chris Hutchings, and Bruce proved to be the master of the 0-0 draw and 1-0 victory. His club went unbeaten in five of their last six games a season ago, and had another unbeaten stretch of four games prior to that.

Because of Wigan’s location — they’re based in suburban Manchester, where they fly under the radar and are overshadowed by United, City, and even Blackburn — and unattractive style of play, Bruce didn’t get a lot of credit for the job he did, but he’s a capable manager and the club is in good hands with him at the helm. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not the type of guy who can win you something, but he’s a survivor and a fighter and his players take on their manager’s approach.

Bruce doesn’t have much of a transfer budget to work with; he’s bought Olivier Kapo, a talented attacking midfielder he had at Birmingham last year, and Lee Cattermole from Middlesbrough, but he’s sold a few spare parts to do so (Andreas Granqvist, Julius Aghahowa, and Andy Webster) and often uses loan deals, as he did with striker Amr Zaky from Egyptian side Zamalek, and free transfers to bring in players. Cattermole and Kapo will both see plenty of playing time in midfield, if not start, while none of the departed players had a role of any real significance. Zaky will replace Marcus Bent as Emile Heskey’s partner up front.

Especially now with those two on board, midfield is Wigan’s strongest asset. Michael Brown is one of the dirtiest players in England but can be a solid central midfielder when his mind is right. Wilson Palacios was one of last summer’s best signings and fellow Spanish-speaker Antonio Valencia can play on either wing and is good on both. Jason Koumas can make plays from the right side and provide a spark off the bench when called upon. Kevin Kilbane played mostly at left back last year as the club struggled to find a replacement for Leighton Baines, but is a natural left-sided midfielder. Antoine Sibierski is still useful as an attacking midfielder and will provide valuable depth behind Kapo. Dutchman Daniël de Ridder, another summer signing, is another versatile player like Valencia. The once-extremely promising career of Ryan Taylor has been curtailed by injury problems, but he’s a terrific set piece taker and can play right wing and right back.

Projected Starting Lineup (4-4-2):
GK: Chris Kirkland

RB: Mario Melchiot (captain)
CB: Emmerson Boyce
CB: Paul Scharner
LB: Kilbane

RMF: Valencia
CMF: Cattermole
AMF: Palacios
LMF: Kapo

ST: Heskey
ST: Zaky

Out of teams 11-20 last year, Wigan had the best defensive record with only 51 goals conceded. They’ll be in every game, home and away, but they need to get over the hump on the road and pick up some more points there to avoid another relegation fight.

January is the toughest month on Wigan’s schedule, with away dates at Manchester City and Aston Villa and home games against Tottenham and Liverpool.

Bruce’s boys will welcome Arsenal and Manchester United to the JJB Stadium in successive weeks in the middle of April before closing the season out with five manageable games, three of which are certainly winnable (Bolton, @ West Brom, @ Stoke).

Aside from January, there is no difficult stretch of any length, but there isn’t an easy patch either. This team likely won’t have much consistency over the course of the year; you’re not going to see any long winning streaks and you also likely won’t see them fail to pick up points in a three or four-game span.

Bottom Line: Steve Bruce is as experienced as they come in leading this type of team. Having been one himself, and a successful one at that with Manchester United, he’s a player’s manager and doesn’t have large egos to tread carefully around. Wigan won’t get blown out too often, and they won’t pound anyone into the ground either. You may not be happy with the brand of soccer Wigan plays under Bruce, but it’s effective, and it will keep you in the Premiership for another year.

Tomorrow we move closer to the middle of the table with places 14 and 13, where the threat of relegation shouldn’t be a problem.

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  1. Mark

    January 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Do you take it back Michael?
    Thats all I want to know? How about a new article?????? Maybe do a little research first!
    Much love

  2. laticstar

    August 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm



    Zaki, star player, and Heskey upfront.
    With De Ridder and Valencia swapping on the flanks we will be a constant threat in attack.
    And Scharner and Melchiot as key players in a solid defense.

    WIGAN goes Europe:

    Mark my word, dear Michael …

  3. Lez

    August 5, 2008 at 6:21 am


    you may say that Wigan played ugly football last season. Don’t forget that we had the knife on our throat almost all the season after Hutchings bad run.

    I my country (I’m no Brit) we call it pigfotball which we unfortunately had to play for not jeopardize the Premier League status.

    I have hope that you find Latics play more attractive football in the coming season.

