Wigan Athletic Season Guide

August 6, 2005
By Steve Wilson
(Archive)

Wigan Athletic

Nickname: The Latics
Founded: 1932
Ground: JJB Stadium, Wigan WN5 0UZ
Capacity: 25,000
Ticket Office: 0870 112 2552
Ticket Prices: Adult £18-25, Concession £13-20, Under 16s £10, Under 11s £5
Club Sponsor: JJB Sports
Club Colours:
Home - Blue and white striped shirt, blue shorts, white socks
Away - Amber shirt with black sleeves, black shorts, amber socks


Top Links
Soccernet's Wigan page | Full squad and player profiles | Fixture list
Soccernet's Wigan Correspondent
Official Wigan Athletic Website
Fan Site - Cockney Latics
Unofficial Website - Wigan Mad

Last Season - In the big time Position: 2nd (Championship)

After a crushing final day defeat at the hands of West Ham in 2003/04 that denied Wigan a place in the play-offs, there was to be no such heartbreak second time around. Needing only to match Ipswich's last day result they bettered it with a 3-1 win over Reading on 'the day Wigan turned blue'. Finishing second behind champions Sunderland with 87 points from 46 games, the Latics played crisp, direct football that will not be out of place in a higher division. A combination of businessman Dave Whelan's investment, Paul Jewell's canny knack for promotions (he previously took Bradford to the top flight and kept them there) and the goalscoring exploits of Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts - 45 between them in the league - did the job last term and completed an amazing transformation in fortunes for the Lancastrian club. Only elected to the league in 1978, during the first season of the Premiership Wigan were busy being relegated to the bottom division watched by crowds of less than 3,000. Ten years after Whelan - owner of the JJB Sports empire and impressive JJB Stadium - took over, his dream has become reality.

Transfers - In and Out
Coming In:
Henri Camara (Wolves) - £3million
David Connolly (Leicester) - £2million
Damien Francis (Norwich) - £1.5million
Ryan Taylor (Tranmere) - £750,000
Mike Pollitt (Rotherham) - £200,000
Pascal Chimbonda (Bastia) - Undisclosed
Arjan de Zeeuw (Portsmouth) - Undisclosed
Stephane Henchoz (Celtic) - Free
Josip Skoko (Genclerbirligi) - Free

  • On The Move - All the transfers
  • Getting Out:
    Nathan Ellington (West Brom) - £3million
    Ian Breckin (Nottm Forest) - £350,000
    David Graham (Sheff Wednesday) - Undisclosed
    Nicky Eaden (Nottm Forest) - Free
    Jason Jarrett (Norwich) - Free
    Paul Mitchell (MK Dons) - Free
    Gareth Whalley (Swindon) - Free
    Magno Vieira - Released


    First Choice XI

    GK John Filan; RB Pascal Chimbonda, CB Stephane Henchoz, CB Arjan De Zeeuw, LB Leighton Baines; RM Andreas Johansson, CM Graham Kavanagh, CM Jimmy Bullard, LM Lee McCulloch; ST Henri Camara, ST Jason Roberts

    The Gaffer - Paul Jewell

    Jewell became Wigan Athletic's third manager in two months when he accepted the offer to return to management at the JJB Stadium in 2001 with the club he played for in the mid-80s; taking over after brief, largely forgettable spells from Bruce Rioch and Steve Bruce. Wigan is Jewell's third club as a manager, having previously been at the helm of Bradford City and Sheffield Wednesday. Liverpool born, Paul began his career at Anfield before joining Wigan Athletic where he made 137 League appearances, scoring 35 goals. He was part of the Wigan team that reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1985/86 and became a fans' favourite during his three years at Springfield Park. An £80,000 move to Bradford saw him continue to live up to the tag of 'complete professional', scoring 56 times during his 269 League appearances for the Bantams.

    After briefly taking charge of the reserves in the 1996/97 season he replaced Chris Kamara as Bradford manager at the end of 1997, celebrating his first full year in charge by taking City into England's top division for the first time in their history. Jewell performed heroics in steering the Bantams to top flight survival with a final day triumph over Liverpool. But just weeks later he handed in a resignation request, citing his desire for a new challenge as the reason. Reviving the fortunes of First Division Sheffield Wednesday was the challenge Jewell had in mind, but it proved too ambitious a project, even for him. Having been unable to effect a significant turnaround at Hillsborough by February 2001, Jewell was dismissed. In the 2002/03 season Jewell's side clicked and they won Division Two securing 100 points and they lost just four games on their way to the championship. Jewell's steady hand on the tiller has seen Whelan's money wisely invested and last year's promotion has restored his managerial stock, seen once more as a talented, young coach.

