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Season Preview: Wigan Athletic

Season Preview: Wigan Athletic
The penultimate instalment of the Vital Watford season preview looks at Wigan Athletic...

Despite suffering a cruel relegation from the Barclays Premier League just days after lifting the F.A Cup last season and then - inevitably - losing their manager. Wigan Athletic have every reason to be positive going into the new campaign.

New boss Owen Coyle seems to have been harshly dealt a bit of a poor reputation, but the Scot did an excellent job at Burnley and got Bolton playing some terrific football before they fell away in his second season.

There have - again, inevitably - been losses to the playing staff, with Roberto Martinez taking Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcarez to Everton.

However, Coyle has recruited shrewdly, bringing Gary Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortune in up front, whilst the excellent but injury-plagued Chris McCann will add depth to the midfield. James Perch and Stephen Crainey are both solid Championship players who won`t let anyone down either.

One issue will be the club`s involvement in Europe - that rarely does any club, let alone Championship side any favours.

Hanging onto the likes of Shaun Maloney, James McCarthy, James McArthur and Callum McManaman would be a massive boost, but there`s a month of the transfer window left yet.

In: Chris McCann (Burnley, free), Stephen Crainey (Blackpool, free), Thomas Rogne (Celtic, free), James Perch (Newcastle United, undisc.), Scott Carson (Bursaspor, undisc.), Marc-Antoine Fortune (West Bromwich Albion, free), Grant Holt (Norwich City, 2m) and Juan Carlos Garcia (CD Olimpia, free).

Out: David Jones, Albert Crusat, Franco Di Santo, Adrian Lopez, Peter Aylmer, Jonathan Lynch, Callum Morris, Joshua Summer, Ryan Watson (all released), Filip Orsula (SV Duisburg, free), Ronnie Stam (Standard Liege, free), Roman Golobart (FC Koln, free), Maynor Figueroa (Hull City, free), Mauro Boselli (Leon, undisc.), Arouna Kone (Everton, undisc.) & Antolin Alcarez (Everton, undisc.).

Key Player - Grant Holt: The new-boy has previously fired Norwich City to promotion from this division and made a good fist of keeping the Canaries in the top-flight for two years before being superseded at Carrow Road.

Touted for an England call-up at one point, the powerful striker has worked his way into this position the hard way, having served his apprenticeship in the lower echelons of the Football League and also took in short stays in both China and Australia.

A powerful line-leader, the 32 year-old striker leads by example and was captain during his time in Norfolk.

Predictions:

Tom: 1st

Chris: 1st

"I really feared for Wigan when they got relegated and Martinez left but actually I think they've had one of the best close seasons of the division. Owen Coyle is a good manager despite what happened at Bolton and they have been excellent in the transfer market.

"There is obviously still a way to go but they have kept hold of the likes of McManaman, McCarthy and McArthur. On top of that Stephen Crainey, Thomas Rogne and James Perch will add solidity to their leaky defence.

"Grant Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortune have proven themselves in the Premier League so they are very good additions. Scott Carson is a good 'keeper and Chris McCann an experienced Championship midfielder.

"The only problem they have will be playing in the Europa League but Birmingham coped pretty well two years ago. They will be real contenders for an automatic spot.'

Writer:Tom Bodell
Date:Thursday August 1 2013
Time: 10:19AM

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