  4. joeyjoejoejunior

    August 5, 2008 at 6:08 am

    about putting 11 men behind the ball against bigger teams, prior to bruce’s arrival we always used to get tonked usually by 4-0 or similar, when bruce took over we kept our normal 4-4-2 formation and we drew 1-1 at liverpool, 1-1 at Chelsea and 0-0 at home to Arsenal and we were quite unlucky against man united but at least we put up a fight

  5. tod_wigan

    August 5, 2008 at 4:32 am

    I think this bloke is just a bit of a moron. We played some great football last season, especially down the right, and u say we havn’t got a star player. Kirkland was awesome last year and also valencia. You must have missed your specsavers appointment mate. Have you been put up to this by Rodney marsh? lol

  6. Pork Romeo

    August 5, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Fun read. I like the debate regarding the starting 11. First time I can remember Wigan having such a deep squad.

    Ugly football is a bit unwarranted. I admit Wigan will put 11 men behind the ball when up against the big clubs. But sometimes they play quite nice football. Particularly during the first PL campaign.

    Regarding the pitch, last year was a one time problem. I dont recall much complaining in the previous few years.

    Siberski, I thought he was already cut loose. Kind of glad he is still on the squad. Has a talent for coming off the bench and getting a goal.

  7. joeyjoejoejunior

    August 5, 2008 at 4:06 am

    i dont think there will be much more trimming going on, we cut the deadwood out with getting rid of olembe, skoko and somehow getting rid of aghahowa to kaysperior. Bruce has never seen camara play as he was on a season long loan at west ham last season so i think he will wait before making judgement, Sibierski i personally wouldnt keep as although he scored ssome important goals for us last year he is low on fitness and Bramble is a good defender its just he is prone (happened 2 times last season) to lapses in cocncentration, we at Wigan are a much more forgiving crowd than say the barcodes in newcastle and i think bruce can still improve him.

    I think you touched a nerve by calling the football we play “ugly”, simple would probably have been more apt, we dont try for the flair approach, and nothing gets me more annoyed when arsenal keep passing the ball along their back 4 for5 minutes at a time. I don’t really think we can be critiscized for our pitch, if you want a poor pitch look up Chelsea v Charlton at Stamford bridge a few seasons back, it looked like a beach.

    The masters of grinding out 1-0 victories are undoubtedly Chelsea.

    The point about our stadium as well being shared with Rugby, well Watford did it a few seasonsd back, Reading do it, and even the promoted Hull City do it.

  8. Anonymous

    August 5, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Excellent Michael. I cannot believe there are so many latic supporters around. Nice you managed to get them stirred up.

    Looks like Wigan’s best squad since they were promoted. Fairly big too. Wonder if Bruce is going to trim a few players. Surprised Camara and Seberisk (and Bramble) are still hanging on.

  9. Michael

    August 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I do appreciate soccer, I’m sorry if you can’t see that.

  10. d_manga_fanatic

    August 4, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    if u actually have been keeping up to date with the news about wigan, u would know that kilbane is almost certainly NOT going to start as our first choice left back but instead Figueroa will be and then when Edman is fit, will be challenging him for that spot.

    we are gonna do well this season just u wait and we’ll shut up ‘journalists’ like urself who dont know how to appreciate football

  11. Jabba

    August 4, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    You shouldn’t write articles about things you know nothing about. The piece shows a genuine lack of knowledge of Wigan Athletic and seems to be based purely on assumption and other inaccurate news articles.

    We don’t pretend that we are the biggest, most glamorous team in the league. But to go from where we have come from to where we are now in the space of the last 25 years in a real life fairy tale.

    We have defied the odds and no one gives us an ounce of credit or respect. We are the victims of more poor, lazy and plain vindictive journalism than any other Premiership team.

    This is not helpful when we are trying to build our fan base and break free of the stereotypes and false impressions created by the media.

    That’s why us Wiganer’s take things like this so personal.

    We have sorted out the pitch problems that hampered us, tied down all our key players, brought in some extra quality and have built an excellent squad over the past 6 months. This is going to be an exciting season for Wigan. Expect to see us fighting for the top half of the table.

  12. tixmon

    August 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Blimey – a slightly xenophobic over reaction from the tixmen I’m afraid. Chill out people – this is embarrassing.

    What’s all this about Ryan Taylor leaving???

  13. Michael

    August 4, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Don’t get me started on Michael Brown, because for the one time Alex “punched him”, Brown has done something equally dirty and reckless five times over to other players.

    I did see the Wigan-Blackburn game in full, and yes, it was a great spectacle. When I mean ugly soccer though, I mean that for most of last season, Wigan couldn’t string more than three or four passes together on that slop of a field. On the road, they sat back and played for a draw, content to hoof it up to Bent and Heskey all day.

