Key player: Jack Whatmough
Whilst Charlie Wyke, Gwion Edwards and Max Power will be the headline signings standing out to most League One fans, Jack Whatmough could prove to be their most important signings this summer. There was much surprise that when the long-serving defender left Portsmouth this summer, and even more so that it wasn’t to a C’hampionship club.
The 24-year-old will provide a presense and stability to a Wigan defence that endured the fourth worst defensive record in League One last season, conceding 77 goals. Worringly for Wigan fans, the Englishman is the only defensive signing to arrive through the door at the DW Stadium this summer and will certainly be a position that manager Leam Richardson will be looking at as their opening day fixture against Sunderland looms.
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Manager: Leam Richardson
Prior to last season, Leam Richardson had spent his post-playing career as a number two to Paul Cook at Accrington, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and finally Wigan before the aforementioned Cook resigned in August 2020.
Indeed Richardson’s only previous managerial position was at Accrington back in 2012, winning just 27% of his 36 games in charge before he left to join Cook at Chestefield the following year. Cook, now at fellow League One side Ipswich approached Richardson to link up for a fifth time following his appointment but the offer was rejected.
The 41-year-old’s first season at Wigan was considered a success as the club avoided relegation to League Two despite off the field problems and the loss of most of their squad the previous summer following relegation from the Championship as he steered them to 20th place.
Captain: Jamie Jones
There aren’t a lot of goalkeepers who captain their club across the Football League or indeed football in general, but Jamie Jones is one of them. The 32-year-old made 45 appearances in League One last season and 87 appearances in total since joining the club from Stevenage in 2017.
His position at the club will be one of interest this season following the signing of Ben Amos from Charlton. Amos was an ever-present for the London club last season, making 46 appearances and keeping 17 clean sheets. The Addicks wanted to resign the 31-year-old, as did former club Manchester United who he turned down in favour of playing first team football.
Key transfer: Charlie Wyke
After 31 goals in all competitions for Sunderland last campaign, it speaks volumes about how far Wigan have pushed forward financially in the past 12 months. The 28-year-old turned down a new deal with the Black Cats, as well as rumoured interest from the Championship in favour of signing at the DW Stadium.
The former Carlisle man will likely spearhead the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation that allows last season’s top scorer Will Keane to play in the number 10 role just behind him. Wyke will be vying with fellow new signing Stephen Humphreys who himself provided 14 goal contributions (10G, 4A) in 29 appearances for relegated Rochdale last season.
Wigan’s quality will never be in question ahead of the new campaign, but rather whether Leam Richardson can mastermind getting all of his players to gel early doors in the season. The Latics have made eight signings this summer, and on the face of it you would expect the vast majority, if not all to be regular starters for the club. They could potentially be this season’s Blackpool in terms of starting slow, but picking up rhythm and form as the season goes on.