August 10, 2012
*contributed by Jakarta Jack, whose writing regularly graces Los Three Amigos of Wigan.
One of the lads in my class at school was called Brian. He claimed to be an Horwich RMI supporter. I thought I was remarkable enough at the time, being a Latics fan, in a town dominated by the cherry and white. There were few of us Latic fanatics at school and if we dared to utter words of blind optimism about our club, our classmates were quick to shoot us down. The message was – how can you support a measly little non-league football club? Don’t even dream of reaching the heights of our wonderful local rugby team or the football giants in neighbouring cities. However, I considered myself an optimist as far as Wigan Athletic were concerned. It was in my blood – and still is. I trust that those classmates are eating their words now.
To be honest, Brian was even more of an optimist than me. Horwich Railway Mechanics Institute was in fact a much older football club than Wigan Athletic, having been formed in 1896. Their only major success over those years was in winning the Lancashire Combination championship in 1957-58. Coming up on Saturday afternoon at Springfield Park was a Lancashire Junior Cup tie between our two teams. It was akin to David and Goliath. Brian saw it differently — an epic tussle between two of Lancashire’s outstanding non-league clubs. He reeled off the names of RMI’s starting eleven, declaring each player a “good-un”, although it was clear from the intonations of his voice that some were more good than others. He had faith – I thought foolishly so – that RMI would get a good result.
August 5, 2012
Premier league summers have historically been a time of dread for the Wigan Athletic supporter. While Chelsea, United, Liverpool and Arsenal - recently joined by City and Spurs - are out spending their tens of millions, Latics face the two-headed beast of keeping their prized assets at the club and persuading new talent to join one of the league's least fashionable outfits.
It was Bullard and Chimbonda that first season, it was Charles N'Zogbia last time around, and there've been plenty in between. The fact is, Latics' recruitment strategy is based on the promise to young or unproven foreign players that they will be given the chance to develop their game at Wigan before eventually moving on to a bigger club. So the question is really not “will he leave?” but “when and how will he leave?” It is a calculation involving two key factors: how easy or hard he is to replace, and what is his potential value? (Which depends largely on how many years he has left on his Wigan contract)