    You all are right, when Valencia and Palacios played in the second half, they did bring their Spanish flair and brought class and quality into the side. Kapo will add more of that this year. I expect Wigan to play a more attractive style this season, but it was awful to watch at times a season ago. It was effective, yes, and I never denied that, and I’m all for doing whatever it takes to get a result. I respect hard work and determination just as much as anyone else, believe me. I would rather play ugly and get something positive than play like Arsenal and win nothing.

    I think everyone is taking too much offense with the comment I made; I wasn’t being critical, I was just stating my opinion. Ugly doesn’t mean ineffective, it just means ugly, and that’s what Wigan was for the majority of last year.

  14. yams

    August 4, 2008 at 11:13 am

    You’re more than entitled to comment, free speech and all that, it’s your opinion, but “Ugliest soccer” – if this is genuinely what you think, explain what you mean.

    To me, ugly football is Arsenal’s Fabregas losing the ball to Emile Heskey, then pretending Heskey hit him in the face to stop play, Chelsea’s Alex punching Michael Brown in the chest to stop him taking the ball past him and Man U’s Ronaldo banging the grass with his hands in a tantrum because Palacios’s fancy footwork had tricked the ball off him (again).

    This is Wigan we’re talking about, who came to the premier league through hard graft and determination, no media darlings, so you won’t see these things replayed on MOTD, the ref won’t blow the whistle, nobody’s going to report this in the press e.g. saw match highlights of a game we won against Blackburn, only the Blackburn goals were shown, so I guess it’s understandable you have no clue how we play!

  15. Michael

    August 4, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I think Edman is the first-choice, but as you said, he’s injured right now. That’s why I put Kilbane in my projected starting lineup. I understand he’s a natural left winger and is getting on in age, but he’s the best they have at left back until Edman returns.

  16. joeyjoejoejunior

    August 4, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Michael – The only reason we started with Kilbane at left back is because we had no one else to go there. Our previous manager chris hutchings had the clairvoyance to sell our only left back and not buy a replacement.

    When erik Edman arrived he was given a starting role after he had gained match fitness in the reserves and when he was fit he was our first choice left back until he got severly injured, Kilbane filled in again until we were safe as even though we had figueroa as a left back we were not in the position to risk a player who had never played in the premiership before in a precarious situation. When Figueroa played against man united in the last match when we were safe he put in a very good performance and is a good prospect of challenging for the starting place, i think very few wigan fans would call Kilbane our first choice left back or left winger, but we all praise him for his effort but he isnt getting any younger and i will say (though i maybe wrong) that he will not get much of a look in this year. So yes Kilbane started 30 games at left back, but unless you really watch the team week in week out and watch the developments of the team as a fan would it gives the impression that Kilbane was first choice left back.

  17. Michael

    August 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Kilbane started 30 games at left back last season..

  18. Phil

    August 4, 2008 at 10:01 am

    A few observations:-
    Just to point out that Rugby Leage switched to a “summer” sport some years ago and although there is some truth in the fact that the ground sharing has not helped the pitch – it is another piece of misinformation to suggest that the winter will cause a problem due to Rugby League! Also – not sure if anyone with any knowledge of the team would seriously think that we would start with Kilbane as first choice defender!!? You later state that Zaki will probably not start the season but include him in the starting line-up!?? Have another look at the players we apparently “sold” to pay for the new signings – simply not true. None of those listed were sold for any significant sum and all were clearly surplus to the requirements of a progressing team

  19. Michael

    August 4, 2008 at 8:55 am

    “Mick (may i call you Mick) pray tell how you are qualified to comment on somewhere you have never been to ?”

    pkok, that doesn’t make sense. Have you ever been to Italy? Have you ever been to Spain? Have you been to Portsmouth or Newcastle? Have you been to the US? Have you been to Africa?

    Point is, just because you haven’t been somewhere doesn’t mean you comment on what comes from there. If that was the case, many people would be unqualified to speak their minds about anything. That’s the beauty of technology, my friend, you no longer have to be there in person to see it.

  20. J_Mo

    August 4, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Tagging our style of football as “ugly” is both unfair and untrue. Yes, we’re not going to play like Arsenal or Man Utd, our players aren’t good enough to do so. It is certainly not the worst in the league though – the likes of Valencia, Palacios and Melchiot are all very skillful. The likes of Kapo and De Ridder aren’t going to be playing ugly football either. Stats don’t paint the whole picture, you actually need to see us play.