    Player to Watch - Jimmy Bullard

    A tightly wound ball of energy in the Wigan midfield, with a wonderful eye for a pass, Bullard should find the transition from Championship to Premiership football easier than most. Despite never really making a breakthrough in West Ham's side after moving there from non-league Gravesend in 1999, the 26-year-old has always been highly rated. A move to Peterborough in 2001 brought 11 goals in 64 appearances and alerted the attentions of Paul Jewell who tracked him for over a year before finally landing his man at a cut price £275,000 in January of 2003, attracted by Bullard's versatility in being able to play across the midfield and even in attack as a supporting striker. The London-born player's Wigan debut came in a goalless draw at home to Cheltenham Town.

    And his performances over the remainder of the campaign were impressive as the Latics took the Second Division title. He scored his first goal at the end of the campaign in a 3-1 home victory over Oldham Athletic. An instrumental presence in the heart of midfield over the last two seasons - he was an ever present in last term's promotion campaign - Bullard's vision and ability to pick the locks of opponents defences offer Wigan one of their better hopes of retaining their hard won Premiership status; as well as Bullard's services.

    Young Gun - Leighton Baines

    Having already racked up 70 appearances for the club, the 20-year-old Baines is hardly a fresh faced novice but, having only really established himself as a first choice pick last season, a year of dealing with some of Europe's finest attackers calls on him to step up to another level still. After taking the 2003/04 Young Player of the Year award at the club, he pushed ahead of Steve McMillan for the Latics as well as, at his club manager's insistent behest, Brighton's Dan Harding for a place in Peter Taylor's England Under-21 squad.

    Very much the modern roving full-back, Baines is as comfortable launching attacks as he is breaking them up, though for all his attacking endeavour, has only once registered on the scoresheet; though it was a 30-yard belter to give his side the lead against last season's sparing partner for promotion Ipswich. Despite interest from a number of established Premiership sides, Baines has committed his future to the club and his devastatingly accurate left foot will be giving good service to the Latics' survival cause.

    From the terraces

    It's our first ever season in the Premiership and the whole town is buzzing. We have already broken our record for season ticket sales and can't wait for the visit of champions Chelsea on the opening day of the season.

    It is going to be a long and hard season and with some luck along the way, I see no reason why we can't manage to survive.

    Manager Paul Jewell has made some shrewd signings this summer, and a few more, quality additions would hopefully be enough.

    It will be interesting to see if star strikers Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts have what it takes in the top flight. Here's to survival!

    From Paul Farrington at wiganer.net

    This season is undoubtedly going to be one of struggle and, something we've collectively managed to forget despite it not being so long ago at all, losing more often than you win. But regardless, just being in the Premiership is going to make it a season long party.

    We will undoubtedly be patronised at every turn as either a tiny club with no supporters (though season ticket sales have already broken all records) or criticised as a team bankrolled by a rich benefactor but we simply don't care. If you can remember, as I can, turning up at places like Rochdale, Scunthorpe and Darlington more in hope than expectation of victory, the sight of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United at JJB almost needs to be seen before we can truly believe it.

    Most, if not all, of the fans have complete trust in Paul Jewell and if he can pull off a repeat of his performance with Bradford we will be more than happy. A last day survival special would mean beating Arsenal in their last ever league game at Highbury; a party that would be a huge amount of fun to spoil. We really do need to stay up if we are to start attracting bigger names to Wigan - the perceived unfashionability of our town appears to stretch even beyond the boarders of these Isles if this summer's transfer (non)activity is any indicator.

    We have the players, manager, chairman and Stadium to make it at the top level. All we need now is for some 'expert' pundit to say we are bound to finish bottom and we are ready to go. Are you reading this Rodney Marsh?

    From Dave Burill, a Wigan season ticket holder for 20 years.


    Best - Over 18s only Worst - Back to basics

    Jewell has been frustrated in his dealings in the transfer market - the difficutlies in landing Henri Camara and failure to sign Phil Jagielka particularly hard to stomach - despite holding a reported £20million war chest courtesy of Whelan's generosity. The names of Damien Francis, Stephane Henchoz, Ryan Taylor, Pascal Chimbonda and Michael Pollitt may not set the pulses racing but after teams were relegated last time round with the league's second highest goalscorer and a striker who played for England before being sold to the European champions, perhaps Jewell is wise to look to strengthen the defence rather than go chasing goalscorers when he already has two proven ones in Ellington and Roberts.

    Undoubtedly a scrap for survival awaits but, as well as having a manager who has been there and done it before, Wigan's ability to dip into January's transfer window, should circumstances necessitate it, means they hold a slight edge over the other promoted teams. 17th is what they'll aim for; 17th is what they'll probably get.

  • Any thoughts? Email Steve Wilson.