It almost feels like Wigan are back to square one, in terms of building our own squad. We had a good 2018/19 season, finishing 18th after being promoted the season prior. However, we’ve released a number of players, Powell is leaving on a free, and three of our best players have returned to their parent clubs.
We have a foundation of a solid squad, but it’s looking as if we need to sign 10+ players this summer. I expect us to loan a few of Chelsea’s youth players, after the brilliant work we have done with Reece James, and if this link with Benfica comes to fruition, they could provide us with a few quality players.
It’s a big summer for Wigan. How much ambition do the new owners have? Do they trust Cook to sign a number of young, talented players for decent money, or are we looking at signing frees and loans?
Either way, we need to get our signings right. Powell and James were our two best players, we’ve already lost one and will likely lose the other, good luck replacing them two because it will take some doing.
I look at two areas we need to strengthen ahead of next season…
Strength in midfield
It’s impossible for us to replace James. He is a £25 million player already. But what did he offer us – pace, power, ability on the ball, so we need to look at replacing his attributes and signing a similar type of player. I’d like to see us sign a goalscoring midfielder who likes to get forward and run with the ball. Morsy is more of a ‘ball-winning’ midfielder, so offers that protection for a partner to have the freedom and break forward. Mohamed Diame has just been released from Newcastle, it’s a shame his wages will be a stumbling block, he would have been perfect.
Pace, pace and more pace
Cook tends to play with one up front, and that striker is predominantly a ‘target man’, I don’t have a problem with that as it allows our creative players to flourish, and enjoy plenty of the ball in the right areas. However, I do feel like we need a plan B. We led a number of games away from home last season, but couldn’t find that killer second goal, because we didn’t have the pace to counter-attack.
Conor Washington is available for free, he’s a striker that can run in-behind and exploit a high defensive line. Fraizer Campbell another. Come on Cookie, I’m doing your job for you.