    Our issue with the pitch is sorted, as you probably guessed from all the other angry posters in these comments.

    It’s not a bad article overall though, and I can appreciate that you probably don’t have much to go on for a club like ourselves who probably get little attention in the States.

  21. pkok

    August 4, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Mick (may i call you Mick) pray tell how you are qualified to comment on somewhere you have never been to ?
    Why don’t you come over the pond and visit our little team and then you may write an article on Wigan Ath.
    I will even put you up in my humble abode (mud hut) for the length of your stay and if you survive the excitement will also run you back to the airport.
    Please do not make comments which may cause offence without thinking first.
    It is easy to critisies but do try to make positive comments sometimes .
    Then we the fans of Wigan Athletic may read your articles and smile at the understanding that Americans have of the only true worldwide game.

  22. joeyjoejoejunior

    August 4, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Ok, we are not arsenal or barca, we dont have flair, but were not bolton or fulham, we dont just wack the ball up the pitch, in a method similar to “american football”, if we are honest, we are hopefully top of the bottom half potentially and shouldn’t really have much trouble staying up with the quality of the promoted teams being questionable.

    The pitch shouldnt be a problem this year as it has had a full rebuild, but i dont think anyone can comment on that till it shows whether it is up to the job.

    Bolton are located more in Manchester than we are and Wiganers still consider themselves to be part of Lancashire, i think in US terms it would be considered to be suburban manchester as our cities are much more concentrated and our population considerably denser. It is possible to get from Liverpool to Manchester (40 miles apart) without passing through a single bit of countryside, ie. its all surrounded by housing.

    wigan have managed to do what many other clubs havent by staying in the premiership without spending more than they could afford like clubs like Leeds and others in lower divisions who are in poor positions due to going into administration.

    I would say wigan are sensible, in their football and management.

  23. Mark

    August 4, 2008 at 4:37 am

    You really dont have a clue, you have made some serious mistakes in your piece and you talk balls! We dont play ugly football,We have got stars maybe not british stars but we have in the form of palacios, valencia and zaki now. We have a quality keeper Kirkland and A first class striker in heskey, albeit not a goal machine, and we have quality defenders. You really dont now what ur talking about so keep your idiotic writing about your ‘hand’ball that u call football and stay out of our reach!

  24. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    That’s my point exactly.

    I welcome disagreements from jm and from everyone else, and I understand that others have different opinions than myself. But when the argument becomes geared towards bashing me because I’m American, that’s where we have a problem. It makes those who do that seem ignorant, juvenile, and immature, and doesn’t do you any justice as fans of your clubs.

    What difference does nationality make, really? Soccer is a universal game, not an exclusive club. If you want to talk about football or baseball, I’d value your opinion just the same as I would if I was talking with anyone from this country.

    Come on, let’s keep it intelligent. If you want to bash me or cuss at me or whatever else, do it to yourself or to your friends at home, not here.

  25. jm

    August 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Bravo to Michael for withstanding the slings and arrows heaved at him in this thread, and nearly every other thread in his Premiership preview feature.

    I have frequently been critical of Michael’s essays, but it is distressing that the discussion of them has so often devolved into name calling and nationalistic shots at Americans. Indeed, the great thing about blogs is that minds from all over, with complementary and competing expertise, can come together to discuss these topics. We are all the richer for this kind of discussion. I, for example, only to get to see a few Wigan matches as I am working most weekends, and would love to hear intellectual discussion of Michael’s assertions.

    Here’s to interesting and enlightening discussion throughout the rest of Michael’s series of previews.

  26. worbo

    August 3, 2008 at 8:04 pm


    If you read my post you’d see I wasnt making a complaint.

    I was making a point that his bait to get fans biting (or debating) had worked

    I disputed the reference to the EPL talk being the number 1 blog to question whether Michael was nerely being controversial to get people posting and increase flow throug your site.

    Vital do have lots of clubs attached but the 4 million I quoted was for Vital Wigan only

  27. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 3, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    BTW, Alexander Hleb just scored a WONDER goal for Barca against Chivas. I was finishing up a phone interview and almost lost myself it was such a great goal for pre-season. Sorry Gunners, he isn’t yours anymore.

  28. d_manga_fanatic

    August 3, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    lazy journalism, u seriously dont know what ur talking about… typical yanks commenting on something they dont understand and mainly making world cups because u have almost no competition what so ever.

    we have a squad with players who have been capped many times over and in our new striker zaki he’s won the African Nations cup twice adn IS A SUPERSTAR IN EGYPT, just have a look before u start sprouting nonsense.

    despite reading the revised article, i still cant believe u would seriously start melchiot at CB adn taylor at RB. u obviously havent watched a single wigan match and as for ugly football… we played a much better passing game when bruce came in and DO have flair players such as valencia.

    vitalwigan is much much better than the load of rubbish u have written

  29. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    “Finally, a team like Wigan can be extremely proud if they just manage to survive season after season because that is realistically the most probable and expected outcome. If they achieve anything more than that, like a European spot then this is an over-achievement. Wigan for their size and ability are doing very well and look like they will improve on last seasons finish.”

    I’m with you on that, and that’s what I don’t understand about all these people criticizing me. I think Wigan has done a great job staying up, and I think Steve Bruce is a very good manager and will keep them up. I don’t expect them to contend for Europe; they don’t have the resources or the stadium or the players to do so. There’s nothing wrong with where they are as a club, and I honestly felt like I was very complimentary towards them in my article. Yes, I said they play ugly soccer, and I still believe that, but it’s effective for them, so I can’t question it.

  30. Rik

    August 3, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    “Also, Alan, just because you had a new surface laid doesn’t guarantee anything. Because it’s shared with the rugby team, it will fall apart again once the winter months come.”

    I believe the problem was underneath the pitch. The grass couldn’t grow properly and even after the groundsmen worked tirelessly on making it look good it just peeled off like an orange skin. I don’t think we will have the same problem as we had last year now.

    I appreciate what you have to say about Wigan Micheal. This is what I think about Wigan:

    – They are a very young club, surrounded by massive clubs (Man Utd are arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world).

    – This is only their fourth season in the Premiership ever.

    – They now have established internationals such as Melchiot, Kirkland, Heskey, Koumas, Valencia, Palacios, Zaki, Camara, King, Kilbane and so on. Obviously not all of them start all the time but they have many caps.

    – Wigan Warriors were and still can be one of the greatest rugby league teams in England. Thus we have to struggle with that as well.

    Finally, a team like Wigan can be extremely proud if they just manage to survive season after season because that is realistically the most probable and expected outcome. If they achieve anything more than that, like a European spot then this is an over-achievement. Wigan for their size and ability are doing very well and look like they will improve on last seasons finish. I also think they don’t play ugly football. If you watched the Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge then you would of realized that Wigan do pass the ball a lot and have flair through players like Valencia.

  31. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    The only thing I revised was the starting lineup and one comment regarding Ryan Taylor and Zaky. The rest was kept exactly the same as it was. You and I both seem to agree that midfield is the team’s strongest area, and that Steve Bruce is a very capable manager.

    Jonesy, nowhere did I say Wigan has no established international players, I said they have no superstars. Kirkland is not really an international player either, by the way, he’s a #3 goalie for England. Scharner hasn’t played for Austria in a while because of his comments about their former coach. Boyce plays for Barbados, not Jamaica. The midfield you mentioned, however, is right. Nowhere did I say that the JJB is a poor stadium like you claim, I said it was a small stadium. There’s a difference.

    Valencia and Palacios are very good players, but they’re not starters for Manchester United like many of you seem to believe.

    As the Gaffer said, thanks for the comments, everyone.

  32. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 3, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Oh, and what some may call boring I call beautiful. Wigan has done what they need to do as a small town club in a league corrupted by big foreign owners, bing scandals, and foreign players.

    Unlike most of you I actually support Sepp Blatter’s 6 + 5. I actually believe it should be 8 + 3. Only three foreigners per squad. I’ve made the same proposal for our domestic league which has gained more support than it had a year ago. It is only a matter of time before the game either imploded or we get back to basics, which clubs like Wigan proudly represent.

  33. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 3, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    It’s simply disappointing that more people do not recognize the remarkable achievement Wigan has accomplished by going from the 4th flight to the top flight in under ten years and then staying in the top flight for four years and counting.

    Dave Whelan is a good man. A good Englishman which more than I can say for most of the Premier League owners who are in the process of corrupting the English game the purest and most honest form of football the way they trashed the world game already.

    I have my complaints about the anglo only emphasis of a lot of you here but I feel that the English play an honest game and when they miss competitions like the Euros, the events themselves are less watchable and less important. Wigan Athletic is one of the shinning lights of the English game today and unlike other top European and Latin American leagues where corruption, and dishonesty has taken hold, Wigan Athletic is a powerful reminder that football is an English game and the English get it right more than anyone else. Keep the faith Wigan supporters. Some us here in the USA admire Dave Whelan and wish more sports owners were like him.

  34. amused

    August 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Damn, all you queens need to calm down.

  35. The Gaffer

    August 3, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Just a few things.

    First, it’s nice to see Wigan fans getting involved in the discussions. Many of us in the States here get disheartened watching on TV the small crowds at the JJB.

    Second, Michael is a key writer to EPL Talk, and has the balls to express his opinions. Some of you may not agree with him, but please be courteous when debating.

    Worbo, vitalfootball may get a lot of traffic but it’s not exclusively based on the Premier League — and in fact focuses on other leagues such as the Championship too. I’m the one in charge of EPL Talk, so if you have any complaints, please address those to me, not Michael.

    Thanks everyone for your comments and contributions. It’s good to know that there’s a core base of Wigan fans out there.

    The Gaffer

  36. jonesy wafc

    August 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Michael. Reference to comments about Wigan athletic witch I find as a Wigan fan very offensive and is affront to all supporters of Wigan. These are the following points. Wigan entered the premier league by starting at the bottom division and working there way through winning the championships of each division witch is the criteria for standards to get into the premier league as for your comment of a poor stadium it was build brand new one costing millions . As for mar Whelan who spent his millions on the stadium and players he did not need to spend one penny or dime establishing Wigan as a top football team. in your statement you clime Wigan has no established international players one Chris Kirkland England Mechiot Holland Scharner Austria Boyce Jamaica Kilbain Ireland that is an international back four now for our midfield koumas Valencia Ecuador Heskey England Zaki Egypt Camera Senegal Palacios Honduras Figueroa Honduras Edman Sweden under 21 international England star Cattermole (not bad for a non international non star team).
    i agree with your comments about the state of the pitch but because we have a top chairman he has now spend 500 k replacing the drains and re seeding due to the fact the ground was lower than water level of a river that’s why new drains were fitted i agree that the rugby should not share the ground but unfortunately to generate income and a super league team needs a top stadium so there for it must be a first class stadium hitch you deny. Wigan is not a Manchester club ie Manchester united Manchester city Stockport bury this area is covered by the great of Manchester council (local authority)referring back to players the European champions premier league champions wont to perches to of our top player Valencia and Palacios surely they recognize Wigan have top players and no top star as you quoted . in our non premier league days united spent millions on purchasing international goal keeper Roy carol and also last year Everton bought Leighton Baines under 21 international left back so there for Michael get all your facts correct and do research befog you quote any criticism about things you don’t know . and the second match of this season 08/09 Wigan vs. Chelsea why don’t you make your way to the stadium and get a feel of the atmosphere of the fans encouraging Wigan to win i predict between 20 or 25 thousand crowd not bad competing with a top rugby league team many towns in football don’t have to face fierce competition from a rugby club we will go forward from strength to strength

  37. anon

    August 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Hold on now. Maybe I’m just reading the revised version, but even though I think 15 is a little low I can certainly appreciate some of the stuff being said here.

    First off, and most importantly: Lazy journalism is when papers make fun of Titus Bramble’s play last year. It’s the second or third thing most uninformed journos talk about and something that I did not see make an appearance here.

    Second off, it looks to me like (and again, maybe this is the revised version) he got our assets in the right order. For example, I mean, Steve Bruce is the man, and the single biggest reason we stayed up this year. I wouldn’t call Valencia or Palacios superstars either (yet – fact is, both scouted by Man U, but they’re reserves right now, at least for a couple more years), but they do play in our midfield, which this year could be our biggest strength.

    Third, no matter how lazy the journo, few make the effort or have the balls to actually discuss and debate his decisions with the people who leave comments. So honestly, take it easy guys… this may not be that favorable, might peg us a couple spots lower than we should be even (when you look at our record under Bruce last year and combine that with the fact that we got rid of nobody important and picked up a number of good players, including a striker who can actually score, arguably our biggest need), but really this guy isn’t actually that far off the mark.

  38. worbo

    August 3, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Well Mike, can I call you Mike?, you have certainly met your goal with this one and generated a lot of replies.

    I am not going to discuss what you have said because I know you dont mean any of it and just posted the content to get a reaction

    You claim to be the number 1 Premier League Blog in the world with 150,000 visits a month..mmm

    We average just over 4,000,000 per month, yep FOUR MILLION and we aint any where near the number 1, so you’ve got a way to go

    But keep posting garbage like this and you will certainly generate a lot of visits that will keep your advertisers happy

  39. Ollie

    August 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Wigan don’t play ugly football. Lazy Journalism. Keep listening to tv pundits our kid

  40. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Oh yeah, Wigan was incorporated as a borough in 1246, so don’t criticize me for having my facts wrong when you do as well.

  41. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Baskerville, the city of Manchester itself has five times the population of Wigan, and Wigan is within close proximity to Manchester, hence, suburban Manchester.

    Also, take a look at the news articles regarding Whelan, I didn’t just make things up.

    I already apologized for the Melchiot thing and corrected it.

  42. Baskerville

    August 3, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Michael, thats the funniest mis- information I have ever seen.

    Taylor can’t even get in the squad for the friendlies and certainly isn’t going to displace Melchiot from right back where he played all last season(nb never once at centre half).

    We never played 4-5-1 and with the signing of FIFA’s number one forward in Amr Zaki we cartainly have a star.

    Your comments about Mr Whelan are interesting, given that you lived in the most litigious society in the world I would have thought that you would have been more circumspect about throwing out spurious allegations regarding Mr Whelan.

    Yes the pitch was a problem but not any more.

    Based in suburban Manchester!!! I don’t think so, Wigan was granted its Royal Charter as a borough back in 1258 long before Manchester and long before your country was discovered.

    Ugly football…not so.

    Get your facts right laddie before you post your preview.

  43. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Ok, and once the rugby team starts playing on it again and the weather gets cold and rainy, it will become awful just like it was last year.

  44. wn2er

    August 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    what a load of sh*te. you need to get a new researcher, for a start, we had a 500k pitch laid two months ago….. i cant right any more you have p*ssed me off

  45. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    “In 2003 JJB Sports were fined £5.5 million by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for fixing the price of the English National Team and Manchester United shirts in 2000 and 2001.

    In January 2007 he sold £50m of shares in JJB, before selling his remaining 29% stake in June 2007.This action was in contradiction of a statement that Whelan made to the stock exchange on 26 January 2007 whereby he undertook to make no further disposals for the following 12 months. This action may now lead to an investigation by the Financial Services Authority.

    In 2005 he threatened to quit the club unless the price of policing games was reduced.

    In 2005 Whelan’s Rugby League Football club, Wigan Warriors, were docked two points for breaching the 2005 Super League salary cap, also with a £50,000 fine.

    Again, in 2007, Whelan’s Rugby League club, Wigan Warriors faced an enquiry for breaching the Super League salary cap. The result was a deduction of 4 league points.”

    Oh yeah, Whelan’s a real genius.

  46. romaldo7

    August 3, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    That is some of laziest journalism I have read, and there has been plenty written about our club! I was tempted to stop reading it after the 1st mention of ‘soccer’ but read on to see if you could redeem yourself. Wigan have never played 4-5-1 under Bruce, or any other recent managers for that matter! Melchiot at centre back?! I assume you must be a multiple billionaire if you also want to assume our chairman, Mr Whelan has ‘questionable financial know-how’!! Like every other team outside of the ‘sky top three’ we sometimes have to grind out results but generally we play some great attractive passing football. Your opinion reads as someone who has never been to a game and laps up every word that the tv pundits say about us, and your ‘facts’, well I think they have been covered by others!!

  47. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Guys, I made a couple changes to the starting lineup. I was wrong, and I’ll man up and admit it. Again, my apologies for not having it right the first time.

  48. Avantsweater

    August 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Haha I call it soccer also. That’s what it was originally called anyways.

    Check it out!

    Association Football–>Soccer

  49. Slatz

    August 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Its Football. There is no culture difference too it. You Yanks have just taken the beautifull game, and twisted it so its beneath your ‘American past-times’ like Baseball and American Rugby. End off.

  50. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Also, Alan, just because you had a new surface laid doesn’t guarantee anything. Because it’s shared with the rugby team, it will fall apart again once the winter months come.

  51. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Alan, I suggest you do the research on Whelan. Check some of the financial decisions he’s made, and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

  52. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Avantsweater, my apologies, the correction will be made.

  53. Alan

    August 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    ‘Your field was falling apart last year, I understand you had a new one laid, but that isn’t what I said.’
    What you actually said:-
    ‘Their field surface is undoubtedly the worst in the Premiership ‘
    As I understand the language ‘is’ is the present tense meaning ‘now’: apparantly you don’t bother reading what you have written
    As for ‘a 71-year-old chairman with questionable financial know-how.’ is this the same man who turned a £400 compensation pay-out for a broken leg into a multi-million pound fortune? I wish my finacial know-how was as questionable.
    You are entitled to your opinion, whether right or wrong, but your sloppy ‘facts’ are an insult to anyone who bothers to carry out a little research.

  54. jon

    August 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    shows how much yanks know about football. no wonder you’re terrible at it

  55. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Slatz, in America, it’s called soccer. I live in America, I call it soccer. You don’t have our version of football in your country, so you can call it that, but we do have football, so it’s soccer here. It’s a cultural thing, don’t you understand that?

  56. Avantsweater

    August 3, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    If you can find me ONE lineup where Melchiot started at Center Back last season I will PayPal you $5 dollars.

    Here’s the leg work.

  57. Adam

    August 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    We have a passionate English chairman with enough financial know how to build a sports empire from rags. A new pitch and a relitavely new stadium compared to some of the other wrecks. Palacios and Valencia are wanted by Man Utd and you obviously haven’t heard of Heskey, Zaki and Kirkland in America. We were praised on many occasions last season by the press for playing good football. Whoever wrote this article has based his facts on Rodney Marsh Interviews. Get your facts right before slating teams who deserve where they are. We were only elected to the football league in 1978. Utter garbage.

  58. Slatz

    August 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    You seriously dont know what your talking about.

    Melchiot for a start played at RB THROUGHOUT the entire season, so please dont try too start an argument against people who’ve lived and watched the Latics more years than you can count.

    Secondly, if you had ACTUALLY WATCHED us play, then you wouldn’t be saying we play ugly football. We are a passing team, with ALOT of flair players. So stop talking crap, when your not even in a position too even back up what your saying.

    And stop calling it soccer, you arse.

  59. Avantsweater

    August 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Are you kidding? Ryan Taylor is on his way out the door.

    Not even named as a sub in our two friendly games. Same with Koumas.

    Melchiot is our firm Right Back.

    Taylor hasn’t played there at all since Bruce has took over. When Melchiot was injured for two games Boyce played at RB and Bramble went to CB.

    Bruce plays Taylor in midfield.

    Zaki will start from the word go. He scored the winner on his debut yesterday. We have chucked Marcus Bent, who was a regular starter under Bruce.

    We haven’t played 4-5-1 since Bruce took over. We tried 4-3-3 at Boro and it was a disaster. Bruce said he will stick with 4-4-2

  60. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Melchiot played center back last year!!!

  61. Ian

    August 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Have you ever watched Wigan play, you bonehead?

    You have no knowledge nor historical perspective about English football.

  62. John

    August 3, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Melchiot, centre-back ?

    Did i miss something ?

  63. Michael

    August 3, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Guys, come on, you have good players, but no stars.

    Your field was falling apart last year, I understand you had a new one laid, but that isn’t what I said.

    I’m not sure what you’re so upset about, I was complimentary towards Wigan and Steve Bruce. You do play ugly soccer with Bruce; he’s a draw specialist and can get a 1-0 win when needed. It was unbearable at times watching Wigan play last year, they couldn’t score.

    Zaki is a very good player, but I’m not sure if he’ll start from the beginning of the season.

    Avantsweater, Ryan Taylor will be starting.

  64. Slatz

    August 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Ugly playing style? Haha, how many times have you seen us play? None I’d imagine, and I even doubt you’ve seen a live football game if your life.

    We’ve just had a new pitch layed as well, so you can cut that argument right here and right now. And as for having no star players… Aye, you must be absolutely correct matey, only, there seems too be Valencia and Palacious who spring too mind, both of whom, are Manchester United targets… hmm, no star players indeed.

    But its ‘journalist’ – if you can be even deemed as such – like yourself, who now nothing about the TRUE football, beyond the financial lavished of the big 4, who give us a bad name with your mundane, dreadfully put together tripe.

  65. Laticus

    August 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    What crap you talk, we have a new pitch, new players and as for ugly football how many times have you seen the Latics play. If you are going to write about a team, get your facts right.

  66. Avantsweater

    August 3, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Wow you are totally clueless, did you write this based on Alan Hansen newsclippings?

    We have signed the best Egyptian striker, and two time ACN winner Amr Zaki who has a better strike rate than almost any current international player.

    Anyways here is what our starting XI will probably be:

    GK: Kirkland
    RB: Melchiot [C]
    CB: Boyce
    CB: Scharner
    LB: Figueroa
    RM: De Ridder
    CM: Palacios
    CM: Brown/Cattermole
    LF: Valencia
    CF: Heskey
    CF: Zaki

    With De Ridder and Valencia switching flanks during the match.

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